Once again, we witness the ridiculous spectacle of the theopolitical right twisting Judaism to its own devices, this time in the service of anti-abortionism:
Plans for a full-size replica of the Western Wall in Jerusalem are being drawn up in Wichita, Kan. But women who have had abortions — rather than Jews — are the target audience.
The proposed replica is part of a monumental “International Pro-Life Memorial and National Life Center” being planned by evangelical activists in Wichita’s anti-abortion community. The envisioned shrine is meant to promote and solidify Wichita’s reputation as the city in America that is most hostile to abortion, say the activists. The project planners have decided that the most vivid way to invoke the scale of the abortion tragedy, as they see it, is to reference Jewish suffering — embodied in their minds by the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
The “Wailing Wall,” as the activists refer to it, and the accompanying center, will be fronted by 60 crosses, each one representing 1 million aborted fetuses.
Because nothing says Judaism like a bunch of crosses. But why are these very special people doing this? It gets dumber–if you’re holding a cup of coffee, you might want to put it down (boldface mine):
“[The Western Wall] is a place that memorializes what happened during the Holocaust,” said Pastor Mark Holick, the spokesman for the anti-abortion project. “Since Roe v. Wade,” he said, referring to the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that struck down state bans on abortion, “60 million baby boys and girls have been murdered, and that is a holocaust unprecedented in the history of mankind.”
No. God, this is stupid. The Western Wall is a remnant of the Second Temple–this is why that area in Jerusalem is often referred to as the Temple Mount. Go figure. And while non-Jews might not realize this, the destruction of Jerusalem, which resulted in exile and statelessness along with a massive loss of life, was an incredibly traumatic event in Jewish history–there’s a reason why Jews, every Passover, end the seder with “Next year in Jerusalem.” The destruction of the Temple is, by itself a tragedy, and commemorated every year on the ninth of Av on the Jewish calendar. It has nothing to do with the Holocaust–they are separate tragedies.
While local Jews are not particularly thrilled with this idiocy, they’re keeping it to themselves, in part due to the latent threat of violence (boldface mine):
Others took issue with what they saw as an appropriation of Jewish history. “People are talking about it in a very dismissive, funny way,” said Rabbi Michael Davis of Congregation Emanu-El, a Reform synagogue. Davis, one of the few Jews aware of the project, said, “I see it as another example of a non-Jewish group taking a Jewish symbol and reinterpreting it for their own private use and thereby bastardizing it.”
…Davis, the Reform rabbi, said that the Jewish community was loath to draw attention to itself on an issue known to drive some Wichita activists to harass opponents or — in the case of Tiller’s murderer, Scott Roeder — kill them. Several years ago, Davis conducted pastoral work at Tiller’s clinic for Jewish families seeking late-term abortions. But though Davis was open about his views on abortion, he never asked his congregation to follow suit.
“I think that some people are concerned about the Jewish community publicly taking a controversial political stand, especially in a place like Wichita, Kansas, where if you do such a thing you get targeted,” he said.
Cynthia Stein, the president at Ahavath-Achim, echoed this view.
“Someone walked into a church on a Sunday morning and shot George Tiller,” she said. “So am I afraid? A little bit. When you are a community of under 1,000 people in a very conservative community of 350,000 people, are you a little concerned sometimes? Yes.”
But ‘Judeo-Christian’ tradition? Only when it’s politically convenient.