Thursday, April 17, 2008

The PC Make-Over of Passover

"The PC Make-Over of Passover"

by Steven Plaut

In recent years, Passover has undergone a make-over in the American Jewish
non-Orthodox community, one that has converted it largely into a holiday
devoted to celebrating human rights, protesting a long list of human rights
abuses and promoting fashionable causes. The remake seems designed to make
Passover a cosmopolitan holiday, one with a universal message in which all
can join, in essence the Jewish answer to the Declaration of the Rights of
Man of the French Revolution.

Back in the 1960s, a series of Political Correctness Haggadot (plural of
Haggada) were written, in which the message of Passover was turned into a
celebration of the civil rights movement in the United States. Arthur
Waskow, the guru of the *Tikkun*-"Renewal" crowd, wrote at the time a Black
Liberation Passover Haggadah, celebrating black militants like the Black
Panthers, who were themselves coincidentally calling at the same time for
the annihilation of Jews. Later Political Correctness Haggadot were devoted
to homosexual rights, women's liberation, and assorted other faddish causes,
not least of which was Palestinian "liberation". No doubt, this year will
see Defend Iran and Help Obama *Haggadot* or No War for Oil ones.
"Multicultural" Passover seders became fashionable in some circles, in which
the seder became a mixture of acclamations for human rights and freedom,
taken from a wide variety of non-Jewish sources.

As yet another illustration, a few years back the Passover *cause
celebre of American Jewish liberals was Tibet (my guess is it will be
this year again), with Tibetan officials invited to Passover seders, and
where the
leftist Religious Action Center (RAC) of the Reform synagogue movement
called on Jews to hold Tibetan-freedom Passover seders in solidarity with
Tibet. The RAC is devoted to the proposition that Jewish values are nothing
more and nothing less than this year's leftist political fads, including gay
"marriage", supporting affirmative action apartheid programs, and opposing
all welfare reform. Its head, Rabbi David Saperstein was quoted with
approval a few years back by the American Communist Party's weekly

In all of these attempts to recast Passover as the celebration of human
rights, the Professional Liberals of the American Jewish Establishment (or
PLAJEs, for short) seem to be overlooking one little point. And that is
that Passover has absolutely nothing to do with human rights and is not at
all a celebration of human freedom. Not that there is anything wrong with
celebrating human rights, mind you. I would certainly not object to
creating such a holiday, and my personal preference would be to hold it on
Hiroshima Day, the day in which the A-bomb saved countless human lives and
created the conditions under which freedoms could be extended to many
millions of oppressed Asians.

For the record, Passover is the celebration of Jewish national liberation. It
is one of three such Jewish holidays devoted entirely to celebrating Jewish
national liberation, the other two being Hannuka and Purim, and Passover is
the only one with Torah foundations. It is not the celebration of generic
civil rights, nor even the celebration of freedom and dignity for oppressed
peoples around the globe. It is the celebration of Jews achieving national
self-determination and taking their homeland back by force of arms.

The only role that human rights play in the story of Passover is in showing
that, under certain circumstances, human rights may be trampled upon for the
greater good - namely, for Jewish national liberation. In order to achieve
Jewish national liberation, God ran roughshod over the human rights of the
Egyptians. He afflicted them with a series of plagues. He then killed all
Egyptian first-born.

While Pharaoh no doubt deserved everything he got, most of the rest of the
Egyptian people were completely innocent, hardly responsible for Pharaoh's
human rights abuses, themselves oppressed by Pharaoh yet still subjects of
collateral damage. They paid the price for Pharaoh's crimes and God saw this
as necessary and just. The innocent first-born of all those innocent
Egyptian parents were killed. And while it is not clear, apparently the
first-born of the non-Jewish slaves were also innocent victims of the Tenth
Plague. And then, even the first-born of the animals in Egypt were killed,
a development that would no doubt have driven the animal rights movement to
hysterical outrage. What on earth did those poor animals do to deserve such
a punishment?

While all of the above involve the Almighty's decision to violate the
legitimate human rights of the Egyptian people, human rights abuses in the
Passover story are not restricted to those inflicted by the Divine. The
Jewish slaves, before taking to the road, also take away the wealth and
savings of the Egyptian people, albeit at Divine command to do so. While
Pharaoh no doubt owed them some back wages, this wealth was in essence being
stolen from the innocent Ordinary Egyptians, and not necessarily only from
the yuppie upper classes.

Incidentally, the poor sons of Haman, the 75 thousand or so Persians who get
killed and the others who have their property confiscated by the Jews
according to the Scroll of Esther, and all those innocent Greek Seleucid
Republican Guards getting whacked by the Maccabee Green Berets are other
examples of human rights going out the window when Jewish national
liberation and independence are pursued.

Passover is, of course, hardly a glorification of these human rights abuses.
It is simply a celebration of Jewish national liberation *even when* it is
pre-conditioned upon a certain necessary amount of moral tradeoffs and *
realpolitik*. The lesson is clear. When there is no choice, squeamishness
over the "human rights" of innocent people is out of place. The human rights
of the Egyptians in the story of Exodus count for no more than the human
rights of innocent Germans and Japanese getting the hell bombed out of them
in World War II, or innocent residents of Baghdad and the Sunni Triangle
getting bombed by the Coalition forces. Such things are necessary in the
real world. Human rights sometimes need to be compromised to protect Jews
and achieve Jewish self-determination and other goals.

All of which is of course lost upon all those self-righteous PLAJEs whining
about Israel shooting rubber bullets and tear gas at Arab rioters and
retaliating for th eQassam rockets fired by the fascist Palestinian hordes.
And the lesson that innocent humans sometimes must be abused and have their
rights compromised will no doubt serve as a refreshing reminder for all
those urchins marching in the current "peace marches" in solidarity with

The real lesson of Passover is that Jewish national liberation and
freedom does not come cheaply. The real world involves difficult choices,
moral compromises and tradeoffs. Achieving a higher moral end often involves
taking steps that would themselves be considered abusive or immoral on their
own grounds, but are required in order to achieve the greater good. Such
tradeoffs are the stuff with which moral posturers and self-righteous
practitioners of recreational compassion cannot deal. It does not fit into
their simplistic world view and lazy armchair moralizing.

It is the great tragedy of the American Jewish community, or at least the
non-Orthodox majority therein, that it is so overwhelmingly dominated by
assimilated Professional Liberals and self-righteous practitioners of
recreational liberal compassion, people whose understanding of political
tradeoffs and public policy analysis never go any deeper than a good bumper

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