As a preamble there most definitely existed anti-semitism in Soviet Union. I am a Russian living in the US with Jewish family in Russia. This is a throw away account.
With that said, stories of anti-semitism told by Russian Jews in US should not be taken at face value. These folks are subject to a very strong selection bias. Most of them came to the US as refugees who were recognized by the US State Department as being discriminated against for being Jewish in USSR/Russia. Secondly they have interest in maintaining the story anti-seminitism because it validates their narrative and could potentially help their relatives immigrate to the US.
Additionally many stories of anti-semitism that I heard were something a non-jew would experience as well but attributed to anti-semitism. As a personal example, I was at first denied admission to a specialized school in very late Soviet period. They eventually let me in because my mother found out that I had the highest score on the entrance exam of any one. Their excuse was that they had to let the kids who were in the paid summer program at the school first and now the class was full. A Jewish kid's parents would have been told they already have too many Jews in the advanced program. Both cases are just the admissions persons asking for a bribe.
We went to one of the more Jewish institutes: MIIT (Moskovskii Institut Zheleznodoroshnogo Transporta). The other Jewish place was Moskovskii Institute Stali i Splavov.
A common response to reports of any kind of discrimination is to downplay them -- it's not as bad as people report, they are a little paranoid, exaggerating, spreading stories, etc. If you watch for the pattern you can see it happenning a lot.
It's good, old fashioned FUD: It minimizes the current issue, and more importantly it creates a situation where there are doubts about the credibility any future reporters of discrimination and problems. Finally, it's easy, when it doesn't affect you, to say someone else's problems are no big deal, they're just exaggerating, etc. 'Comedy is you fall down a manhole; tragedy is I stub my toe'.
In my experience, the truth is the opposite of what the FUD says: Discrimination is vastly underplayed, not exaggerated. Think how often the story you read is about a practice that's gone on for years or decades, and you had no idea. The group facing discrimination has much less of a voice, they don't control the media and movies aren't made about their experiences, and they are intimidated into not speaking out (partly due to comments like the ones I'm criticizing: The majority will simply discredit and smear them anyway).
I'll also add that the parent comment fits another pattern: It's all anecdote. It's all based on hypothesis, and subjective analysis and impressions with no real basis.
I think churches also sponsored Russian immigrants in the 80s and 90s.
Update: I found this site.
Both the tsarist Russian and Soviet governments placed restrictions on emigration. In 1885 the imperial Russian government passed a decree that prohibited all emigration except that of Poles and Jews, which explains the small numbers of non-Jewish Russians in the United States before World War I. By the early 1920s, the Bolshevik/communist-led Soviet government implemented further controls that effectively banned all emigration. As for the second-wave White Russian refugees who fled between 1920 and 1922, they were stripped of their citizenship in absentia and could never legally return home. This situation was the same for the post-World War II DPs, who were viewed as Nazi collaborators and traitors by the Soviet authorities.
In contrast, the fourth wave of Russian immigration that began in late 1969 was legal. It was formally limited to Jews, who were allowed to leave the Soviet Union for Israel as part of the agreements reached between the United States and the Soviet Union during the era of détente. In return for allowing Jews to leave, the United States and other western powers expanded the economic, cultural, and intellectual ties with their communist rival. Although Jews leaving the Soviet Union were only granted permission to go to Israel, many had the United States as their true goal; and by 1985 nearly 300,000 had reached the United States.
After 1985 the more liberal policy of the Soviet government under Mikhail Gorbachev allowed anyone to leave the Soviet Union, and thousands more Jewish and non-Jewish Russians immigrated to the United States. Because Russia is an independent country with a democratically elected government, newcomers cannot justify their claim to emigrate on the grounds of political or religious persecution. This has resulted in a slowing of Russian emigration during the last decade of the twentieth century.
Immigration history is fascinating. I'm reading about the other groups here: http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Bu-Dr/index.html
It's the lack of direct comparisons, which in turn follows from the lack of specifics, that allows people to get an exaggerated sense of the extent of anti-Semitism.
Reminds me of when I am in my car at a stop light and a man looks over at me. I always think "wow if I was a woman or if I was black I would think that that is the reason they are looking at me".
This statement imagines what an imaginary person would be thinking, and implies that it represents the thinking of billions of people.
I wish my subjective imagination was so reliable. Think of all the time I could save studying facts, improving my analytical skills, and most of all, learning from and listening to other people who have different perspectives and experiences than I do. 'I imagine, therefore they are.'
My math teacher in Lithuania mentioned that back in his days (50-s) it was practically impossible for a non-Jewish student to get into any math- or physics-related faculty: Jewish families had a very strong multi-generational tradition of both in-school and additional education. He also said he was the only non-jewish in his group in Moscow State University that year.
So at some point it was decided to, ehm, discriminate jewish - they were supposed to be a minority in all the main universities/institutes, under 10%, I think, although this is not a precise number.
Note that I don't advocate anything or anyone, this is just the way it was.
In the US, they'd ask everyone the same questions, but have different standards for the results. The practice would not be secret, and so there would not be subterfuge of this scope (the plausible-deniability angle is gone). Finally, the practice would be used to boost the effective scores of the select less-qualified candidates, instead of damaging the scores of select more-qualified candidates. (This is not strictly a difference of terminology: in a competitive assessment affirmative action on a less-successful candidate would consistently crowd out candidates from the bottom end of the 'successful' range, whereas the Jewish questions would sabotage everyone who got them, including those who would otherwise be at the top of the field).
Most importantly, if things were like described by the GP, the intended effect is not to discriminate against an ethnic group, but balance its overwhelming predominance in a particular field. Which is precisely the objective of affirmative action.
Also - what cost should society pay in lost output due to the average ability of people allowed to enter certain occupations having been lowered by affirmative action (as it has to be if less capable candidates are admitted instead of more capable)?
Perhaps most interestingly - how much cost should a group supposedly "helped" by affirmative action pay for the dubious favor in (A) people being unable to successfully function at institutions who admitted them, not because of their abilities, but due to affirmative action and (B) perfectly capable people of the "helped" group being stigmatized because "everyone knows they only got to where they were due to affirmative action, and not due to their ability?"
(I guess you might notice that I'm not a huge fan of affirmative action, but if we could at least agree that there's no reasonable way to distinguish between "affirmative action" and "discrimination", that would be in itself awesome, even if we disagree about the merit of, well, that one thing with two names...)
Since you ask, I'll repeat myself. Suppose you have lots of people applying for 100 slots in the university. Affirmative action at a US university designed to give you a quota of, say, 10% minorities could, in the worst case, crowd out qualified persons #91-100. "Jewish questions" deployed against highly qualified Jews in a Jewish-dominated field in Lithuania could have easily excluded most qualified persons in the range #1-100.
I really don't like affirmative action either, but it differs substantially in intent, technique, and impact. Considering them morally equivalent slights against the ideals of fairness and merit is a very narrow, black-and-white world view - and without abandoning the ideal of justice, I think it's important to see that there are many shades grays in this world, and some are much much darker than others.
Regarding "intent, technique and impact" - I agree on technique and impact, intent is a thornier issue; certainly nobody ever instituted discrimination for reasons they proclaimed evil, it's always done in the name of "righting wrongs," and then real intent as opposed to proclaimed intent is very hard to establish. From my own point of view, at the gut level, some discriminators seem to act much more maliciously than others, but I'm not sure there's always a reasonable argument to support my gut feeling.
You're assuming #91-100 are better candidates than the minority candidates. I think the resasoning behind affirmative action is that #91-100 are worse students who just had access to far better resources and thus produced better quantitive results. I'd rather hire the minority candidates.
It's not clear why failed applicants would automatically leap to the theory that they didn't get in because of affirmative action, rather than just assuming they weren't good enough. Competition for good academic institutions is generally stiff enough that this is the most likely reason anyway.
Why wouldn't they? People generally look for an explanation of bad events that doesn't put the blame on themselves. Even better, if it defines a specific culprit and paints them as a villain. "I didn't get into X because they discriminated against me, those racist bastards" is therefore a very appealing narrative.
As for the difference between AA and simple discrimination, the latter is usually intended to increase the power of the current dominant group, while affirmative action should act in the interest of a minority or disadvantaged group. The mechanisms are the same, it's the objective that's different. Much as the same substance or tool can be used to cure or to kill, it's the intention that matters.
More broadly, though, if you think that this was "merely" about balance and that there was no anti-Semitic sentiment in academia in Soviet Lithuania in the 1950s, shortly after the "Rootless Cosmopolitan" campaign and squarely in the era of the "Doctors' Plot", then I may have a bridge to sell you.
The result in, for example, fire and police departments has been that all the tests, especially written tests, have been dumbed down so that 80% of everyone passes. That is automatically considered to fulfil the four fifths standard. Then candidates are chosen by political patronage or random selection.
The result is much worse average qualifications. If there were just a racial quota like US universities use, you could pick the top X% of people from each protected underperforming racial category but also the top people from each of the high performing categories. In the Jewish Problem and four-fifths scenario, you don't get the top people from the high performing category except by chance and with four-fifths not from the protected categories either.
The new, state of the art federal civil service exam written under the Carter administration was abandoned because protected racial groups did badly. the obvious solution of race norming was considered out of bounds because Republicans could demagogue against the practice. The entire civil service exam system was dismantled instead and race based hiring is promoted with no objective standards. The result is the worst of all possible worlds. It's just lucky that federal jobs are still plush enough that good people work hard to game any system to get them.
> The result is the worst of all possible worlds
I think it's probably a much better world, where the second-rate candidates, who only got the job because their competition was excluded, have been replaced by the best candidates.
As a simple example, think of professional sports, which for a long time wouldn't hire black or latino athletes. To imagine the impact on quality, just imagine the reverse, if today Major League Baseball announced, 'we're firing all the black and latino players and replacing them with white people - but don't worry the quality will be the same'. It would be absurd.
It's also very sad to say it's the 'worst of all possible worlds'. The worst was when all these people were excluded from jobs and every other part of our society. That was criminal and tragic.
With respect to the rest of your points: given the number of Jews who emigrated from Russia for fear of being shipped off to Siberia to die, what you describe as the "worst of all possible worlds" is remarkably civilized by comparison.
This is clearly false. The intent of affirmative action is to give certain oppressed groups get a little assistance; it is not to reduce the predominence of any other one. The latter might be a consequence, but it's certainly not the intent.
The reason given was that Harvard uses uses participation in non-academic events as a mechanism to exclude Asian students.
You can read about it, and the lawsuit filed, here:
Jews in the USSR were the ones suffering widely from discrimination.
The analogous numbers for CalTech are 45% Asian and 27% white; see https://www.registrar.caltech.edu/academics/enrollment.
[I take no position in this post on whether the high representation of Asians, low representation of other American racial minorities, and decisions resulting in these outcomes are good or bad things (or deserve the label "meritocratic", or so on). I am simply noting that UC Berkeley seems similar to CalTech in all these regards.]
Edit: another curious source
> Mikhail Brin decided to study mathematics instead, and was offered a place although the entry exams for Jews were sat separately, in rooms that were notoriously known as "the gas chambers."
Read the history section.
Vigilante street patrols with vehicles made to look like marked and unmarked police vehicles, often under the guise of being affiliated with a volunteer ambulance service:
Less than 50 years ago, it was legal to discriminate against all minorities. And some of my older Jewish Americans friends can give awful examples. They still don't feel save in the US. You might think it's irrational, but discrimination scars. Minorities are forced to form tight communities.
The majority tribe also looks out for its own. Something like 70+% of white people don't have nonwhite friends. We are wired to seek our own, so exclusion is the default human behavior. I have a dream that one day we will overcome this silly little thing called tribalism. :)
1) today is mlk day
2) discrimination was terrible one generation ago
3) most people have narrow social circles.
There's wisdom to be gleaned from this I'm sure...
I do hear that term thrown around a lot on the Internet by social justice warriors. Honest question: Have you ever been to Israel? What was your experience like when you were there to have contributed to such a strong narrative?
Anyway have you been to the Occupied Territories while you were there?
To choose a prominent example, open discrimination against people who believe in Islam is socially acceptable in much of Western society. How stupid can we be? We're blatently repeating the exact same mistakes as before, the exact thing we frown upon. Some will say, 'but this time is different; we have a valid reason' - which of course is exactly what people said all those previous times, it's just a justification for acting out on fear (and it's just dumb reasoning). The old fears and rationalizations look absurd to us now but seemed just as real at the time as our current fears. Ours will look just as absurd in the future.
Why can't we just apply the simple, blanket rule? Don't discriminate; prejudice is cruel, unjust and unfair, and it results in very bad things. It provides no real benefits. It always ends up on the wrong side of history; the accomplishments and heroes we honor are never hate and the hateful, but those that stood up against them. When our descendents look back at us, which side will we be on?
I find it enlightening. Why did people let the nazis take the jews away? Why did people support slavery, even turn escaped slaves in, for money? Why did they allow lynchings to happen?
Well, now we know. Now we understand. Maybe we can view our ancestors in a different light now.
Things are better now because of civil rights. Discrimination is less violent. But things could be better.
I believe there still are some private schools (UK sense) in the UK, but I can't find any references.
Off topic, but regarding problem 2, a math professor once told me of a PhD student who started studying this kind of functions. He spent some time to discover their many interesting properties, until the professor made him understand why these functions were so regular, and that he had actually wasted his time. Funny to see this again.
A just as probable explanation (and equally controversial and possibly discouraged)would be that Ashkenazi Jews may or may not have acquired a disproportionate influence (wrt to the %age of the population they comprise), allowing them to be over-represented in certain fields giving them the appearance of being "more intelligent on average"?
edit: Just google "white men can't jump", i think it's pretty obvious
"Natural history of Ashkenazi Intelligence" by Harpending and Cochran is a good start. http://web.mit.edu/fustflum/documents/papers/AshkenaziIQ.jbi...
(Hint: It's all genetic.)
> Another theory suggests that there was selective breeding for Talmudic scholarship. This seems unlikely to have been an important selective factor, since there weren’t very many professional rabbis, certainly less than one percent of the population.
Although there are very few rabbis, majority of ultra-orthodox men spend most part of their time in rabbinic studies until they're very deep into adult life, and their level of success in that field is directly converted into their social status. (Which also means that they don't work and depend on their wives (who are also expected to care about the house and have a lot of children) as well as welfare from state and charities to survive).
And second, it can cause some people to perceive Ash. as "others", enemies and give rise to various conspiracy theories.
Pretty living proof I am stupid myself and I have a simple answer to your question. I think this theory is stupid. I am stupid, therefore I am right thus proving my claim.
But can help for the quest about the controversy.
My assumption is research trying to prove the superiority of genes is kind of badly accepted by the opinions and that it makes them all very uneasy when they remember the results of this every time it was made : a bloody war that ended badly for the one claiming superiority.
Historical precedent: the axe claiming they were superior races, the brits and frogs claiming to be superior while colonizing, apartheid, the aristocrats famous last words before heing beheaded, the romans ... the greeks, the persians... before collapsing.
I have blood X therefore I am superior has a tendency to create a spontaneous combustion of the claimers in intense ridicule... and often tremendous pain.
I guess people are superstitious and fear to take the risk.
Or more probably the illuminaty are at works since 500 BC at least... or maybe I am in fact smart, and it is a plain stupid idea proven by my own stupidity as a token of proof...
So still convinced it does not worth being researched, or do you hate them that much that you want them dead by ridicule?
You could study from your existence your relationship to any kind of superiority and publish your results. I would be delighted to validate my theory by experimentation.
It maybe stupid, but who knows? Maybe I am smart. Surely because I have blood. Human blood.
1. Solve for positive x:
x (8 sqrt(1 - x) + sqrt(1 + x)) <= 11 sqrt(1 + x) - 16 sqrt(1 - x)
The inverse of y = sqrt(1 + x)/sqrt(1 - x) is with some work x = (y^2 - 1)/(y^2 + 1) so when we divide through by sqrt(1-x) which we know now to be positive, and replace the above, we find:
(y^2 - 1)/(y^2 + 1) * (8 + y) = 11 y - 16
-10 y^3 + 24*y^2 - 12 y + 8 = 0
5 y^3 - 12 y^2 + 6 y - 4 = 0
2. Find all functions F(x) : R -> R having the propery that for any x1 and x2,
F(x1) - F(x2) <= (x1 - x2)^2.
3. Given a triangle ABC construct with a straightedge and compass a point K on
AB and a point M on BC such that AK = KM = MC.
4. Solve 2 cubert(2y - 1) = y^3 + 1 for real y.
y^9 + 3y^6 + 3y^3 - 16 y + 9 = 0
y^8 + y^7 + y^6 + 4 y^5 + 4 y^4 + 4 y^3 + 7 y^2 + 7 y - 9.
(y^2 + y - 1)(y^6 + 2 y^4 + 2 y^3 + 4 y^2 + 2 y + 9)
Giving a set of hard problems to an unwanted group and a separate set of problems (or no problems at all) to another is just simple discrimination. They could just as well have had a sign that told the unwanted group not to apply and it would have been no less discriminating.