[FOUNTAIN]Playing with fire

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[FOUNTAIN]Playing with fire

In William Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” Shylock demands a pound of flesh from Antonio’s breast as he failed to pay back a debt. Shakespeare must not have had much knowledge about Jews. The Jews do not punish the debtors for dishonored loans. They are only interested in getting the money back. They would lend money and take jewelry or a watch as security and never want a heart or a piece of flesh as collateral.
In the Talmud, an employee of a Jewish company embezzled company funds and ran away. When the president of the company wanted to report it to the police, the rabbi advised him, “If he gets caught and ends up in jail, you won’t be able to retrieve the money. Therefore, find him first, get the money back and have him pay the penalty.”
The Jews do not detest other people. Despite their long history of persecution, it is hard to find a document about their hatred toward other people. While millions of Jews were killed by the Nazi, not a single book wishing ill on the Germans has been published. They fought wars against the Arabs, but they are only interested in the land and do not detest the Arabs.
Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister in Nazi Germany, was an aspiring writer who dreamed of becoming a journalist. However, when he failed to get a job at a Jewish media company, his antagonism against the Jews grew. He had written more than 80,000 pages of diary, and in one of the entries, he asked, “Why do you not hate the Jews, who destroyed your youth and greedily attempt to victimize your sons and daughters again?”
Hatred incurs self-righteousness and prejudice, which are then transformed into arrogance and obstinacy. Having found a vehicle from Adolf Hitler to express his bitter hatred, Mr. Goebbels wrote in his diary in 1942, “I believe that the British or the Americans appreciate in their hearts that we are killing the Jewish trash.”
With the local election fast approaching, such hatred, self-righteousness and arrogance are rampant in Korean society, troubling our eyes and ears. A self-righteous man brandishes a knife out of hatred that he cannot even explain and claims that he himself is the victim. An arrogant man insists the voters should not support the opponent if they wish for democratic reform.
Buddha taught, “Harboring a grudge is like picking up a heated piece of charcoal to throw to someone; it is you yourself who gets burned.” The Jews seem to practice the teaching of Buddha very well. Koreans can learn from the rational mind of the Jews.


by Lee Hoon-beom

The writer is the head of the JoongAng Ilbo’s weekend news team.
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