I spoke in my book – Musique Russe – of the indifference which reigned around the violence inflicted on the Jews during the years which preceded the WWII «We did not say anything, we did nothing…» Today no more reaction to defend our fellow citizens of the Jewish faith against the anti-Semitic acts which are perpetuated with a disturbing upsurge. Just a few examples among others: Insulting graffiti, verbal insults, the portrait of Simone Weill tagged in February 2019 … Finkielkraut attacked in May … Let us also remember the repetitive insults tagged on Jewish graves, in Charente, Bordeaux, Cognac, and other places! Recently, the desecration of the Westhoffen Jewish cemetery in Alsace on December 3, 2019, swastikas drawn in black on more than a hundred graves. How can we attack the dead?
To close this very shortened inventory, I will end with this December 19: two and a half years after the assassination of Sarah Halimi, severely beaten and thrown out the window by Kabili Traore, shouting Allah Akhbar, the Paris Court of Appeal concluded initially the criminal was not mentally sane to be prosecuted! Under the influence of illicit substances the assassin was not responsible. “It’s not my fault,” he pleaded, and was absolved. A word to the wise:Suffice is to get high enough to kill your neighbor with impunity! Could a young boy of another faith who would be trialed for the same crime be so easily forgiven?
Little or no reaction to all of this infamy. Paralyzed by fear, we say nothing, we do nothing.
We, the human beings of the world, whatever our social or religious differences are, unite to fight the hatred spread against a people which did not motivate it, in any case not in the time of Abraham like we saw it in the first episode of my quest for truth, no more than in the time of Moses as you will read in the text that I offer below.
Somewhere on the banks of the Nile, 1500 years before Christ, Jewish parents fearing to be murdered by polytheistic barbarians, to save their son, put him in a wicker basket which they abandon along to the river current.
Much further afield, in Egypt, people from the court of Pharaoh Ramses honor their many idols. Suddenly at the sight of a basket drifting on the water, the queen interrupts the pagan ceremony. Immediately recovered by two servants who bring him back to Asiyah, wife of the Egyptian sovereign, opens the cradle, and happiness overwhelms her, her baby will be named Moses, Moses arrived, Moses saved from the waters.
Become a very intelligent young man, he is the gray eminence of the Pharaoh. Surrounded by jealousy, he must prove his integrity. In the throne room, in the presence of the sovereign, courtiers set a trap to exclude him from the court. Two basins are placed on a console, one overflowing with rubies, the other with hot coals. Pharaoh urged him to use it as he pleased: “Everything belongs to you.” Moses instinctively points his forearm at the gemstones; but God deflects his gesture towards the glowing embers. Moses brings one of them to his mouth and burns himself excruciatingly. Here he is condemned to stuttering forever. Accepting his handicap, Moses guesses that a supernatural power watches over him.
To assert their supremacy, the councilors, vexed, throw at the feet of the pharaoh their sticks which transform into snakes. An envious man provokes Moses: “Since your God is so strong, let him try to do like us!” He throws down his stick which turns into a snake. The reptile immediately swallows the other two serpents.
Convinced of being the embodiment of God on earth, Moses feels invincible. He demands from Pharaoh the release of his enslaved brothers who strive to build the pyramids of the Egyptian dynasties, real five-star tombs. -Let my people go! The Pharaoh holds a resolute language to him: “I want to keep my Jews.” Moses, upset, promises the worst disasters which actually hit Egypt one after the other: rivers of blood … invasions of morfal frogs, swarms of thirsty mosquitoes …. Herds decimated … The Egyptians full of pustules … And … supreme horror! Death of all firstborns including Pharaoh’s eldest son.
Ramses wants to keep his Jews as long as he can exploit them as he pleases, but begins to take his divinities are on a permanent strike! At the death of his child the boss broke down and finally gives satisfaction to Moses who leaves, followed by his brothers.
Guided by Moses, the Hebrews progress through the desert to the Red Sea. The situation is serious, on one side the sea and on the other a cloud of sand reveals the advance of the Egyptian army. A good reason to panic! How can the beloved god of Moses save them? Impossible to swim across the sea! Moses, empowered by a supernatural force, splits the waters of the Red Sea, and opens up a dry passage!
Despite the fear that this miracle would turn into a drama but strongly encouraged by their leader, the Jewish people marched towards the opposite bank while behind them the waters closed on themselves and engulfed the Egyptian army.
The Jews, doubtful, are hungry, – Will our shepherd be able to feed us? – Lost in his thoughts, Moses also wonders, what did he get into? “God help me,” he prayed. He is heard, within sight a bush that burns but does not burn away, it is a sign from above. He approaches. From the flames arises an angel who promotes him shepherd of the people of God. And in the process the manna falls. However, the Almighty, annoyed by their skepticism, prolonged their wandering for forty years before forgiving them. He then summons Moses to Mount Sinai and entrusts him with the Tables of the Law; in his absence the Jewish people built a golden calf that they worship. Overwhelmed with rage Moses breaks the Sacred Tables.
Definitely God is good, he offers a new chance to his representative. It is up to him to educate his faithful followers with respect for His divine Person. Moses in a thundering voice harangues them harshly. To reward him for his eloquence which proves to be effective, God calls him back to Mount Sinai and delivers him a second copy of the code of ethics. The people will be divided into 12 tribes, the tables of the law will be placed in a tabernacle in the center of the place of prayer. Everything is fine. It is forgetting that men are demanding, it is hot, they are thirsty, there is no water. The Almighty owes them assistance. Moses again intervenes with the creator who orders him to touch with his stick a certain rock from which a fountain will spring. But Moses, worn out, tired of playing go-between, hits the rock instead of caressing it gently. Heavenly disgrace falls on him. He’s doomed. He will lead his brothers to the gates of the promised land, will see the land of Canaan but will never be able to access it.
In my view, as a Christian, I do not see in the story of Moses a single reason why anti-Semitism would arise. Nothing to be jealous of these Jews happy to meet a guide who is bent on helping his brothers to leave a country where they are subjugated by authoritarian and ungrateful pharaohs. Moses is wonderful, determined and enduring in the face of the ordeals repeatedly sent to him by his good God. How can we not admire this man who embodies courage and tenacity? In any case Moses, energetic and combative, cannot inspire any kind of ostracism. This rebounding Jew who overcomes his anxieties to save his people is worthy of respect. And these brave people of the Jewish faith, wandering for years to finally land in Canaan, have done nothing that could spawn anti-Semitism.
Both Catholic and Protestant, an individual among others, I do not see how the Jewish people have badly behaved and have become the preferred target of the whole world! I may not be educated enough, and if some of you, my friends, think differently let me know. Either way, I hope to hear from you.
Note: photos from the movie «The Ten Commandments» © Paramount Pictures