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The Believer

June 19, 2017

TBThere is the seeming arbitrariness of God’s commands – from not mixing milk and meat to sacrificing your son. When Jews study torah, they do so in pairs, since theology is about argument and questioning.

Danny starts off as a model Jew – not because he obeys, but because he questions, like Job. However, like many educational systems, his teacher cannot cope with his questioning. Religions need their critics on the inside, challenging the tradition, instead of leaving it to mediocrity after its best minds have gone.

It’s almost as if Danny still fervently believes – he still reverences the torah scrolls – and wants to shout louder so that the tradition will listen to him. He trashes the synagogue like children trash their rooms when parents don’t listen. As a child he had challenged God to strike him dead; a challenge he will make at the end and, if there is no answer, he will bring about himself.

The film is a meditation on the Abraham and Isaac story. The Jewish man, his son and the Nazi with the bayonet is a modern replay of it. Danny meditates, almost in Ignatian Christian terms (where someone imagines themselves into a biblical story and explores it from different angles, role-playing the different people in it.) In the story, great play is made on Abraham being made to take, ‘Your son, your only son, whom you love.’ Christians have seen that as a type/paradigm of Jesus – God’s only son. Danny comments on the success of that self-sacrifice enabling Jesus to become God. So Danny decides to be another sacrifice in his quest for divinity – but will it work? The story ends with him being told ‘There is nothing up there,’ echoing the debates as to whether God is dead or never existed, a debate which has been on many Jewish (and Christian) lips since the Holocaust.

It was inspired by the story of Dan Burros, an American Jew, who joined (and left) the American Nazi Party, and then joined the United Klans of America (KKK). Not unlike “the Believer”, when a journalist unmasked Burros, he killed himself. “The Believer” takes this as a springboard though, and many of the other details are quite different.

Guy Danielson: How can you say all this when you’re a Jew yourself?

Guy Danielson: People hate Jews, do you agree?
Daniel Balint: The very word makes their skin crawl. They undermine traditional life, and they deracinate society. Just take a look at the greatest Jewish minds ever. Marx, Freud, Einstein. What have they given us? Communism, infantile sexuality, and the atom bomb.
Guy Danielson: Danny, this is great. But how can you believe all of this… when you’re a Jew yourself?

Daniel Balint: Let me put it this way. Do we hate them because they push their way in where they don’t belong? Or do we hate them because they’re clannish and keep to themselves? Because they’re tight with money, or because they flash it around? Because they’re Bolsheviks, or because they’re capitalists? Because they have the highest IQs, or because they have the most active sex lives? Do you want to know the real reason we hate them? Because we hate them. Because they exist. Because it’s an axiom of nature that just as man longs for woman, loves his children, and fears death, he hates Jews. There’s no reason. If there were, some smartass kike would try to come up with an argument, try to prove us wrong. And of course that would only make us hate them more. In fact we have all the reasons we need in three simple letters: J-E-W. Jew.

Daniel Balint: You wanna know the real reason why we hate them? Because they exist. We have all the reasons we need in three simple letters. J-E-W… Jew! You say it a million times, it’s the one word that never loses its meaning.

 

Daniel Balint: Just take a look at the last three most well-known Jews – Marx, Freud, and Einstein. What have they given us? Communism, infantile sexuality, and the atom bomb.

Young Danny: I’m the only one who does believe. I see him for the power-drunk madman he is. And we’re supposed to worship such a deity? I say never.

Rav Zingesser: And you, had you come out of Egypt you would have been destroyed in the desert with all of those who worshipped the Golden Calf!
Young Danny: Then let him destroy me now. Let him crush me like the conceited bully he is.
[looks up]
Young Danny: Go ahead.

Daniel Blaine: Billings, if Hitler didn’t kill six million, why is he your hero?… Concentration camps all over Europe, and he only gets rid of a measly two hundred thousand… He’s a putz.
[Some surprise that a Nazi is arguing against a denier]
Ancient Jew: Hitler was not a putz. Hitler was real. God created him to punish the Jews for abandoning God.
[the other survivors are embarrassed by this, but the Ancient Jew ignores them]
Ancient Jew: It is you who are putzes. Little pishas with your dreams of hatred and killing…
[Danny scoffs, gets up to leave]
Hate Counselor: Where do you think you’re going?
Daniel Balint: We have nothing to learn from these people. They should learn from us.
Ancient Jew: And what should we learn from you, Daniel?
Daniel Balint: Kill your enemy.

Daniel Balint: Let me put it this way: Who wants to destroy the Jews? Who wants to grind their bones into the dust? And who wants to see them rise again? Wealthier, more successful, powerful, cultured, more intelligent than ever? Then you know what we have to do? We have to love ’em. What? Did he say ”Love the Jews”? It’s strange, I know. But with these people, nothing is simple. The Jew says all he wants is to be left alone to study his Torah… do a little business… fornicate with his oversexed wife,but it’s not true. He wants to be hated. He longs for our scorn. He clings to it, as if it were the very core of his being. If Hitler had not existed, the Jews would’ve invented him. For without such hatred, the so-called Chosen People would vanish from the earth. And this reveals a terrible truth and the crux of our problem as Nazis. The worse the Jews are treated, the stronger they become. Egyptian slavery made them a nation. The pogroms hardened them. Auschwitz gave birth to the state of Israel. Suffering, it seems, is the very crucible of their genius. So, if the Jews are,as one of their own has said… a people who will not take ”yes” for an answer… let us say ”yes” to them. They thrive on opposition. Let us cease to oppose them. The only way to annihilate this insidious people once and for all… is to open our arms, invite them into our homes… and embrace them. Only then will they vanish into assimilation, normality and love. But we cannot pretend. The Jew is nothing if not clever. He will see through hypocrisy and condescension. To destroy him, we must love him sincerely. If the Jews are strengthened by hate, wouldn’t this… destruction that you speak of, whether it’s by love or any other means… wouldn’t that make them more powerful than they are already? Yes. lnfinitely more. They would become as God. It’s the Jews’ destiny to be annihilated so they can be deified. Jesus understood this perfectly. And look what was accomplished there with the death of just one enlightened Jew. Imagine what would happen if we killed them all.”

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From → Film, Inter Faith

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