Are the Smurfs Anti-Semitic Misogynists?

One of my more successful blog posts is this critical deconstruction of the cartoon ‘The Smurfs’ (written in 2008). With Global Smurf Day and a 3D film around the corner, I figure it was time to rewrite and publish elsewhere. Check out my latest from the Forward.


2 responses to “Are the Smurfs Anti-Semitic Misogynists?

  1. Thank you for an interesting analysis, Dr. Ben-Yehuda.

    I watched the Smurfs from time to time as a child, but I never really took the time to understand their culture or origin, so it would be easier for me to misunderstand some of their statements, especially if I did not know the context (as you explained above). It IS ironic that such a show was so popular during the Reagan years, now that you mention it.

    I was surprised by your comment that “in line with the medieval Christian belief that Jews possessed malevolent magical powers (originating in the New Testament’s claim, John 8:44 that the Jews were children of the devil).” I had not heard that assertion before that “Jews possessed malevolent magical powers.” It’s such a tragedy that Yeshua was dressed for so long as a Greek in Western culture and that Christians (or churchgoers without any heart transformation) failed in so many ways to grasp that G-d’s “love endures forever” for His Jewish people.

    Since you are a PhD in conflict analysis and resolution, I am hoping that what I write will be helpful to you in some way.

    Today many Christians cringe when they read “The Jews” did this or “The Jews” did that in the New Testament. It is an unfortunate translation which has caused much suffering over the centuries.

    The traditional translation is ridiculous because almost without exception, everyone in the text (except for the Romans) was Jewish. Everyone was “the Jews.”

    There was an undercurrent at times between the Judean Jews and and the rest of the Jewish people– especially those from the Galil. People from the Galil did not live as close to the Temple; they weren’t as dedicated to the oral traditions as those who lived in Judea; there are inferences in the text which make it clear that those who lived in the Galil were the “hillbillies” of Israeli culture at the time. Many contemporary scholars agree that a better translation which fits the context for “The Jews” would be “The Judeans” or “the Judean leaders.” That being said, some of the Judean leaders were interested in what Yeshua had to say– Nikdimon [Nicodemus] and Yosef of Ramatayim [Joseph of Arimathea], for example.

    The same prejudices are at work today. Some religious Israelis see American Jews as mostly mongrels whose Judaism is mostly a joke. Only marriages performed by the Orthodox according to their rules are allowed. For that reason, many less religious (or religious in a differing way) Jewish people go to Cyprus to get married. They are Jewish– but just not Jewish enough to be fully accepted by the definition of some.

    Similarly, Jewish people from Nazareth, from the Galil, those who lived near Shomrom– they started out, let’s say, on the wrong foot as far as many in Jerusalem were concerned. When the New Testament says, “The Jews,” it is often that dynamic of the Judean Jewish people or leaders in contrast with the Jews from the Galil. Sometimes (as is found throughout the Hebrew Bible) the dialogue became heated.

    Here’s the offending chapter in its Jewish context:

    Yeshua is saying to some Judeans that it’s not enough to claim Avraham as their father; they needed to have hearts and actions like Avraham did as well. Sometimes, family says things to family that sounds harsh. The prophets got pretty rough in some of the things they said to Israel as well. It is one thing for an interfamily squabble to get heated. It is entirely another when those words are borrowed and misused by arrogant Gentiles– many of whom knew only what the priest told them because they could not read it for themselves. Sadly, when they did read it, they often failed to grasp G-d’s zealous heart for Israel which caused Him to jealously require integrity, humility, and love to show in His children’s thoughts and actions.

    As we unfortunately see every day, arrogance (whether from Gentiles or Jewish people) always makes communication harder— and an unfortunate translation twisted by some in their prejudice brings about the kind of tragedies about which G-d says, ” 17 But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret for your pride; and mine eyes shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the LORD’S flock is carried away captive.”

    Because of the antisemitism which has been so rampant BCE and CE– and is surging again today with Islamofascism–whether we are Jewish or Gentile, there is much that we can learn about walking in humility, integrity, and love—being a friend of G-d like Avraham avinu.

    Part of that love involves showing love in practical ways, such as listening to each other in a way that says, “Help me understand your point of view. I may not agree, but help me to at least understand better what you mean and how you feel.”

  2. Pingback: Are the Smurfs Anti-Semitic Misogynists? | Lars Pilegård

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