Thursday, January 16, 2020

  • Thursday, January 16, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
Rebecca Epstein-Levi is an Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies at Vanderbilt University.

Writing in Alma, she tries to make the case that philo-semitism is bad for the Jews:

As a scholar of Jews and our bodies, let me be absolutely clear: Philo-Semitism is not good for the Jews. Or anyone else.

Why is something that literally translates to “love of Jews” bad? And what does it have to do with Jewish bodies? Both philo-Semitism and anti-Semitism assume that Jews are intrinsically different from other people, in ways that make us fundamentally, unalterably “other.” And this otherness tends to boil down, sooner or later, to supposed differences in Jewish bodies. Philo-Semitism may be superficially friendlier than anti-Semitism, but it, too, ultimately treats us as a different species.

My “favorite” historical example of the ways this has worked with regard to Jewish bodies concerns syphilis in mid-to-late 19th century Europe. As scholars like Sander Gilman and Mitchell B. Hart have demonstrated, at more or less the same time, in the same general cultural context, one finds both the anti-Semitic belief that syphilis was a particularly Jewish disease and the philo-Semitic belief that Jews were somehow immune to syphilis, either through some intrinsic physical quality or because of the practices of circumcision and endogamy.
I don't quite know where Epstein-Levi's obsession with "Jewish bodies" comes from. One of her courses is on "Jewish Bodies and Bioethics" which could explain her tunnel vision in looking at philosemitism through that bizarre lens.

This is her only example of how philo-semites look at Jewish "bodies" as being different. And it is from the 19th century.

Epstein-Levi then tries to shoe-horn that definition into other examples of philo- and anti-semitism.

There are plenty of other examples, though: Jews are cunning and shifty! Or, Jews are smarter than everyone else, look at all their Nobel Prizes! Jewish bodies are different: either they’re weak and unathletic, or they live so much longer! Jews are sexually depraved monsters who mutilate their sons’ penises! Or they’re hygienic with common-sense practices that communicate sexual restraint, fight HIV, and clean your house while they’re at it! (I made that last part up.) Regardless, both the anti-Semitic and the philo-Semitic versions of each example treat the Jewish body, and the Jewish community it exists in, as unalterably different.
The problem is that this is simply not true. Yes, there were jokes in the 20th century about Jews not having any athletic ability, as in the movie Airplane! where the stewardess offers a tiny leaflet of "Famous Jewish Sports Legends" as reading material.



But when was the last time you heard such a joke? In the era of Aly Raisman and Ryan Braun, where Israel gains medals in various Olympic sports, where even Orthodox Jewish mothers of 5  can win marathons, the joke has lost its bite.

So what terrible things do philosemites say? That Jews are studious? Good lawyers and doctors? They know how to make money? It doesn't take much thought to realize that practically no one thinks these are physical or inherent Jewish traits.

They are cultural.

Many Jews became bankers because they could charge interest to Christians over the centuries. Many Jews became scholars because of a long tradition of Talmud study where rabbinic scholars were respected. Many Jews became professionals and shopkeepers because their intellectual tradition ensured that they had a higher rate of literacy and there are professional advantages to literacy.

It is not bigotry to notice that different cultures exist and members of a culture tend to adhere to the mores they grew up in, and those who say this know very well that it is a general rule with many exceptions. If noting that some cultures are different than others - whether for better or for worse - is bigoted,  then sociology is a field of bigotry.

Admiring the Japanese work ethic is not the same as saying that Japanese are inhuman machines who ignore their families for their jobs. Noting that people in "red states" have different priorities in life than those in "blue states" does not mean that there aren't plenty of people in each who don't fit that mold. Travel guidebooks let visitors know what actions or words are offensive in different parts of the world - is noticing that bigoted?

But somehow noticing that Jews have some cultural attributes is suddenly terrible.

There may be come cases of philosemitism that cross the line. Koreans who fetishize the Talmud and think that Talmud study will make them successful- people who have never met a Jew - might fit in this "bad" philosemitism category. Christian philosemites of the 19th and much of the 20th centuries wanted Jews to be "restored" to Israel as a prerequisite to the "Second Coming." Nowadays, however, that sentiment is not  even close to mainstream.

Most philosemites, including a large number of today's Christian Zionists, are not so ignorant to think that so-called Jewish characteristics are inherent. They admire Jewish  and Israeli tenacity to survive, and Israel's ability to create an entirely new culture of a strong, proud Jew so soon after the Holocaust. Does anyone seriously think that the stereotypical sabra of the 1970s is an updated stereotypical shtetl Jew of the 1930s? They are opposites, which means that no one with half a brain thinks that Jewish attributes are inherent as Epstein-Levi claims.







We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

EoZTV Podcast

Podcast URL

Subscribe in podnovaSubscribe with FeedlyAdd to netvibes
addtomyyahoo4Subscribe with SubToMe

Support EoZ by shopping!

search eoz

comments

Speaking

follow me

Follow by Email

translate

Share on Whatsapp


E-Book

For $18 donation








Sample Text

EoZ's Most Popular Posts in recent years

Hasbys!

Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون



This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

Donate!

Donate to fight for Israel!

Monthly subscription:
Payment options


One time donation:

subscribe via email

Follow EoZ on Twitter!

Interesting Blogs

Categories

Abbas liar Academic fraud administrivia al-Qaeda algeria Alice Walker American Jews AmericanZionism Amnesty analysis anti-semitism anti-Zionism antisemitism apartheid Arab antisemitism arab refugees Arafat archaeology Ari Fuld art ASHREI B'tselem bahrain Balfour bbc BDS BDSFail Bedouin Beitunia beoz Bernie Sanders Birthright book review Brant Rosen breaking the silence Campus antisemitism Cardozo cartoon of the day Chakindas Chanukah Christians circumcision Clark Kent coexistence Community Standards conspiracy theories Cyprus Daled Amos Daphne Anson David Applebaum Davis report DCI-P Divest This double standards Egypt Elder gets results ElderToons Electronic Intifada Embassy EoZ Trump symposium eoz-symposium EoZNews eoztv Erekat Erekat lung transplant EU Euro-Mid Observer European antisemitism Facebook Facebook jail Fake Civilians 2014 Fake Civilians 2019 Farrakhan Fatah featured Features fisking flotilla Forest Rain Forward free gaza freedom of press palestinian style future martyr Gary Spedding gaza Gaza Platform George Galloway George Soros German Jewry gideon levy gilad shalit gisha Goldstone Report Good news Grapel Guardian guest post gunness Haaretz Hadassah hamas Hamas war crimes Hananya Naftali hasbara Hasby 2014 Hasby 2016 Hasby 2018 hate speech Hebron helen thomas hezbollah history Hizballah Holocaust Holocaust denial honor killing HRW Human Rights Humanitarian crisis humor huor Hypocrisy ICRC IDF IfNotNow Ilan Pappe Ilhan Omar impossible peace incitement indigenous Indonesia international law interview intransigence iran Iraq Islamic Judeophobia Islamism Israel Loves America Israeli culture Israeli high-tech J Street jabalya James Zogby jeremy bowen Jerusalem jewish fiction Jewish Voice for Peace jihad jimmy carter John Kerry jokes jonathan cook Jordan Joseph Massad Juan Cole Judaism Judea-Samaria Judean Rose Kairos Karl Vick Keith Ellison ken roth khalid amayreh Khaybar Know How to Answer Lebanon leftists Linda Sarsour Linkdump lumish mahmoud zahar Mairav Zonszein Malaysia max blumenthal Mazen Adi McGraw-Hill media bias Methodist Michael Ross Miftah Missionaries moderate Islam Mohammed Assaf Mondoweiss moonbats Morocco Mudar Zahran music Muslim Brotherhood Naftali Bennett Nakba Nan Greer Nation of Islam Natural gas Nazi Netanyahu News nftp NGO NIF Noah Phillips norpac NYT Occupation offbeat Omar Barghouti Only in Israel Opinion Opinon oxfam PA corruption PalArab lies Palestine Papers pallywood pchr PCUSA Peace Now Peter Beinart Petra MB poetry Poland poll Poster Preoccupied Prisoners propaganda Proud to be Zionist Puar Purim purimshpiel Putin Qaradawi Qassam calendar Quora Rafah Ray Hanania real liberals reference Reuters Richard Falk Richard Silverstein Right of return Rivkah Lambert Adler Robert Werdine rogel alpher roger cohen roger waters Rutgers Saeb Erekat Sarah Schulman Saudi Arabia saudi vice self-death self-death palestinians settlements sex crimes SFSU shechita sheikh tamimi Shelly Yachimovich Shujaiyeh Simchat Torah Simona Sharoni SodaStream South Africa Speech stamps Superman Syria Tarabin Temple Mount Terrorism This is Zionism Thomas Friedman TOI Tomer Ilan Trump Tunisia Turkey UCI UK UN UNDP unesco unhrc UNICEF United Arab Emirates Unity unrwa UNRWA hate unrwa reports UNRWA-USA unwra Varda Vic Rosenthal Washington wikileaks work accident X-washing Y. Ben-David Yemen YMikarov zahran Ziesel zionist attack zoo Zionophobia Ziophobia Zvi

Blog Archive