Religion & Beliefs

EXODUS: sexist, racist, softcore porn

I thought I’d take a minute today to mention one of the worst things that ever happened to Judaism (and Israel)—the publication of the disgusting  book EXODUS, by Leon Uris.   Despite being horrendously offensive on a million levels (including a … Read More

By / November 30, 2006

I thought I’d take a minute today to mention one of the worst things that ever happened to Judaism (and Israel)—the publication of the disgusting  book EXODUS, by Leon Uris.  

Despite being horrendously offensive on a million levels (including a pretty ugly depiction of diaspora Jews), it found most of us when we were young enough (and uneducated enough, and indoctrinated enough)… to slip under our radar as a sexist/racist tome.  It caught me, and I even realized it was sexist and racist in high school, and I still liked it.  Because I was all het up about Israel. 

But guess what?  It’s still in print, still selling like hotcakes, and when I asked a group of my Hillel students  (at the University of Iowa) what their favorite Jewish book was, they all said, unanimously, EXODUS!  Sweet smart girls, and they thought  EXODUS was the best Jewish literature our tribe has produced.  (sorry Roth, Bellow, Singer…) 

So today, I thought I’d use this little soapbox to suggest you all go find the worn paperback on your shelf somewhere, or your mom’s shelf, (or even  buy one at a used bookstore—though for God’s sake don’t order a new one!) and re-read it. But this time, as you read, substitute “Black” or “Mexican” or “Chinese” or “Jewish” each time you run across the word “Arab.”   And see what you think.  Revisit your old favorite and get brutal about what it really is. 

What do I think?  Nostalgia+racism=racism.  Nationalistic pride+racism=racism. Bad writing+racism=racism.   EXODUS is just racist propaganda, with a little sexist softcore porn thrown in for good measure.    Made hugely dangerous by its ridiculous popularity.  It's insane that  a lot of us got our first Israeli history lesson from this book.

So go re-read the bad boy, and when you realize I’m right, that  Uris is a fascist, BURN that fucking book.  And remember that you should, each time you encounter anything (new or old), approach it with fresh eyes… as much as you possibly can.