Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Jerusalem Syndrome, a Show at the Met

I don't mean to tax people with heavy reading but since I do like to send material around that I find of interest I thought this more than qualified. To read or not to read: it's on you. In any case, it's Edward Rothstein's critique of "Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven," the much-touted show currently at the Metropolitan Museum.

Rothstein takes issue with the underlying message of the show, namely that Jerusalem in those years, when it was mostly under Moslem rule, Moslem's dynasties contending with each other, was experiencing a notable interfaith interlude, a veritable Convivencia, as in a time when Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths for the most part existed in harmony.

Rothstein finds that premise faulty and dishonest. What troubles him is the way it exonerates ascendant Islam and excises Judaism.

My favorite passage from his piece, among others, consists of Rothstein's reference to another critic, who objects to the way the religious significance of Jerusalem was portrayed, stressing the city’s mythic importance to Christians and Muslims and somehow whiting out its significance to the Jews.

“Muhammad’s ascension to heaven and Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his beloved son are legendary accounts. The location of the ancient Temple, by contrast, is an archaeological and historical fact.”


Rothstein can't help but remark that to buff up mythic Christian and Islamic epiphanies and to disallow actual, brick and mortar ties between Jews and sites is exactly what Arafat and others have tried to do when denying, contra recorded history and archeology, the Jewish connection.

I haven't seen the show and though I find Rothstein a tonic must withhold judgment.

Except to whisper that I suspect the 100 proof mythic intensity of Jerusalem is bad news, bad news for us all.

I don't know if the Metropolitan Museum allowed for that option.

I doubt it.

The premise of the show being faith is good, all faith is good, the lack of religious faith not so much.

Faith is even better when interfaith.

Not my point of view, not mine at all.

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