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The Wicked Son: Anti-Semitism, Self-hatred,…
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The Wicked Son: Anti-Semitism, Self-hatred, and the Jews

by David Mamet

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David Mamet's book is hard to pin down; he makes many salient points at the same time using rather specific examples to make these points.

Who is Mamet's "Wicked Son"? In short, the apikoros, the apostate Jew. But what constitutes this apostate? Mamet for the bulk of the book does not seem to recognize a difference between Judaism the faith, and the Jew as a person (race). Given this context, Mamet seems to feel if you are not practicing Jew you are a race traitor.

The problem for me in Mamet's book is that he does not make for any allowances. For example, the author spends a good portion of the book defending Israel as a state. Ok great, totally reasonable. But he seems to only allow that Palestinians are capable of nothing other than sending their children on suicide missions in Israel. He does not acknowledge any POSSIBLE wrong doing by the Israelis, and any criticism of the Jewish state defaults you to a self hating race trader. Mamet rips Noam Chomsky to shreds for his critique of how Israelis treated the Palestinians, all the while ignoring the other side, that perhaps, just perhaps, there is some wrongdoing on the Israeli side.

There are other areas where the author really is grasping at straws to make points. Their is one chapter which it sounds as if it was written by Wayne LaPierre and not David Mamet. The author takes issues with things like tattoos and other modern practices that most people would not consider as apostasy to their faith. Granted the tattoo might be forbidden by Jewish law, but the author does not seem to draw a line when does one NOT adhere to Jewish law and still remain a Jew? Is a Jew a Jew without the faith? I am sure many agnostic and atheist Israelis would say so. And if not, as Mamet seems to feel...when does one stop? Is the donning of the Kippah and a small beard sufficient? Or does one have to become a Skverer Jew to meet Mamet's standard?

Mamet rightfully lashes at self loathing Jews who insult their own heritage to fit in with people who will never accept them. He often comes with strong points and conclusions, but the examples he cites are often a stretch. In the end, is the apikoros the Jew who does not strictly adhere to his faith and culture or the Jew who goes out of his way to shame his heritage? Mamet doesn't make that clear and it feels he is lashing out at everyone who does not see things as he does (which isn't exactly clear either). ( )
1 vote Melkor81205 | Sep 27, 2016 |
If you've enjoyed Mamet's writing in his plays and essays in the past, that isn't enough reason to pick this up. Boy, is he pissed off. It's part of a series by Jewish authors and intended really for Jewish readers (and I'm not Jewish). In particular, those that have strayed from religious practice. I'm sure many Jewish readers have thrown it across the room, even when they agree with some Mamet's points. I did like how he neatly skewered Noam Chomsky's defense of anti-Semitic vandalism and violence in France. ( )
  Periodista | Aug 11, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805242074, Hardcover)

Part of the Jewish Encounter series

As might be expected from this fiercely provocative writer, David Mamet’s interest in anti-Semitism is not limited to the modern face of an ancient hatred but encompasses as well the ways in which many Jews have themselves internalized that hatred. Using the metaphor of the Wicked Son at the Passover seder—the child who asks, “What does this story mean to you?”—Mamet confronts what he sees as an insidious predilection among some Jews to seek truth and meaning anywhere—in other religions, in political movements, in mindless entertainment—but in Judaism itself. At the same time, he explores the ways in which the Jewish tradition has long been and still remains the Wicked Son in the eyes of the world.

Written with the searing honesty and verbal brilliance that is the hallmark of Mamet’s work, The Wicked Son is a scathing look at one of the most destructive and tenacious forces in contemporary life, a powerfully thought-provoking and important book.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:08 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Offers a look at the role of anti-Semitism in modern life and examines the ways in which Jews have turned that hatred inward and overlooked the essential truths and inner meaning of Judaism itself.

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