The Wrong Symbol

Editorial

Published July 17, 2012, issue of July 20, 2012.

It’s troubling enough when the more strident voices against abortion employ the language of the Holocaust in their rhetoric, but at least one can discern a tenuous link. The argument goes something like this: The Nazis considered Jews mere numbers, denied of personhood and murdered anonymously — as are, these activists contend, the millions of fetuses aborted before birth.

Never mind that this analogy breaks down rather quickly, considering that millions of Jews (and others) died in the Holocaust as victims of a genocidal killing machine, whereas fetuses are aborted by the choice of the women carrying them. Though the link is offensive and inaccurate, it is vaguely understandable.

There’s nothing remotely understandable about a new “Wailing Wall” proposed by some Christian fundamentalists. As our Naomi Zeveloff reports, a group of anti-abortion activists in Wichita, Kan., is planning the first national pro-life memorial with a full-size replica of what Jews call the Kotel, the remnant of the western wall of the biblical Temple in Jerusalem. The activists justify this audacious act of appropriation by saying that the Wall is a symbol of suffering.

But those ancient stones represent so much more than pain and longing. They are an explicit link to the Jewish past, a tangible illustration of our historical tie to that land, that place. If Jews rightly are furious when some Palestinians have denied this narrative, we should be similarly furious when Christians in Kansas pervert it, too. And we should say: Find your own symbols. Stay away from ours.



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