Conservative commentators Ben Shapiro and Katie Hopkins lauded the “Judeo-Christian” heritage of the Notre Dame Cathedral while lamenting the devastating fire that ripped through the iconic Paris building on Monday — leaving many of their fellow Twitter users to cry foul on their knowledge of history.
Hopkins tweeted, “A terrifying manifestation of the truth of Judeo-Christian cultures [in] Western Europe. We are aflame. And powerless to quell the fire. We watch in horror as our countries burn.”
Shapiro, meanwhile, became involved in a Twitter spat with Bernie Sanders’ press secretary, Briahna Joy Gray. In response to his initial comment of “Absolutely heartbreaking. A magnificent monument to Western civilization collapsing” she wrote: “Pretty sure it's a monument to God but go off Ben.” To which he replied: “It is. And that is why it is a central monument to Western civilization, which was built on the Judeo-Christian heritage.”
New Yorker writer Osita Nwanevu replied to Shapiro, “In the first decades of Notre Dame's construction, the Jews were expelled from France.” While Rabbi Elli Fischer pointed out, “If by 'Judeo-Christian heritage' you mean the heritage of men like Nicholas Donin, a Jew-turned-Christian who engineered the burning of the Talmud in the 1240s right across the Seine from Notre Dame, then sure, it's a monument to that.”
The building stands on the Île de la Cité, a small island in Paris’ Seine River. Construction was begun in 1163, and its two massive towers were finished around 1245, although the building was not completed until the beginning of the 14th century. Its central spire was added in the 19th century. The Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation (Memorial to the Martyrs of the Deportation), which memorializes 200,000 victims of the Holocaust who were deported under Vichy France to concentration camps, is behind Notre Dame on Île de la Cité.
France’s National Assembly only voted to give the country’s Jews full rights and equality under the law on September 27, 1791. Before that, Jews were often targets of persecution, expulsion and other forms of disenfranchisement.
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg added her take on the topic, tweeting: “'Judeo-Christian' isn’t a thing. It a) positions Jews & Christians against Muslims, is Islamophobic b) elides Christian oppression & murder of Jews over more than 1000 years & c) ignores Jewish civilization worldwide & facts of key Jewish developments in Middle East & N Africa.”
Vox.com’s David Roberts wrote, “Is it me or has 'judeo-christian' just become a more socially acceptable way of saying 'white'?”