My Two Cents: Lawyer wants to use Bible story to sue Jews

“First thing we do is kill all the lawyers.”

Jack the Butcher,
in Henry VI Part II

The above quote from Shakespeare came to mind when I read that a lawyer said he is planning to sue the world’s Jews for “plundering” gold during the exodus form Pharaonic Egypt thousands of years ago, based on information from the Bible. Seriously.

Amazingly, the lawyer in question is not, as one might expect, from America (new unofficial motto: E pluribus sue ’em). In fact, Nabil Hilmi is dean of the law faculty at Egypt’s al-Zaqaziq University, and according to him, the legal basis for his case is under study by lawyers – who I’m sure will be impartial – in Egypt and in Europe.

I don’t have a law degree, but I do watch a lot of “Law & Order,” so I feel qualified to offer the following legal opinion: Hilmi is a loonball for even thinking he has a case.

Then again, we live in a litigious world where families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are suing Boeing, American Airlines, United Airlines and others, including the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the World Trade Center Properties. The plaintiffs – their better judgement perhaps clouded by grief – say the airlines could have done a better job of preventing the hijackers from taking control of the four planes. They also say Boeing’s planes could have been designed better to thwart potential hijacks and the World Trade Center was badly designed for evacuation. (That’s just what U.S.-based airlines – already in financial trouble prior to Sept. 11, 2001, – need: a lawsuit. It would be a shame if airlines survived terrorism only to be done in by frivolous lawsuits.)

Anyway, the relevant passage in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Exodus 12:35-36, reads: “The Israelites had done as Moses told them; they had asked the Egyptians for jewelry of silver and gold, and for clothing…And so they plundered the Egyptians.”

It seems utterly absurd to me to sue an entire people based on an event that may or may not have even happened so long ago. Maybe Shakespeare was right after all.

“My Two Cents” is a weekly column where the author – who’s no doubt offended Biblical literalists with that last paragraph – gets in his two cents worth in spite of the old saying that you only get a penny for your thoughts.