In defense of Rabbi Lapin.

Author:Wells, C. Richard
Position:Correspondence - Letter to the Editor

Richard John Neuhaus suggests ("Polite Gentiles," June/July) that Rabbi Daniel Lapin may have overreacted when he accused fellow Jews of anti-Semitism. One ventures to suggest that Neuhaus himself may have underreacted.

Lapin decries the "anti-Semitism perpetrated by Jews rather than non-Jews," citing the famously vulgar likes of Howard Stern, Jerry Springer, and Dr. Ruth, and especially a recent blockbuster film (the vulgarly suggestive title of which he refuses to name) starring Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman. He marvels that Jewish leaders and organizations can consider Mel Gibson's The Passion defamatory (even though "polls show increased regard for Jews among the film's audiences") while they ignore culture "trashers" who "possess Jewish names and proudly proclaim their Jewish identity."

Neuhaus agrees--for the most part. "Rabbi Lapin makes serious charges," he says, "which, although directed against his fellow Jews, should be taken seriously also by Christians." But he also thinks perhaps that Lapin "too readily ... describes as self-defamation" mere good-natured self-deprecation: "Some of the films that concern [Rabbi Lapin] are aimed at mainly non-Jewish audiences, inviting them to join in the mainly good-spirited laughter at these crazy Jews." He suspects that this "usually humorous, if unflattering, depiction of Jews in popular entertainment" may even contribute "to making ours a society so friendly to Jews."

Perhaps I am overreacting, but I...

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