Good or Bad for the Jews

"Good or Bad for the Jews"

Many years ago, and for many years, I would travel to Morocco to visit uncles, cousins, and my paternal grandmother. Some lived in Tangiers;...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On Jews

I violated my number one rule when getting ready to write a blog entry: don't read other people's stuff first! It will contaminate you! Well, I was going to write about something else but then I checked in with one of my all-time favorite bloggers and writers--check out his books, they are excellent-- Roger Simon, who has a great June 6 posting on "Bad for the Jews." I wish I could write half as well as he does.

He touched on something that has had me restless and uncomfortable for some months. Let me be blunt: why are so many prominent sleaze bags Jewish? OK, before you call the JDL on me, let me state my bonafides so that I can establish my immunity from prosecution.  I am Jewish; not particularly religious, but I did have a Bar Mitzvah, learned some Hebrew, grew up celebrating the Jewish holidays, well, until I left for UCLA. I gave my poor Rabbi a hard time by demanding to know who had physically written the Bible. No answer he gave me was satisfactory. I wanted to know the details. Did God sit down and write it or did he edit it? And, yes, as a kid on occasion I would run into anti-semitic remarks, or some idiot who had to tell me how although some Jewish guy had ripped him off on a roofing contract, he didn't hold that against all Jews. In 1966, I got into fisticuffs on the school yard with some fellow 8th grader who claimed the Holocaust had never happened, but he was glad it did.  Back in those days, of course, nobody got expelled for fighting; Mr. Jones, the Dean for Boys and a WWII combat-tested Marine with the medals to prove it, came roaring out of his office and grabbed each one of us by the neck and took us off to his office.  The tongue lashing he gave us was worse than being expelled. We were forced to shake hands, and released back to our respective friends, each claiming victory and unequalled bravery in standing up to Mr. Jones.

Eventually, I went off to UCLA, then grad school in Massachusetts, and then the Foreign Service. I never really thought much about being Jewish during those years; most of my friends were not, and they didn't care at all if I was or was not. That is one of the great things about America. I gave up celebrating the holidays, ate the occasional BLT, and developed a deep love for cheeseburgers. But, as they say about the Marines, to wit, "Once a Marine always a Marine," and "You can never be an ex-Marine," so it is with being Jewish. You can go to Christmas parties and eat all the ham sandwiches you want, but you will always be Jewish. That was something that the very assimilated Jews of Germany discovered with a vengeance.  You can convert to another religion, but . . .

As Roger Simon explains even we very much assimilated Jews still feel a twinge of guilt and collective shame when Jewish morons such as Roman Polanski, Sean Penn, Elliot Spitzer, Bernie Madoff, Anthony Weiner, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, or David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz act in some incredibly stupid, evil, or otherwise destructive manner. It all comes back to the sense, as Simon explains, that such behavior is "bad for the Jews."

In a comment I wrote on Simon's blog, I told of my last visit to my elderly grandmother in Morocco. This was about two or three years after the 1967 war in the Middle East, which had led to many Jews abandoning Morocco, and heading to Spain, France, Canada, Israel, and Latin America.  This despite that the Moroccans, at least then, behaved rather civilly and relations appeared good between Muslims and Jews; most of the Jews were full of praise for the King of Morocco. Well, that was the surface picture, underneath that, of course, other forces were stirring, and Jews have developed a pretty good radar for detecting those forces, so they were leaving.  Not my grandmother.  She was into her 80s (we think, nobody really knew), lived well in a nice big house with lots of servants in a small town outside of Tangiers, and she was not going anywhere. Throughout the house she had portraits, some drawn or painted, others old photographs.  It was, I thought, a strange collection. She had Alfred Dreyfus and Theodore Herzl (understandable), Maimonides (from whom she claimed direct descent, so that's OK), but then she had Marx, Trotsky, and Stalin, too! Marx and Trotsky she justified by telling me they were Jewish so we had to be loyal to them. Stalin? He fought Hitler. Portrait of Churchill? No, he was not sufficiently enthusiastic about the creation of Israel. Her house, her rules--which could and did change as required.

The Jews for whom she had no regard were "Hollywood Jews." She had quite a collection of gossip magazines in Spanish and French, and would read them avidly. She had an unerring eye for picking out the Jews from among the glitterati, and would pass instant judgement on which ones were "bad for the Jews" (almost all of them) and which were "good for the Jews" (I recall only Otto Preminger getting partial approval for making, "Exodus," which she never saw, but had heard was superb--I had to tell her all about it.)  For her, the greatest sin of the Hollywood Jews was marrying outside of the faith, and then compounding it by getting divorced. She seemed to spend a good part of her day arbitrating who and what was good or bad for the Jews. I can imagine her verdict on some of the reprobates I listed above!  She died in 1974, having left Morocco only once in her long life for a brief visit in the 1930s to Madrid.

I am not my grandmother, and I try not to break down world events into her two categories: "Bad for Jews"and "Good for Jews." But, frankly, when I see the sort of behavior engaged in by some of my fellow tribesmen, I wince and feel embarrassed. Can't help it. I feel particularly embarrassed by how Jews continue to vote Democrat--and for that there is no excuse.


  1. Soooo, Diplomad, how did it feel being Sefardi and surrounded by Ashkenazim?

  2. OK, I can understand the personal angst, but taking on too many campaigns at the same time will diminish the chance for success of any, IMO. I think you'll have more success with the drug thing than convincing Yhudi's to vote with their minds instead of feelings.

  3. As a fellow J, who cringes along with you, I think it's important to remember that it always seems like there are more of us in trouble than there really are, since we notice our own little tribe to the exclusion of others.

    I also think there is one very real reason, which is the large proportional amount of Jews who go into law and finance, which is prime scandal territory, but even then, I doubt very much that proportionally the amount of Jews is higher on average.

    Finally, the Jews in these scandals do tend to be those who have strayed the farthest from Judaism--Weiner is married to a Muslim whose mother is a Muslim fundamentalist headmaster of a girls' school in Saudi Arabia, Spitzer married a Southern Baptist, DSK has no interest in Judaism that I can see, Sean Penn's not even Jewish. In your list, Madoff's the only exception.

    Still, it is painful, but as I can testify from personal rooommate experience--watching them cringe during the news, no more than the ethnic burden carried by our fellow Italian-, Irish-, African-, and Southern- American compatriots.

  4. Unfortunately Penn is Jewish although he claims to be agnostic. He is one my grandmother would have been perfectly happy to kick out of the tribe . . .

  5. How does one become a Foreign Service officer? (Is that a silly idea with today's State Department?) How did you get started in the Foreign Service?

  6. @Matthew M.:

    Start by reviewing the information available here:

    I would also suggest joining FSWE and FSOA Yahoo!Groups.

    It's an amazing profession with unique opportunities to serve your country.

  7. Sean Penn is Jewish? Is a execrable a faith? I just thought he was that.

    Anyhow, a very funny piece. Have a great weekend.

    I have to post as "Anonymous" or the !@#!$% won't take it, but I am not a gutless anonymoid. I am Michael Adams of Round Rock, Texas