By Accident Of Birth

After watching "The Other Son," about Israeli and Palestinian baby boys who were switched at birth, Roger Ebert contemplates the ease with which we adopt the religion of our parents:

How many people choose their religion, and how many have it thrust upon them? "I was born a Catholic," I was accustomed to say. In fact, I happened to be born to a Catholic mother and a Lutheran father who agreed that I would be raised in the Catholic church. The truth is, I was born as a baby boy. The two boys in "The Other Son" have been raised to resent and hate each other, and now find out that they are each other. The "Jewish" boy is not Jewish, the rabbi explains to him, because his mother was not Jewish. The boy protests that he has been an observant Jew for every day of his life. Not good enough, the rabbi regrets. The boy has only to take a few more steps and he can convert. The boy is outraged–he, a lifelong Jew, must convert to Judaism?

The fact is that without the blood test [to enter the military], he would have spent his life being a Jew, and the actual Jew by birth would have spent his life being a Muslim. It is not impossible to imagine a war scenario in which the two kill each other for the opposite reason they imagine.