- I am an Orthodox Jewish rabbi sadly denouncing one of
the box office hits of 2004. Which movie has earned my wrath? Here is a
clue - it surprised everyone by selling over one hundred million dollars
of tickets in its first week in theaters. No, it's not Mel Gibson's Passion.
The movie causing me deep distress is a Rosenthal/Tenenbaum production
starring Dustin Hoffman, and Barbra Streisand.
- I was sorry to see Barbra Streisand involved in the flagrant
defamation of Judaism found in this, her latest movie hit. While she was
making her film Yentl, for which I served as a consultant, she studied
Judaism regularly and diligently with me. She was a warm and gracious guest
on the occasions she had dinner with my family. Yentl's nostalgic, if not
altogether authentic glimpse into 19th century Jewish life in Poland, evoked
a feeling of fondness for the characters, but like many ethnic Jews, Streisand
is largely isolated from her religious roots. In the new film to which
I refer, she plays not a role, but a heinous caricature of a Jewess.
- I am reluctant to name the movie on account of the implied
vulgarity of its title. If you are reluctant to part with good money for
the privilege of seeing the Jewish people being defamed, you should abstain
from this movie. In spite of having several Jewish producers and several
Jewish stars, this film's vile notions of Jews are not too different from
those used by Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
- I may be unsophisticated but I am not just a grouch with
no sense of humor. I'll fess up; I really enjoy funny movies. However you
should know a little about this offensive excuse for entertainment. You
might recall that in the first movie we followed Pam Byrnes as she introduced
her very Jewish and nerdy boyfriend, Greg, to her parents. This sequel
shows the Byrnes visiting their daughter's future in-laws. The movie depicts
Greg's conspicuously Jewish parents as sexually obsessed, constantly concupiscent
degenerates. Nice people, but depraved. Their home is filled with bric-a-brac
that juts with anatomic suggestiveness.
- Along with their son's bar mitzvah talit, or prayer shawl,
they have preserved the foreskin from his circumcision. To add to the hilarity,
this souvenir makes a distasteful reappearance at an awkward moment. In
reality, Jews treat the foreskin with reverence and bury it rather than
turning it into a scrapbook joke. The hosts, who never miss an opportunity
of exuding Jewish ethnicity, boast of their son losing his virginity to
the gentile maid and they keep their guests waiting while they themselves
practice what they preach in their bedroom upstairs. There are many more
vile examples of Jewish people being defamed in this horrible excrescence.
I am not sure that labeling it comedy excuses the defamation.
- I do not particularly care for dark, socially significant
films. Give me funny movies like The Blues Brothers and Hopscotch. However
I really loathe movies that perpetuate hideous stereotypes about racial,
religious, or ethnic groups, no matter how funny they may seem. What is
more, I cannot see how racial bigotry is lessened if perpetrated by blacks
or that anti-Semitism is diminished if delivered by Jews.
- This movie defames Jews in a way that I haven't seen
since the worst that Woody Allen dished up. And Woody at his worst was
breathtakingly hostile to Judaism. One need only recall how many of Woody's
films portray Jews, not to mention rabbis, as loathsome liars, desperate
psychotics, pathetic perverts, and ridiculously lecherous losers. If Woody
Allen were not Jewish, surely every Jewish organization would have roundly
denounced him. And they would have been right. The problem is that he is
Jewish and they don't denounce him. Instead, we self-destructive Jews celebrate
Woody Allen Week at Jewish Community Center film festivals.
- It is not only in movies that Jews besmirch Jews as sexualizing
the culture. Ruth Westheimer told The New York Times of her love for Judaism,
Israel, and the Jewish people. Meanwhile, as Dr. Ruth, with her grandmotherly
appearance and her high-pitched Jewish accent, she titillates her audiences
with shockingly explicit sexual advice.
- Radio shock-jock Howard Stern intersperses his displays
of dehumanizing depravity with a constant stream of "Oy veys"
as if subconsciously compelled to highlight his Jewish ethnicity.
- Jerry Springer, widely known as the Jewish former mayor
of Cincinnati, normalizes depravity by projecting a deviant sub-culture
and its cheering hooligans right into America's living room.
- A few years ago, the Los Angeles Jewish Journal gushingly
profiled a Jewish pornographer whose stage name is Ron Jeremy. The piece
praised the huge sums he's been paid to "bed more gorgeous women than
James Bond." Jeremy, who proudly admits to have acted in or directed
over 1,500 porn videos, cited the preponderance of Jewish men in porn and
explained, "Jewish families tend to be more liberal than Christian
ones, they aren't obsessed by the fear of the devil or going to hell."
As if to eliminate any lingering doubt about Ron Jeremy's Jewishness, the
Jewish Journal breathlessly assures us that Ron Jeremy plans to marry in
- You'd have to be a recent immigrant from Outer Mongolia
not to know of the role that people with Jewish names play in the coarsening
of our culture. Almost every American knows this. It is just that most
gentiles are too polite to mention it.
- Naturally, I am not suggesting that Americans of Jewish
descent should conceal their ethnic identity. I am urging those for whom
Judaism is a link to the eternal values of Sinai, to wake up and realize
how other Americans increasingly perceive us. Furthermore we ought to recognize
that this unwholesome perception of Jews is the result of anti-Semitism
perpetrated by Jews rather than by non-Jews. It would seem that Isaiah's
twenty-eight hundred year old prophecy to the Jewish people has come true
today - "Those that destroy you and those that wreck you go forth
from thee." (Isaiah 49:17)
- By now, some Jewish readers will be cringing. You might
be cursing me for making public the role of Jews in debasing the culture.
Perhaps you subscribe to the notion that nobody has noticed. I sympathize
and want you to know that I write about it only for the purpose of trying
to solve the problem. Make no mistake, it is a problem, and the solution
lies not in attempting to defame the critics, but in stepping forward to
criticize the defamers. Indeed, if we Jews do not ourselves condemn the
wrong that our brethren do, others with less sympathy eventually will do
- This excerpt from Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf shows how
that evil megalomaniac roused his nation to hurl an avalanche of destruction
at the Jewish people:
- "Was there any form of filth or profligacy, particularly
in cultural life, without at least one Jew involved in it? What had to
be reckoned heavily against the Jews in my eyes was when I became acquainted
with their activity in the press, art, literature, and the theater... It
sufficed to look at a billboard, to study the names behind the horrible
trash they advertised... Is this why the Jews are called the "chosen
people"? The fact that nine tenths of all literary filth, artistic
trash, and theatrical idiocy can be set to the account of a people, constituting
hardly one hundredth of all the country's inhabitants, could simply not
be talked away; it was the plain truth." (Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler,
- It does not excuse Hitler or his Nazi thugs for us to
acknowledge that this maniacal, master propagandist focused on a reality
that resonated with the educated, and cultured Germans of his day. Not
once in Mein Kampf did that monster charge Jews with being complicit in
the killing of Christ two thousand years earlier. He knew that long-ago
event, shrouded in mystery and theological profundity, would never goad
enlightened people to murder. Instead, he drew attention to the obvious
and inescapable; that which every German knew to be true.
- The sad fact is that through Jewish actors, playwrights,
and producers, the Berlin stage of Weimar Germany linked Jews and deviant
sexuality in all its sordid manifestations just as surely as Broadway does
today. Much of the filth in American entertainment today parallels that
of Germany between the wars.
- About twenty years ago, one of Ayn Rand's proteges, Leonard
Peikoff, wrote a book called The Ominous Parallels in which he described
how Germany's cultural decline helped bring the Nazis to power. With haunting
precision, Peikoff proves how similar is America's cultural decline. I
am not predicting vicious anti-Semitism in America but I am suggesting
that most decent Americans today feel more viscerally outraged by the assault
on decency than by the Crucifixion.
- Bill Cosby rightly condemned black entertainment that
hatefully glorifies destructive behavior. By contrast, Barbershop, the
2002 movie starring Icecube, and Cedric the Entertainer, limned a loving
portrait of a hard-working African-American family valiantly struggling
to achieve nobility in the face of formidable challenge. In the same year,
Nia Vardalos did her hilarious My Big Fat Greek Wedding, clearly demonstrating
her love for her warm-hearted and decent relatives. Contrarily, we Jews
routinely depict ourselves in repugnant caricatures of people you'd want
nothing to do with in real life. Why do my colleagues in Jewish communal
leadership never condemn this anti-Semitism? For if it is not anti-Semitism,
- Ah, but wait. The leader of a famous Jewish defense organization
that exists to stop the defamation of the Jewish people, recently denounced,
in The Jerusalem Post, one of the most profitable movies of 2004 for its
"vile notions of Jews." Reluctant to "contribute to the
overflowing coffers" of the producers by encouraging attendance, he
nonetheless insisted that "only by viewing it can one understand how
offensive it is."
- Was he describing the horrible sequel I am refusing to
name? Sadly, not. He was referring to Mel Gibson's The Passion. Nearly
a year after its release, and after polls show increased regard for Jews
among the film's audiences, Jewish organizations still condemn The Passion
as defamatory to Jews. Yet, astonishingly, they don't consider the examples
I cite above as defamatory to Jews.
- Here is a simple question: Do you suppose that people's
view of what Jews are really like is shaped more by Caius, an obscure two-thousand-year
old character in The Passion or alternatively by the contemporary couple
played by Streisand and Hoffman? Which movie more egregiously defames Jews?
Consider the meaning of the word 'defame.' To de-fame means to undo the
fame currently being enjoyed. Jews used to be known for having endowed
the world with the notion of sexual restraint and modesty. Judaism is now
being defamed by Jews.
- Inexplicably, nearly a year after its release and without
a shred of proof that anyone thinks the worse of Jews on its account, The
Passion continues to trouble some Jewish leaders. Hinting that their real
target was Mel Gibson the religious conservative, rather than Mel Gibson
the defamer of Judaism, a Jewish leader last week criticized Gibson for
opposing the changes in Catholic teaching advocated by the Vatican II council.
This is tantamount to a Christian leader criticizing an Orthodox Jew for
opposing the acceptance of homosexuality advocated by the leadership of
Reform Judaism. The only word for this is "Chutzpah" - indescribable
- For years the same Jewish leader has ignored Jews who
flagrantly and fraudulently defame Judaism but he incessantly continues
to condemn Mel Gibson. He fails to realize that it is his exaggerated attacks
on Mel Gibson, whose movie recently took top honors at the 31st annual
People's Choice Awards, that do considerable harm to American Jews, not
the film itself. Apparently Jews may behave outrageously while Christians,
however, will be held to a higher standard. This abolition of honest objectivity
lays the foundation for a frightening form of censorship and arbitrary
prosecution. It would surely cause the most cynical KGB commissar of the
bad old days to drool with envy.
- A paramount principle of paleontology is that failure
to adapt is a symptom of impending extinction. Anachronistically obsessing
on yesterday's dangers blinds one to contemporary perils. It is true that
in the past, mobs of European Catholics did murder Jews. That has never
happened in this most philo-Semitic of countries. American Jews are not
threatened by rampaging Christians seeking revenge for the blood of Christ.
However Jews are threatened by other forces against which we have precious
few allies. Prominent among our allies are seriously religious, and for
the most part, conservative Christians.
- When will more Jewish leaders learn who their friends
really are? When will they learn that those who incessantly bludgeon their
friends eventually won't have any friends left?
- It would be foolish not to realize that most decent Americans
are bothered far more by the trashing of American culture today than they
are by our possible complicity in the killing of Christ two thousand years
ago. Because so many of the most prominent trashers possess Jewish names
and proudly proclaim their Jewish ethnicity, it becomes a Jewish responsibility
to condemn the vulgarity by means of which they defame Judaism.
- We can't stop the Woody Allens and Howard Sterns, and
in a nation that enshrined free speech, maybe we oughtn't to try. However
we could redeem ourselves by protesting them instead of dissipating valuable
energies and priceless goodwill by endlessly protesting The Passion.
- - Rabbi Daniel Lapin is the president of Toward Tradition,
a national coalition of Christians and Jews defending the Judeo-Christian
values vital for our culture.