Holy mackerel — yet another list of the “Top 100 Most Influential Jews in the World,” this one from Ma’ariv!
This is morphing from meme to trend to obsession. And now Joe Biden is getting in on the act! Jonathan Chait reports on the veep’s remarks in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, and suggests that Biden may have overdone it on praising the Jews for their influence in social justice issues, Hollywood, gay marriage, and more:
Biden indeed offered fulsome, heartfelt praise in his remarks, before wandering into highly uncomfortable terrain and delivering a speech that is likely to be quoted by anti-Semites for years and decades to come. (It’s already the subject of excited discussion among the white supremacist community.)
Biden’s remarks were not anti-Semitic. They were very, very philo-Semitic. The thrust of his largely unscripted monologue is that Jews have contributed enormously to the United States.
The problem for Jews, writes Chait, is a
fear that our success will be seen as a kind of invidious control, that the broader society will at some point say, no, you have too much. Ivy League schools in the last century imposed first overt quotas, and then more subtle geographic and “character”-based admissions standards, precisely to suppress the disproportionate Jewish share of their student body. The first generation of Hollywood moguls lived in terror that they would be seen as using their control of film to impose a particular Jewish slant upon the culture and labored endlessly to dispel any such suspicions.
Which demands, of course, that you tell the old joke (here is Joseph Telushkin’s version): In the late 1930s, a Jew is traveling on the subway reading a Yiddish newspaper, The Forward. Suddenly, to his shock, he spots a friend of his sitting just opposite him, reading the local New York Nazi newspaper. He glares at his friend in anger, “How can you read that Nazi rag?” Unabashed, the friend looks up at him. “So what are you reading?” he asks. “The Forward? And what do you read there? In America there is a depression going on and the Jews are assimilating. In Palestine, the Arabs are rioting and killing Jews. In Germany, they’ve taken away all our rights. You sit there, and read all about it, and get more and more depressed.
“I read the Nazi newspaper. We own all the banks. We control all the governments.”