Average Jane

I just don’t understand

Over the weekend I was at my grandmother’s house watching the Sunday morning news. I saw that Pew research had released its latest report:

A spring 2008 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Pew Global Attitudes Project finds 46% of the Spanish rating Jews unfavorably. More than a third of Russians (34%) and Poles (36%) echo this view. Somewhat fewer, but still significant numbers of the Germans (25%) and French (20%) interviewed also express negative opinions of Jews. These percentages are all higher than obtained in comparable Pew surveys taken in recent years. In a number of countries, the increase has been especially notable between 2006 and 2008.

From what I heard, negative attitude in Spain has increased by 25% in 2 years.

Sitting in the living room of an apartment in Philadelphia with 3 generations of Jewish women, I turned to my mom and asked naively, “What have we done in the last 2 years to piss so many people off?” She didn’t know. And I didn’t know either. But then again, I live in a really happy little bubble here in Jew-ville USA where even though I don’t get the high holidays off (have to take vacation… even though I’d be more than happy to work on Christmas) I do get to wear my Jewish star proudly and joke with my friends about Jew-stuff without being worried about being lynched.

However, this morning I got a pretty rude awakening when Jodrell sent me this video of Sarah Palin’s pastor giving a sermon.

Please, do not mistake this for a political punch in the gut. But it is a bit shocking to learn that any pastor at all still truly believes that the Jews run the banks. But that Christians should run the banks. And maybe if they ran the banks then maybe we wouldn’t have all these problems. Did I get that wrong? It’s possible because maybe I’m just biased against people hating Jews. I get things wrong just like the liberal media (like Andrew Sullivan… or something).

A short conversation with my friend:
Average Jane: i was just looking at a video about how the jews are running the banks
BritishBuddy: hehe
Average Jane: probably why they are failing. duh.
BritishBuddy: ah. i thought it was all the back handers, dodgy dealing and mega bonuses
Average Jane: nah. it’s the jews.

Do church pastors really talk about this on the Sabbath? Do people really believe this stuff? I honestly don’t know. Is there still a pervasive anti-semitic sentiment running rampant in these United States that I am naive enough to have missed for all these years?

Let me reiterate: This is not a political issue. This is not about Sarah Palin (because, well, I have better things to hold her accountable for than her crappy church. And – I refuse to let happen to her what happened to Obama.) Additionally, this is not about Christians and the Christian faith at all. This is about misinformation being given out by whackjob wingnuts who maybe just don’t know better.

I am not a bad person. I know that some people (apparently more and more) believe that I am a bad person simply for being a Jew. I have heard the comments. A friend nearly got into a fight at a bar on my account after the drunk at the bar insisted the Jews were responsible for all the wars. I nearly lost it when someone said to me, not knowing I was in fact a Jew, that “if Hitler had finished what he started, there wouldn’t be all the problems in the middle east.” But I’ve learned to sit quietly and say nothing. Those minds cannot be changed. And thankfully from what Pew research has reported, the strongest anti-Semitic (and anti-Muslim) attitudes exist in the older and uneducated, and those who believe that religion is a central feature of daily lives. That means that the young, educated Europeans have the opportunity to turn this around.

I pray to God, literally, that they do.

L’Shana Tovah.


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  1. * Gavin says:

    Not that it’s any excuse, but I think a lot of the anti-Jewish sentiment here in Europe may be a result of the Israel/Palestine issue. I can’t say if there really is a pro-Palestine bias in European journalism, but if there is, it may have something to do with the negative sentiments uncovered by that report⁰ ¹.

    However, we Eurotrash are all pretty post-national these days, and condemning an individual on the basis of what their country’s government² chooses to do in their name is pretty strange in a continent where one can travel from Cadiz to Helsinki without showing one’s passport. If it does happen, then I think it says more about the individual than it does about the society they happen to live in.

    Here in the UK, we learn about the Holocaust early and often in school, and I doubt that there really is any serious level of old-school “blood feud” hatred. Some anti-semitism has recently been imported along with recent immigrants to Europe from Africa and the Middle East. Whenever I hear about jewish cemetaries being desecrated or synagogues vandalized, it’s invariably reported as being due to a bunch of alienated young muslims.

    One small nitpicky point: the executive summary of that report doesn’t distinguish between “somewhat unfavourable” and “very unfavourable”. If you just look at the “very unfavourables”, the numbers are a little less worrying.

    Also, I note that those European countries with the highest levels of “very unfavourable” are predominantly Catholic, and those with the lowest levels mainly protestant. That has a historical precedent: protestantism in Europe has been friendly to minority faiths (since protestant sects were themselves minorities in the beginning, and could hardly persecute people who were in essentially the same boat)³.

    0: WTF this comment has footnotes!
    1: There is, however, a definite pro-Israeli bias to US journalism. A fine liberal democracy Israel may be, but that shouldn’t be a get-out-of-jail-free card.
    2: or even some other country’s government, when you consider the diaspora.
    3: Going off on a historical tangent, that’s the reason why London has always had a large Jewish population. After Spain was conquered by el Cid and co, the Spanish Jews (who had lvied quite happily with Christians and Muslims under the Moors) were expelled, and arrived in London during the Interregnum. Cromwell, being a puritan, could hardly have turned them away (since his Commonwealth was supposedly founded on religious freedom), so they settled.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 7 months ago
  2. * kjohnsonesq says:

    So, um, tag. You’re it. I guess this means you’ve been nominated for the Honest Blogger Award. Sorry.


    | Reply Posted 9 years, 7 months ago
  3. * aBove says:

    Ok, first off, this isn’t an argument that prejudice doesn’t exist, or anything remotely like that.
    However, check out the methodologies section of the Global Attitutdes Project and you’ll find that the sample for these studies is almost always “Telephone Households.” Next consider your comment about older folks being the ones who hold more entrenched biases. Finally, consider the people in your life who own a home and still have a landline.
    The number of homes with landlines is shrinking, not growing, and thus the survey pool is becoming less and less accurate. That doesn’t negate the problem, but it might shed a little light on what you’ve “done in the last two years.”

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 7 months ago
  4. * Beth says:

    I was fine with his first couple lines until he said we wouldn’t have economic problems. My interpretation was that we need Christian men and women of integrity in the economy and “if you look at the Israelites, that’s how they work.” My interpretation was that the Israelites that are in the economy have integrity. And then it went downhill. Grrrr.

    Prejudices still exist, and it’s always a rude awakening for me when I encounter them. All we can do is educate ourselves, educate our children, educate our family and friends, and hope for a better tomorrow.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 7 months ago
  5. * Jessica:) says:

    Hmm. I suppose now I have one more potential sermon idea to toy with somewhere in all this. Thank you, I think. And don’t worry. The ones for RH are drafted. It’s the YK ones (and the rest of the year…and my life…) that are still in need of inspiration. Hugs and shanah tovah!

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 7 months ago
  6. * Emily says:

    Wow, I am shocked by your post. I am a Christian. I was raised in a diverse community and was in Brownies and Girl Scouts with several Jewish girls, and we learned the dradel song along with other Brownie songs.
    Then we moved to the South. I actually had a kid ask me what Jews look like. I said, they’re the same as you and me!
    I think there are good and bad people in every group, religion, country and ethnicity. To judge people by a label is appalling to me.
    If someone made that comment (about Hitler) in front of me at a bar, I would not be able to contain myself. I’m sorry that stupidity like this still exists.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 7 months ago

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