Friday, April 30, 2010
The Napoleonic Sanhedrin Theory of Equal Rights (Part II)
What does it mean to be a citizen? To put it simply it is the obligation to obey the law and the promise to not use the instruments of government to advance any private interests. A Jew who becomes a citizen of his host country agrees to place the interests of this country and his loyalty to it above the interests of Jews in other countries. In the most extreme case, if the United States were to go to war against Canada, the American government could draft me and put me in the front lines. If I see a Jewish soldier, with a beard and side-locks, charging at my unit, I am obligated to kill this Jew in order to save the life of my Christian comrades. Keep in mind that my American Christian comrades are being asked to make the same decision regarding Canadian Christians. If I refuse to do my duty I have every reason to assume that my Christian comrades will in turn refuse to do their duty. They could easily decide to join forces with their Christian brothers to the north of the border to kill me in the cause of creating the United Christian States of North America. By agreeing to pull the trigger I am protecting my life and the lives of all Jews back home. It is certainly unlikely that this Canadian scenario would ever happen, but that is not the point. This system of tolerance relies on the implicit assumption of my willingness to carry through with all my obligations even to the point of killing. (It should be pointed out that American Muslim soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are actually in this situation. Their loyalty is under question and their willingness to fulfill their duty, even to the point of killing fellow Muslims, will affect how Muslims in this country will be treated.)
Having never killed another Jew in defense of this country, my fellow non-Jewish Americans are going to judge me based on more prosaic issues. It is here that Napoleon's questions become relevant and force some difficult answers. Take, for example, the issue of intermarriage. After saving my Christian comrade, he decides that I am the perfect good American for his sister to marry. What is he to make of the fact that I would not even consider the possibility, but would consider the sister of the Jew I killed? It should be noted that Orthodox Judaism's taboo against intermarriage goes way beyond what even conservative Christians have in place. We are telling American non-Jews that we are willing to kill other Jews in their defense, but we are not willing to marry their sisters. And they are supposed to believe us?
I am not suggesting that Jews should accept intermarriage. The forcefulness of the taboo, though, requires some rethinking. I can manage, with a straight face, to tell American non-Jews that I am willing to kill, even other Jews, for them, because Judaism accepts the concept of war. Just as Christianity allows Christians to be loyal citizens of the earthly State, serve in its military and even kill other Christians, Jewish law allows me to kill other Jews in war. No Jew during World War I was refused entrance in a synagogue for shooting at other Jews. I wish to have a Jewish home and raise my children as Jews. The best way to do that is to marry someone is Jewish, not that there is anything wrong with non-Jews. This is a far cry from "intermarriage is treason to the Jewish people, if you intermarry we will consider you a dead person and not let you set foot in a synagogue." To use Catholic terminology, intermarriage must be viewed as a venial, but not a mortal sin.
What do Jews believe about non-Jews? If I believe that my Christian neighbors are satanic enemies of God, doomed to everlasting hellfire if they do not recognize my one true faith then I could hardly expect citizenship. "You Christians are evil sinners, hateful to God, but trust me to be on your side." On the contrary, I have to believe that Christians are moral God-fearing people, whom I may have certain minor theological disagreements with. This would mean that the doctrine of eternal damnation, in all its forms, is out. This also strengthens the limitations to objecting to intermarriage. Again, if Christians are so wonderful that I would want to join with them in citizenship then why should I object to marrying them or of having any of my fellow Jews doing so. I would also add here the issue of conversion. If there is nothing really so bad about Christianity why should I object if one of my children wishes to become one? Would I disinherit my child for voting for Obama to be president? Why should I object if my child votes for Jesus as his personal savior?
I was once told by a Haredi young man that he believed, and was taught by his teachers, that non-Jews were not truly of the same species to such an extent that you cannot rely on the medical studies done on non-Jews for making medical decisions about Jews. Forget about the scientific absurdity of this; let us consider the political implications. This Haredi is basically saying: "you goyim are a bunch of animals, who are not even human, but I view you as my equals and have your best interests at heart." You non-Jews believe him? He is making a mockery of you. There is no reason for you to tolerate him. Strip him of his citizenship or even throw him out of the country. If you were to go so far as to stick him into a gas chamber, I would have no grounds to object or complain.