Shylock or Nathan?

It’s Jew-hatred when one expects more from a Jew than from a non-Jew and it’s Jew-hatred when one criticizes Jews about something one would otherwise tolerate from others!

In his play, „The Merchant of Venice“, William Shakespeare portraits the Jew, Shylock, as an ordinary person with strengths and weaknesses, who at one point simply refuses to accept the shame of being oppressed. Shylock is a man to whom injustice is done and he defends himself!

Although, in Shakespeare’s play, Christians are incapable of living according their own Christian principles, they demand from Jews accordance to those very same principles. They punish the Jew the more violently, when it turns out that he doesn’t choose to follow the Christian commandments as many another Christian won’t or can’t. Shylock will not and can not be better than everyone else. He’s not superman. He expresses this point with the following words:

”Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge.“

Shylock is a human being with feelings and fears. As every person who is threatened or attacked, one defends oneself, protects one’s life and may even cause fear in one’s surroundings if it represents the only way to preserve one’s own life. Of course, Shylock makes errors defending himself. He even overdoes it. He is human!

It is precisely these human characteristics which Jews are denied. It’s enough just to look at the United Nations. Despite recent decades of heinous crimes against humanity in Rwanda, Cambodia and Srebrenica, and absolute oppression in Iraq, Iran and North Korea, the United Nations has adopted more resolutions against Israel than against all other nations! In a manic fixation on only 0.1% of the total world population – the Israelis – the United Nations sees a nation that deserves unrelenting attention.

As long as Jews “cooperate” in their own slaughter, they can expect empathy; but alas, when they fight back, the fun stops. The journalist, Henryk M. Broder, summed it in this simple formula:

„It’s easier to throw garlands at the graves of dead Jews than to deal with living ones.“

Jews aren’t permitted to attract too much attention to themselves. If necessary, they must disappear as conveniently as Shylock. When Shylock refuses to recognize the principle of forgiveness, he is brutally punished by Portia who also can’t feel any forgiveness. In the fourth act of Shakespeare’s, „The Merchant of Venice“, Shylock speaks his last words, and no longer appears in the fifth and final act. A Jew must disappear if he is a Shylock (i.e. a human)!

In a world full of double standards a Jew must be like „Nathan the Wise“. Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s Nathan is a Jew, as critics of Israel could only wish for. He is enlightened, good, understanding, forgiving and moreover, non-religious. Nathan the Wise is not a real Jew. Rather, he is an invented image of the Jew! Were Nathan a real Jew with human qualities, he would have feelings that can manifest themselves sometimes in anger and revenge. However, in that case, any love from critics of Israel would dissipate quickly! Jews must reflect an externally defined ideal. The rest of humanity can remain multifarious!

As long as Jews reject violence and remain victims, and at most, use only rhetoric as a weapon as Nathan did; when words such as: „Never mind, the Jew is for burning“ are hurled at them, as long as they remain peaceful, they are welcome. But, as soon as they begin to defend themselves, any sympathy reverts to bitter antipathy. Then those people may feel free to say, for example, that Jews are no better than Nazis and besides, they are vindictive, greedy and implacable!

A basic problem concerning the Middle East conflict is that an Israeli politician is already at a disadvantage when he’s not a Nathan the Wise. However, an Arab politician is already praised when he is not an Adolf Hitler.


(Translated by William Wires)

Über tapferimnirgendwo

Als Theatermensch spiele, schreibe und inszeniere ich für diverse freie Theater. Im Jahr 2007 erfand ich die mittlerweile europaweit erfolgreiche Bühnenshow „Kunst gegen Bares“. Als Autor verfasse ich Theaterstücke, Glossen und Artikel. Mit meinen Vorträgen über Heinrich Heine, Hedwig Dohm und dem von mir entwickelten Begriff des „Nathankomplex“ bin ich alljährlich unterwegs. Und Stand Up Comedian bin ich auch. Mein Lebensmotto habe ich von Kermit, dem Frosch: „Nimm, was Du hast und flieg damit!
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