Et tu, Maureen?

CDR Salamander: Maureen & the Subconscious Anti-Semite.

I try to stay out of politics on this blog. I spend enough time covering Chinese government and U.S. politics elsewhere that I try to leave this blog for musings on what it means to be Jewish.

But when one of the most prominent columnists in The New York Times, which has a history as a paper of record in the United States, begins to slide into rhetorical country that belies a subtle anti-Semitism, I have to raise the Chinese wall a bit.

I often find myself disagreeing with Maureen Dowd, but she has always been one of those voices I treasure because they she expresses herself so well. It was a disappointment, then, when naval blogger CDR Salamander caught Dowd apparently revealing an un-pretty bit of prejudice. The good CDR does an excellent job at explaining where the problem lies with Ms. Dowd’s rhetoric, especially when she appears to side with Israel’s enemies.

I respect Ms. Dowd for her opinions. I can only believe she must see the danger in overt Jew-baiting. I sincerely hope her rhetorical choices were meant as link-bait, and were not signs of a soul tainted with hatred of either Israel or Judaism.

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A Literary Giant Crosses a Line

Sad news today: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker has forbidden her publishers from translating her book into Hebrew because of her opposition to Israel.

But, as Jonathan Tobin points out in Commentary, Walker has crossed the line from being “anti-Israel” to being anti-Semitic.

It is possible to criticize Israel without being an anti-Semite. But Walker has crossed the line from an already indefensible economic war against the Jewish state to a cultural war against Jewish identity. Such boycotts will not convince Israelis to give up their country or their right to defend themselves against the ongoing efforts of Palestinians to destroy it. But they do serve as a warning that Walker and others who support her efforts have already crossed the line between the demonization of Israel and open expressions of Jew-hatred.

via Alice Walker: The Color of Anti-Semitism « Commentary Magazine.

Ms. Walker is an intelligent person, but in this case she is either horribly misinformed, or we must conclude that she is channeling her closet Jew hatred. One hopes it is the former: at least that can be addressed.

Stephen Spielberg, are you reaching out to Ms. Walker on this?

Bill Bishop Wonders about China’s Latent Anti-Semitism

Today’s China Readings May 24, 2012 | Sinocism.

On his excellent Sinocism blog, the thoughtful and prolific Bill Bishop examines whether China Central Television‘s (CCTV) talk show host is an anti-Semite, a subject broached by the Shanghaiist editorial staff.

While he reaches no conclusion either way, Bishop, whom I do not believe is a member of the Tribe, approaches the topic with tact and care.

When asked how Jews are perceived in China, I always fall back on the words of Rebbetzin Dini Freundlich of Chabad of Beijing, who once said, “Chinese say the same [stereotypical] things about Jews that everybody else in the world says. The difference is that they say it with respect.”

My experience over 17 years living in China and ten years traveling here before that is that most Chinese have a healthy admiration for Jewish people, albeit one based too much on hearsay for my comfort. (After all, a positive reputation based on hearsay can turn into a negative one when the hearsay changes, all without reference to the facts.)

It behooves every Jew with the ability to visit China to do so, and to make no effort to hide your Judaism, any more than an American should hide his origins. If the Chinese are to know us, they must know who we are, and I believe that the more they know us, the better we’ll be liked. (Especially if we act according to Torah in the process.)