Letters to the Editor: Jewish Book Festival speaker sparks response

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, was a guest of the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival on Nov. 10, when he spoke about “Jews & Money: The Story of a Stereotype.” During the Q&A, I asked him about his enthusiastic review (printed in the Light and other publications) on Quentin Tarantino’s film, “Inglourious Basterds.” I mentioned that about the same time I read Neal Bascomb’s, “Hunting Eichmann.” I got satisfaction from that account, which describes how Eichmann was captured, tried, executed and scattered at sea. But I found Tarantino’s film self-absorbed, uninformed and condescending (as if the Jewish avenging butchers were Tarantino’s gift to the Jews). So I told Foxman I was surprised by his hearty endorsement of “Inglourious Basterds,” which is so alien to the Jewish ethos for justice.

Although I am not a survivor, like Foxman, my parents, Mordekhai Pesakh and Paula Zysling Kempinski, both survived the Holocaust – whereas, our grandparents, aunts, uncles, a great grandmother and others from an extended family of over 100 persons – were all annihilated.

Foxman gave a lengthy response, concluding by saying “Inglourious Basterds” was a fantasy – and that he would gladly have traded the execution of the monster, Eichmann, for actualization of the fantasy in which the “bastards” got it in the end. After that there was a burst of applause.

I suggest nothing about whether or not “Inglourious Basterds” should have been made. There is no arguing with popular culture. I admit that parts of the movie entertained me. I saw myself that the movie is both farce and fantasy.

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But Foxman is a prominent, Jewish spokesman and director of a Jewish agency which stands (I hope) for tolerance, peace and justice. My specific objection: official, public, Jewish enthusiasm for a gleefully, brutal movie.

Elaine Alexander

Creve Coeur