Above the Fold: Jews as Judas in 2019

Both the Polish government and the Catholic Church decried the hateful and shocking act.

By MICAH D. HALPERN
April 30, 2019 19:12
3 minute read.
A FLAG and flowers are left at a monument in Warsaw, Poland

A FLAG and flowers are left at a monument in Warsaw, Poland that commemorates the uprising in the city’s Jewish ghetto in 1944.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

To commemorate the Christian holiday of Easter, a small town in southern Poland named Pruchnik burned a Jew in effigy.

The local townspeople, many of them children, gathered in the town square. Then, in front of onlookers, they beat an 18-foot tall doll, dressed to look like a bearded hassid – complete with a long, hooked nose, “peyot” (sidelocks) and a black hat. After the flogging, the townspeople dragged the huge – by now bedraggled – doll to the bridge. They set it aflame and threw it into the river.

The doll was supposed to symbolize Judas who, according to the Christian Bible, betrayed Jesus. Emblazoned on the front of the shirt worn by the doll was the name “Judas” and “2019.”

Understand this clearly. This was not a misrepresentation. It was not a reenactment. This was not a group of people taking out their collective, religious anger at Judas as found in the Christian Bible. The presence of the year 2019 clearly anchors this event in today’s world. In other words, the Jews of today are responsible for the death of Jesus.

Both the Polish government and the Catholic Church decried the hateful and shocking act.

It is a well-known open secret that these ritualistic events have been taking place over the centuries. Once a commonplace practice, it is now less and less frequent, but still not out of the ordinary.

The Christian burning of Jewish effigies has a long history. These burnings even happened in communities where Jews had a good life. Easter has, historically, been marked by Jewish persecutions in Jewish communities throughout Europe. Jews were regularly abused, chased and even murdered and burned alive – sometimes, in their own synagogues.

Easter commemorates Jesus’s murder at the hands of the Romans. For centuries, Christians and Christianity officially blamed the Jews. They blamed all Jews, including those Jews still living among them, for the killing of Jesus 2,000 years ago. It was the backbone of traditional Jew-hatred, and it went on for centuries.

These acts were often spurred on by Passion Plays, which depict Jesus’s death. The most famous took place in 1634 and was called Oberammergau, for the Bavarian town in which it was written. More than 300 years later, Hitler noted his great appreciation for the Oberammergau Passion Play.

The situation changed in 1965, with the Second Vatican Council and the institution of Nostra Aetate, which means “our neighbors” in Latin. That is when a decision was clearly articulated that Jews today do not bear responsibility for the death of Jesus. It states that the Church “decries hatred, persecutions [and] displays of antisemitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.”

That decision was reinforced by Pope John Paul II, known by most Christians and non-Christians as the Polish Pope, and by many poles as “Our Pope.” John Paul II often repeated the dictate about not blaming the Jews of today for Jesus’s death. He spoke about fighting antisemitism and about the need to embrace Jews and to respect them, especially because of the horrific abuse and suffering endured by Jews during the Holocaust.

The rise of new antisemitism and intersectionalism is upon us. In this new era, the Jew is considered to be both entitled and the oppressor. In this new form of antisemitism, all oppressed peoples and their movements are united against a common oppressor – in this case, the Jew.

At the same time, the old-fashioned Jew-hatred that embraces the vile notion of the Jewish deicide that killed Jesus – is still alive and well in many places throughout the world. You don’t have to look any further than what just happened in Poland.


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