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Who is to blame?

by: Rabbi Jeremy Rosen - Last updated: 2004-09-24

Jeremy Rosen

Rabbi Jeremy Rosen

I have just participated in a series for the World Service of the BBC on exorcism.

It looks at how exorcising devils has a long and not very savoury past and the hold it has on primitive cultures around the world today. Indeed Medieval Judaism and modern Medieval Judaism are far from impervious. Today it is a rapidly increasing church based phenomenon in Britain and the USA. The programme ended with the comment that an increasing number of people are justifying quite abnormal behaviour by saying such things as ‘I was possessed’ or ’The Devil made me do it.’ And in one way this is just an extension of a very modern tendency to explain away criminal behaviour as the result of a criminal background, childhood abuse, the failures of society, parents and Uncle Tom Cobbley.

Of course there is no doubt that background influences. This is what is meant by the line in the Ten Commandments about visiting the sins of the fathers on the children. It is not punitive but consequential. Nevertheless we all know people who have triumphed over adversity of all sorts. In Judaism, whilst allowances are made, a person is still held responsible for his or her actions. I hate to get on my high horse because we have quite a few unsavoury characters of our own but in general Judaism is a culture of self-blame. We were responsible for losing our Temples and our States. We were to blame, not the Imperialist Romans or Babylonians. If we were beaten up second-class citizens in Exile, it was our fault.

And yet our society continues to be heavily dominated by what I can only describe as mentally challenged people (perhaps overly influenced by Marxist ideology) who always seek excuses by blaming everyone else. Islam is a perfect case. All the evil there is the fault of the West. Not their own rulers, regimes, mullahs, indigence or obedience to distorted religious concept, oh no. It is all the fault of the mistaken policies of the West and one policy in particular, allowing Jews to defend their homeland in the Middle East. In the Muslim world the brutes of Beslan are described as ‘activists.’ The hostages taken in Iraq by ‘freedom fighters’ are in their predicament because of what Israelis have done to Palestinians. The West needs to understand why it is hated. This is like saying that if criminals hate the police, they should try to soften their image and understand why and change their policies! Israel is to blame for Chechnya, for Nepal, Indonesia, Kashmir, the Indo- Pakistani conflict, for Arab Jinjaweed murderers and rapists in Sudan and indeed locusts in Mauritania. And perfectly reasonable white men like the Bishop of Liverpool or the family of the kidnapped Ken Bigley all spout the same irrational, unsustainable nonsense. In the case of the latter one can understand and sympathize. But this belief in a manifestly nonsensical position is precisely the same as believing that the Devil is responsible for all evil. So I guess we just have to sigh at their medieval stupidity.

And sadly it is still endemic in our Western world too. The spokesman of the Muslim Council of Great Britain says it on the BBC and here is a letter written by a clear victim of superstition in reply to a polite application for a job from a young Israeli girl. I have left it in its original (the uneducated style is not mine)

‘Thank you for your CV, but in you're not we're looking for. The ideal person for us will be first an foremost an illustrator, as our advertisement specified - working with a pen and brush -  with an interest in modelmaking, whereas your own forte is interior design and CAD.. . 

Speaking personally however may I  suggest that for European consumption you would be wise to omit details of your national service, which you describe with  such evident and ingenuous pride?    The natural  reaction of most educated Europeans to the information you provide is likely to be "so it was she who guided those guinships to targetted assasinations and the murder of women and children with indiscriminate bombing and strafing of refugee camps
(refugee camps!!!! 50 years after your compatriots drove them from  their homes - and you have done nothing for them ever since.)!". Most educated Europeans - and as a matter of fact a large proprtion of educated Americans too -  now view 'Israel' as a brutal undemocratic (where are the votes for the indigenous inhabitants whom you have helotised?) colonial state, run by criminal who defy all international law and natural justice. And a sizeable proportion doubts the 'right' of Israel to exist . This has nothing to do with anti-semitism. nor is it racism  - that is the kind of  disgusting attitude which one might say is inherent in the idea of the state of Israel, and one might say  among a large section of  believing Jews  elsewhere, who
regard  the rest of us as inferior and unclean - and not chosen by God. What could be more racist than that? And what happens to those of your race who dare to speak out against the wickedness that your fanatacsim inevitably leads to? they are murdered or have acid thrown in their faces like Yael Dayan

just to put you in the picture  
Piers Croke

Gisela Graham Limited.
12 Colworth Grove
Browning Street
London, SE17 1LR
Phone: +44 (0)20 7708 4956
Fax: +44 (0)20 7703 9859

So Muslims and Christians can have states and defend them but not Jews. And the Christians who believe that Jews are consigned to Hell or Muslims who classify Jews as Dhimmis are not racist. But Jews who simply think they need to try to set a good example, are. And the hundreds of thousands of Israelis exercising their democratic freedom of expression who marched to object to Israeli policies, were all spattered with acid or murdered or tortured to death? I don’t think so!!!

I trust that those of you who do not enjoy the company of Medieval Devils will avoid this one like the plague.

But let us, over Yom Kippur, just concentrate on ourselves. We might not be able to change the world but we can make a start at home.