“Visitors’ Day”

th“Visitors’ Day”

As a writer, just now I’m between the last chapter of a revised edition of Conversions: A Philosophic Memoir, and the still-unwritten Afterward and Preface that will provide its new wrapping.

As I reviewed (in more detail than was recorded here) all the mischances that befell its first publication (the “thirteen plagues” – I counted ‘em), it struck me that they were too numerous to be a mere streak of bad luck. They were more like “all the devils in christendom” striking blows seriatim. Ergo, I inferred that Conversions must be a rather significant project!

Meantime however, there is that writer’s interregnum to be endured, where I wait till the next pages are ready for me to write them. They get ready; then I get ready. They can’t be rushed or forced. That said, as a life phase, it’s painful. Everything feels too much or too little, too soon or too late. Congruence with one’s space and time awaits, but hasn’t descended yet.

While waiting, a couple of incidents have preoccupied me in the last two days. A friend sent a video showing a song and dance act by a group calling itself “The Gaza Girls.” They look to be an attractive three-some, insofar as niqab and hijab allow one to see anything. Their robes are brightly ornamented, eyeliner and nail polish a bit vampy. I don’t know if they are a new singing group in Gaza or were just assembled by others for this video.

At any rate, their rhymed singing skit has one theme: killing Jews. They show what appear to be photos of murdered Jews, hold up three manicured fingers to signal their elation at the murder of the three Israeli teenage hitchhikers, they exhibit little kids holding three chubby fingers aloft with the glee of grownup killers. At one point, one of the singers holds a small doll of an orthodox Jew in a shtreimel and, smilingly, she twists the doll’s head off.

Every norm is violated.

I don’t ordinarily make comparisons favorable to Nazis, but I have read the so-called “Argentine transcripts” that record conversations between Adolf Eichmann and Nazi sympathizers. Eichmann is reminiscing about his glory days, as the man who implemented the Holocaust. Even Eichmann felt that the death camps were “horribly unpleasant” and had to steady himself. He recalled: “in order to forcibly distract myself, do you know what I say? You’ll laugh! I believe in God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, died under Pontius Pilate, suffered and so on and so on, was raised from the dead and so on.” [281]

In “The Gaza Girls” video, nothing like the Our Father is said. Rather, every norm is violated — every layer that history has laid down to separate ourselves from the abyss of unchecked bloodlust. And these are girls! Girls trying to be desirable and relishing their attractiveness!

The theme of “Dear Abbie” is the subtle art of being a woman. Though we don’t give advice, nevertheless 

“Girls! Ladies! Jeunes filles en fleurs!”

Quit that!

It’s doing nothing for your feminine charm.

Believe me.

Nothing and less than nothing.

The good, the true and the beautiful have charm,

including feminine charm.

This – ladies! – this is repellent!

This morning, as if “The Gaza Girls” weren’t enough, an email from an alert member of my temple brings news of a scrawl on the garage door of a local Jewish family: “JEWS MOVE.”

My initial reaction? A complete dissolve, I am sorry to have to confess. Tears welled and with them a sense of terrible aloneness. The feeling of being a hunted animal.

Jerry, who is not Jewish, thankfully took it very seriously, as the shakeout from the anti-Israel “narrative” that’s completely captivated elite opinion. Anyone can take up Jew-hatred now. It comes with the highest recommendation.

The civic groups of the neighborhood turned out to express solidarity with the victims of this hate crime. This is still America. Not yet Europe. Meanwhile, ostensibly peace-loving Quakers have been holding their “Justice for Palestine” signs for months, once a week in the town square. They don’t worry about the equal number of Jewish refugees expelled from Muslim countries. They don’t worry about all the peace offers made by Israel that were turned down because they involved recognizing Israel. They don’t worry about persecuted Christians in the Middle East or executed homosexuals or female genital mutilation in Muslim countries. They don’t worry that proclaiming their one-sided message is deeply unfair and, in the current climate, irresponsible. They didn’t hold signs protesting the dinner given by the American Friends Service Committee for Ahmadinejad, an authentic genocidaire. But they wouldn’t scrawl “JEWS MOVE” on a garage door. They are ladies and gentlemen.

I like to visit being a Jew, draw from its deep well of wise experience with God, and then go back to being anonymous, just a person – someone who could be anybody and anything. That way I can be a Jew whenever I please. We can call those Jewish times “Visitors’ Day.” This is America. It was a hard boat ride in steerage to get here, for my grandparents.

But this morning I said to Jerry:

I think Visitors’ Day is over.

*** My mistake.  The originator of “The Gaza Girls” turns out to have been a pro-Israel video maker, journalist and novelist named Orit Arfa, and his intent was to satirize this kind of hate footage.  Since I have seen some of the authentic Jew-hating film footage he was satirizing, I was sadly unable to detect his satiric intent here.  See Karl’s Comment below and my Reply.

About Abigail

Abigail Rosenthal is Professor Emerita of Philosophy, Brooklyn College of CUNY. She is the author of A Good Look at Evil, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, now available in an expanded, revised second edition and as an audiobook. Its thesis is that good people try to live out their stories while evil people aim to mess up good people’s stories. Her next book, Confessions of a Young Philosopher, forthcoming and illustrated, provides multiple illustrations from her own life. She writes a weekly column for her blog, “Dear Abbie: The Non-Advice Column” (www.dearabbie-nonadvice.com) where she explains why women's lives are highly interesting. She’s the editor of the posthumously published Consolations of Philosophy: Hobbes’s Secret; Spinoza’s Way by her father, Henry M. Rosenthal. Some of her articles can be accessed at https://brooklyn-cuny.academia.edu/AbigailMartin . She is married to Jerry L. Martin, also a philosopher. They live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
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2 Responses to “Visitors’ Day”

    • Abigail says:

      Thanks Karl, for quickly calling this error to my attention. Your links give more of the background, including the kinds of film incitement — in some instances to kill “all Jews” — in other examples, “only” the people of Israel and the Jews who support Israel, leaving the other Jews still breathing. Prior to seeing the Gaza Girls video, I had seen film footage of a popular Cairo talk show hostess who was young, lovely to look at, well dressed, educated, obviously well spoken, discussing Jews with a guest billed as an expert on Jews, and sharing his sentiment that, normally, one starts by hating Jews, even before one knows any or knows anything about them, but — once one studies the subject — one comes to hate them more! Also I’d seen news photos and film footage of Palestinian children holding up their gleeful three fingers in celebration of the murder of the three hitchhiking Israeli teenagers, as well as footage of kindergarden children wearing little “homicide-bomber” vests and reciting their childish ambition to grow up to be Jew-killers. So I had already seen inversions like the ones in the parody — where beauty becomes ugly, childhood corrupted and youth spoiled, sadly real — not a parody at all.

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