The Chofetz Chaim and the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem
No, they never met. But the Chofetz Chaim sure had him pegged right.
He told a story about the limits of disrespect and disdain. An elderly Jew, well into his eighties, applied for a passport. He came accompanied by two people who knew him well, and could identify him. The clerk turned down his application, demanding a birth certificate. Now, such certificates had only been introduced in that country many decades after the birth of the aged applicant, a fact that he immediately pointed out. The clerk responded contemptuously, “Well then. Just go back to your town and bring two witnesses who were around when you were born.”
The Chofetz Chaim found something particularly revolting in that, worse than if the clerk had simply said, (excuse the vernacular we are hearing more frequently lately), “$%^&#$^ you, Jew!” The utter unreasonableness of the clerk’s response spoke volumes. “I don’t owe you any attempt at reason, let alone accommodation. You are nothing but despicable slime, and I needn’t make any sense.” He didn’t simply dismiss the Jew, or express his intense hatred for him, but announced that logic was not a commodity that one wished to squander on sub-human Jews. (One wonders whether the Chofetz Chaim would have been so negatively impressed if he had more experience with contacting Customer Service.)
In any event, the story resonates within me after reading about the latest episode with the Anglicans. The Archbishop of Canterbury issued a statement last week condemning anti-semitism, after meeting with Israel’s Chief Rabbis. Archbishop Rowan Williams was clearly trying to make partial amends for his earlier endorsement of an Anglican divestment measure against companies profiting from “the Occupation.”
Reasonable people will disagree as to whether or not his conciliatory move should be taken as sufficient (Hitler never tried to make amends to Jews) or grossly deficient. Whatever it was, it has to be preferable to the unequivocal outrage of the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, whose contempt for Jews is surpassed only by his manhandling of reason.
Bishop Riah Abu al-Assal of Jerusalem told the Jerusalem Post that neither he nor other Arab Christian leaders had been properly consulted.
“Senior people of the Church of England informed me that the whole event came to appease Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Israel and the Jewish lobby because of what happened at the Synod of the Church of England regarding the issue of divestment,” Bishop Riah said. “My personal opinion is that it is not the right time – given the events in Palestine and the Middle East at large.”
So here is the impeccable logic. The Palestinians don’t like Israel, and want to destroy her. Therefore, British Anglicans should not speak to Jews. They especially should not condemn anti-Semitism as morally offensive. All Jews around the world clearly deserve to suffer for the “sins” of the evil Israelis.
Just what does the good bishop suffer from? A surfeit of hatred? A deficit of intelligence? Warped religion? All three?