by Euphemism 6 Replies latest jw friends

  • Euphemism

    Have any of you ever experienced or seen anti-semitism among JWs? I don't necessarily mean hateful discrimination, but stereotypical or biased ideas about Jews?

    For example, I remember one time at the WT study, there was mention of Jesus' debates with the Pharisees, and the WT conductor--who grew up in a working-class Queens neighborhood... i.e. Archie Bunker land--made some remark about how Jews were stubborn, argumentative people. Several people in the congregation laughed and looked at my family. I wasn't offended, because the conductor had a habit of saying un-PC things, but was actually a wonderful kind and hospitable person, and I'd never known him to show prejudice towards anybody.

    Tonight at the bookstudy, when commenting on the scripture where Israel is called 'stiff-necked', a brother said that Jews are stubborn people. Again, he's a really friendly guy whom I have a good relationship with, so I wasn't really offended... I just gave him a look of mock horror, and he laughed. (He said afterwards that he didn't know that I was Jewish, but he didn't apologize for his statement or retract it.)

    There are other times where it has been less amusing. When my family lived in Europe for a few years, we experienced financial difficulties (we were need-greaters), and some of the local friends figured that we must have money, because we were American Jews; and that we didn't need help, because Jews always stick together.

    I've had other Witnesses react with a mixture of amusement, curiosity, and even respect at the fact that I'm Jewish, as if it made me some sort of oddity.

    Like I said, I've never had to deal with overt prejudice. But it still surprises me sometimes that in modern, multi-cultural America, some people still see a person of Jewish descent as an oddity. And I wonder whether it's fueled by all the attention given to the nation of Israel in the Society's publications.

  • blondie

    Euph, I think it is a sociological shorthand of lumping people into groups and labeling rather than taking the time to get to know them one by one as individuals.

    Going through the Daniel and Isaiah books at the book studies was hard because they concentrate on the nation as a whole being unfaithful to God when really it was mostly the rulers and the religious leaders. In Isaiah's time he and his family were faithful and many others, so why lump them in with the nation in general. But that is what happens. No one wonders how many others were like Isaiah. Remember when Elijah thought he was alone and God said that 7,000 had not bent a knee to Baal? Even Elijah lumped everyone in the same group.

    I have seen this same phenomenon with Native Americans, blacks, women, Muslims, and Asians. It seems every region has at least one group that shorthand judgment is applied to. Jews have a long history of this type of treatment and across many countries.

    Blondie (who refused to be lumped in with the other blondes)

  • avishai

    I've posted here on this very subject.

  • blacksheep

    Glad you raised this issue. I think there is an historical anti-Semitism slant in the Society, if you go back far enough.

    My own personal experience with my (non-Jewish) JW mother shocked me. When I was a teenager I recall my mother making some incredible stereotypical comments about Jewish people. I recall being indignant at the utter unfairness of it (she and my father had also made some stereotypical commments about African Americans). I was totally outnumbered in my family in trying to expose the ludicrousy of their comments.

    Honestly, my mother's hypocritical, stereotypical views was a contributing factor in my leaving the JWs. Check out the writings of (the late) ex-JW Barbara Grazutti-Harris. She mentions their clear anti-Semetic slant, which has probably been concealed through the last few JW generations.

    They are clearly hypocrites.

  • blondie

    Barbara's work (herself a Jew) can be found here:

    Visions of Glory

  • m0nk3y

    Yes I have seen this kind of thing quite often it's sad, although I have to say that being stuburn isn't a bad thing really. Some types of behaviour can be found common in groups of people .. so in that right I don't find it offensive. It really comes down to what is being said.

    Example : Gays carry AIDS/HIV - as opposed to - Gays have great fashion sense. Both is a generalisation and doesn't fit any group of people. I guess we are in a point of life where everyone is grouped and labeled. Kinda boring.


  • Euphemism

    M0nk3y... I guess I don't mind a factual statement, supported by evidence. For example, somewhat might very well be able to prove that a disproportionate number of Jewish people enter the banking profession. If that is in fact true, I have no objection to its being published and stated. If someone concludes that therefore, all Jews have plenty of money, or that a conspiracy of Jews is secretly controlling the banking industry, I do have a problem with that.

    I guess two things disturb me:

    1. Sweeping generalizations. Even a positive generalization shouldn't be extended to an entire group. Jews, for example, have a higher average level of education than the general population of the US. But that doesn't mean that every Jew is highly educated.

    2. Character judgments. Southern European culture has traditionally valued entertainment and art above success in business. There's nothing wrong with pointing this out. OTOH, because of this, Southern Europeans have sometimes been stereotyped as lazy and disorganized. That, IMHO, is prejudice.

    So if someone says, for example, that Jews tend to be particularly unsusceptible to religious conversion, I can accept that. If someone says, OTOH, that Jews are stubborn and argumentative... they're moving into the realm of a character judgment.

    And thanks for the links, avishai, blacksheep, and blondie!

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