Jewish Journal

‘Basterds’ and Jewish beliefs

by Brad A. Greenberg

September 4, 2009 | 10:12 pm

I’ve been talking about it for a while, but I’m finally going to see “Inglourious Basterds” tonight. In light of that, here’s some good reading from Religion News Service:

Yet the film also represents a growing genre of Jewish-themed films in which the victims become the victors. Anne Frank is no longer hiding in the attic; the fate of Judaism no longer depends on benevolent gentiles like Oskar Schindler.

In short, the Jews are fed up. And they’re not going to take it anymore. But does Judaism condone such retribution?

Rabbis and academics point out that Judaism distinguishes between acts of self-defense and vengeance and Jewish law frowns upon torturing an enemy—even Adolf Hitler himself, said Rabbi Joel Roth, a professor at Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.

“On the other hand, I also understand the human emotion,” he said. “Dispassionately, do you want to see them scalped? No, but you have to consider the context. And, if it’s a greater deterrent that would save other people’s lives, maybe one could defend it.”

Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a New York-based Jewish think tank, heralds the film as a long-overdue “fun action Jewish-revenge fantasy.”

Read the rest here.

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