Wednesday, March 25, 2015

From Notre Dame to Prague, Europe’s anti-Semitism is literally carved in stone

Tony L. Kamins writes in the JTA:
This carving on the facade of Martin Luther’s church in Wittenberg, Germany, shows Jews suckling at a sow’s teat.
Evora cathedral (Portugal).  A Jew and a dog wearing a pointed had. (c. 1330)
 Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of Paris is among the most visited sites on the planet and a splendid example of Gothic architecture. Each year, millions flock to admire and photograph its flying buttresses and statuary, yet few take any real notice of two prominent female statues on either side of the main entrance.

The one on the left is dressed in fine clothing and bathed in light, while the one on the right is disheveled, with a large snake draped over her eyes like a blindfold. A snake draped around Sinagoga blindfolds her.  The statues, known as Ecclesia and Sinagoga, respectively, and generally found in juxtaposition, are a common motif in medieval art and represent the Christian theological concept known as supercessionism, whereby the Church is triumphant and the Synagogue defeated. Sinagoga is depicted here with head bowed, broken staff, the tablets of the law slipping from her hand and a fallen crown at her feet.   Ecclesia stands upright with crowned head and carries a chalice and a staff adorned with the cross.

While the issue of what constitutes free speech and what crosses into incitement to violence was brought to the fore by the deadly January attack on the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo, images mocking Jews and Judaism and encouraging anti-Semitic violence have been displayed throughout Europe since the early Middle Ages.

In a time when literacy was uncommon, these images were the political cartoons and posters of the age, and the ridicule and carnage they promoted was both routine and government sanctioned. What’s more, most remain visible if you know where to look. More.
This plaque at the Palazzo Salvadori in Trent, Italy, illustrates the supposed martyrdom of Simon of Trent at the hands of Jews. (Wikimedia Commons)

16th-century depiction of the alleged host profanation by Jews in 1370, in the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Brussels. (Wikipedia Commons)
Carpentras Cathedral - the "Jews door", the sculpure represents a rat ball (la boule aux rats). (Wikipedia Commons).

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