I recently experienced the Hollywood blockbuster "Spider-Man," and was delighted to see mild-mannered Queens high school student Peter Parker turn himself into a crime-fighting superhero. Jews invented the modern superhero 60 years ago, developing the concept of a well-intentioned but unempowered person transformed through accident into a powerhouse. Their creations (Superman, Spiderman and the like) are descendents of the golem, which was created to protect Jews from pogroms.
After finishing the movie, and after being assaulted by another depressing headline about what is happening to Israel, I began to wish for the appearance of some Jewish superheroes to solve today’s most vexing Israel-related problems. I can’t promise that Hollywood will come rushing to produce films with any of the following superheroes, but the appearance of any of the following individuals would be greatly appreciated.
Op-Ed Man: Bitten by a radioactive poet, and armed with a Ph.D. in political science, Op-Ed man faxes Jews around the country articles of rhetorical genius putting Intifada II in context. These articles can then be sent to local newspapers.
Franco-Stein: Travels to every community in France where a synagogue or Jewish institution has been vandalized or burned, and officially changes that city’s name to Vichy. In addition, the offending city’s cheese and wine are turned into humus and Kedem Grape Juice. Gained powers after a coughing fit following Woody Allen’s defense of French culture at Cannes.
The Translator: After her airplane was struck by lightning while she was listening to the in-flight radio program, The Translator develops the ability to hear and understand all Arab-language radio, TV, online and print media at the same time. She then immediately translates all rabidly anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric into English, exposing Arab political double-talk.
The Amplifier: Technically The Translator’s sidekick, The Amplifier hears whispered apologies by the Vatican, UN officials and human rights organizers about previous false charges against Jews and Israel, and brings them to the attention of the media. The two work together especially well on a case like the recent Vatican study noting that the Jewish wait for the Messiah is theologically "valid."
The Relevancy Ranger: Part of the Trilateral Trio, which includes The Translator and The Amplifier. The Relevancy Ranger feels the disturbance in the Force when university professors digress from their course subject to bash Israel. She then swoops onto campus and moves the clocks forward to the end of class, protecting academic freedom while ending the opportunity for Israel trashing. Both The Amplifier and The Relevancy Ranger earned their super powers through an online course sponsored by Marvel Comics.
The Iberianizer: Accidentally frozen in Grenada 800 years ago, The Iberianizer is miraculously brought back to life to educate all Middle Easterners about the Golden Age of Spain, in which Jews, Muslims and Christians lived together in harmony and respect.
The Shmuler: Due to a rare childhood illness, the formerly Lubavitch rabbi became possessed of rare television charisma. He burst onto the Superhero circuit by broadcasting excerpts of "Kosher Sex" on Al-Jazeera, which he expects will turn on Hamas and Islamic Jihad to Judaism, and turn their attention from killing Jews to arguing over how far apart a couple’s beds should be.
The Documenter: Is able to reconstruct property deeds of Jews who fled Arab countries after 1948. Works out of Alan Dershowitz’s office to sue those countries for stolen homes, money and other goods. Developed powers to find documents hidden in a bureaucratic void after an internship at Arthur Anderson Consulting.
Acronym Woman: After a placard mishap on a panel concerning the UJA-CJF merger, Acronym Woman developed the ability to understand how the national Jewish agencies differ from one another. Uses that knowledge to reduce inefficiency in North American Jewish fund raising, while stealthily advising Iraq and Syria to rename all of their security forces ADL. Needless to say, those forces began taking orders from ADL chief Abe Foxman, and quickly put themselves out of business.
The Golem: The first Jewish superhero.
Daniel Schifrin’s column appears the fourth week of the month.