Oct 19, 2009

Is anything gained by fighting anti-semitism

I was wondering what we gain making a big deal out of every time someone insults us. What do you think?

We are taught that we should not be quick to get insulted and take things personally. And at a personal level many of us have perhaps worked on our middos and do not make a big deal out of every personal insult thrown our way.

But as a nation we sometimes seem to take things very personally. Every time some idiot says something not nice about the Jews, we make a big deal about it and threaten them, and get them fired from their job, or sue them, or whatever.

While I understand that in todays world everyone is worried about being politically correct and nobody wants to be perceived as being biased against any ethic group, but what do we actually gain by enforcing that. For example in the recent issue with the Irish guy singing at the Yankees game - he was accused of having said something anti-semitic to someone - not even publicly. The lady complained, the Yankees got upset and he had to apologize. And people still made a big deal about it when the Yankees hired him to sing again.

So, did our making a big deal out of it make him, or many other people, any less anti-semitic? Or did we just push it a little bit further under the carpet - in the short term. We made people more afraid to express the anti-semitism they already have. But in the long term, perhaps we accomplished nothing, or even made people more anti-semitic as they get upset at the Jews for punishing them for "nonsense" (for example in the case of this Irish guy he said he was just shooting off his mouth cynically but had not meant anything seriously).

Is the Irish tenor an anti-semite? I have no idea. He might be or he might not be. Are other people who say nasty things about Jews anti-semites? I have no idea - they very well might be, but maybe they just have an old style sense of humor and talk that way about anyone. I am willing to put out there that I think most people have some sort of latent anti-semitism, if it is not overt. That is just the way it is. people, for the most part albeit with exception, hate the jews (and Jews are not alone in this). I don't see us gaining anything by fighting to supress it every time it gets expressed.

Should we fight it? I don't know. There is a sense of if they are going to talk like that, let's show 'em. But on the other hand I don't see any real gain.

What do you think?


  1. You raise a good question. Is there any gain from fighting anti-semitic slander?

    I think there are times when it is appropriate and times when it is not. You gotta know how to pick your battles. Unfortunately, knowing which battles to pick is no easy task.

    Sometimes by responding to anti-semitism the only thing accomplished is more talk about the issue. No one's mind changes, and if anything, people go home to their friends and family and will continue to spread their opinion among like-minded people.

    However, the issue cannot be totally ignored. When someone of influence say a country or politician, is openly anti-semitic how can we remain quiet?

    The best we can do is to ignore as much of it as we can and try to be the best at everything we do while maintaining a moral/ethical code. Seeing rabbis in handcuffs does not help. Hearing of money laundering performed by Jews does not help. Whether secular or religious, all of us are united in this regard.

    With all that being said, there will always be corrupt/immoral Jews. At the end of the day we are people like everyone else. Some will commit crimes and some will not. Some people will hate us and some will not. There will never be an end to anti-semitism as there will never be an end to racism of all sorts.

    It is important to remember that we are not alone in this issue. All too often we forget that many groups the world over are hated. Groups respond, some get violent, some make statements, etc. In the end we see both positive and negative effects. If we look at America today, Diversity is key to success. There are more oppurtunities for minority groups than ever before. On the other side of the coin, racism is still around, still offensive, and sometimes dangerous.

  2. I think the question's a good one and have wondered the same thing. Pumbaa answered well. I think the latent type is generally harmless, or more correctly, not serious enough to bring more attention to it. Picking your battles, as Pumbaa said is no easy task and not every Jew will pick correctly. So unless we send every Jew to a course on picking battles in anti-semitism, I think it's inevitable that we'll have someone make a big deal over a small thing.

    OTOH, these relatively harmless comments, the latent anti-semitism you say is present in many people, if left unchecked, can grow. Get one charismatic guy to fan those sparks into flames and then you have a problem. First it's a comment or a joke, then a political cartoon, then another and another, then a stand-up comic's routine, then a speech. See where this can lead? So maybe we have to nip them in the bud.

    Of course, if it ever got to the political cartoon stage, we could riot in the streets, set cars on fire, throw bricks at buildings and march with placards that say "Behead those who insult Jews!"

  3. While we have many non-Jewish defenders, if we don't say anything, everyone will start tolerating it, and soon after believing it. I don't like that scenario.

    But of course all this isn't black and white. Can someone's private statement be brought against him in a public arena? Sure. Once they apologize should we still stick it to them? No - we accept the apology and watch future behavior. I think that's the difference.

  4. pumbaa - great reply.

    I agree that there is clearly a benefit to putting a stop to it publicly so as not to allow it to grow. But sometimes, especially in the "little" situations, sometimes we might be better off ignoring it and only stopping the bigger ones. They look at us and see a bunch of people who make a big deal out of every little thing, and perhaps (I don't know that this is the case - this is actually my original question), perhaps, that even causes an increase in anti-semitism, even if it will not be expressed publicly (because people will be afraid of repercussions), but it will be there and it will be growing and eventually it will come out even worse.

  5. I hear you. In other words sometimes we sound like a bunch of whiners. It's one thing to be hated for being a Light Unto the Nations, quite another because we're acting stupid.

    But when do stupid whiners represent all of us? And can we ever stop them? Maybe the real anti-Semites just take advantage of the incidence of stupid whiners and blow it out of proportion.


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