The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

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Location: Kilcullen (Phone 087 7790766), County Kildare, Ireland

Friday, January 20, 2012

explore your cultural sensitivities with uncle jayums and damned be he who mentions my erstwhile attitude to muslims

Mrs Ukraine is telling me about Ukrainian nativity plays.
"We have all the traditional elements you have here," she explains. "Joseph, Mary, the birth in a stable. And we have an evil character called Zed. He is a Jew. With you know. The traditional style of hair in ringlets. Do you know what I mean?"
I allow myself a sharp intake of breath.
"Are you telling me that Ukrainian nativity plays feature racist depictions of Jewish people?" I enquire sweetly.
"No, no, it's just the villain," she answers.
"Well why don't you feature Mary the mother of God with her hair in traditional Jewish ringlets, or Joseph, or the baby Jesus? Or Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? Because I've got news for you. They're all Jews."
"I know James. But it's not racist. It's just our tradition."
"So what does Zed do?"
"He tips off Herod as to where the baby Jesus is hiding."
"But this is a complete lie. This never happened. If you pretend you believe in the Bible you must admit this never happened."
"Yes but this is a very old nativity play in Ukraine. It's performed in different versions all over our country. And we always have this character in the play. We can't change it."
I favour her with my famous Paddington Bear stare.
"You've got to stop having this character in your play," I cry. "Have you thought that this single act of evil against the Jewish people might be what is opening the door for Satan to continually enslave Ukraine through the Russian dictatorships? First through communist Russia. Now through Putin. You are opening the door to the devil. You are bringing down hell on your own country. Take it from a sinful man. I'd change that nativity play if I were you."
"James it's two hundred years old."
"Where on earth did this nonsense come from? You people need to read what Jesus said to the woman at the well: Salvation comes from the Jews. And you need to read what Saint Paul wrote: Never look down on the Jews, for by some of them refusing the gospel, the gospel has come to you. You owe them. And if their refusal has meant salvation for all mankind. What will their acceptance mean? Nothing less than life from the dead. That's not me. That's Saint Paul."
"But James this tradition started because in Ukraine everyone was very poor. And in every town in Ukraine there was one person with a shop making money out of us. And that person was always a Jew."
"Are you telling me no Ukrainians were capable of running shops themselves?"
"That is the way it was."
"No it wasn't. And I'll tell you. The Irish are worse than the Ukrainians. We had no Jews. But we resented anyone who owned a shop just as much. So I'm not judging you. I'm just saying: Change your nativity play."
"We can't change a two hundred year old tradition."
"You'd change it in the morning if Jesus came back and told you to."


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