Rabbi's Message: Volume 25, No. 4: Nov. 2007 - Kislev 5768


Volume 25, No. 4: Nov. 2007 - Kislev 5768

Subject: Rabbi's Message: Nov. 2007 - Kislev 5768: That's Jewish

I'm hearing from many of my teen age students of the use of the term "that's Jewish" as a substitute for "that's stupid."

I grew up in an anti-Semitic town where I heard every imaginable canard about Jews, but the one thing that I never heard was equating Jews with being stupid. In the short period of time from 1962 to 1966, with Jews comprising 1% of the graduating classes of my high school, 4 of 5 valedictorians were Jewish. The big name universities have set quotas to limit Jewish enrolment and while Jews are less than one quarter of one percent of the world's population, 18% of the world's Nobel Prize winners are Jewish.

Back in 2004, a noted public relations firm realized that John Kerry had a definable and honorable military record, while George Bush had none. By the time the Swift Boaters were through, the truth had been turned on its head.

It gets worse. I've heard reports from supposedly respectable sources blaming the Israel lobby for the war in Iraq; that no Jews were in the twin towers on 9/11; and more.

About a year and a half ago, Karen and I started a group called VISION to help deal with a growing problem of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in New Hampshire. Shortly after we formed, we had no strategy. The words of a respected member of the New Hampshire Jewish community were quoted to me as saying, "I like the principle of what they are doing, but I don't like their methods." We had no methods and yet the assumption was made that any effort to defend ourselves had to be wrong!

The technique of turning a positive that has been attributed to an individual or group to a negative is now referred to as "swift boating".

When you hear terms like "that's Jewish" or "Jewish fire" or "jewed down" or ..., don't let these terms go by unchallenged. Our victories in combating anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism can be global, but they can also be person by person. We can't let ourselves be "swift boated." That's smart; that's Jewish.


Joshua L. Segal

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