Judaism is not racist, and neither am I

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14 Responses

  1. Esther says:

    The “all” was more than implied in your sentence. You use a very positive exmple about “Jews are…” Now try this — If you saw the sentence “Orthodox Jews spend all day in yeshiva and refuse to work for a living,” it would become a post on this blog about the anti-Othodox bias in the press – and you’d be correct. I am sure you realize that there are many (primarily Orthodox) Jews who believe that your original statement does apply to all Arabs, and even that it is genetic. And those who do hold that belief would not need to defend their statement when criticized, but rather would insist that they are correct. So the clarification was definitely necessary if in fact you do not believe that.

  2. Calev says:

    I agree with Esther.
    There is much to condemn in contemporary Arab/Muslim culture. What is most worrying is how mainstream the hate, bigotry and lies are; what would be marginalised, extremist filth in Western countries is broadly acceptable in most Arab regimes.
    However, the pshat of Toby’s original comment – as Esther points out – is one that tars ALL Arabs with the same brush and is, therefore, racist in effect even if not in intent.
    A friend recently pointed out to me the importance of being careful in the use of language: in Gemara Pesachim 3a Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said that a person should never emit a coarse expression from his mouth for the Torah (in Bereishit 7:8) added eight letters so as not to use the word ‘impure’in relation to animals finding sanctuary in Noach’s ark.
    How much more so should we be careful in the words we use with human beings. Yes, there are times when we need to be straight and direct in our language – but we should be careful that what we say is true, relevant and unambiguous.

  3. Michoel says:

    I think your point is well taken. On the other hand, we find many statements of Chazal and m’farshim that use very harsh language toward different groups. It seems to me, that in our society, where there is such an “avodah zara” of liberalism, it is maybe better to err on the side of talking straight at times.

  4. DovBear says:

    I don’t think “liberalism” has anything to do with it, Michael. Toby said something that was offensive to a great many people not because it was “politically incorrect,” but because it was untrue.

  5. Michoel says:

    I think that when people are extremely bothered by minor un-truths that just happen to coincide with liberal sensitivities, one can reasonably surmise that it is the sensitivities at least as much as the un-truths that are the real issue.

  6. DovBear says:

    Michael, it wasn’t a small untruth, it was a large untruth; anywhat what do “liberal sensitivities” have to do with anything? If someone says “Jews are thieves” does that bother me because of my “liberal sensitivities” or because it’s slander? Hint: Because its slander. The same applies to the case of Toby Katz and the Arabs.

  7. Calev says:


    It is worrying that you try to dismiss this as a ‘minor’ un-truth – presumably because you consider that it coincides with ‘liberal’ sensitivities. This smacks of being davka in the face of political correctness. However, by trying to argue that a racist statement (whether intended or not) is ‘minor’ you are merely reinforcing the bigoted view of many people out there that Jews (particularly religious ones) care only about themselves and their own sensitivities. One untruth feeds another. Rather than try to wriggle out of it, it would be a credit to all concerned if there was simply an unequivocal admission that the original statement was clumsy and wrong.

  8. Michoel says:

    “It is profoundly racist of you to state that Germans are evil blood thirsty monsters that enjoy slamming Jewish baby’s heads against walls.”

    -Yankel the liberal 1938

    “SO WHAT!!!!”

    -Michoel the frumach 2006

  9. Michoel says:

    DovBear and Calev,
    I do not profess to have a burning passion for truth in my life in general. Hashem should help me to develope it. I am not the Chazon Ish. Are the folks doing all the whining about Toby Katz’s statement such Chazon Ish’s in everying else, or only here?

  10. Toby Katz says:

    Calev wrote:

    Rather than try to wriggle out of it, it would be a credit to all concerned if there was simply an unequivocal admission that the original statement was clumsy and wrong.

    Clumsy, maybe. Wrong? Certainly not.

    I am not one of those craven Europeans who feel a need to blur the distinctions between difference peoples and different cultures, just to be PC. I will not pretend to believe that my fellow Jews — Reform, Conservative, or Orthodox, religious or secular, Israeli or American — are “just like” their bitterest and most murderous enemies. Backing down would be futile in any case. It would not mollify the jackals of the blogosphere. Actually, I would not prevaricate even if it DID mollify them. In the immortal words of Lillian Hellman, “I will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.”

    But here is an op-ed from today’s New York Times that makes my case for me much better than I could have hoped to do myself. It is by an Indonesian Moslem named KARIM RASLAN and is entitled, “The Islam Gap.” It’s about the Danish Cartoon Riots.

    Just to quote the most relevant bit:

    Yes, we are part of the extended family of believers, the ummah. We cannot help but feel some sense of solidarity with our co-religionists in Damascus, Tehran or Cairo. But the explosiveness of the Arab street doesn’t translate, somehow, to the tropics. Many of us have a growing suspicion that we are culturally different from our Arabic-and Urdu-speaking brethren, perhaps more tolerant and less emotional.

    I am reminded of how uncomfortable I felt last year when traveling through Saudi Arabia, surrounded by a people I found disquietingly alien. For all we share as Muslims, we Southeast Asians don’t really know what it’s like to inhabit the cultures or politics of the Middle East.

  11. Shragie says:

    In a strict lingual capacity, Ms. Katz erred. I would even say in a political correct capacity she erred. I would even say she might agree to an extent.

    Is she wrong?

    Ms. Katz is addressing the pink elephant in the room. While there are many good Arabs in the world you must ask yourself, has the Arab world as a group been contributing positively to the world or not? You could chalk it up to cultural differences and racial tensions but that requires a bit of imagination and humor some of us don’t have. There are major issues that should not go unnoticed even in the name of global harmony.

    In fact, global harmony should be the factor initiating a closer examination of not only Arab violence but the lack of reaction as well.

  12. Michoel says:

    You sound rational so why not just say it straight already. The average Arab Muslim is fully capable of dancing ecstatically when they see airplanes fly into sky scrapers, killing lots of innocent mothers, fathers and children. And for all they knew 50,000 instead of 3,000 would be killed. Arab Muslims include many people that are capable of performing abominations such as walking over to the car of Tali Hatuel, sticking a gun through the rear window, and blow out the brains of a two-year baby strapped in a car seat. Therefore, we must conclude that the average Arab Muslim is deeply evil. Why do people have such difficulty with that?

  13. Shragie says:

    In the name of truth I don’t know enough to say what the average Arab is – either way good or evil.

    I do know that there is a bad situation. There is an abnormal amount of violence and intolerance coming from the Arab world without any disapointment from the Arab spokespeople. Furthermore, much of the violence is directed towrds the Jews.

    Racism is when you judge a group of people by the actions of a few without addressing any inherent problems of that group. There seems to be an inherent problem coming from the Arab world

  14. Calev says:

    Oh dear, Toby. I’m ‘craven’ now? I’m just trying to be PC? I cut my morality to fit the latest fashion? If you knew me you’d realise how wrong you are! As a resident of Europe I’m well aware of the threats that Islamic radicalism and the fast growing Muslim population pose. I’ve shocked many a liberal and left-wing acquaintance with what I consider to be a rational analysis reasonably put. My morality is rooted firmly in the Eternal – but, the Torah being what it is, there is room for moral legitimacy beyond your own views. There are times when frustration and anxiety mean that I blow my top and say things about the political situation that are as clumsy – if not more so – as the next person’s. However, I do take particular care, when contributing to a public discussion, to be temperate and reasonable and accurate. This is not compromising my own beliefs, it is exercising self-discipline and good sense. I find that more people listen to the moderate, carefully chosen word than to a rant. And that’s something I’ve learned from my embrace of Yiddishkeit, not from a style guru.

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