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But instead of being saved by the grace of God, as in Revelation, those of the singing multitude in “World War Z” are punished for their faith by being viciously turned into a mass of raging zombies. The Star of David may flutter in the breeze, Israel Defense Forces helicopters may swoop confidently through the skies, but in the end, Israel is nothing special, just another group of chumps too compassionate to survive. To quote Tom Lehrer, “‘The Lord’s our shepherd,’ says the Psalm / but just in case we better get a bomb.”
The movie’s argument comes directly from the novel on which it’s based. In an interview with The New York Times, the novel’s author, Max Brooks, explained that he wrote it in response to the fearful post-9/11 world: “There’s been some really scary stuff that’s been happening — 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina… global warming, global financial meltdown, bird flu, swine flu, SARS…. People really feel like the system’s breaking down.” The world, to Brooks, is constantly full of threats, and if he had his way, his books would be in the self-help section. If the Israelis are on to anything, the movie shows it when they think that any danger, no matter how small, is quite possibly cataclysmic and demands our sharpest attention and dispassionate calculation. To put it bluntly, the only Jewish virtue trumpeted in this film is neuroticism.
Doni Bloomfield is a Forward summer fellow, and will be finishing his Bachelor of Arts in history at the University of Chicago next year.