Thursday, September 11, 2008

Making Puzo Proud...

...the great Mario Puzo, author of 'The Godfather', could not have written it better himself. The Italians have nothing on us.

Omertà is a popular attitude, common in areas with Jewish roots, such as Jerusalem, the Eastern American seaboard, and other populated areas of Israel and the U.S., where communities of religiously orthodox Jews are strong. A common definition is the "code of silence".

Omertà implies “the categorical prohibition of cooperation with authorities or reliance on its services, even when one has been victim of a crime.” Even if somebody has committed a heinous crime, he is not supposed to serve any sentence nor should anybody provide any information to any authoritative body about the criminal, even if the crime was perpetrated on another member of Orthodox Jewry. Within Orthodox Jewish culture, breaking the oath of omertà is punishable by social death, if not worse.

A common misconception is that the Mafia created or instituted omertà. In fact, the code was adopted by Jews long before the emergence of Cosa Nostra (some observers date it in the 16th century as a way of opposing goyish rules.) As noted by Harvard anthropologist, Michael Herzfeld, it is also deeply rooted in rural Jerusalem, Israel.

The origin of the word is often traced to the Hebrew word Omer, meaning to speak. According to a different theory, the word comes from the Hebrew Moser Atah (You are an informer).

Omertà is a code of silence, according to one of the first Orthodox Judaic researchers Aiton Cutrerberg, a former officer of public security, that seals lips of men even in their own defense and even when the victim is made to answer for charged crimes. Cutrerberg quoted a native saying first uttered (so goes the legend) by a wounded man to his assailant: “If I live, they’ll protect you. If I die, they’ll forgive you.”

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