Norma Rae:You a Jew?
Reuben Warshawsky: Beg your pardon?
Norma Rae: Are you a Jew?
Reuben Warshawsky: Born and bred.
Norma Rae: I never met a Jew before.
Reuben Warshawsky: How ya doin'? . . .
Norma Rae: Well, what makes you different?
Reuben Warshawsky: History.
History. That is what defines the difference between how a Jew--however secular--thinks about anti-semitic statements and how a non-Jew thinks about them. History. That is why many non-Jews are mystified by what Jews consider to be anti-semitic. It's history. The history of European Jewry that even American Jews seem to carry in their DNA and the history that Americans thankfully have not experience and know nothing about.
This difference in understanding is exempified by the popular radio talk-show host Glenn Beck, and his TV Christian testimony, and a crucial remark that probably seemed innocuous to him, but was disturbing to his Jewish listeners. In the interest of full disclosure, I do listen to Glenn Beck frequently. I am not crazy about his current revivalist mood, and I am not interested in his religious opinions, but I do admire his ability to make connections that are not obvious, and from them to discuss what is happening to the Constitution of the United States. I often agree with his assessment of the people and the actions that are making the news but my definition of the terms and my reasoning is very different from Beck's because his morality is definitively collectivist and Christian and mine is definitively individualist and rational. And yet, being a Jew and knowing the history, I shuddered at his remark.
On his Tuesday July 13, 2010 TV show, Beck dicussed the issue of collective salvation as presented by Black Liberation Theology. Part of the connection between liberation theology and Marxism is the idea that salvation is not individual, nor can it be attained by individual choice, rather it is collective, and therefore the initiation of force against individuals in order to "save" them can be morally justified. In liberation theology in general, Jesus is identified as the ultimate victim, and thus only victims have spiritual value and are among the elect. They, in turn, by forcing the oppressors ( usually identified as white, male, or wealthy) to "give back what they took", can save them as well. Since this salvation is collective, one does not have to be among the actual oppressed to be saved, rather one merely has to belong to some "oppressed" class or group as identified by those who promulgate this idea. (Jews, though certainly oppressed for millennia, never make the collectivist cut).
The problem is that such an idea also assigns collective responsibility over generations, and promotes the notion of collective punishment. There is no place for the individual moral choices that promote life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The "oppressed" are good by definition, and the "oppressors" are evil by definition, regardless of the actual actions of individuals so defined. This kind of collectivist morality has always led to mass torture and murder of the second group by the first.
In the segment of Glenn Beck's TV show on Fox News that is in question, Beck first plays a video of the founder of Black Liberation Theology, James Cone. (Full segment is available at JIDF. I do not agree with JIDF's politics nor their assessment of the Glenn Beck remark). Glenn Beck's full response to Cone deals with the Christian theology of the atonement by the crucifixion of Jesus.
Note: Jews DO NOT agree with the doctrine of original sin that was posited by the early Christians in order to explain the need for the crucifixion. Judaism teaches that the presence of human beings on the earth is very good -- tov meod--and that human beings are endowed with free will, which means that each person must make choices and it is the nature of those choices that determine whether he is good or evil. This is a religious expression of individual responsibility. This idea evolved over time within the Israelite religion, and became normative in very early Rabbinic Judaism.
In his response to Cone, while discussing the Christian doctrine of the cross, Beck begins by saying:
"This is kind of complex, because Jesus did identify with the victims. But Jesus was not a victim. He was a conqueror...Jesus conquered death. He wasn't victimized. He chose to give his life....If he was a victim, and this theology was true, then Jesus would've come back from the dead and made the Jews pay for what they did. That's an abomination." (The Glenn Beck Show, Tuesday, July 13, 2010--at approximately 6 minutes into the segment. Emphasis mine).
Here is a video of this crucial statement. It is in its own context, and can be understood just from this clip:
"Let us pray also for the perfidious Jews: that Almighty God may remove the veil from their hearts; so that they too may acknowledge Jesus Christ our Lord. ('Amen' is not responded, nor is said 'Let us pray', or 'Let us kneel', or 'Arise', but immediately is said:) Almighty and eternal God, who dost not exclude from thy mercy even Jewish faithlessness: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people; that acknowledging the light of thy Truth, which is Christ, they may be delivered from their darkness."