March 23, 2019

The Return of "Jew" as a Slur

“The word “Jew” has returned with full force as a mainstream invective in many places in Europe. No adjective is required. For many people, the expression “filthy Jew” is a tautology.

At its very beginnings, the word “Jew” was just a noun. It comes from the Hebrew word Yehudi, which is derived from the biblical name Judah. The word Judaism comes from the religion of the Jews. By the time the Christian heroes of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice referred to Shylock repeatedly as “the Jew,” there was no question that the word was an invective rather than a reference to the merchant’s religion.

The negative connotations of the word Jew were common in Europe for centuries. In France, in order not to insult Jews, for many years numerous people called Jews “Israelites” and often Jews have done so themselves. When I lived in Paris, a colleague of mine always spoke about Israelites when he mentioned Jews. I could not convince him that I did not identify with this common expression and considered myself a Jew, or Juif in French.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"Historic buildings and structures dating from the Byzantine era to the 20th century have been subjected to disastrous restorations in recent years here, prompting public outcry and fostering a cynical attitude toward planned projects."

"Fox News, normally the object of presidential praise on Twitter, was subjected to an unusual tweet-lashing over the weekend when the president went after three of its anchors."

"Opinion: I am not willing to cast a ballot for this current crop of scandal-mongers, gossips and PR-obsessed dilettantes who are tearing the country apart - don't we deserve better?"

"Listening to The Joe Rogan Experience is sort of like crashing an intense, intimate dinner party in which the only courses are whiskey and weed."

"At the Jewish Museum in London called “Jews, Money, Myth.” The show explores the ways in which Jews have been associated with money over the past 2,000 years."

"Footage of last week’s massacre in New Zealand, which the shooter streamed in real time via Facebook Live, quickly proliferated. The original 17-minute webcast was viewed fewer than 200 times and wasn’t immediately reported, Facebook says."

"When I hear that Jews are too powerful, my response is, we are not powerful enough. When I hear that AIPAC is too influential a lobby, I say it must become even more influential."

"Lost in migration: When Walter Benjamin fled France in 1940, he took a heavy black suitcase. Did it contain a typescript? Where is it now?"

"Someday my daughter will be asked if she wants to have a bat mitzvah. I’m inclined to let her make up her own mind... It's a lot of work to learn Hebrew, memorize parts of the Torah and prepare for a pressure-packed performance at such a young age."

"Tablet's Unorthodox Podcast: Gail Simmons, Shalom Auslander, Jill Kargman, Gil Hovav, and more on the Jewish foods that mean the most to them."

""Hitting someone is a foundational moral violation," Yale University Psychologist Paul Bloom wrote in a comment to the paper. "Indeed, these sorts of physical infractions are found to be morally wrong by the youngest babies we can test."

" Ilhan Omar in particular has garnered attention for tweets widely viewed by the Jewish community as trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes. The result has been the most media coverage of anti-Semitism in a decade..."