Monday, August 04, 2014

What is a Jew?

Forgive my ignorance, but what, exactly, is a Jew? What is a Semite?

There's been so much intermarriage over the course of centuries, I'm not sure if "Jew" is a valid designation of a race. What are all these anti-Semite protestors and blood-thirsty barbarians referring to when they call for gassing the Jews again? I confess my ignorance. There is the Hebrew language, which only Jews and scholars can fathom. But a language is not a race.

As I remarked in an earlier column, I wouldn't know a Jew on the street, not on sight. Jews don’t wear their "race" on their sleeves, not unless they're of the Hassidic or other strict sect. Jews come in all sizes and races. There is no distinctive facial definition of a Jew. Contrary to the Nazis' cartoonish stereotyping and vilification, not all Jews have hawkish noses and heavy eyebrows. Dress an Amish farmer and a Hassidic rabbi in the same T-shirts, jeans, and Nike tennis shoes, and I dare anyone to play that two-card-Monte game and win by pointing out which is which. It's only if they open their mouths and say something that a distinction can be made.

One of my first jobs when I moved to New York City in 1968 was as a backroom clerk for a big stock brokerage. Most of the men in the room were Jewish. I picked up more foul language there than I had in the Air Force. I won’t repeat any of the raunchy terms I learned in that big, noisy room where we sorted through stock certificates and reconciled ownershps. But raunchy language is not the monopoly of Jews. Blacks have their own, as do Italians and Poles and Russians and there is a variety of Latino patois. I employ many black street terms in my Roaring Twenties novels.

Later in my itinerate and very checkered work life, I worked as a teletypist for Société Générale in New York, and picked up some French obscenities. (The French, they are a very snobbish people!). Once, having a coffee break with an American black woman who was in charge of ciphering international transactions for the bank, I told her not only that her most immediate ancestors came from Louisiana, but from which coast of Africa her remote ancestors came (remote, meaning the American colonial period). She gaped at me, open-mouthed, absolutely dumb-struck, and asked me how I knew all that. She was unmarried and had a French surname. And her skin color corresponded with the numerous light-skinned African slaves who were brought over to America from the West Coast. (Most of the truly ebony slaves came from the East Coast, where Muslims monopolized the slave trade, and still do, although they've now branched out into enslaving Filipinos, Indonesians, and the hapless members of other ethnic groups.)

But I could never tell if a Jew's ancestors came from Russia or Poland or the Ukraine or Munich or Iraq or Persia. It's the difference between Upper and Lower Swabia to me. That person would need to tell me. Then I'd know. But I otherwise wouldn't even venture a guess. Racial or national origins mean nothing to me.  Culture and ideas do.

Let me be frank: As an atheist, I don’t buy either the Christian, Judaic, or Islamic racial or historic origins of Jews, no more than I believe in Noah's Ark, Archbishop Ussher's dating the beginning of the world on October 23, 4004 BC, or Moses parting the Red Sea. Hate me if you like, but I don’t regard fables as evidentiary proof of anything, regardless of how sacred and unassailable Christians, Jews, or Muslims regard their foundational texts. That goes for Buddhists and Hindus, too.

Judaism, if that's what the belligerent and foul-mouthed anti-Semitic protestors are "protesting," is strictly a religion to me, not a race. Anyone with a lot of patience and superb memory skills can convert to it. But that's not what they're protesting. They are damning a race, the Semites. They're "anti-Semites" shouting vitriolic language about their historical brothers and sisters. At least, the Muslim demonstrators are. I can't speak for the others.

But, what's a Semite? Arabs or "Palestinians" are Semites, according to ethnologists, with a common ancient origin in terms of ethnicity. Strictly speaking, what the Muslims and Leftard protestors (many of them Jewish) are "protesting" is the whole Semite race, Jews and Arabs alike. So, should they all go to the gas chamber? Has it ever occurred to any one of them that if we're going to go by definitions, the Muslims themselves are cursing their own origins? I don’t think it has occurred to them, and I would not envy the person who volunteered to inform them of the fact. He'd probably be beaten to death for committing blasphemy or "racism."

Perhaps it's analogous to the difference people see between the Catholic Irish of Ireland and the Protestant Irish of Northern Ireland. If we're going to also define the Irish as a "pure" race, what's the difference except in terms of an imaginary line called a border? But Ireland and the British Isles as a whole were raided so many times by the rapacious Vikings there can hardly be anything called an "Irish" or "Celtic" race. The Scots and the "British" raided each other often enough to dilute any "racial" purity in those groups. And, let's not forget the Romans and the Normans and 1066. And the Angles and the Saxons and the Picts. Then there's Germany, and France, and every European country invaded by waves of barbarians over millennia.

I always laugh when I watch Hitler ranting about the necessity of preserving the purity of the German or Aryan race by getting rid of the Jews. In terms of measuring his physiology against his ideal of a blonde, blue-eyed brute, he got the very short end of the racial stick. I've even read articles which argued he had "Jewish" blood in him. If there's any substance to the idea, then Hitler was the ultimate self-hating Jew. Much like the liberal Jews who hate Israel and can be seen chanting deprecations with the other savages.

 I won’t go into the details of the rise in anti-Semitic rioting across the globe here. That's easy to read already and details are plentiful. The rioting is caused by Israel's actions taken in self-defense against Hamas and that whole Islamic gang that wants to extinguish Israel and crow on the ashes and bodies of Israelis. The whole anti-Israel phenomenon reveals a hatred of Israeli successes in science, technology, standards of living, and the freedom of the mind. What they'd ever do with a "free Palestine," except build new gas chambers and mass graves, doesn’t require much imagination: Nothing. Remember what the Gazans did to the greenhouses left behind after Israel ceded that part of Gaza and removed the Israeli settlers? They were trashed, or their materials turned into weapons or other uses.

The "Palestinians" and their masters are experts at growing nothing but death. Islam is a death-worshipping, nihilist creed and political ideology. Nihilists build nothing. They destroy. It's their whole purpose in life. Whatever it is in Judaism that permits Jews and especially the Israelis to excel in virtually everything they undertake to promote life and happiness, I'm too ignorant of the creed to say. Perhaps it's a compartmentalized fealty to reason and reality, one that's segregated from the religion's mysticism and historiography and traditions.  That's my diagnosis.

Whatever explains it, Jews aren’t the only ones who compartmentalize. Millions of non-Jews have the same handicap. That should make us all Jews, we the thinking, the productive, the glad-to-be-alive.

So, call me a Jew.

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