In an excerpt from a new biblical treatise released Wednesday, Pope Benedict is the first leader of the Catholic Church to verbally un-blame the Jewish people as a whole for the death of Jesus Christ. The distinction is made between Jews and “Judeans,” an ethnically ambiguous classification that does not unequivocally refer to any entire group of people. Even the specific priests responsible for pursuing Christ’s death sentence were “not without exception,” nor, it seems, the new book says, was the angry mob that saw their will done. (But hey, I knew that—I remember that one nice Jew that helped Jim Caviezel carry the cross.)
In response, prominent Jews are like, “thanks, bro.” The idea is that the Israelites-as-executioners myth is one of the main pillars of anti-Semitism, and the Pope’s authoritative word constitutes a powerful bulwark against those claims. I’m weirdly disappointed, though. Hey, I get the value of forging good will between religious communities. But that story was one of the few we had—others including the biblical Samson and, as discussed in Knocked Up, the Spielberg film Munich—where Jews were pretty badass. Don’t get me wrong, I think it was lame that a few bad apples made Jesus get crucified (except it was awesome because then we’re all forgiven? I never quite got that) but when was the last time you saw Jews just fucking up somebody’s shit instead of getting their shit fucked up, or having to fight some dumb war because people don’t like our faces? Besides being predisposed to suspicion regarding anything that makes Anti-Defamation League leader Abraham Foxman happy, this development really just serves to make Jews look even more like neurotic milquetoasts—a stereotype which, though it might seem better than the bloodthirsty caricatures of Nazi propaganda and some anti-Israel sentiment (calm down people, I said some anti-Israel sentiment), could really just embolden the indiscriminate bullies of the world. As far as bigoted epithets go, I always thought Lord-Killer was pretty boss.