Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Should Jews apologize for killing Christ?

The problem with getting most of your news from Comedy Central is that I was very late to pick up on this news story...

Frank D. Hargrove Sr., a delegate to the Virginia legislature, made headlines last month when he expressed his opposition to a resolution expressing regret for slavery. He commented, "Are we going to force the Jews to apologize for killing Christ?"

Let's stop and think about that statement for a moment before we jump to a knee-jerk condemnation. Let's be clear: Mr. Hargrove did not demand that Jews apologize for anything; rather, while opposing Virginia's apology, he said that Virginia's apology would be as wrong as demanding an apology from the Jews. If what he's saying is, today's Virginians are no more responsible for slavery than today's Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus, that today's Virginians do not owe an apology any more than today's Jews do ... is that such a bad thing to say? It is, after all, the essence of the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate, the landmark document that opened up a new era of Jewish-Catholic relations, to say that today's Jews should not be held responsible for the actions of some of their ancestors.

But the analogy falls apart very quickly. It is one thing for a perceived victim to say that no apology is necessary; quite another thing for a perceived oppressor to say, "get over it." Mr. Hargrove would not force an apology from Jews (how nice of him), but I wonder how he would react if a prominent Jew were to tell him to "get over" the death of Jesus, as he told African-Americans to "get over" slavery.

I've found that those whose people have not suffered oppression are very quick to tell others to "get over it." They're very quick to tell others that they are "too sensitive." Every year, around Holocaust Memorial Day, we hear people tell Jews to "get over" the systematic murder of one third of our population. Now we hear Mr. Hargrove telling blacks to "get over" the fact that their ancestors were enslaved for 100 years, and telling a Jew who objected to his remarks that his skin was "too thin."

I wonder how Mr. Hargrove would react if an Arab told him to "get over" 9/11. Not so easy to "get over" it when you consider yourself connected to the victim instead of to the oppressor, is it? Not so easy to have a thick skin?

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UneFemmePlusCourageuse said...

I had a friend in high school who used to make really insensitive comments and tell jokes that made fun of religious and ethnic groups in very mean ways. If people acted offended, he said that they "couldn't take a joke", or that they were too "thin-skinned".
But when you're seventeen or eighteen, these kinds of things are almost normal. You're supposed to be tough an uneffected, you're supposed to want to try to shock people.
When you're seventy-something, the time for this is past. He should have apologized to Dr. Englin, not insulted him.

JewishPhilosopher said...

While our condemnation should not be "knee-jerk," it should be a condemnation nevertheless, and not simply for the hypocrisy inherent in such insults. Hargrove's logic fails on two counts:

Firstly, he assumes that by apologizing, the Virginians of today accept responsibility for their ancestors. Apologies, however, are made for many other reasons. We often apologize for the misfortune of friends to show sympathy, not confession. Furthermore, formal, legislative apologies serve to recognize the inherently unacceptable nature of an act (in this case, slavery). It is nonsense to say that the Papal administration willing to apologize for the Inquisition is the same culprit of the Inquisition. The point is to send a message of recognition--to go on record as decrying such acts, lest people think the sensibilities of the Church (or Virginia) really haven't changed.

Secondly, the analogy falls apart. Ancestors of Virginians DID own slaves as an undisputed historical fact. The ROMANS killed Jesus.

morningstar said...

Of course Imperial Rome wasn't around to blame from the Dark Ages onward...

But beyond all that - didn't Jesus have to die, "for our sins", in order to then rise again? Isn't that the 'point' of Christianity? So, logically, for whatever role they played at the time, shouldn't Jews be credited, rather than blamed?

books said...

Hello. I really like your website. Here is my question. How do Jews become/remain members (is that the right word?) of their local temple. In the Christian tradition, members are expected to "tithe" but it is not mandatory. What is it like for members of Jewish synagouges.


JewFAQ said...

Synagogues charge dues for membership, as a club would. A thousand dollars a year for a single person (more for married couples, familes) is not unusual, though it may be more or less depending on the location and the size of the congregation. This money pays for the maintenance of the building and the salaries of both religious staff (rabbi, cantor) and lay staff (secretary, janitor). There are usually additional charges for sending a child to Hebrew school (religious education).

You can attend services without being a member, though access to the popular Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services may be limited to members simply because of lack of space! In fact, some synagogues charge extra for attending those services.

All of these charges can be reduced or even waived in cases of financial need, though synagogues may require proof of genuine financial need (a recent tax return or something).

jnllcllns said...

First of all let me tell you how very much I love your website. It is a valuable source of information and learning for me. It is frequently neccessary for me to see the Jewish perception on things. I am a Christian, but let me clarify my meaning on that as the word Christian has so many negative conotations throughout history. I am a believer who believes that Jesus Christ is the Messiah sent to restore the fellowship between man and God, with the sacrifice of His life and the shedding of His redemptive blood. Having said that I wish to make a comment on the "Should Jews appologise for killing Christ" Seems to me any "Christian" that truly knew what the Word of God taught would think that a silly question. Jews did not kill Jesus, and even the Romans did not kill Jesus. The whole premise of Christianity is that Christ was God come in the flesh to redeem His people. Who can kill God? Jesus said as much to Pilate."You would'nt have any authority over me if it had not been given from above". Jesus laid his life down, it was not taken from him. People who wish to argue about this are involved in "vain babblings and geneologies", they are not following either the commands of God or the teachings of Christ.

Mario Marchio said...

Hi - thanks for your blog. I am a Christian and was looking at Judaism 101 site where I found your blog. Could you explain to me - much as the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip in Acts 8:34 - of whom does the prophet Isaiah speak in Isaiah 53?
Thanks you so much for your time.
Much love.
Mario Marchio'

Colin said...

I pray and welcome the day where none of this is relevant, where people of all faiths can simply get along.
I pray for a day when a man can look at a man and has embellishment of hate. We as humans are indelibly affected by the things, good or bad, that are left behind by our elders. I pray for peace and never to see the schisms that divide, not allow us to reunite.
Ethnic populations stress the importance of maintaing traditions. I support this. However, when any organized faith, belief or policy seeks to divide, then there can not be unity.
I hope God mercies all of us......we are merely mortal.

Leanne said...

I agree with JnnllCllns. It's the ignorance of this question that still adds to the division between Jews and Christians.
Obviously, the division is not that simple, but Jesus Christ gave His life. As a human being born into a sinful nature, it was my fault Christ died.
I am sad, ashamed, and repentant for the pain and suffering inflicted on the Jewish people all in the name of Christianity over the past 2000 years.
It is the Christians who need to repent and pray for healing for the Jewish people.