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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: June ::
Anti-Semitism
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1135  Thursday, 23 June 2005

[1]     From:   Florence Amit <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 22 Jun 2005 17:15:07 +0300
        Subj:   Subject: 16.1117 Anti-Semitism

[2]     From:   Stuart Manger <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 22 Jun 2005 15:53:54 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1129 Anti-Semitism

[3]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 22 Jun 2005 17:14:00 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1129 Anti-Semitism

[4]     From:   Joseph Egert <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 22 Jun 2005 17:10:51 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1123 Anti-Semitism

[5]     From:   Hugh Grady <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 22 Jun 2005 12:33:15 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1129 Anti-Semitism

[6]     From:   JD Markel <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 22 Jun 2005 12:19:24 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1129 Anti-Semitism

[7]     From:   Tony Burton <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 22 Jun 2005 16:06:22 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1129 Anti-Semitism


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Florence Amit <
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Date:           Wednesday, 22 Jun 2005 17:15:07 +0300
Subject:        Subject: 16.1117 Anti-Semitism

Dear Forum members,

Forgive me for answering this post when I had already said good-by to
you. Like Hardy I do not think that this is the place to air the views
submitted by Mr. Martillo so I will be as brief as possible.

I belong to an art group called "Fruits of Peace." Our members are from
every ethnic group that lives in Israel. (We have invited Palestinian
artists to exhibit with us.) Surely most of our members believed in the
Oslo agreement, even though beloved family members sometimes did not.

Among my correspondents, as then secretary, were people who came from
abroad to support Palestinians. Most of them had non -Jewish religious
affiliations.  They took part in demonstrations against the presence of
Jewish settlements in the West Bank. (Many Israelis also took part.)
However with the advent of the present "Intifada", over four years ago,
I noticed a stridency in tone from those foreign supporters that was
indicated by an oblivious attitude to the Jewish victims of terror. They
supported Arafat unequivocally and I ceased the connection.

I do not know if Mr. Martillo belongs to one of these groups, but his
being present in Israel does not mean that he was giving Zionism "a chance".

The fabric of society is not as black and white as says Mr. Martillo.
Indeed I am both a Sephardi and an Ashkenazi as are most of our family.
People living in settlements are not all extremists even though their
orientation is not like mine. A few are extremists. Many Arabs who
supposedly are waiting to return to Beer Sheva and Safed are not all
extremists either, although misguided. There are others who are very
dangerous.

Now about Shakespeare: Those who read the play simplistically may
receive the impression that Shakespeare adopted the bigotry that Marlowe
did in "The Jew of Malta". However the beautifully constructed play that
Shakespeare actually wrote is for the opposite effect.

I did not see anything to qualify this opinion that I personally adhere
to, by Mr. Martillo. Did he insert it for his political soap box or does
he believe it?  - As I do.

I have said to Hardy that people from the Diaspora who publicly discuss
Israeli politics do not risk themselves while they do risk those whose
home Israel is.

Florence

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Manger <
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Date:           Wednesday, 22 Jun 2005 15:53:54 +0100
Subject: 16.1129 Anti-Semitism
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1129 Anti-Semitism

I would like to add my voice of support to Dr Martillo. A shrewd and
careful voice of non-tabloid headline sanity in a welter of ignorance
and hype. Elliott Stone is IMHO seriously misguided.

Thank you, Hardy.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Wednesday, 22 Jun 2005 17:14:00 +0100
Subject: 16.1129 Anti-Semitism
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1129 Anti-Semitism

Elliott Stone wrote

 >I believe that Mr. Martillo's comments went beyond
 >the limits of decency that one should expect from this
 >site.

I can see why someone might think those comments not entirely relevant
to this list (although Martillo made, I thought, a credible case for
their relevance) and I can see why some would not like those comments.
Calling America's colonization of Palestine what it is really does
offend some people, and calling the settlers a bunch of maniacally
racist armed thugs who deserve to be shot by the people they stole the
land from (as the poet and academic Tom Paulin did a couple of years
ago) is sure to upset an even greater number.

But how on earth could what Martillo wrote be "beyond the limits of
decency"? Not 'wrong', mark you, but indecent.  Stone appears to be
saying "though I most powerfully and potently believe [it], yet I hold
it not honesty to have it thus set down". Surely that's not right.

Gabriel Egan

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph Egert <
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Date:           Wednesday, 22 Jun 2005 17:10:51 +0000
Subject: 16.1123 Anti-Semitism
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1123 Anti-Semitism

Gratiano lives and breathes!

Engineer Joachim Martillo (alias Juan Carlo Santos Martillo Ajami) in
his screed identifies himself as of "ethnic Ashkenazi background... and
not a self-hater." Others have described him as a Sephardi supremacist,
a despiser of religious Jews and Muslims, especially "vusvus Ashkenazic
scum." In his current incarnation, he aligns himself with murderous
Palestinian terrorists ("The only downside to Palestinian terrorism is
the death of the Palestinian attacker"). As is evident from his post,
"ethnic Ashkenazim" has become an obsessional mantra to this Al-Jazeerah
baiter.

Perhaps, Dr Greenberg could comment on the dyed soul emanating from
Martillo's posts. Or is the eminent psychiatrist just another ethnic
AshkeNazi devil?

For those interested in eyeing the shadow behind the mask, check out:

http://somervillemejustice.com/marriage.html

Regards,
Joe Egert

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hugh Grady <
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Date:           Wednesday, 22 Jun 2005 12:33:15 -0500
Subject: 16.1129 Anti-Semitism
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1129 Anti-Semitism

On the issue of connections and differences between early modern and
modern types of anti-Semitism, please see Lisa Freinkel's in my 2000
anthology "Shakespeare and Modernity" (Routledge). She both explains and
calls into question a hard and fast distinction between the two types
discussed on this thread.

--Hugh Grady

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           JD Markel <
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Date:           Wednesday, 22 Jun 2005 12:19:24 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 16.1129 Anti-Semitism
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1129 Anti-Semitism

 >"I am particularly keen to read an explanation of the
 >following technical definition made by Joachim
 >Martello"

Most "experts" write that anti-Semitism has multiple versions, for
example religious, social, biological and conspiratorial.  An example of
the latter three are the very post you respond to.  Biological
antisemitism was articulated as early as the Spanish Inquisition.

 >"I believe that Mr. Martillo's comments went beyond
 >the limits of decency that one should expect from this
 >site."

I must say I agree that MOV is not anti-Semitic, but in the centuries
long discourse on the issue I think we've seen a first: an insinuation
that the anti-Semitic interpretation of the play is a discourse
controlled by Jews with the intent to defame Shakespeare.  It's
senseless and inaccurate.  But in these days, who knows?, it may catch
on.

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tony Burton <
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Date:           Wednesday, 22 Jun 2005 16:06:22 -0400
Subject: 16.1129 Anti-Semitism
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1129 Anti-Semitism

It is easy to engage in fuzzy thinking with regard to the matter of
anti-Semitism and The Merchant of Venice, some examples of have appeared
on this site.  I had the occasion to consider a number of these issues
last year, as dramaturge of a local MoV production and then a panelist
in a discussion of anti-Semitism and MoV at the U. Mass. Center for
Renaissance Studies.

People respond to at least three very different issues-all legitimately
described as anti-Semitism, although probably not all within the
definition employed by those "experts in the field," referred to by
Joachim Martello-which must be considered and resolved separately for
any discussion of the topic to achieve clarity.  They are:

1. The anti-Semitism depicted in the play:  Is it hostile to the Jewish
religion; or merely a sort of clannish Christian jingoism; or a metaphor
for any form of social "other" (as the Moor is in Othello, Shakespeare's
other Venetian play), and just incidentally Christian; or something else?

2. The "meaning" of the play:  Does the play endorse or promote
anti-Semitism, or is it a device for criticizing Christian attitudes of
a certain unenlightened sort?  Or, does it do the first for the purpose
of doing the other?  And of course lurking behind all of this, the old,
whale-sized red herring, does it express Shakespeare's personal
religious views in any respect?  And, whatever the "purpose" or
"meaning" of the play, does it succeed?

3. The effect of the play, in our post-Holocaust world:  Does it gratify
and strengthen anti-Semitic prejudices? Must it do so, or can this
effect be overcome by any sort of production choices or emphases?  Or is
the play one that, as some suggest, has been so overtaken by history
that it is now repugnant and insensitive to perform it at all?

I suspect that Shakespeare may have had high-minded intentions in his
mind for the critique and reform of certain Christian attitudes
involving a kind of self-satisfied but smug and unearned sense of
superiority felt by many Christians in respect to non-Christians, and
especially Jews.  Also that, to his disappointment, the audience did not
get his intended message any more than did Gratiano in the play.
Shakespeare never again defined an antagonist purely by his
(non-Christian) religion, although he regularly invoked what seem to be
Christian messages, viewpoints, and latent images for the rest of his
playwriting life.

So I view the play as a sort of failed attempt to make certain points
about ethical Christianity.  Perhaps its continuing capacity to offend
reflects the degree to which four hundred years' passage of time has
failed to produce much improvement in the audience response, and the way
Christians in general grasp the fundamental teachings of Christianity.

Tony Burton

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