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"The Jewish Americans":

I haven't been watching this PBS documentary series (mostly because I don't watch t.v.), but a q & a with the writer/director raises a question. He writes, "Jewish Americans are probably the most liberal of any white ethnic group, and that liberalism dates from this deep attachment to F.D.R., the New Deal and the liberal principles for which both stood."

Hmm. My understanding of American Jewish history is rather different. As I understand it, many Eastern European Jews brought labor radicalism and socialism with them to America, and a substantial fraction, perhaps as much as 1/3, of American Jews (which would have included my own maternal grandfather and great-grandfather) identified themselves as socialists in 1932, before F.D.R.'s presidency could have had any impact on them. If anything, F.D.R. probably made American Jews less liberal (in the American political sense) by weaning many of them away from socialism and other forms of radicalism and into New Deal interest group liberalism, though he did win Jews' loyalty to the Democratic Party.

If we have any readers who are experts in American Jewish history or sociology, perhaps they will chime in.

On another topic, why is it a "darker corner of Jewish history" that "Jews owned many of the sweatshops [otherwise known as small, poorly capitalized factories] on the Lower East Side"? Is there some evidence that "sweatshop" owners made super-competitive profits because they had monopoly power or coerced their workers? That they failed to pay agreed-upon wages? That they received special favors from political connections? Am I the only one who has read The Rise of David Levinsky and wondered why the title character was considered a heinous villain in his day?

stunned:
Area Man Constantly Mentioning He Doesn't Own A Television (http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28694)
1.22.2008 7:58pm
Cheburashka (mail):
I studied American Jewish history in college (although I'm hardly an expert), and my recollection is similar to Bernstein's.

As I recall, it was central and western european jews who brought socialism with them at the beginning of the 20th Century. But this was not true (or less true) of Jewish migration in the late 19th Century, or of Jewish migration from Eastern Europe.

My own ancestors, for example, were fleeing socialism, or at least fleeing compulsory service in the Red or White armies. (Great-grandad was never really clear on which; all he really had to say was "Ukraine? Why in the hell would I ever want to go back to that ****hole.")

On the other hand, like other continental European migrants of the late 19th and 20th Centuries, Jews did bring with them a belief that government had an obligation to provide, and a general inclination toward collectivism and "social organism" thinking, which may have inclined them (or more likely their children) toward socialism.
1.22.2008 8:06pm
OrinKerr:
I think you're right, David, although it's worth pointing out the context of the answer:
Question: Which non-modern president (pre-WWII) had the most positive influence on Jewish American culture and relations with the country at large and how did this influence come about?


Answer: Franklin Roosevelt, of course, was beloved by Jewish Americans. By including more Jews in his administration than any president before him, he made Jewish Americans feel that he was their president during an intolerant era, when anti-Semitism was prevalent everywhere. And because of his New Deal, Jewish Americans along with other minorities and the poor, felt that they too could share in the American dream. His support for the Labor Movement, which Jews enthusiastically supported, also made him their hero. Jewish Americans are probably the most liberal of any white ethnic group, and that liberalism dates from this deep attachment to F.D.R., the New Deal and the liberal principles for which both stood.
In light of the entire answer, it's not clear to me whether the author disagrees with you or was just being lose with the term "dates from."
1.22.2008 8:14pm
KeithK (mail):
Regarding the sweatshops bit, it seems like a typical case of projecting modern views onto history. Nowadays sweatshops are considered evil because it's firmly established that working conditions must meet certain standards. By projection, businesses that did not provide modern working conditions and rights have always been evil and anyone who owned or operated one was an accomplice to this evil. Thus, Jews should be ashamed for running sweatshops a hundred years ago, almost by definition.

In my view, people ought to be judged in the context of the times and places in which they lived. While it would be right to praise someone who was ahead of his time by providing modern (or more modern) conditions for his workers it makes no sense to condemn someone for practices that were standard at the time.
1.22.2008 8:38pm
Smokey:
This PBS crockumentary claims that
"Jews owned many of the sweatshops [otherwise known as small, poorly capitalized factories] on the Lower East Side"
That use of "sweatshop" would make Hermann Goering proud. Truth be told, most of the factory workers were happy to have the job, given the most likely alternatives.

PBS is willing to forego half of its potential audience because it doesn't pay taxes, and it gets a subsidy every year from unwilling taxpayers in order to shovel its leftoid propaganda into living rooms.

And their incessant begging reminds me of a street bum with a tie on: "Got any spare change dollars?"

PBS will not deign to compete with the rest of the broadcasting hoi polloi. If they did, they wouldn't get a free pass for deliberately misusing emotion-laden words like "sweatshop."
1.22.2008 8:42pm
Craig Oren (mail):
David,

Jews have been on the left since the French revolution, since it was the revolutionaries who emancipated Jews. (It's been argued that they did so in order to get Jews to assimilate and to stop being Jewish, but let's leave that aside). Throughout the nineteenth century in Europe, it was conservatives who opposed emancipation and left-leaning types who favored it. In addition, for those Jews who became "enlightened" (the "masquilim" as they were called), socialism was a kind of secular equivalent of being religious. Moses became Marx, and the coming of the messiah became the post-revolutionary world.

To answer your question more specifically: recall that the owners of the Triangle Shirtwaist company in New York were Jewish. 146 girls perished in the Triangle Shirtwaist company fire of March 25, 1911, an event that helped spark creation of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.
You can see the old Triangle building near NYU adjacent to Washington Square. Jewish entreprenuers were seen as oppressors of Jewish workers. (The same had been true in Europe; see I.J. Singer's (not Isaac Singer his brother) The Brothers Ashkenaz.

My mother occasionally told me a story in which her mother escaped the fire because she was unable to find the company on the day when the fire broke out.
1.22.2008 8:45pm
EH (mail):
This story threatens to disprove Godwin's Law.
1.22.2008 8:51pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Throughout the nineteenth century in Europe, it was conservatives who opposed emancipation and left-leaning types who favored it. In addition, for those Jews who became "enlightened" (the "masquilim" as they were called), socialism was a kind of secular equivalent of being religious. Moses became Marx, and the coming of the messiah became the post-revolutionary world.
Of course, Marx himself was a notorious anti-Semite, and propagated the view that Jews only existed to serve the role of economic middlemen, that the Jewish nation and culture therefore was inauthentic, and that Jews would disappear once Socialism eliminated the need for them. You can still see echoes of this in the left's current hostility to Israel.

"Jewish entreprenuers were seen as oppressors of Jewish workers." Well, all workers dislike their bosses, and think they deserve more. But that doesn't mean that 100 years later anyone has to repeat the nonsense prevalent them. Would the Jewish workers have been better off unemployed? And as with Levinsky in the book, the vast majority of the owners started as workers themselves, but unlike Levinsky, most never made much money. The Triangle fire was a terrible tragedy, made worse by factory owners' violations of fire standards, but if not for the Jewish entrepreneurs providing jobs, their employees would have stuck in god-forsaken outposts of the Russian empire.
1.22.2008 8:59pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
During the early 20th century, it wasn't so hot in the rural areas either. The majority of the workers in the US were working on small farms and worked from before sun up to sunset whether they owned those farms or not. The work was backbreaking, dangerous and difficult. Shoveling manure, plowing fields behind mules or horses, planting, harvesting, maintaining buildings over and over, year after year was no picnic.

True, the Triangle Shirt Factory Fire was a tragedy, and rightfully publicized as such. But in the context of the times, the workers employed in the so-called sweat shops were not necessarily any worse off than most of the nation's inhabitants.

A lot of things have happened for the better these past 100 years.
1.22.2008 9:04pm
Cathy (mail) (www):
Not an expert on Jewish history, but I think it's important to consider the influence of earlier waves of Jewish immigrants, e.g., German Jews like Jacob Riis, who influenced pre-FDR social programs.
1.22.2008 9:08pm
ronnie dobbs (mail):
<blockquote>
My own ancestors, for example, were fleeing socialism, or at least fleeing compulsory service in the Red or White armies. (Great-grandad was never really clear on which; all he really had to say was "Ukraine? Why in the hell would I ever want to go back to that ****hole.")
</blockquote>

That's almost exactly what my great-grandfather used to say about the Ukraine (except it was pre-revolution Russia, so it was definitely the czar's army in which he refused to serve).
1.22.2008 9:15pm
GMUSL '07 Alum (mail):
Well, FDR wasn't necessarily beloved by the Jews. I'm pretty sure that the entire Schecter family, as well as their friends and the community that they served, couldn't stand him.
1.22.2008 9:18pm
Craig Oren (mail):
a postscript: it is my impression (I have never done the necessary investigation) that, prior to 1932, Jews tended to vote Republican in Presidential elections. Why? Because the Republican party, being the party of business, favored allowing in large numbers of immigrants, and that was good for the European families of American Jews.
1.22.2008 9:24pm
Sarah (mail) (www):
Many people my great-grandparents' shtetl in Lithuania seem to have been Zionists (of the "let's move somewhere far away from the Tsar and build a cooperative farm" flavor) and Bundists; the memorial book talks about how all the young people left to go start workers' utopias before 1905 (with photos of sad-looking groups of middle-aged people.) And my grandfather and most of his buddies on the Lower East Side were marching in Socialist parades (or selling hot dogs to the people marching in said parades) in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Most of those people were Jewish, at least according my grandfather's memoirs. Which makes sense, since they generally marched against the consulates of oppressive regimes of one sort or another.

Most of the Jewish American volunteers for the Spanish Civil War (who made up half of the total American force) were leftists as well as anti-fascists. And I've not seen many "oh, yay, FDR" comments from the veterans either in contemporary accounts or today: they were mad at him for not opposing Germany openly, for allowing the government to harass SCW vets, for letting Franco win, etc. FDR just happened to be president at the time Germany was finally defeated (years too late,) as far as they were concerned, and his internal policies were hardly up to their ideals -- Milt Wolff, who just passed away the other day, was denied reenlistment in the Civilian Conservation Corps for protesting the lousy conditions.

Admittedly my family overall probably leans more to the left than the average Jewish family, and my grandparents and their friends definitely more to the left than average (my father was named after Edwin Rolfe, and when I was a little girl I tagged along on visits to Abe Osheroff's house...) But I hardly think that it was FDR, of all people, pulling Jews toward leftist groups and ideas.
1.22.2008 9:25pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
Jews are the most "left" or liberal inclined ethnic group (white or not) in the US, which means that they really worship Hitler . . . or they wear smiley faces with Hitler mustaches . . . or they are really fascists but not the Hitler type . . . or they are kinda like Hitler because they like organic food . . . or something. It's all very confusing.
1.22.2008 9:43pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Craig, it was the Republicans who passed the major immigration restrictions in 21 and 24; the Dems. were the party of immigrants, especially Irish immigrants. The Dems were also, however, the part of racism in the South. The Jewish vote was up for grabs pre-1932 because neither party had a consistent philosophy, both had struggles between their laissez faire wing and their "progressive" wing. Both national candidates in 1924, Davis and Coolidge, were subsantially more pro-laissez faire than their successors, Hoover and Smith, and the latter was more pro-laissez faire than was FDR. And meanwhile, a substantial fraction of Jews voted for the Socialists. The leading Yiddish radio station in NY for decades was WEVD--Eugene V. Debs.
1.22.2008 9:49pm
sbron:
It was really annoying to see Justice Ginsburg on this
program criticizing anti-Jewish quotas in the Ivy League.
She supported the U. Mich. points system for race (Grutter case) which was also designed to exclude people of the wrong sort.

On the plus side, it was refreshing to recall immigrant Irving Berlin's patriotism and love of country, in comparison to many of today's immigrants who have an
attitude of entitlement. The observations about Berlin's desire to assimilate and "reflect" American culture were particularly striking in contrast to today's multiculturalism.
1.22.2008 9:52pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
Marx himself was a notorious anti-Semite, and propagated the view that Jews

Indeed, he was. (And he was not a Jew by any definition -- including by the, in my mind correct, definition of having one parent as a Jew and being raised as such. He had a father who was born Jewish but had converted to Xtianity.) But that does not detract from the point being made that Jews like the "leftist" movements of the time in the 19th century because they were more predisposed towards emancipation. However, this tells us nothing, zero, about modern day conceptions of right and left. The right and left of Europe in the 19th Century just does not work in the context of our modern understandings of those terms.
1.22.2008 9:55pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
It was really annoying to see Justice Ginsburg on this
program criticizing anti-Jewish quotas in the Ivy League.
She supported the U. Mich. points system for race (Grutter case) which was also designed to exclude people of the wrong sort.


This is just willful stupidity regardless of one's views of affirmative action. It's like criticizing Thurgood Marshall for arguing Brown v. The Board and also voting as he did in Bakke. Very different things despite the superficial, and yes very, very superficial, "similarities" between the two.
1.22.2008 9:57pm
Anderson (mail):
Thank god Craig mentioned the Triangle fire, by far not the only abusive sweatshop, but the most notorious.

The religion of the Triangle owners is actually irrelevant to DB's question, since he was going "hey, wasso baddabout sweatshops?" Contempt for their workers whom they treated like wage slaves, that's one answer.

When the DBs of the world start taking basic human dignity a little more seriously, then I'll start taking their economic ideology a little more seriously. Not before.
1.22.2008 10:03pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
DB was not saying "hey, wasso baddabout sweatshops"? He was pointing out that entrepreneurs are often accused of exploitation. Sometimes those accusations are valid; often they are not.

How is that not taking human dignity seriously?
1.22.2008 10:16pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Anyone who can quit his job and apply for a job in one of thousands of other small shops is by definition not a slave of any sort. Some factory owners abused their position, as in any other walk of life. But I heard all about "sweatshops" growing up, and everyone seemed to be referring to all low-wage factory employment. Fact is, even the most enlightened boss can't pay his workers more than their marginal outpout. The factories that paid best were also the most mechanized, which meant better, but also fewer, jobs.
1.22.2008 10:20pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
It was really annoying to see Justice Ginsburg on this
program criticizing anti-Jewish quotas in the Ivy League.
She supported the U. Mich. points system for race (Grutter case) which was also designed to exclude people of the wrong sort.


This is just willful stupidity regardless of one's views of affirmative action. It's like criticizing Thurgood Marshall for arguing Brown v. The Board and also voting as he did in Bakke. Very different things despite the superficial, and yes very, very superficial, "similarities" between the two.
Actually, the programs are identical; the only difference is the motive.
1.22.2008 10:32pm
OrinKerr:
It was really annoying to see Justice Ginsburg on this
program criticizing anti-Jewish quotas in the Ivy League.
She supported the U. Mich. points system for race (Grutter case) which was also designed to exclude people of the wrong sort.


Um, did the white people who created the U. Mich. people really think that "the wrong sort" were, well, white people?
1.22.2008 10:33pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

That use of "sweatshop" would make Hermann Goering proud. Truth be told, most of the factory workers were happy to have the job, given the most likely alternatives.


Google "Jewish sweatshops." You'll learn that apparently plenty of Jews also refer to them using the world "sweatshop", though probably not in honor of Goering. They called them sweatshops because they were hot, crowded, and the working conditions were often difficult, sometimes extremely so. That pretty well fits the definition of a sweatshop today, doesn't it?
1.22.2008 10:42pm
Mr. Liberal:
Why am I not surprises that David Bernstein, who defends Lochner, also defends sweatshops?

Libertarianism is truly a freakish ideology. But, thankfully, also a marginal one.


Of course, Marx himself was a notorious anti-Semite, and propagated the view that Jews only existed to serve the role of economic middlemen, that the Jewish nation and culture therefore was inauthentic, and that Jews would disappear once Socialism eliminated the need for them.


Given the Marx was Jewish, it is interesting that Bernstein would characterize him as an anti-Semite. I suppose it is possible for a Jew to be anti-Semitic, but it does seem as though one should be extra cautious before coming to that conclusion.
1.22.2008 10:54pm
MDJD2B (mail):

Not an expert on Jewish history, but I think it's important to consider the influence of earlier waves of Jewish immigrants, e.g., German Jews like Jacob Riis, who influenced pre-FDR social programs.

Riis was Danish, and Christian.
1.22.2008 10:55pm
Cathy (mail) (www):
True, my bad. But his influence carried weight in the aforementioned community.
1.22.2008 11:20pm
Cathy (mail) (www):
Actually, let me start again. My main point is that that when people say "Jewish Americans do X" they may only be referring to the waves of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, and any inquiry must necessarily also take into account the characteristics and influence of the earlier waves.
1.22.2008 11:23pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
Mr. Liberal: First, Marx was not Jewish by anyone's definition of what is a Jew (save, perhaps, Hitler's). Second, Marx was quite clearly anti-semitic, and frankly if you had any familiarity at all with his writings on the specific subject of, err, Jews, you would know that. The assertion that Marx was antisemitic is not a really controversial one with those who have studied Marx. Apparently, you don't know much about Marx.
1.22.2008 11:27pm
ScottVA:
Mr Liberal,

Please, enlighten us, by what standard WAS Marx jewish?
1.22.2008 11:30pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Um, did the white people who created the U. Mich. people really think that "the wrong sort" were, well, white people?"

No. Asian-Americans.
1.23.2008 12:13am
CaseyL (mail):
The idea that the people who worked in sweatshops didn't consider them to be awful places to work - that they were just grateful to have jobs - is new to me. What was the average work week in hours then? How many children under 13 were employed? What was the rate of injury or death due to dangerous working conditions? How much time off, if any, did the workers have - did they have, for example, weekends off? Lunch hour or half-hour? Sick leave?

There must have been some reason collectivism in its many manifestations was an attractive ideology to the working class, and some reason why so many of them braved being beaten and murdered in order to unionize.

If they didn't mind working in what we today call sweatshops, I wonder what that reason could have been.
1.23.2008 12:47am
neurodoc:
sbron: It was really annoying to see Justice Ginsburg on this program criticizing anti-Jewish quotas in the Ivy League. She supported the U. Mich. points system for race (Grutter case) which was also designed to exclude people of the wrong sort.

CrazyTrain: This is just willful stupidity regardless of one's views of affirmative action. It's like criticizing Thurgood Marshall for arguing Brown v. The Board and also voting as he did in Bakke. Very different things despite the superficial, and yes very, very superficial, "similarities" between the two.

David M. Nieporent: Actually, the programs are identical; the only difference is the motive.
Damn, I really hate to do this, but I have to go with CrazyTrain on this. (Do Scalia and Thomas doubt themselves when Ginsburg votes with them, Roberts and Alioto to make it a 5-4 outcome?)

OrenKerr disposed of that silliness about the University of Michigan point system (btw, Gratz, not Grutter) being "designed to exclude people of the wrong sort." Note, I think the Michigan grid was scandalous, all the more so because it was a closely held secret, and Ginsburg, Stevens, and Souter should have voted with the majority. And I hasten to add, the irony is not lost on me that whereas the grandparents and parents might have been harmed by the "anti-quotas," their grandchildren and children might in turn be harmed by antidotal "pro-quotas."

The anti-Jewish quotas that kept Jews out of universities were decidedly different from the affirmative action programs to get more racial minorities into universities, the difference being not simply "motive," but also effect.
Anti-Jewish quotas were directly target at Jews, the quotas achieved their invidious purpose of excluding Jews, and Jews suffered all of the consequences of those quotas and shared in none of their putative "benefits." Whenever some are favored through "special consideration," others will be disfavored. But whereas Jews were unquestionably the ones who suffered the ill effects of anti-Jewish quotes in university admissions, and meant to be the ones to suffer them, exactly which individuals can step forward and say they have been the intended victims of university affirmative action programs denied admission to one school after another, as a Jew might have been as late as the 1960s?

Interestingly enough, one of the people profiled was a Jew who managed to get admitted to Princeton in the '50s and join an eating club, something so few other very well-qualified Jews managed to do. He spoke candidly about "passing" then, that is the need to deny or minimize his Jewish identity, and his reflections on the experience today. How a Jew who graduated from Princeton more than a generation later, after such great change, could think what went on before in universities, that is the anti-Jewish quotas at schools like Princeton (and many non-Ivys, especially medical schools), and what has gone on more recently, that is affirmative action programs for minorities (or in the interest of "diversity"), are no different in kind or degree, only in "motive," is remarkable.
1.23.2008 1:14am
David M. Nieporent (www):
But whereas Jews were unquestionably the ones who suffered the ill effects of anti-Jewish quotes in university admissions, and meant to be the ones to suffer them, exactly which individuals can step forward and say they have been the intended victims of university affirmative action programs denied admission to one school after another, as a Jew might have been as late as the 1960s?
Jews. And Asians.
1.23.2008 1:50am
DavidBernstein (mail):
I wouldn't "defend" sweatshops any more than I would "defend" the flu. But the idea that owning a small factory and paying market wages with market working conditions per se makes one analogous to a criminal or a slave owner (per the full quote), is just idiotic, and shows a complete ignorance of economics, and common sense.
1.23.2008 2:10am
Smokey:
More anti-semitism. [Click on the link in the [very] short article.]
1.23.2008 3:22am
Stash:
Going back to the more interesting question: the source of the Jews' liberalism. My own experience supports the idea Jews tended to come here already leaning left.

While my family loved Roosevelt, they did not even get here until 1939. They brought their leftism with them. They were Social Democrats in Germany and my great-uncle was even a middling prominent one--he has a park named after him in Frankfort with a plaque declaring him "A Friend of the Working Man." As I tell my Republican friends, I come from ten generations of limosine liberals. Roosevelt fit right in, but was not the source of their politics.

In Europe, the "right" was not in favor of "equal rights." Just as Jews were were forced into trade by being banned from owning land or joining guilds, they were forced left by an intolerant right. One tends to make a virtue of necessity.
1.23.2008 4:13am
Just a Nut (mail):
My wife and I are not of Jewish ancestory, but both our children decided they are Jewish. So they are Jewish now. Since this is America, the first amendment plainly allows this. I checked the private law on the matter and discovered that the ancestry requirement is just a tradition not a real condition. Old time Jews--think Hannukah miracles--gave the option of conversion, exile or slaughter to their defeated enemies.

A lot of people of Jewish ancestory are Muslims today of all places in Palestine.

I must say though that my kids are quite liberal. So may be it is the other way around. For those with a liberal bent, being Jewish provides the right balance between harmless and optional observance with liberal politics.
May be a lot of the Academics do not even know that they have irresistably become Jewish? Being able to celebrate Christmas (as did ancient Jews who only now have been classified as being Christians) and many other festivals while being Jewish certainly helps in expanding the flock.

I think we should count all flavors of Jews instead of a US or Eastern Europe centric Jewish view that distorts the true reach of Judaism. Marx may not be such an outlier afterall.
1.23.2008 4:51am
longwalker (mail):
In regard to the sweatshop issue, it is a question of perspective. From the here and now, sweatshop conditions appear intolerable but, to people living in the same time period, the working conditions and pay could have looked quite different. How long did the average worker work in that time period? What wages were made by the average worker? What alternatives did a sweatshop worker have?

Consider the "sweatshops" in Africa, South America and Asia that exist today. What alternatives exist in those countries and are those alternatives ones that we would say are an improvement over sweatshop conditions?

My people were farmers in the old country and, one reason for migration was to find an "indoor job with no heavy lifting" as one of my cousins would say. To a person who had grown up on a small farm in Europe, a job running a sewing machine for ten or twelve hours a day was an improvement.
1.23.2008 6:51am
Matty G:
I never liked this logic:


The Triangle fire was a terrible tragedy, made worse by factory owners' violations of fire standards, but if not for the Jewish entrepreneurs providing jobs, their employees would have stuck in god-forsaken outposts of the Russian empire.


It always struck me as the same as:

1) Yeah, slavery was bad, but they had far better lives as slaves than they would have had in Africa.

2) Yeah, Arab Israelis aren't treated great, but they're a heck of a lot better off than they would be otherwise.
1.23.2008 8:15am
JoshL (mail):

My wife and I are not of Jewish ancestory, but both our children decided they are Jewish. So they are Jewish now. Since this is America, the first amendment plainly allows this. I checked the private law on the matter and discovered that the ancestry requirement is just a tradition not a real condition.


OK, so your kids are Jewish. Congradulations. Now, how many temples, synagogues, Jewish communities, etc, see them as Jewish?


A lot of people of Jewish ancestory are Muslims today of all places in Palestine.


That's quite a...creative interpretation. Might I ask your evidence on this, since virtually all of the Muslims in Israel and the territories are of Arab ethnicity, and would probably take your assertion that their history is Jewish quite offensively?


May be a lot of the Academics do not even know that they have irresistably become Jewish?


Apparently now "Jewish" means "liberal" and is neither an ethnic nor cultural nor religious term. I'll leave that one where it is and let other people jump on it.
1.23.2008 8:15am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Well, the world had to seem very unjust to a smart immigrant who worked long hours sewing garments in miserable conditions, only to see his son, with more education, English skills, etc., become a prominent doctor, accountant, attorney, etc., which was not uncommon. Still not the factory owner's fault, though. My own grandmother never worked in a sweatshop, and she was very proud of her grandchildren, but always regreted/resented that her life circumstances didn't allow her to get beyond valedictorian of her bookeeping trade school--and she wound up helping grandpa run tiny, and unsuccessful, small grocery stores where for many years they probably earned less per hour than garment workers.
1.23.2008 8:22am
Happyshooter:
Granted, the main reason we have huge plant wide unions is Henry Ford, but sweatshop owners really drove the movement by undertaking some fairly evil acts against their workers who they had in economic slavery conditions. A large chunk of them were Jewish, and the unions have long memories. I was told all about it as a UAW summer camper in the 80s.

Then we have the modern version of the US clothing makers, point blank body armor. The owner there knowingly sold defective vests to the military, used his congressional connections to block the investigations, and at the same time spent ten million dollars on his daughter's bat mitzvah. That doesn't help things much.
1.23.2008 9:02am
advisory opinion:
Why am I not surprises that David Bernstein, who defends Lochner, also defends sweatshops? Libertarianism is truly a freakish ideology. But, thankfully, also a marginal one.
Except that even liberal economists such as Paul Krugman and Jeffrey Sachs have defended sweatshops. Jagdish Bhagwati - a leading anti-anti-sweatshop economist who has done considerable theoretical work in development economics - is a liberal as well as a social democrat. Even the liberal Brad DeLong is not unsympathetic to the argument that sweatshops are morally defensible.

So the silly implicature (aided by your ignorant ramblings on the subject) - that only orthodox libertarians defend sweatshops - is patently false.

Twice sod simplicitie, bis coctus! O Monster Ignorance, how deformed dost thou look!

But it gets worse. On your own non sequitur of an argument, liberalism would be "truly a freakish ideology" because liberals like Krugman not only defend - but are decidedly in favour of - sweatshops!

(Unfathomably dumb, Mr Liberal.)

Do try not to make such stupid implicatures in the future.
1.23.2008 10:11am
Mr. Liberal:

I wouldn't "defend" sweatshops any more than I would "defend" the flu.


But sweatshops are not the flu. They are a human institution that can be modified by humans to be more humane.

If competition forces all factory owners to put their workers in sweatshop conditions or go out of business, you can change the rules of the game. You can require them to pay a higher wage for any work over a certain number of hours. You can require them to have safe working conditions, or face civil and criminal penalties.

Are such acts a free lunch? No. The likely result is lower profit for sweatshop owners, some government revenue spent on enforcement, and somewhat higher prices for consumers. All economics says is that eliminating sweatshops is not a free lunch, not that this evil social institution could not be limited or even eliminated.

With regulation, factory owners can make their profits and be ethical. And factory workers can have time and energy to improve themselves in other activities and in the long-run may be able to use that time to acquire skills where they are able to make a more productive contribution to themselves and society.


My own grandmother never worked in a sweatshop, and she was very proud of her grandchildren, but always regreted/resented that her life circumstances didn't allow her to get beyond valedictorian of her bookeeping trade school--and she wound up helping grandpa run tiny, and unsuccessful, small grocery stores where for many years they probably earned less per hour than garment workers.


You grandmother sounds like an economic tragedy. Someone who had the potential to contribute more not only to improving her own life, but more to our economy and more to our society.

This is why public investments like community college which provide ways for immigrants to gain skills, improve themselves, and better contribute to the economy are such intelligent investments.

But wait, I forgot. You are against doing anything sensible to help those who are in your grandmother's position today. Because it would require action by that boogie man, known as government. What a tragedy.


Still not the factory owner's fault, though.


It is not the factory owner's fault when they face a choice like either pay really low wages and provide bad working conditions or go out of business.

However, it is the factory owner's fault when they oppose game changing rules that would allow them to earn a profit in a more humane way without going out of business. It is the factory owner's fault when they oppose funding community college programs that would allow their workers to gain skills to change their lot in life and better contribute to the economy.
1.23.2008 10:41am
neurodoc:
I wouldn't "defend" sweatshops any more than I would "defend" the flu. But the idea that owning a small factory and paying market wages with market working conditions per se makes one analogous to a criminal or a slave owner (per the full quote), is just idiotic, and shows a complete ignorance of economics, and common sense.
You, of course, say this apropos the the particular "sweatshops" referred to by the producer, but you seem to be saying that it follows from fundamental principles of economics and common sense that there was nothing condemnable going on. Does it follow from fundamental principles of economics and common sense that there are not condemnable labor practices out there in the world, or if they are out there they won't be for long, because the market always operates to correct such? Attempts to intervene with legislation to correct what are perceived as abusive working conditions are always a bad idea because that will disturb a "natural" balance and cause equal or greater problems elsewhere? (Is this somehow related to that Lochner business?)
1.23.2008 11:06am
neurodoc:
Jews. And Asians.
I knew someone who back in the '40s sought admission to medical school and was told at Howard, "Sorry, we have filled our Jewish quota of 2 places for this year." So you think there are young Jewish and Asians students who might hear what he encountered back then when anti-Jewish quotas were so commonplace and tell him they understand fully what he experienced, since they too have been turned away on account of their particular religion and/or ethnicity? If you think current Jewish and Asian students seeking admission to a university are disadvantaged in any way comparable to what Jews experienced when there were anti-Jewish quotas at the "best" schools, you refuse to recognize reality. (Please note, I am no fan of affirmative action in university admissions, and think the "harder" they are, the UofMichigan one for example, the more objectionable they are. And I think that "diversity" efforts that stratify everyone according to the "origins," as has happened in the UofCalifornia system, are simply outrageous. While I don't think you can find any present day student who can say to that older Jew that they understand fully because they have experienced something so close to what they experienced decades ago, a Korean-American trying to get into Berkley might come closest.)

Would you go up to some Jewish alum of Princeton from the class of '52 and tell them you know what they experienced because you when through anything remotely similar to get into Princeton and make the most of the experience once there? (Correct me if I am wrong, but I'm guessing that you graduated within the past 25 years.)

There are good reasons to oppose university affirmative action progams, and make the comparisons to the "anti-quotas" of a previous era, but do be clear about the huge differences between the earlier "anti-" efforts and the current day "pro-" ones.
1.23.2008 11:25am
Hans Bader (mail):
In practice, David Nieporent was on to something when he that the anti-Jewish quotas of old are now revived as "diversity" quotas.

I used to sue universities over their affirmative-action policies, and I can tell you that their "diversity policies" are, informally, often applied with a bit more vigor to exclude Jews than gentiles, and often with considerably more vigor to exclude Asians than whites. The effect is racist.

If you have one white gentile parent and one Hispanic parent, you get treated as Hispanic, and get a preference in admissions.

If you have one white Jewish parent and one Hispanic parent, you don't get treated as a "real" Hispanic, and you don't get a preference in admissions.

I once learned of a case where a (northeastern) university rejected a woman, and it was informally said that she was especially "undiverse" because she was a "northeastern Jew."

That's very disturbing.

Being a Jew from a major metropolitan area (where most Jews live) gets you treated worse in admissions than a rural white gentile.

Since even well-founded complaints about anti-semitism are sometimes discounted if the person making them is himself Jewish, I am compelled to point out that I'm not Jewish myself (I am mostly Scandinavian, German, and Hungarian).
1.23.2008 11:35am
Mark Field (mail):

Actually, the programs are identical; the only difference is the motive.


To a Kantian, of course, motive is pretty much all that matters.
1.23.2008 11:38am
Tony Tutins (mail):
David evidently did not have the benefit of the Progressive Jewish Alliance Sweatshop curriculum. Now I'm wondering if he was rooting for the meatpackers against Jurgis Rudkis when he read The Jungle.

The working-class movement came to the US with the German and Austrian 48ers. At no time during its evolution into Socialism (in the Nineteenth Century) was it seen as particularly Jewish, although Jews such as Victor Berger were part of it. As pointed out, the non-Jewish Eugene V. Debs was a leader of American Socialism. An interesting example of how the German-American workman became the (possibly exploitive) employer can be read in Hermann Schlueter's study of The Brewing Industry and the Brewing Workmen's Movement in America. The American Socialist Party was strongest in German-American Milwaukee, where three Socialist Mayors were elected from 1910 on.
1.23.2008 12:23pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
Mr Liberal: I have seen you have not responded to my correction of you re Marx. A good man would acknowledge they wrong (even when we are just somewhat anonymous commenters on a blog), and apologize. Marx was simply not Jewish, and the lie that he was is all too common and has been used against Jews (by Hitler for example) all too many times. And I am not accusing you of bad motives, i.e. that you are trying to slime Jews (for all of Marx's faults, I don't think he deserves the blame for slaughters carried out by communists, anymore than Jesus should be blamed for the Crusades and the Inquisition), but if more people were informed of the truth re Marx, they would not fall so easily for the conspiracy theories re Jews, Marxism, world-government, etc.
1.23.2008 12:52pm
Mark P. (mail):
David Bernstein wrote,

"I wouldn't "defend" sweatshops any more than I would "defend" the flu. But the idea that owning a small factory and paying market wages with market working conditions per se makes one analogous to a criminal or a slave owner (per the full quote), is just idiotic, and shows a complete ignorance of economics, and common sense."

The sweatshops in New York (and elsewhere) did NOT have "market working conditions." They were illegal operations. The whole point of fire codes, child-labor laws, and wage-and-hour laws, is to set the minimum conditions in which "the market" is allowed to operate. A purely free market may have no minimum working conditions, but in a free country, where the people, through their elected representatives, may freely establish minimum working conditions, there may be (and usually are) minimum market conditions established AS A MATTER OF LAW. That's why sweatshop operators (and I couldn't care less about their religion or ethnicity) in the U.S., at least since the Progressive Era, are so vile: they are not "analogous to criminals;" they ARE criminals.

Lochner and its ilk were bad legal decisions because they tried to curtail (on ridiculous constitutional grounds, by judges blinded by their own personal ideologies) the power of a free people to restrain the unfettered market's worst tendencies. Moreover, for me, the historical reality of laissez-faire capitalism is the best argument against libertarianism as a philosophy. I still love this site, but I must confess that I cannot fathom, in light of our nation's history, why anyone would advocate a pure libertarian philosophy. Based on our historical experience, libertarianism is just another "pristine" ideology (like so many in European history) that leads to unnecessary misery and death. I'll take the Anglo-American common-law-based view of the law, and its accompanying ideology of pragmatism/practicality and respect for democracy, every time.
1.23.2008 1:18pm
Mark Field (mail):

I must confess that I cannot fathom, in light of our nation's history, why anyone would advocate a pure libertarian philosophy. Based on our historical experience, libertarianism is just another "pristine" ideology (like so many in European history) that leads to unnecessary misery and death. I'll take the Anglo-American common-law-based view of the law, and its accompanying ideology of pragmatism/practicality and respect for democracy, every time.


Very well said indeed.
1.23.2008 1:33pm
neurodoc:
Hans Bader, I am always open to being informed when I have been misinformed. Your experiences as a practicing attorney with university affirmative action programs are of great interest to me, and I would very much like to hear more details. I doubt that I will ever be convinced that they are nearly as pernicious as the expressly "anti-quotas" that prevailed until only a few decades ago, but you might convince me that the present "pro-quotas" are more pernicious than I realized. I did think, again perhaps incorrectly, that frank antisemitism, that is discrimation against Jews qua Jews, was sufficiently unfashionable within universities that it did not play a role in their admissions practices now. (With Asians, I suppose the thinking is too much reliance on "meritocracy" would produce undesirable results. Since far fewer Jews in this country are as much real "strivers" as back then, it may not be all about a fear of too much emphasis on "meritocracy, though.)
1.23.2008 2:04pm
ScottVA:
OK, so your kids are Jewish. Congradulations. Now, how many temples, synagogues, Jewish communities, etc, see them as Jewish?


I can't comment on the other poster, but one of my aunts converted in a lengthy process that took years. She's accepted by her synagogue.


A lot of people of Jewish ancestory are Muslims today of all places in Palestine.

That's quite a...creative interpretation. Might I ask your evidence on this, since virtually all of the Muslims in Israel and the territories are of Arab ethnicity, and would probably take your assertion that their history is Jewish quite offensively?


Why, don't you know, Arabs are Semites too. Anybody that knows the slightest bit of both Hebrew and Arabic can instantly see the similarities between the languages as well. The history of many Arab peoples and many Jews are linked by common ancestry and language. Leaving aside the more ancient links, in the case of recent Levantine history, it should be obvious that over the course of 14 centuries many Jews converted to Christianity or Islam (or Christianity and eventually to Islam) and thus the present day population of the area has a highly mixed ancestry!

I remember several years ago I saw a picture of a Palestinian Muslim man protesting against Israel. The man was the absolute splitting image of one of my Jewish friends' father (whose family came to the US by way of Lithuania about a century ago).

The problem with the term "Jew" and "Arab" is that both have cultural and ethnic aspects, and depending who is talking, can mean entirely different things.
1.23.2008 2:09pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
BTW, part 1 (two weeks ago) discussed the difference between the "German" Jews (including members of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue) and the newer Eastern European immigrants.

My grandmother loved FDR. My grandfather had to join the steelworkers union, and he knew they took care of him, and neither would ever cross any picket line, but I don't think he liked big government as much. We moved to Co-op City, the last and biggest cooperative housing project in the Bronx, an expression of that trade union socialistic outlook. Workman's Circle/Arbiter Ring, "cultivating Jewish community and culture, and standing up for social justice" had a big presence. (Then when the original tenants moved or died and there were a lot of vacancies, a lot of recently immigrated Russian Jews moved in, go figure.)

The documentary shows vignettes. I learned about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in school, as big in the founding of the ILGWU, but I learned a lot more from the show.

Sweatshops weren't good places to work. A boss might be disliked, but I don't recall people saying the bosses were particularly evil. The documentary said the doors were locked to keep out union organizers, not to keep the workers from leaving early. Eventually the unions came in, workers found a way to get more power, and for 50 years things were better for workers. (Then the union factories closed because they weren't competitive.)

The documentary was clear that both the owners and the workers were first-generation immigrant Jews. Blaming "The Jews" for being sweatshop owners makes as much sense as blaming "The Jews" for being the power structure in Roman Palestine.

It seems to me the documentary gave FDR too much of a pass on his inaction in shutting down the Concentration Camps and in taking in refugees.

Mostly I've been enjoying watching the "home movies", thinking about the times my parents and grandparents lived in.
1.23.2008 2:14pm
Smokey:
Mr Liberal:
...it is the factory owner's fault when they oppose game changing rules that would allow them to earn a profit in a more humane way without going out of business. It is the factory owner's fault when they oppose funding community college programs that would allow their workers to gain skills to change their lot in life and better contribute to the economy.
Whoa. You don't have to be a Libertarian to understand that the 1st Amendment allows employers to oppose particular rules. The same goes for your highly suspect argument that employers have opposed college funding specifically because such funding would cause some of their workers to get better jobs... got a cite for that?

I may be wrong, but I'd bet on it anyway that you've never met a payroll.
1.23.2008 2:19pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
You grandmother sounds like an economic tragedy. Someone who had the potential to contribute more not only to improving her own life, but more to our economy and more to our society.
Probably true, but you're missing the point. Whatever social forces kept her from realizing her full potential were not the product of evil sweatshop owners, but the forces that meant that living standards 80 years ago were way poorer than today. Workers in the garment industry and other labor intensive industries didn't have low wages and poor working conditions because they had evil bosses, but because that's what their labor was worth giving the economic conditions of the time. (Not to say there weren't evil bosses, but that's far different than saying someone is evil for being a boss). That's just standard economic analysis, not libertarianism. The bosses generally weren't libertarians, and would in general have been, I'm sure, thrilled to have the government cartelize the industry on their behalf and guarantee them profits in exchange for paying workers more.

If you want to have a debate over whether "Progressive" legislation was a net plus or minus for immigrant workers, that's fine, but has nothing to do with whether a "sweatshop owner" was inherently evil for paying market wages with market working conditions.
1.23.2008 3:32pm
Hans Bader (mail):
Neurodoc wanted "more details" regarding my above post, in which I wrote about the fact that it is a small liability to be Jewish (rather than gentile) at some schools with "diversity"-based admissions policies.

I wrote,

"I used to sue universities over their affirmative-action policies, and I can tell you that their "diversity policies" are, informally, often applied with a bit more vigor to exclude Jews than gentiles, and often with considerably more vigor to exclude Asians than whites. The effect is racist.

If you have one white gentile parent and one Hispanic parent, you get treated as Hispanic, and get a preference in admissions.

If you have one white Jewish parent and one Hispanic parent, you don't get treated as a 'real' Hispanic, and you don't get a preference in admissions.

I once learned of a case where a (northeastern) university rejected a woman, and it was informally said that she was especially "undiverse" because she was a 'northeastern Jew.'

That's very disturbing.

Being a Jew from a major metropolitan area (where most Jews live) gets you treated worse in admissions than a rural white gentile."

The example in which a student with both Hispanic and Jewish parents was apparently not treated as a "real" Hispanic (although students with one Hispanic and one non-Hispanic parent were generally deemed Hispanic), was from the University of Washington School of Law, whose affirmative-action policy was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

I cannot be more specific about the applicant because there is a protective order in the case that bans disclosure of any applicant-specific information.

That bar also prevents me from disclosing information about the applicant that might circumstantially illustrate the fact that admissions staff did not really deem the applicant to be Hispanic. (I will go out on a limb, though, and note that the applicant had an index score at which all other applicants with Hispanic ancestry were admitted).

The second example -- of a woman who learned verbally that she had been rejected in part because she was an undiverse "northeastern Jew" -- is from a matter I was never personally involved with, but which I learned about from Michael Rosman, my former boss, the general counsel of the Center for Individual Rights, my former employer. I think Michael's number is still 202-833-8400 ext. 104.
1.23.2008 3:34pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

The anti-Jewish quotas that kept Jews out of universities were decidedly different from the affirmative action programs to get more racial minorities into universities, the difference being not simply "motive," but also effect.
Anti-Jewish quotas were directly target at Jews, the quotas achieved their invidious purpose of excluding Jews, and Jews suffered all of the consequences of those quotas and shared in none of their putative "benefits." Whenever some are favored through "special consideration," others will be disfavored. But whereas Jews were unquestionably the ones who suffered the ill effects of anti-Jewish quotes in university admissions, and meant to be the ones to suffer them, exactly which individuals can step forward and say they have been the intended victims of university affirmative action programs denied admission to one school after another, as a Jew might have been as late as the 1960s?

One interesting point made by the show is that relatively few Catholics attended Ivy League schools, as well. Basically the Ivy League was maintained as a training ground for the children of the Protestant Establishment, of which neither Jews nor Catholics were members. Affirmative action is the opposite of the anti-Jewish quota system, because, instead of maintaining the status quo, affirmative action brings in members of outgroups to be educated along with Establishment children. Although not mentioned in the show, Catholics coped with being outsiders differently from Jews: Whether in reaction to Protestant exclusion or in an effort to keep their young people within their faith, I don't know; Catholics however built their own sectarian colleges and universities to serve their youth.
1.23.2008 4:04pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Neurodoc -- of course I don't mean to imply that conditions for Jews are the same now as they were in the 1950s. (There was no "dirty bicker" at Princeton when I was there.) I don't mean that Jews in general are treated as badly. (Except, perhaps, when it comes to Middle Eastern studies departments, but we'll put that issue aside.) I am talking solely about admissions policies here.

Moreover, as I agreed in my first post, the motives of admissions officers may not be identical to those from the open quota era; they may not be motivated by anti-Jewish animus. But the notion of "too many Jews" still exists. (And that mindset is often even more prevalent towards Asians, since they're more "visable" than Jews.) The point is that the effect (again, on admissions, not on matriculated students) is identical: kept out because of their Jewishness.
1.23.2008 4:27pm
neurodoc:
Why, don't you know, Arabs are Semites too. Anybody that knows the slightest bit of both Hebrew and Arabic can instantly see the similarities between the languages as well. The history of many Arab peoples and many Jews are linked by common ancestry and language. Leaving aside the more ancient links, in the case of recent Levantine history, it should be obvious that over the course of 14 centuries many Jews converted to Christianity or Islam (or Christianity and eventually to Islam) and thus the present day population of the area has a highly mixed ancestry!
That conflates and gets much wrong.

"Semite" refers to someone who speaks a Semitic language, e.g., Hebrew or Arabic, not to one ethnic group. Those whose principle language is Hebrew may rightly be termed Semites no matter their ethnicity or religion; so too can those whose primary language is Arabic, no matter their ethnicity or religion. It is incorrect, however, to count most non-Israeli Jews as Semites, though the mistake is common enough and re-enforced in various ways. (The most egregious, and often outrageously tenditious way being through the bogus claim that the derivative term "antisemitism" can refer to discrimination against either Jews or Arabs. "Antisemitism" was a term coined in Europe (Vienna) at the end of the 19th century to refer specifically to discrimination against Jews qua Jews, and it was never used to refer to discrimination against non-Jews until recent years, when propagandists thought to claim that the term could rightfully pertain to discrimination against Arabs as well as to discrimination against Jews.)

Slavs are those people who though they may be from different countries speak one of various closely related languages and share a common ethnicity. Turks, Finns, and Hungarians, like Israelis and Arabs, speak closely related languages, but they are not at all close in religion and/or ethnicity. Ergo, common language group does not always equate with common religion or ethnicity.

As for "common ancestry," it is true and not at all surprising that a great many Christians and Muslims, especially in the Middle East, should have Jewish antecedents, whether they know it or not, or would care to acknowledge it if they did know it. Some of their forebears converted of their free will, many converted not as an exercise of free will. The same cannot be said in reverse, that is to say, few Jews have Christian or Muslim forebears. (If someone would say otherwise, they should adduce probative evidence to support such a contention.) Genetic studies have shown that there are some commonalities between Jews and Arabs, consistent with a shared ancestry at some time, but there are more commonalities between Jews and Kurds than between Jews and Arabs. (Some might wish that it were otherwise, so that it might serve the storyline they wish to tell, but facts are facts, and they can prove inconvenient.)

I remember several years ago I saw a picture of a Palestinian Muslim man protesting against Israel. The man was the absolute splitting image of one of my Jewish friends' father (whose family came to the US by way of Lithuania about a century ago).
Not my notion of probative evidence, unless perhaps it is offered to support the antisemitic story of the Wandering Jew. (Or maybe some Arab rode with the Cossacks many years back, prefiguring the Mufti of Jerusalem's service to Hitler.)
1.23.2008 6:52pm
ScottVA:
That conflates and gets much wrong.


Neurodoc, you said a lot, but didn't really say anything that either contradicts what I said, or relates to the conversation. You'll note that in my post I wrote:

The problem with the term "Jew" and "Arab" is that both have cultural and ethnic aspects, and depending who is talking, can mean entirely different things.


Add to that semite, since you seem bothered by my usage of the term. As I'm sure you know, semite CAN refer to a speaker of a semitic language but also has ethnic connotations. Like or hate it, the mass usage of the term "antisemitic" has brought about new accepted usages. So, from a speculative Biblical lineage we get a generalized language group, and then a specific religious group. Which one is right? Well, any of them...

With regards to genetic studies--there are a great many, and not all of them agree. There have actually been some interesting studies I've read in the past looking at certain south african populations and finding alleged connections. Valid?--probably not. The Kurdish connection is a very interesting one, yet now it seems as if you are conflating language (Kurdish) with ethnicity, something you don't seem to like when I did with semite! I would remind you that there are Kurdish Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc, and that at times Jerusalem and much of the Levant has been ruled by Kurds. Saladin (a Kurd, who emerged from the court of a Turk ruling in Iraq!) and the Ayyubids? Middle Eastern history is one big jumble of ethnicities, languages, invasions, and religions.

I would also add--as someone who studied Turkish--that when you claim that Hungarian, Finnish and Turkish are "closely related languages," that that is not the widely accepted view. At times (and often politically motivated) people have tried to make the claim, and there ARE certain fairly unique features that lead people in that direction (such as vowel harmony), but the general trend in linguistic circles seem to be heading farther and farther from any kind of "Uralic-Altaic" super family. Your general point that language+genetics are not always linked is of course absolutely true.

Not my notion of probative evidence, unless perhaps it is offered to support the antisemitic story of the Wandering Jew.


I mentioned that only as an interesting (at least to me) aside, though I'm somewhat disturbed that you seem to toss the term antisemitic at me?
1.23.2008 10:59pm
Gideon Kanner (mail):
David:

This is to get back to the issue you raised in your post.

I am not an expert on Jewish sociology, etc., but I lived through the 1940s and 1950s. My take is that whether here or in the old country, Jews were viewed with contempt by the political right so they naturally gravitated to the left which offered [empty as it turned out] slogans about "brotherhood of men," etc. Not surprisingly Jews who immigrated into the US brought with them some of that ideological baggage and came to venerate FDR who talked a good game and whose administration included a number of prominent Jews. That blinded them to the fact that FDR saw the US as a Protestant country where Catholics and Jews gor to live by sufferance, and who for a long time was -- shall we say? -- indifferent to news of the Holocaust, using as an excuse that any serious condemnation of the Nazis would redound to his political disadvantage by allowing his opponents to argue that he dragged the US into a bloody war for the sake of European Jews. Which contained quite a bit of BS if you recall who declared war on whom and who fired the first shots against the US.

Today, the residual Jewish veneration of FDR is at times irrational, and the Jews' prevalent liberal/left-of-center orientation even more so, particularly if you recall that it is the left that in recent decades has grown increasingly anti-Semitic and increasingly rabidly anti-Israel (the two at times being used in a congruent manner, with Israel serving as a convenient surrogate for Jews in general). Why this is the way it is today is a mystery to me. The bitterly amusing part of it is that liberal Jews profess to be repelled by the "religious right" and support the religious left -- even though the practitioners of the former want to marry us, while the practitioners of the latter actively support the people who want to kill us. Go figure.
1.24.2008 2:39am
Just a Nut (mail):
The question of what makes a Jew a Jew remains unanswered. ScottVA brings up many useful points to clarify that this is quite arbitrary. DNA says most Jews are like Arabs, although they tend to be more like the mileu they grew up in. So European Jews have strong European genetic linkages, some like Khazars may have no Jewish links, the latest group admitted to the Jewish Pantheon is a tribe from north-eastern India that was certified as one of the 'lost tribes,' which is an easy entry portal with the history of many diasporas. Arab jews and Arab Christians are very, very similar ethnically for good historical reasons.

The bottom line is that this is not for governments, temples and synagogues to regulate. It is for individuals to decide for themselves. Should I feel I would like to be Jewish, it is no one else's business in this day and age. I personally like my ham and cheese sandwich, so it is not the way for me. I also prefer to keep my weekends free for football.

Conflating personal beliefs with group regulations, leads to undesirable hypocritical results as in Israel where the orthodox rule shutting down businesses for religious reasons and bullying a population that is really not all that observant. Many ultra-orthodox do not even serve in the army while pushing everyone around.

A bit of relaxation of this tendency may allow expansion of Israel and even reconversion of Jews who were forced to convert to Islam over centuries. Instead at present, it is a mix of oil and water with annhilation of one or other the preferred solution. In other words, if Islam and Judaism were in real competition, success would be in gaining converts and thsi would also lead to actual victory and resolution of many of the problems. I am sure many Arabs (Christians and Moslems) would love to have real options other than conflict and compelled confiscation of their property, heritage and history.

My son surprisingly gave up on the ham and cheese sandwich. Go figure!
1.24.2008 6:51am
Tony Tutins (mail):

DNA says most Jews are like Arabs, although they tend to be more like the mileu they grew up in. So European Jews have strong European genetic linkages,

Is this some sort of Lamarckian view of DNA? How would Jews have any European genes? Did Orthodox dads welcome Gentile suitors for their daughters? Did anti-Semites seek Jewish brides? Were converts made during a forgotten era of Jewish proselytization? Everything I've ever read about Jews in Europe shows a complete separation except for trade. Though Eastern Europe welcomed Jews expelled from Western Europe (expulsions which often followed the blood libel), Jews were forbidden to live in many towns, kept in ghettoes, and often never even learned to speak the national language.
1.24.2008 11:20am
ScottVA:
Is this some sort of Lamarckian view of DNA? How would Jews have any European genes? Did Orthodox dads welcome Gentile suitors for their daughters? Did anti-Semites seek Jewish brides? Were converts made during a forgotten era of Jewish proselytization? Everything I've ever read about Jews in Europe shows a complete separation except for trade. Though Eastern Europe welcomed Jews expelled from Western Europe (expulsions which often followed the blood libel), Jews were forbidden to live in many towns, kept in ghettoes, and often never even learned to speak the national language.


Sheesh, the rherotic that some here seem to be espousing seems eerily similar to racial purity! Have you never seen a blond Jew? Do you think people never slept around? Do you think nobody ever was raped? No intermarriage at all? None of these things may ever have happened in HUGE number, but they all did happen.
1.24.2008 1:06pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

None of these things may ever have happened in HUGE number, but they all did happen.

I'm still wondering under what conditions European intermarriages happened. But there might have been enough dalliances and rapes to produce "Just a nut's" claimed "strong genetic linkages" with Europeans.
1.24.2008 1:41pm
Elmer:

Catholics however built their own sectarian colleges and universities to serve their youth.

In some cases, those universities were open to Jewish applicants as well.

I'm about 20 pages from the end of Levinsky. One should be careful when citing a protagonist of a novel during a historical discussion. Still, the character said that Russian immigrant tailors were accustomed to 14 hour days at low pay. In late 19th c. New York, unions were growing in power, and work rules, including a (10 hour?) workday, had been agreed to by the established manufacturers. Small shops paid less per hour, but allowed a longer day, for a larger paycheck. Also, these shops had Saturday off instead of Sunday.
1.24.2008 3:02pm