A Television Drama Libels Hasidic Jews as Benighted Bigots

Feb. 24 2021

In its latest episode, Saturday Night Live featured a joke based on the presumption that Israel denies medical care to its non-Jewish citizens. Another series—Nurses, also on NBC—recently aired an episode featuring an injured ḥasidic teenager and his father. Not only do the writers misrepresent Orthodox Judaism as hostile to medicine, they perpetuate the old anti-Semitic stereotype that Jews are possessed, as the Roman historian Tacitus put it, by “a hatred of humanity in general.” Allison Josephs writes:

Israel, [the ḥasidic teenager], is told by the doctor that he’ll need a bone graft to heal fully. Israel doesn’t understand what this means, so the doctor explains that he’ll have to have part of a dead person’s bone surgically inserted into his leg.

Cue the horror! Israel and his father are distraught at the notion that he’ll have a dead person’s body part in his body and a “goyim” part to boot! But even worse than that—it could be an “Arab” body part or a “lady” body part. Or as the nurse reminds them, “an Arab lady” body part. There is no prohibition, [of course, even in the most stringent interpretations of halakhah], on getting a dead body part surgically inserted into one’s body. In fact, Jewish law [strongly encourages the use] of medicine to recover from illnesses. Nor is there a prohibition on getting a non-Jewish body part inserted, even if it belonged to a woman or an Arab.

[T]he idea that such a surgery would be problematic in general or problematic because of where the bone came from . . . is a vicious lie that endangers men who walk around with curled sidelocks and black hats.

As an aside, another theme of the episode, involving other characters, was kidney donations. If the writers ever bothered to learn about Orthodox Jews, they might discover that they and specifically ḥasidic Jews, are off the charts when it comes to donating kidneys to strangers—15 percent of all altruistic donors in the U.S. are Orthodox Jews, even though they make up only 0.3 percent of the population.

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Read more at Jew in the City

More about: Anti-Semitism, Hasidism, Television

 

How the Death of Mahsa Amini Changed Iran—and Its Western Apologists

Sept. 28 2022

On September 16, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahsa Amini was arrested by the Iranian morality police for improperly wearing a hijab. Her death in custody three days later, evidently after being severely beaten, sparked waves of intense protests throughout the country. Since then, the Iranian authorities have killed dozens more in trying to quell the unrest. Nervana Mahmoud comments on how Amini’s death has been felt inside and outside of the Islamic Republic:

[I]n Western countries, the glamorizing of the hijab has been going on for decades. Even Playboy magazine published an article about the first “hijabi” news anchor in American TV history. Meanwhile, questioning the hijab’s authenticity and enforcement has been framed as “Islamophobia.” . . . But the death of Mahsa Amini has changed everything.

Commentators who downplayed the impact of enforced hijab have changed their tune. [Last week], CNN’s Christiane Amanpour declined an interview with the Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, and the Biden administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s notorious morality police and senior officials for the violence carried out against protesters and for the death of Mahsa Amini.

The visual impact of the scenes in Iran has extended to the Arab world too. Arabic media outlets have felt the winds of change. The death of Mahsa Amini and the resulting protests in Iran are now top headlines, with Arab audiences watching daily as Iranian women from all age groups remove their hijabs and challenge the regime policy.

Iranian women are making history. They are teaching the world—including the Muslim world—about the glaring difference between opting to wear the hijab and being forced to wear it, whether by law or due to social pressure and mental bullying. Finally, non-hijabi women are not afraid to defy, proudly, their Islamist oppressors.

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Read more at Nervana

More about: Arab World, Iran, Women in Islam