Syria uses Shakespeare to identify as – a Jew?
From City AM:
The Syrian parliament appears to have dropped a reference to Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” in a letter to UK MPs.
In the second paragraph of a document obtained by Sky News, Mohammad Jihad al-Laham, speaker of the people’s assembly of Syria, writes:
We write to you as fathers and mothers, as members of families and communities really not so different to yours. We write to you as fellow human beings for, if you bomb us, shall we not bleed?
That line is curiously similar to one delivered by the Jewish money lender Shylock in Shakespeare’s classic:
I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, arms, legs, senses, affections, desires? Are we not fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If the intention was to draw a comparison between Syria and Shylock, it may not be taken as a very wise one, for in the play Shylock is a cruel character.
Of course, Shylock was also a Jew.
The idea that Syria is trying to paint itself as a persecuted (and despised) Jew is strange, to say the least!
It also shows an interesting and sharp divergence between Syria’s strident tone in the media and how it talks to diplomats.