What an Anti-Semite!
Just under two months ago, Father Bruce M. Shipman, Episcopal chaplain at Yale University, wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times in response to an Op Ed by Deborah Lipstadt.
Father Shipman has had good reason to regret doing so ever since. Ms. Lipstadt, an American historian of renown, brought to light the rising incidents of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe. Father Shipman opined….the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be for Israel’s patrons abroad to press the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for final status resolution to the Palestinian question. As a result of that letter, Father Shipman tendered his resignation which was reluctantly accepted by his superiors at Yale a short time thereafter.
Father Shipman may have been hopelessly naïve when it comes to Middle East politics. Father Shipman may have been extremely reckless when it comes to making suggestions about the relationship that exists between world Jewry and the Israeli Prime Minister. Father Shipman may even be (to use a favorite hyperbolic description of mine) a moron to think the answer to the Palestinian question lies in the hands of Israeli leadership. But based on his naïve, reckless and moronic suggestion, there is little, if any reason to label Father Shipman as an anti-Semite.
With The High Holydays not all that far behind us, perhaps it’s time that we American Jews do some serious soul searching at our knee-jerk reaction to Anti-Semitism.
Were we only as sensitive to our own remarks about others, as we are to the remarks of others about us! Why should a non-Jew, not take any offense any time a Jew refers to her or him as a Shiksa (literally, an abomination), or a Sheigetz (the masculine counterpart) or even a Goy for that matter? Why is it considered funny for a Jew to walk into a Chinese restaurant and ask if “Some dumb Goy” is on the menu? Why do Jews use the expression “Goyish Kop” with abandon? Why is it expected than non-Jews be thick skinned, but that as Jews, we have the G-d given right to be hyper-sensitive?
Why do we spend so much of our time and energy looking to be offended? I recall an incident that occurred over a decade ago, when a Jewish passenger caused a ruckus when a card bearing a biblical verse was served together with her meal aboard Alaska Airlines. The Jewish passenger charged that the verse, a quote from the Tanach no less, caused her to lose her appetite. The airline, a privately held company, in no way forces it passengers to consume its meals, should those meals be found to be distasteful, just as the airline in no way forces its passengers to read, much less agree with its printed material, that may for whatever reason be found to be equally distasteful.
With Christmas, not all that for off, it’s not at all unlikely that some Jew in some airport or shopping mall in this country will make headlines at protesting Christmas decorations. In many cases, the only energies some Jews expend when it comes to their Judaism, is attacking those in the non-Jewish world because of perceived slights to their Judaism.
Like many others in this country, there are those of us Jews who are fed up when the “race card” is played. Not every criticism or remark is based on race, we correctly argue. Yet, why is the race card “treif” while the Anti-Semite card is kosher? Why are there those of us who feel that we have the G-d given right to make the charge of Anti-Semitism, any time a remark is made or an action is taken, that is not to our liking? We live in a pluralistic society. Not everyone sees the world the way we do. And because of that, at times, we may find their opinions or statements to be highly objectionable. We would do well however, to think carefully, extremely carefully, if highly objectionable is synonymous with Anti-Semitic.