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Jewish problems (arxiv.org)
303 points by cal2 on Oct 11, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 187 comments

This reminds me of an interesting story from Not In My Neighborhood, a history of residential and institutional segregation in Baltimore. Baltimore in many ways had three-way segregation -- black, white, and Jewish -- with Realtors for all three communities refusing to show houses in the "wrong" neighborhood to anyone. However, the public school system only had two-way segregation -- black and white, with Jews attending white schools.

Johns Hopkins, then as now an elite institution located in Baltimore, encouraged local kids to apply, and was integrated long before the public schools were. Hopkins never had any kind of restriction on the number of black students, but they did have quotas on the number of Jews. That's because the black school system was bad enough (and blacks generally financially disadvantaged enough) that they knew they'd never have more than about 5 percent or so of their student body being black -- enough to show that they were liberal and enlightened, but not enough to change the character of the student body. But if they let in all the Jews who qualified, the school would be half Jewish, which would be unacceptable, as they'd get a reputation as a "Jewish" school.

This is also one of the reasons for the long-ago heyday of City College in New York: as a public college, they didn't discriminate, and so a lot of Jewish kids who would have otherwise qualified to go to the Ivy League ended up there.

I grew up near Baltimore. It wasn't until the mid 50's I believe that Jews were permitted east of Falls Rd. It took my grandmother decades to be able to comfortably go through that area. In fact, when she and her husband bought their first house in woodlawn, the entire neighborhood signed a petition that they did not want any Jews moving in. My grandparents powered through it anyway.

What you describe seems to be the same thing that's happening to Asian Americans today: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/art.... Though there might not be specific quotas, there is a feeling that certain universities are "more Asian" than others, Johns Hopkins being one of them.

Whereas in the US the reason that colleges use essay questions is because jews score too highly on the SATs. We can thank Harvard for this, as usual. Gladwell has an essay about this here:


I forget what Gladwell is copying from, but I know that there is an earlier article that goes into even more detail.

He usually cites his sources. Look for the professor in the tweed jacket, with horn-rimmed glasses, and the gaze which pierces through both his students' excuses for late homework and statistical irregularities. Or the 6-3 guy who looks like a line-backer, but now teaches psychology, and still plays ball on the weekends.

In this case, Jerome Karabel writes in “The Chosen” how the Ivy League started to look for "manliness" to avoid too many geeks and Jews. Alan Krueger and Stacy Dale did the economic study on the selection effect vs. value added. James L. Shulman and William Bowen wrote "The Game of Life", on athletes getting an easy ride.

Some would argue that this sort of discrimination continues into the present day, but sub asians for jews.

It's mentioned at the very end of the article (I skimmed).

"In the nineteen-eighties, when Harvard was accused of enforcing a secret quota on Asian admissions, its defense was that once you adjusted for the preferences given to the children of alumni and for the preferences given to athletes, Asians really weren’t being discriminated against. But you could sense Harvard’s exasperation that the issue was being raised at all. If Harvard had too many Asians, it wouldn’t be Harvard, just as Harvard wouldn’t be Harvard with too many Jews or pansies or parlor pinks or shy types or short people with big ears."

That newyorker article is very interesting. Really, it sounded like it was as much about being tall and confident as about anything else; I've known a few big IDF types who would have done better than I would, by those standards.

Of course, maybe it's because I've spent so much of my life in silicon valley, and there is a strong prejudice against people who appear shy, I believe that this prejudice is much stronger than any ethnic prejudice, at least in this area.

It's interesting, as speaking as a tall and apparently confident white male,[1] I definitely agree that I get a "white guy bonus" - I mean, part of it is the completely rational fact that I have a fairly neutral American accent- when dealing with groups consisting of people with diverse accents, quite often having someone around with an accent everyone can understand can add real value.

But really, I think it goes beyond that. Even when I was in the central valley and dealing mostly in groups of people with accents as American as my own, I think I've been offered opportunities beyond what you'd expect from my intelligence and my educational background.

Another aspect of this is just regular old confidence.[2] I present much better than I am. I interview very well, but once it's time to actually do the work? to be honest, I'm not as good as I look. I mean, I'm certainly not without value, but I'm not as good as I present. Of course, this is true of most confident people, and yet confidence is still seen as a positive rather than a negative, for some crazy reason.

The weird thing to me is that as far as I can tell, this effect is even stronger when working for foreigners. I mean, I guess part of it is that they want to exploit other people's racism, and certainly if I'm interacting with customers, having me on staff can make you look more American, but the effect seems to exist even when I'm in a purely technical role that doesn't interact with customers.

[1]My dad's family was catholic, but my mother's family was 'protestant American' and I'm not religious at all, but I guess I ended up with a more protestant look, if there is such a thing. My outward confidence is an affectation; I mean, inwardly, I believe in myself the way a catholic believes in god, but my natural personality is much less aggressive. The outward confidence is there because I've noticed that other people vastly prefer that sort of thing.)

[2]The most shocking example of being picked over someone more qualified I can remember was when I got picked over someone who was also white, male and also did not identify as jewish (but he was shorter and dramatically less confident.)

> I forget what Gladwell is copying from, but I know that there is an earlier article that goes into even more detail.

I'm trying to find a similar - likely the same - earlier article too. I'd be much obliged if you could post the link if you find it.

I know that John Taylor Gatto linked it to from his website at one point, it's possible that you might be able to dig it up through archive.org or somesuch.

Jews had a hard time getting into some Ivy league schools for a stretch, but not colleges in the US in general, c.f. elsewhere on this page.

What is it with you anyway? I found your comment earlier today about "the US does it too!" re the Dalai Lama almost odd enough to comment on but this is the second comment in a row where you found an angle to bash the US. Do you think every negative comment about a country is a secret thumbs up to the US? And you just can't be having that?

I think the better question is why you're so worried about people criticizing the US?

It was informative. I didn't know the USA put restrictions on what the Dalai Lama would say. For China. I think the average person would be surprised to hear it.

It's like not recognizing Taiwan as a country. Offensive.

Taiwan doesn't even technically recognize itself as a country. It's just a part of China ruled by a rival government.

Actually they are the "real China", as their president addressed earlier this week on Republic of China's 100 anniversary.

Taiwan doesn't recognize itself as a separate country. It recognizes itself as the legitimate government of China.

Which, from an objective standpoint, is a rival government.

But they do not consider themselves "part" of China. They consider themselves China.

But they only actually control part of China, namely Taiwan.

Sure. But that's a matter they don't agree with. They believe they run all of China, de jure if not de facto.

In any event, they certainly consider themselves to be a country. A rather large one.

No one considers Taiwan a country, aside from a minority party in Taiwan that wants to declare independence from China but doesn't have the balls.

The ROC considers Taiwan part of China. The PRC considers Taiwan part of China. The ROC and PRC are rival governments of this one China. The ROC controls Taiwan and a couple other islands, the PRC controls the rest.

The one thing both states agree on is that Taiwan is not a country; Taiwan is part of China. If you're going to be lazy and sloppy about it, you can call the ROC "Taiwan", but neither side actually sees it that way.

This is so far off-base that it's painful to read. I say this as someone who's spent most his adult life in Taiwan and currently lives in Beijing. Most my friends are Taiwanese. I ran a business in Taiwan for years. At one point I even considered applying for citizenship (despite the mandatory military service).

Millions of Taiwanese people consider Taiwan a country. I have yet to meet even one in my generation who believes Taiwan to be a part of China. This really is a case of might vs right.

I'm talking about the stated policies of both PRC and ROC governments. The last time there were noises from the ROC side about changing this policy, PRC announced missile tests and military exercises, the US deployed a few aircraft carriers, and everyone decided to live with the status quo after all.

Maybe most Taiwanese people think Taiwan should be an independent country (despite electing the Chinese Nationalist Party to a majority). But by matter of policy and law, it simply isn't. And no one seems willing to change the status quo.

I don't mean this to be offensive, but I'm getting the distinct impression that you don't have any familiarity with Taiwanese politics past what you've read in (usually poor) English media coverage.

The 國民黨 (which you call the "Chinese" nationalist party) has been losing support in each election cycle since 2000. Also, I don't think it's an accident that Ma's impressive results in the last presidential election coincided with his abandonment of the 國民黨's usual platform of unification with China. He campaigned almost purely on economic issues. Similarly the legislative victories came on an economic platform.

The guomingdang's victories have put the brakes on a few localization initiatives such as name changes of formerly state-owned businesses (e.g. 中華電信). However, the bulk of pan-green efforts have remained intact. Taiwanese is now taught at elementary school and children are no longer forbidden to speak it. History classes now focus on Taiwanese rather than Chinese history. Identity polls published by the politically-neutral Apple Daily now find a smaller than ever ratio of people consider themselves to be Chinese and a majority consider themselves to be Taiwanese only. This flies directly in the face of your claim that "No one considers Taiwan a country, aside from a minority party in Taiwan".

You're probably right. De facto, Taiwan is a separate country right now. But they at least have to maintain the diplomatic fiction of being Chinese.

You're right that I don't read Chinese or Taiwanese, and that I've never been to either country, and the only second-hand knowledge I have of the situation is decades old.

I do know that the pan-blue coalition has abandoned the idea of unification for now. I also understand (if I'm not mistaken) that the pan-green coalition has also abandoned the idea of formally declaring Taiwanese independence. So despite whatever side either party is notionally supposed to be, both sides have accepted the status quo and campaign on how they are to govern Taiwan.

In any case, this is a matter of some interest to me, and I appreciate you sharing all of this. I wonder, is there still an ethnic division between Taiwanese and the descendants of the Chinese that escaped from the mainland?

The pan-greens have been pushing ever closer towards independence for as long as I can remember. Obviously, they don't want a war, though. I think that's one of the major reasons why the name changes, proposals for changing the flag and the referendum issue carry such weight.

The referendum is an especially key piece of the strategy. They've been pushing for at least the past 7 years for public referendum on topics that are politically benign, at least on the surface. However, once there is a precedent of a referendum, the possibility exists for private citizens to start collecting the necessary signatures to put independence (or far more likely, baby steps towards independence) to a national vote. This sort of action would be very difficult politically for the PRC to punish.

Thus far, the Guomindang (aka KMT) has defeated referendum attempts by campaigning for a boycott of the referendum. Chen put two issues forward for referendum in 2004 (coinciding with the presidential election he narrowly won against a united Soong-KMT ticket after surviving a gunshot on the eve of the election). Voters agreed with both referendum questions by margins of over 90%, but the result was invalidated due to the final turnout being less than 50%.

To answer your question, I'd say that ethnic divisions between the Min and the mainlanders have died down. The issue is politics more than ethnicity. Traditionally, Hakkas have voted pan-blue, but that's much less consistent than it was before. At this point it's more of a division between the business people, those with ties to China or HK and the more local people.

We're just arguing about whether "Taiwan considers themselves a country" implies a separate country now. I don't think we disagree about any factual info.

If I came to your house and showed you my gun, explained in loving detail how it worked, and informed you that I would brutally slay you if you disagreed with me - wouldn't you "agree" with anything I said?

Because that's the only reason Taiwan could be said to agree with mainland China.

Literally. As in, "If you formally declare independence we will kill you all in an invasion."

There has always been interest from the KMT of either recapturing the mainland or, when that became infeasible, peaceful reunification, though (according to some cousin comments) that's become a minority viewpoint and the entire question has been tabled for now.

No, you're incredibly wrong.. The question hasn't been tabled - people who were having it were told they'd be murdered to the last if they didn't give in.

That's slightly different than "Nah, let's drop this pesky independence thing."

As far as recapturing the mainland, they're waiting for the mainlanders to throw off their illegal and oppressive government and welcome them back - if not as leaders, then as brothers.

Can someone please explain to me what the hell is the problem people have with Jews? The only thing I can tell is maybe they're disproportionately financially successful? I guess that's a problem...

Answering as someone Jewish. . .

Jews don't assimilate (fully). In the Passover story, one of the things we note is that even living in Egypt for a long time, they didn't assimilate and they were disliked for it. Heck, how often do you hear people talking about other immigrants "not assimilating these days". For centuries, Jews even spoke a language other than the vernacular. We're a much more tolerant world today and yet there are plenty in this country (the US) that wish everyone "would just speak English". I have plenty of friends whose parents grew up speaking Yiddish in this country.

Likewise, Jews were seen as people with divided loyalties. But this, again, isn't specific to Jews. Kennedy took plenty of hits as people questioned if he'd "just do what the pope told him to do." Were Jews really going to be loyal to the state they lived in? In an era when wars were often fought with what makes today's reasons seem air-tight, would Jews decide to sit on the sidelines (since they weren't really X nationality)? I mean, imagine if the US and Canada got into a war over who could call they're syrup "maple syrup". Would you fight in that? People have fought for some stupid things. Also, during a decent period of time, mercantilism became a big factor in economic thinking. If Jews didn't see a problem with cross-border trade, that was doing economic harm.

For Christians, "you've heard the good news and yet you still reject Christ?!?" This is one of the more simplistic ones. People have killed (and continue to do so) for religious reasons. Jews were especially problematic for Christianity. Here you have the predecessor religion co-existing. If they thrive more than the Christians, does G-d like them better than the Christians? And there's plenty of "they killed Christ" to go around.

Jews are, in some ways, refugees. I mean, there was an ancient state that existed and then diaspora as the Jews had to leave their homeland. First, people often don't like immigrants. How much scapegoating happens even today around immigrants and crime, jobs, culture, etc.? Heck, even things like sexuality come into play. In a lot of anti-Semitic literature, Jews were portrayed as ultra-sexual in the same "hide your daughters" way that can happen with African Americans today. Second, people really don't like refugees. I mean, these are people coming with nothing. These aren't university trained computer programmers coming over like H1-B visa getters. These are people who have it really hard.

Beyond that, someone like Dawkins might point out that we try to propel our genes and like genes forward. A decent amount of history looks like people trying to force their culture, their nationality, and their genes forward through history. Jews were a different group. If you're under the impression that wealth cannot be created, then any wealth that Jews get is wealth that people like you don't have. So, it becomes competitive in that sense and people try to propel people like them forward through history.

I guess I'll also touch on the fact that diaspora Judaism somewhat flies in the face of nationalism. I mean, if you're big into patriotism and nationalism, then the state should be the citizen's first priority, right? I think a lot of us now see the state as a tool meant to make our lives more stable and just. We don't live for the glory of our country. Our country is meant to help us have better lives. When we serve our country, it's to enhance the lives of the people and increase justice, not to enhance the country (although they sometimes go hand in hand). This is a big shift in modern thought (at least to me). But diaspora Judaism can fly in the face of "commitment to your country should take precedence over commitment to something else". I mean, to us it might sound ridiculous to say that your country should matter more than your morality - and I mean secular morality here. But in a Europe coming out of feudalism where they were trying to define national loyalties and borders, worried about losing territory to the neighboring country, worried about all sorts of things that look foolish from a modern perspective, well, if Jews weren't going to care if they were Polish or Russian, that was a huge problem. Frankly, this is one of the reasons that Jews came to America. While America has its nationalism, it's pluralistic, and it's often based off good governance and democratic principles more than the history of most places.

Jews could also be insular. Kosher dietary laws meant that they didn't eat with non-Jews and that they bought their food from within the community. Again, it's easy to see how something like "those assholes won't buy meat from me saying my meat isn't clean!" turns into anti-semitism in the way rumors spread. Before cars, towns were organized for churches or shuls to be within walking distance which means segregation.

Heck, even looking at the Harvard example, you see a private club that had a certain culture that was losing that culture. No longer would Harvard be almost all Wasp. I mean, they and their forefathers had put their money and effort into it. Shouldn't their progeny and the progeny of their religion and culture get the benefits of it? I'm not saying you should agree with that logic, but it is logic that is often used. I mean, there are people who don't want this country to become Spanish speaking or bi-lingual. Whether someone is the first person someplace or not, people and culture become entrenched and people don't want to see that culture change away from them. Heck, how much complaining do some people do that a lot of advertisements don't say "Merry Christmas"? Harvard was created by Wasps and now it was benefitting Jews and turning more Jewish. The identity of the institution was changing.

It isn't that the hatred is that different from a lot of other ethnic hatred. A lot of it can be seen in a lot of the other ethno-religious hatred that has existed in the world. It's that the Jews hit a lot of different sore points in human history. There was religion, there was national identity, there was immigrant status, there was language, there was hope of another homeland, their was separateness/insular-ness, etc.

I come from the point of view that nationalism is a bit outdated. People deserve to be justly governed in ways that make their lives better and that they should be allowed to choose how to live their lives in a way that makes them happy (clearly with restrictions on things that cannot be abided like murder). But providing good, just governance isn't why Europe has so many countries. Good governance and happy lives for citizens isn't why England subjugated Wales. Justice isn't what drove the Reconquista of Spain. Power, control, and the perpetuation of one's genes, culture, language, and religion have been a driving force in human history.

I, for one, am happy that we at least see such injustice and hatred as a bad thing these days. I'm not sure if you were looking for an answer like this. I didn't mean for it to be long like this. Hatred can be a bit hard to wrap one's head around (at least for me) and yet it's defined a lot of human history. I can't imagine someone hating me without knowing me. I don't understand it. I'm nice (honest)! Yet, even without understanding it, I know there are people who wish I didn't exist who don't even know me. It's actually quite an odd feeling.

Great comment and the length of it just goes to show how complex the issue is.

If we were to add contemporary issues things would get even more complicated: Zionism and Israeli policies has created a lot of anger against 'Jews'. This has much less to do with ethnicity than historical anti-semitism, but the two get conflated which leaves everybody confused and talking past eachother. Add to the mix the fact that Jews dominate banking and media (I assume this is accepted as fact and not conspiracy theory), industries that get little love these days.

Again this is more complicated than just that. The great bulk of responses and opposition to Zionist and Israeli policies comes from the Arab and Muslim world.

Since this opposition is shared by many westerners, I think a lot of westerners assume that it is shared based on similar reasoning. Human rights, international law, national freedoms. But the reality is that a substantial portions is nationalist/religious/xenophobic/nationalistic/scapegoating.

Belief in arab countries that Israel was behind 9-11 or some other local event (eg shark attacks in egypt)* is very common. Lots of easily verifiable made up stories are common knowledge. A lot of the old anti-semetic propoganda is distributed in the greater Muslim world via mainstream local media (I saw an article about the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion,' a Czarist propoganda document that has a special place in most Jews consciousness, discussed in an Indonesian magazine. It's also in the Hamas charter document* .

A lot of the complaints that are interpreted as objections to human rights violations or similar are (when seen in context) really objections to non Muslim rule in 'Muslim Lands' (as opposed to lands where muslims live) or various conspiracy delusions.

I'm not trying to justify Israeli policy. I think it's immoral and stupid. But the type of objection to it do not make me think that changing policy will result in substantial changes in attitude, though they might provide an incremental improvement.

http://blogs.news.sky.com/middleeastblog/Post:2c6bf5da-e006-... * *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamas_Charter

One of the benefits of a long-standing, distinct Jewish culture, IMO, is that their cultural stability avoids many of the negative affects of decisions made by the broader culture in which they live.

In the Middle East today, the relative prosperity of Israel relative to its neighbors is a good example of that. Abandoning science and reason has a negative affect on a society, and blaming your neighbor for your misfortune is easier than dealing with that.

That comparison is a bit tricky to localize to specifically Jewish culture, versus the other ways Israelis on average differ from their neighbors. They are also more European, for example, in the sense of having a significant proportion of the population who in fairly recent history had lived in Europe for generations, and in many cases participated closely in European institutions (e.g. pre-WW2 German and Polish physics research). Especially the first post-'48 generation had much of its science/technology leadership driven by people who had been prominent scientists/technologists in Europe before the Nazis forced them out.

Extreme forms of Antisemitism existed long before even Muhammad was born. You are probably referring to the outcome of a half a century long conflict. Yes there is a lot of anti-Jew factor in the Muslim world(I am a Muslim my self).

But there is also a lot of anti-Muslim factor widely prevalent in the west too! Every bit of people on this earth have suffered with that problem. The Muslim world looks at these problems from their own view. Think of it this way, there was no signs of Israel in the Arab world around a century back, the settlements start. There are splinter groups. Slowly albeit steadily a vast majority of the native population was displaced to settle new set of people. A new nation is declared, backed by most powerful nations on earth. What was your country yesterday is not today and you are mercilessly kicked out. Now what sins did the natives do to deserve that? On top of loosing their lands, there is huge under development and humiliation since decades. How do you expect them to react?

To quote Ben Gurion himself:

I don't understand your optimism. Why should the Arabs make peace? If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it's true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been antisemitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations' time, but for the moment there is no chance. So, it's simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipe us out.

- http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/David_Ben-Gurion

Tomorrow if some state like California is invaded by some one, existing citizens of the state thrown out. How will those people react. Will they laughingly walk out of their homes, stay in tents and welcome the invaders with Garlands? And business goes around normal?

There isn't a community on earth today which is different than any other community. People everywhere are just the same. When these sort of things happen friction is but natural but to take place.

All nations and their people on earth or same, Jews, Muslims and Christians. No one is different. Now there is also a clash of cultures. Others like their culture as much as you like yours. To assume everybody must follow your way of life is unacceptable to any community on earth.

I come from a nation(India) which hasn't attacked/invaded any country in thousands of years. We even got our freedom through complete non-violence. For thousands of years we absorbed other religions, cultures and languages and their people with open arms. Tolerance is not everybody's cup of tea.

Friction will remain, the way out is tolerance and respect for others.

Like I said, I have no wish to justify Israeli policies and there are many genuine reasons to object to them. History I don't even think it's possible to justify.

I was commenting though on different types of objection though. Objections based on delusions, nationalism and religion. Jews absolutely do not have a monopoly over these. Anti-muslim sentiment in the Europe is largely xenophobia and in the US its mostly nationalism. These (as I'm pretty sure you agree by reading what you wrote).

But the scale and flavour of some of the delusions directed at Israel from what are in the Muslim world, non marginal sources are uncommonly fantastic. I participated in a Syrian-Israeli dialogue once where we answer each others' objections to peace. We found that the majority of Syrians believe that the stripes on Israel's flag represent the sea and the euphrates, Israel's ambition to conquer all of modern Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. They referenced a nonexistent map in the Israeli Parliament, nonexistent speeches by early leaders, etc. These were not hawks by any means. They doctors and engineers and teachers that wanted peace and were actively pursuing it. They basically wanted a guarantee that Israel will give up these ambitions. All fantasy.

There are some insane surveys from various countries (Egypt, most commonly) about what the average person believes.

Americans can be delusionaly racist and nationalistic to. But, you can't sell the idea that shark attacks were orchestrated by from Iran or anything like that.

But, you can't sell the idea that shark attacks were orchestrated by from Iran or anything like that.

You can't sell that kind of an Idea to any people in any part of the world. But you see you can always tell there are Weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and go and invade them. Virtually tear their national infrastructure to shreds. Scare away investors and prospective companies from investing and forbid any sane economic growth in the foreseeable future. And Americans did buy that idea. Although no WMD's were found in Iraq. Do you still expect Iraq and their neighbors not to have sane opinions about America.

Now come to think of it. Iran has been repeatedly harping that they have no intentions of producing nuclear weapons. What guarantees do we have from the US that they are right and Iran is wrong. After all there wasn't a shred of truth Iraq WMD thing. Why should they even trust you?

I am not blaming Americans for this. But if you repeatedly demonize a set of people no matter who they are, after a some time no matter how absurd the argument vast majority of people will begin to believe in those lies. That's how Hitler managed to commit and get support to committing worst genocides in human history.

People in the arab world, heck every in the world are just like Americans. They have families, every day lives to live and businesses to run. Just like you.

I absolutely didn't mean to make this personal. But the reality is that you can sell stories like this in Egypt.

“What is being said about the Mossad throwing the deadly shark (in the sea) to hit tourism in Egypt is not out of the question, but it needs time to confirm,” South Sinai Governor Mohamed Abdel Fadil Shousha was quoted as saying by state news site egynews.net…. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2010/12/06/uk-egypt-shark-idUK...

This is a single example and a relatively lighthearted one. The protocols (because of their history) is less funny but more mainstream.

There is a difference between that and false (or falsified) intelligence about the nuclear capabilities of Iraq or Iran (which is trying hard to convince the world it is trying to build them), two countries that are/were constantly on the brink of war with very dangerous powers. One is similar to 'She's a witch' and the other is like 'She's a criminal.' Both may be false but they are not the same.

I have no personal dislike for Arabs or Muslims. I know many and have had great friendships. I also do not really consider myself Jewish, or that my Judaism isn't very important to me.

But, you can't sell the idea that shark attacks were orchestrated by from Iran or anything like that.

Probably you could.

From my observation of the Arab world (which includes travelling there for work fairly extensively in the last few years) has been that a) these crazy stories do exist and b) the majority don't believe them outright, but shrug their shoulders at the suggestion.

As you said the subject is complex; ask a "standard" person on the street about the stories and they would probably know what you were on about. Ask if they believe it could be true a decent portion might say "maybe, who knows!".

But you could be stood on a US street and talking about 9/11 conspiracy theory. Or a UK street and talking about whether the French smell perpetually of onions (deliberately picking two ends of the scale there).

The key problem is you get a set of stories from the absurd to the quite reasonable; and you mix it with an already existing resentment. That leaves you with people who don't simply laugh at the absurd, and instead just shrug.

As to whether you could sell these stories to people; of course you can. The media, and other aspects of society, sell absurd stories to ourselves every day. Facebook has been abuzz at least three (distinct) times, to my recollection, about the fact that FB were going to start charging for access. People genuinely outraged about this development were raging about it.

Chain letters.

I also travel a lot in the US and in certain areas you see equally absurd stories about all sorts of different classes of people. Go back over history and it is even worse; we still get absurd stories about homosexuals. A little further and black people got the same treatment. Perhaps the stories we see here are not so openly absurd to us as "Iran releases killer sharks" - but if you dig into the story you example it is built on a perfectly plausible basis.

There is even a wholly relevant very-recent example; Jews and Money. That is still sold to people with alarming regularity.

I know a perfectly lovely, middle class, suburban housewife[1] who, on finding out one of my friends was gay, asked me if it was because he had been abused as a child. She is quite convinced that homosexuality is commonly the result of childhood abuse (safe to say; that one floored me :S).

1. No, not like that!

There is no reason for me to take it personal. I am Indian, not an arab. By ethnic origins I might have Hindu ancestors.

My point was people are every where the same. Jews or other wise. The problem exists because of massive trust deficit due to a long chain of history of events. We need tolerance from both the parties if they want to leave in peace. And lets hope they are sensible enough to realize that.

I am great admirer of all cultures. I would love to visit Israel some day learn and experience Jewish culture to the fullest

I guess personal is the wrong word. It's just that what I said amounts to a criticism of elements in certain cultures, that's something people take personally.

We are, of course, the same. Nationality, ethnicity and the rest are made up. But.. so is money. Imaginary things still have an effect as long as people believe in them.

Americans can be delusionaly racist and nationalistic to. But, you can't sell the idea that shark attacks were orchestrated by from Iran or anything like that.

As an American I wish this was true but there are people in the US that believe man walked amongst dinosaurs and the earth is 5000 years old. These are people that were educated to at least a high school diploma and learned the scientific method at some point.

What was worse with Israel than all the other area losses during the World Wars? If anything, I'd say Karelia was worse than Israel.

The main difference to Karelia I can see, is that many refugees from Israel are locked into camps and get their lives destroyed, just in order to keep the question alive.

The point isn't right or wrong; the point is that everyone else with similar experiences left it behind them. Including almost all the Jews that lived in the Muslim world and had to leave -- because of their religion, not because of a civil war.

> the length of it just goes to show how complex the issue is.

http://xkcd.com/915/ relevant?

Would there be so much anger at zionism if they were Christian?

I doubt it, if you compare Israel with e.g. the surrounding dictators -- and (at least here in Europe). Israel gets at least two factors of ten more criticism (before March this year) for arguably much less.

The first time when I read criticism of Tunisia's dictator in Swedish media, was when he fled.

(I'm not claiming you can't criticise Israel, democracies with terror problems tend to throw out the law book (Germany, USA, England, Spain, etc). I'm comparing amount of criticism.)

[Jewish American here]

From my perspective (in my ultra-liberal enclave in the east), a large part of the criticism isn't that Israel's policies are objectively bad - one can hardly expect a country surrounded by its worst enemies to have a polite attitude toward said folk. The criticism is that we, in America (and until recently, throughout much of the west) are giving them disproportionate (military and otherwise) support. I'm not comfortable with giving aid - especially military aid - to a government with major human rights violations, and a generally trigger-happy military at odds with a free press and so on.

Again - the trigger-happiness is understandable, given their position - but until evidence is produced that withdrawal of military support would make the situation more violent, it's hard to justify that military support.

>>until recently, throughout much of the west

You should see my local Swedish media...

The reason I follow this is not that I care about Middle East politics -- it is because I am shocked about my local media. I have compared Swedish media with BBC and NY Times since 7-8 years.

Some subjects are more or less censored in Sweden. Things like torture between Palestinian groups have been cut out since the 1990s, Pallywood has never been mentioned, etc.

Translation of Reuters/AP/etc telegrams are slanted.

And so on. Sweden is probably an extreme case. I am seriously thinking of Swedish as the language of lies.

Now very OT, but:

_I have compared Swedish media with BBC and NY Times since 7-8 years_

Neither of which is, in my experience, particularly reliable (although there's less of the blatant bias/censorship that you described). Comparing them against AJE (which has had it's own issues of late, in the /same/ direction) reveals that their reporting is severely biased toward sensational stories - every article needs a good guy, and bad guy, a winner, and a looser. And the good guy is then implied to be aligned with American interests, even if they're Al Qaeda-backed "islamists"[1] (not to say that said folk aren't aligned with American interests at times).

[1] Which can be interpreted anywhere from "Muslim" to "what Glenn Beck said".

OT? Well, I talked about different standards and why I came to read about them in the media. So I really started the tangent before you. :-)

Sensationalism and jingoism comes with times of war/terror. That excuse is not relevant for my local Swedish media.

(Even democracies do realpolitik and lie about it. Foreigners don't have votes at home. This is a built in disadvantage of democracies, I guess.)

The USA gives Israel more foreign aid than any other country besides Iraq. Prior to us invading Iraq, it was the first. See source here http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RL33222_20100916.pdf

My point is that the relationship between Israel and the US taxpayer is very intimate. I feel somewhat entitled to criticize Israel if I don't think they are acting in our interests.

You probably have a point. Not a relevant one for what I wrote but still, a point. :-)

Thank you for the long comment.

It took me a while and I needed to move here to get a tiny feeling for the complexity of this issue. Before that, 'jewish' was a label that I had in the same mental box as 'christian', 'muslim', 'hindu' or whatever. Boy is that misleading.

So many things here in Israel are challenging my understanding, every day. It doesn't help that I'd describe myself as agnostic or atheist. I guess Jews are the only example (that I know of) of a group of people that claim to share religion, ancestors and culture. I wouldn't know how - for example - one could create a model of a secular state here. I wouldn't know where to separate culture from religion and I'm convinced that I'll never understand the idea of common ancestry / being descendants of the same tribes.

Maybe this intermingled religion/culture/ethnicity (if this is the right word?) is confusing more people, just like me. And maybe some people react with fear if they don't grasp a concept?

    I guess Jews are the only example (that I know of) 
    of a group of people that claim to share religion,
    ancestors and culture.
Japan (to some extent)?

They have at least two religions: Shinto and Buddhist.

I don't know how much following either of them gets today, but I do know that during the feudal period the two religions were associated very strongly with the upper castes (Buddhism) and the lower castes (Shinto).

I do know that religion is not an identity to the Japanese in the way Judaism is for Jews. I know people who simultaneously consider themselves Jewish and atheistic or agnostic. That seems bizarrely contradictory unless you understand that "Jewish" is both an ethnic identity and a religious identity, so even individuals who reject the religious part can still embrace the ethnic part.

Like the gp, I would be very interested to know of any other group that ties religion, ancestry, and culture together into a single unique identity the way Judaism does. I think that Persia under Zoroastrianism might have been like that, but the conversion to Islam ended that.

Interesting. I've to admit my ignorance again - no idea.

How 'religious' is Japan? I was baffled on the day I learned that you cannot marry without a ceremony with a Rabbi here if you're a Jew. In DE it's (all romance removed..) signing paperworks and optionally going to a church if you like that sort of thing. Christian ceremonies have no influence over your status though: You're married _iff_ you signed the paperwork, whether a priest held your hands or not. Here this seems to be different. And this is just one thing that confuses the hell out of this particular secular guy.

Don't want to bash something I don't understand. Consider this just a try to emphasize my confusion and venting some 'Boy are things different' steam.

This confuses (and infuriates) a lot of native Israelis too. This is more the result of pressure by orthodox interest groups and attempts to maintain status quo. Just another in a long and confusing list of factors shaping the Israeli and modern Jewish culture.

Thank you for that deeply insightful comment -- growing up surrounded by a very Jew-positive culture, I never properly understood why Jews had been oppressed in a modern context in the first place.

Great comment.

> Before cars, towns were organized for churches or shuls to be within walking distance which means segregation.

It's not gone. Some areas of North London are full of kosher delis, men with black hats and side-curls, etc, some don't have any.

It's not even gone in Israel:

Bnei Brak is, for all I know, a way to live a segregated (as in, among equals and without foreigners) and religious life. Heck, most Israelis I've spoken with (and 95% of my contacts here are ~secular~, more or less) avoid it, claim that I shouldn't go there on jewish holidays and certainly keep my wife out of it.

It's considered off limits for most of the non-observing population that I know. A (large!) ~ghetto~ next to the (secular, touristy, ~gay~) Tel Aviv.

1: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Bnei_Brak

This explanation is comprehensive, logical, and doesn't make gentiles seem like arseholes. Thank you. I am going to keep this handy.

Slightly irrelevant to the overall topic, but what is the reason for not spelling out God's name? iirc someone once told me that it was wrong to ever erase or otherwise "dispose" of God's written name, so it'd be wrong to, for example, write "God" on a whiteboard and then have to erase it later. Is this the case? (if so, it seems like writing it on HN might be okay) Or are you just not supposed to write it out at all?

Super comment, thank you very much. What about the Israeli/Palestinian issue? I find that tends to polarize people strongly as well.


Muslim immigrants in the west have very similar problems: they don't assimilate, their loyalties are brought into question, they only eat "halal" food, etc.

How is that a similar? If anything, muslim populations in western countries are underrepresented in universities. Heck, some european countries are tipping 10% muslim population, yet if you go to a university campus good look finding a single muslim student. Problems are quite the opposite. There are special open doors on universities for immigrants to try to mitigate this problem, still it's not quite working so well. As for jewish being undesirable at universities, I find that just stupid. They appear to be among the most competent people, and appear to integrate just fine. Why would someone not want such people around at a production environment?

I didn't downvote you, but

"if you go to a university campus good look finding a single muslim student"

is utter bullshit. There's nothing friendly I can reply here, you just pulled that out of your rear end. Stating it that broadly you were _obviously_ completely wrong, but from my (of course biased, limited) experience in Germany muslim students are actually common. A minority? Yes, but I guess ~real~ christian students are underrepresented as well.

I'm not sure I have the patience to be here feeding discussions that turn into cheap immediate offenses as soon as one mentions a sensitive subject. If the subject s to sensitive for you, maybe you should refrain from commenting it?

What I said is a fact, if you don't believe it go and make a survey yourself or something. Honestly your reply is just childish.

Have it occurred to you guys that you may be talking to a muslim?

I don't care about your religion, we're discussing the 'fact' you are presenting. Your religious belief doesn't give you authority about the subject.

You claim something that immediately turns out to be either a) greatly! exaggerated or b) just plain wrong in my world.

Germany has around 5% muslims, less than the 10% you talked about. I've been to a couple of universities (long story) and visited even more and I've had no trouble finding muslims. Not that I particularly cared, but w/o investing any time I can claim that your bold statement doesn't apply. Depending on upbringing and on how religious observant the families are you'll easily spot women, for example. And it's _far_ from rare to notice those obvious 'I'm a muslima' signs. Again: Yes, they are probably a minority - but how can they represent just 5% of the population and end up as 50% at the universities?

Bottom line: I didn't take the topic personal. 'Refrain from comment' is a bad advice. Using overly broad statements is just as bad. Insisting on being correct after people from around the world state other observations is plain wrong. I know that my comment was written in a harsh tone, but you could've reconsidered your point and come out good with 'Okay, my experience is based on ... and I might have tried hard to make a point, but the fact is that ..'.

Instead you call me childish and stick to your ~false~ claim. Why?

How exactly do you identify muslim students?

You probably aren't running into many devout/conservative type muslims who pray during the day or wear appropriate regalia. By that logic, you could argue that Catholics are underrepresented, because nobody is carrying rosary beads or confessing sins daily.

I didn't make any point about universities (not even implicitly). I just noted that Muslims in the west don't assimilate or even mix well with the larger society.

For instance, they don't drink, so you're not going to find them in bars (where a lot of socialization occurs). They don't marry much into other religions (even if some types of marriage are not prohibited, they're still frowned upon socially). You're not likely to see them date at all (though it depends on how devout they are).

FWIW, here in Norway, the share of young people from a Pakistani background who are currently pursuing a degree is higher than among their Norwegian peers.

> Jews were seen as people with divided loyalties

But they very often ARE people with divided loyalties! Several folks in the Obama and Bush administrations have had Israeli passports. To me, that's completely crazy.

Henry Kissinger, a patriotic American if nothing else, talked openly about how the US relationship with Israel makes no strategic sense. His fellow Jews viciously attacked him for the most part.

It's worth pointing out that there's something in Jewish character that produces revolutionaries and anti-establishment types who rock the boat. The anti-tsarist intelligentsia, the 19th century anarchists, the Bolsheviks, Spanish Red Terror, German 1918 revolution, Alinksy-ite 60s radicals, Neo-Cons -- All these movements and more had very identifiable Jewish leadership.

Actually I think that has to deal with the lack of "nationality" experienced among Jews. For generations Jews have experienced being treated as second class citizens (if they were considered citizens at all). Because of this being ingrained in our culture (being the underdogs) along with the realization that we can relate to others who feel the same way.

Another big point is the importance of education among Jews as compared to other second class citizens who may be of the same race/ethnicity as those in leadership but are poor. Even today in America, poor Caucasians and African-Americans concentrate a lot less on education than the wealthy or certain ethnicities (this of course is more complicated than just being educated). If you look at all of the revolutionaries, regardless of race, they are typically highly educated.

Between feeling like they do not belong within the current incarnation of the country while also being educated enough to point out issues and know about successful revolutions in the past, Jews were able to lead these movements.

It is that or the probability that a lack of bacon makes us all a bit more uppity.

More so than almost any other culture, Jews have been consistently able to maintain their own cultural identity even when they are in the demographic minority or displaced abroad. A lot of this is due to their willingness to close themselves off from the surrounding population and maintain their own, separate, religious and social structures.

So, from the outside, the local population sees a group of foreigners brought into the country. This group refuses to assimilate, actively shuts strangers out of their group, and maintains a certain aura of secrecy.

This means that the perception of the Jews as "outsiders" never goes away, even several generations after their arrival. Throw the semi-legendary Jewish financial success into the mix, and you fuel suspicion that "those people are up to something."

Very interesting.

Muslim and Hindu communities in the West are also trying to be insular and maintain their own cultural identities, but I guess they're not so effective because they don't have the financial success backing them up that the Jews have. It's a lot harder to deride someone when you know they're making way more money than you, I suppose.

those people are up to something

I don't mean this in any negative way, but they ARE up to something. This something is maintaining their levels of privilege. Is this wrong? I don't know. Probably not, I guess.

I come from an upper caste family in India and it's easy for me to see that this is game that we in India have been playing since independence. There's a lot of cultural and economic know-how that helps people succeed in life, and upper caste families have an abundance of this.

On the one hand, these folks succeed only because they ace the admission tests, have extraordinary academic records and are excellent communicators. On the other hand, the reason they have these qualities is because they were born with privilege. Is this wrong? Unfair? I really don't know. I can't help thinking it's the same situation as the Jews, though.

Conflating being Jewish with being upper-caste Indian is probably going (way) too far. Note that you're responding to an article that points to systematic historical Russian discrimination against Jews, that the posters above you have pointed out systematic historical American discrimination against Jews, and I think that systematic European discrimination against Jews doesn't need to be reiterated. In Muslim countries, Jews historically have been legally considered second-class citizens.

Feel free to conflate Jews with successful former lower caste Indians, though.

No, the point was that the Jewish culture is perceived as being one full of practical and successful financial wisdom, similar to that of the upper-class Indian families.

Substituting someone from a less financially successful group would ruin their point.

The reasons Jews stereotypically have a lot of money is because for the majority of history it was illegal for them to own land. Instead they turned to business and banking. Since it's forbidden to lend in the Christian religion, Jews excelled in this area.

Not the best source but check out the first paragraph of this http://www.jewishhistory.org/the-rothschilds/

"In the Middle Ages, the Church, in a misapplication of the Biblical prohibition against charging interest, forbade interest in all instances. The Talmud, in contrast, created an economic system in which loans could be converted into investments, so interest could accrue from them, but under the Christian interpretation, no credit market was possible. The way the Church got around that was by forcing the Jews to become the bankers. "

The "locals" still get grumpy even when Jews can't own land or amass much wealth. The pogroms and massacres in Ukraine, Poland, Russia, etc... were generally against very poor communities. On the other hand, Jewish communities were much more financially successful and culturally prominent across the Arab world and seem to have drawn a lot less antipathy.

I mostly agree with your comment about Jews maintaining their cultural identity and can't really speak to how Jews live in other countries. But I wanted to make the point that in the USA Jews have been if anything more involved in civic life (just look at the profound role Jews played in the civil rights movement of the 60s) and certainly have had great influence on what we think of as American cultural. So insular doesn't characterized American Jews at least in the 20th century.

I guess they are too damn smart:



EDIT: Ouch. I know race, religion and intelligence are touchy subjects but I never thought I'll get downvoted on hackernews for (somewhat) sourced compliment. I myself am atheist in 95% catholic country where Jews are unrecognizable for anybody except antisemites. I personally have nothing against or for Jews.

As much as the Soviet Union tried to keep down Jews, they were also trying to promote people who fit a nationalist narrative. So it wasn't just antisemitism, it was also affirmative action for Russians (especially those of peasant descent).

And at the same time the Russians did much to preserve Yiddish (a Jewish language).

I'm not sure why you are being downvoted, but this is at best only partially correct. Yiddish was supported along with pretty much all minority languages in the 1920s and early 1930s, but this support also ceased when the minority support policy was reversed (with token remnants such as the Yiddish being an official language in the Jewish "homeland" in the Far East). Following WWII and postwar persecutions of Jews Yiddish all but stopped being transferred from parents to children in the USSR. I remember how happy my grandfather (born 1928) was when it became possible to embrace one's Yiddish heritage again in the late 1980s); but he did not teach the language to his children.

The Russians (you mean Soviets) did nothing to preserve yiddish. They tried to exile the jews to a desolate remote corner on the fringes of siberia where they could practice their culture (not their religion) in a soviet communist framework.

I took Yiddish in university for a while. During the soviet years they tried to neutralize any hebraic or biblical references. For example, in hebrew the word for friend is "Chaver". It's the same in yiddish. But the soviets insisted that it be changed to the more germanic "fraynd". Similiarly, they insisted even on the changing of spellings to make the language altogether less hebraic and jewish - and more neutralized and soviet.

I don't think the discrimination is reserved for Jewish population.

That is unfortunate story of our crazy world. Pick up any country in the world and you can find a story very similar to Jewish story... For example, Armenins in Turkey in 1915-16 (and latter on). Or Albanians in Serbia. Romas (Gypsies) in Nazi Germany. Palestinians in Israel. Tutsis in Rwanda. Etc. etc.

We just need to always fight against things like this.

The things you're describing are very different situations. Jews are citizens of certain countries that are discriminated against based on religion/race. As opposed to, for example, Palestinians, who are not citizens of Israel, and whose oppression or lack thereof is about other things.

Note that I'm not saying anything about the morality of this or whether we need to fight it, just that the different things you talked about are objectively very different from anti-semitism.

I agree that situations are not the same in all the above cases and they cannot be compared with anti-semitism. Anti-semitism is specific to cultures based on Abrahamic religions and it really does not exist outside it.

However, if you talk with people which have been sufferings these injustices you will hear the same story regardless how we classify that discrimination.

Why is this downvoted? Honestly...

Probably because your comparisons are extremely superficial. Jews have been persecuted in many different countries. It's a completely different situation from Tutsis in Rwanda, for instance.

The only other group mentioned by you that has been discriminated against in many different places are the gypsies, but again the reasons are very different.

Probably because you made some points of discussion that could only be linked together in the most vague context without demonstrating any real knowledge on the subject at hand.

"Palestinians in Israel" Well, the big questions of our time are: are the Palestinians actually oppressed? Who's oppressing them? Does finding out the truth even matter?

Wrong site for this debate.

The only convincing reason I know of is that while from the middle ages onwards, Christians (and Muslims) were banned in the bible from issuing loans with payable interest, the book of Deuteronomy had a get-out clause for Jews: they were only barred from issuing such loans to their 'brothers. ie. eachother

This would have three logical consequences: Jewish people becoming masters of finance; Jewish people helping their own community over others; and Jewish people obtaining all the disrepute that comes with being a loan shark. You can see how all 3 things would breed resentment/jealousy from other ethnic groups.

Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice cuts to the heart of the matter. Shylock offers the financing needed by the protagonists - but such financing by necessity comes with brutal collateral ('a pound of flesh'). People see the heartless lender exacting payment, but not the underlying laws of economics.

Probably they are gaining power/wealth not proportional to their numbers in the society they live in. That happens easily when a close knit society works hard while trading, doing business among themselves (e.g. buying goods and services from in-group rather than outside when they can) as well as favor community members over others in the larger society. This probably creates hatred of the majority towards Jewish people and that hatred directed more at times of distress like economic hardship or wars. I heard today that State of Alabama passed an immigration law recently that target immigrants. Probably people in Alabama do not want immigrants these days, since they are seen "stealing" jobs while jobs in US has been vanishing since 2008 economic crisis.

I've also always wondered why a specific group has been so apparently consistently persecuted against for so long. It seems like it's been too long of a time period for the hate to simply have been passed on from generation to generation.

The reason they have been persecuted for so long is because they have survived for so long. Most heavily persecuted groups don't last long.

5,772 years so far.

Happy New Year.

The Jewish calendar year is 5772. That means 5,772 years after Biblical creation. The biblical patriarch Abraham was born in the Jewish calendar year 1948. Going by that as the inception of the Jewish people, they are 3,824 years old. Historians would put the inception of the ancient Israelites at 1200 BCE.

Very good observation. I think it's metaphysical, unseen.

I found this interesting, if not alarming.

EXPOSE: The Vatican is Cozying Up to Iran's Ahmadinejad http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/1070...

Probably has a lot to do with things like AIPAC (the largest lobby in the US) and Zionism. I'm guessing this is just the tip of the iceberg though.


Except that Zionism has only existed as a coherent and codified ideology since 1896 and AIPAC has only existed since 1963.

In fact Herzl published Der Judenstaat as a response to what he witnessed covering the Dreyfus Affair as a journalist.

Except, er, so since AIPAC has only be around since 1963 and the concept of Zionism over 100 years, that couldn't possibly be a reason why people have a problem with Jews? shrugs

I think the point being made is that antisemitism has been around for thousands of years, and the groups you're talking about have been around for 100. So they don't explain anti-semitism.

Actually, they do.

Assuming that OP hasn't been around for thousands of years himself, I could only point out modern day antisemitism which makes perfect sense. OP never asked for a complete history.

However, if you're going to get to the root of things, you'd have to bring up religious prejudices passed down through the centuries as well as the origin of money lending and banking which undoubtedly cast Jews in a bad light.

This documentary had some good examples as well as an overall interesting view of money itself: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ascent_of_Money

Edit: And this is now getting downvoted why? What the hell is going on here?

Firstly, I don't agree that modern day antisemitism makes sense because of those groups.

But even if that were the case, you're making a pretty ridiculos argument:

1) Antisemitism has been around for a thousand years, before certain organizations existed.

2) Antisemitism is still around now.

3) Now it makes sense, because those organizations exist.

Whereas it makes a lot more sense that these organizations are an excuse for antisemitism, not the cause. After all, antisemitism has been around non-stop for thousands of years, there's no reason to think that it would have stopped had these organizations not existed.

The person you're responding to is saying that the zionist movement is a major reason for modern antisemitism. That antisemitism predates the zionist movement has no power to refute his point, unless the reasons for antisemitism have been static throughout history, which they haven't.

I don't think he's attempting to give a formal proof, he's just saying that TheDroids argument doesn't pass a basic sniff test.

People have been not liking jews for waaaay longer than a mere hundred or so years. Therefore, neither of those things can logically explain the bulk of anti-jewish sentiments.

Was not trying to explain the bulk- I just gave a few points that have been relevant for at least 100 years, especially in the US.

Edit: HN has turned into Reddit. Ghostdownvoters, downvotes without explanation. Oy vey!

Downvoted for complaining about downvotes.

Antisemitism has been around for much, much longer.

Really laying into me now at -11.

Not sure how my points weren't completely relevant. They were.

Wow, I watched myself go from +3 to now -3

Either I made some sense (pointing out that AIPAC or Zionism could be a reason for hatred) or these guys just showed up in the thread:



This isn't reddit, and it definitely isn't /r/politics. Your tone is out of place on news.yc and people are downvoting you because you're diminishing the quality of the discussion.


You obviously don't understand how the HN discussion system is supposed to work, and you've been hellbanned to boot (which is why I am responding to you here), so you might as well just stop.

> ...these problems are distinguished by having a simple solution that is difficult to find.

Like the place to view the problems, for me at least: PDF http://arxiv.org/pdf/1110.1556v1

... also available as the link titled 'PDF' under 'Download' on the right hand side of the page.

I visit arXiv maybe five times a year, and every time I do the same "where the hell is the link" search. The problem is that the box with downloads appears to be part of the page chrome, not part of this particular entry.

Weird thing is that Firefox isn't doing anything when I click on that, either at from the site or from here. I had to fire up WGet, which showed me that the request gets bounced to a cached copy located at a different URL:


As a Jewish American, the biggest question I have is "How does any college/institution know that I (or my children) are Jewish?"

We don't have a particularly Jewish last name, have some Irish mixed in with an Eastern European background, etc - without putting "Fluent in Yiddish" and "President of Temple Beth Sholom" on a resume, I don't see how anyone would ever pick us out from the crowd as being Jewish.

I can see how it would be easier to discriminate based on race, country of origin, or gender, than religion, that's all.

"How does any college/institution know that I (or my children) are Jewish?"

First - it would have been easier some decades ago. Just look at the neighborhood you're from, your last name (and check the mother's maiden name as well). I believe many applications would also have explicitly asked the question as well. And also, generally, and for better or worse, in many cases one can pick jews out of an arbitrary group of people with the same ease as picking black people or asian people. Being jewish is not simple a religious identification. While people endlessly argue this point, being a jew is a combination of an ethnic, religious, national, and cultural components. Most people in the US simply see it as a religious identification, which just isn't nearly the whole story.

They may not be able to guess whether you in particular or your children are Jewish, but if I can guess your name from your sex, zipcode, and birthdate, I'm pretty sure that there will be many markers of that major a part of your life to someone who examines you at any depth looking for those markers. A major marker will probably be, for example, the lack of any markers of any non-Jewish group, i.e. you're not an obvious Catholic, Muslim, Protestant, etc.

Of course, as a black American, I'm jealous that that's the biggest question that you have.

In the USSR, everyone had their ethnic identity listed on their government-issued identification.

This is true, its the infamous "Fifth point" on many different IDs (they had a system internal passports to keep people in check). It was really easy for any official to discriminate if he wanted to and hard not to when its the policy.

The USSR wasn't "politically correct" in the modern Western view of the word. The party line and the state policies were fact in fact sometimes wildly discriminatory.

Those ethnic issues are a big reason USSR broke up.

Yep, that is why my family moved to the US from Russia. My mom wanted to be a doctor, but wasn't accepted to medical school even though she got straight As and was completely qualified. They just said they can't accept her because she's Jewish, and there is nothing she could do about it. I'm really glad I got to grow up here in America.

Here's a nice article about Grigori Perelman, Fields medal winner, solver of the Poincare conjecture, and mathematical genius/recluse.

Perelman came up in the Soviet system in the 1980s, when the discriminatory practice you mention was in force:


Relevant quote:

"For a Jewish boy [sic] gifted in mathematics to be admitted to a university, there were three possibilities: hope you were one of the two Jews accepted at Leningrad University every year; go somewhere with less draconian admission policies; or make it onto the Soviet team for the International Mathematical Olympiad, which guaranteed admission to Leningrad University. Perelman decided to try out for the team."

Moral questions aside, I wonder if forcing entire ethnic groups to "perform for the country" in order to earn social status is really that bad. A lot of countries have done it across the centuries (Rome, France, UK, Arabs... and more recently US and USSR); they were usually successful in "extracting value" from those groups in the short term, while in the long term fostering a sense of belonging to a non-discriminatory ideal of citizenship.

Even in this case, the Soviets might have discriminated generations of Jews, but then they produced a Perelman.

> Even in this case, the Soviets might have discriminated generations of Jews, but then they produced a Perelman.

It may well have been less "produced a Perelman" than "one Perelman out of hundreds snuck through".

Similar story: My dad was his high school's valedictorian in Kiev, but couldn't get a spot at a regular university. He ended up getting a degree in 'applied physics' from a night school after his military service. I think he's always regretted not becoming a researcher. My grandfather also did really well in high school, tried to become an archaeologist but it wasn't a common profession in the USSR and university positions were mainly reserved for well connected non-Jews.

FWIW the Jew discrimination in Moscow State University was non-existent by early 90s, and likely even earlier than that. I had a well over a dozen Jew friends join Math dept - basically every one who applied - around that time, with no fuss whatsoever. This was an attribute of earlier times, 50s through 70s.

Secondly, to those asking who did they know who was a Jew and who wasn't. First of all, the nationality was in a passport - the primary ID issued to everyone over 16 years of age. Secondly, they looked at the last name. Thirdly, to those trying to evade this sort of filtering through changing the last name, they asked for mother's maiden name - which is as conniving as it is clever. Fourthly, they just looked at the person. It was an oral exam after all.

> FWIW the Jew discrimination in Moscow State University was non-existent by early 90s, and likely even earlier than that.

Quite possibly because all the Jews left by that point? That was around the collapse of the USSR, when the borders opened up. My family and quite a few others just left.

Just want to say something about the math problems: I'm living in Romania, somehow closer to Rusia. Anyway, in Highschool I took private math lessons from an over 70 years old math teacher - man, he was so good at finding solutions to similar problems with those in the url. Sometimes the quickest solution is to construct your own function. I do enjoy the time when I had to solve problems like those, it is quite a creative process.

sounds like a similar (although at least a little bit more achievable) to the "White Australia Policy" that was once one in place, where a language exam was given to 'undesirables' in a language that it was clear the person wishing to emigrate to Australia could not speak.


I once had a question on a first year calculus exam that broke down to problem 17. It took a while to figure it out, but the exam got bell curved up by almost 50% in the end.

When they say 'oral exams', are the applicants expected to shoot out an answer without actually looking at the problem or writing a solution? And if that's the case, how much time would they get to solve these problems mentally? I can't imagine being able to solve any of these without a pen and paper. I would assume that unless you already know the answer, there isn't a way for an 'unwanted' applicant to be able to do so either.

No - an oral exam in this context is more like a programming interview. You get a board and chalk, and you solve the problem on the board in front of the teacher, explaining what you're doing along the way. This is opposed to a "normal" exam where you have your pen and paper and a pre-set amount of time to struggle with the problem on your own.

It's actualy the latter, followed by the former -- on paper.

Ah, that makes a lot more sense now.

Were these questions for entrance from high school or a bachelors program?

If the latter, many (say half) of them are acceptable, but if the former then none of them are.

These were for university. This sort of addresses your point:

Now, after thirty years, these problems seem easier. Mostly, this is because the ideas of how to solve these problems have spread and are now a part of the standard set of ideas. Thirty years ago these problems were harder to solve and, in addition, the students were given these problems one after another until they failed one of them, at which point they were given a failing mark.

I agree that the problems have gotten much simpler - several of these remind me a lot of the difficulty I saw on the AIME back in 10th-12th grade. I mean, that's still pretty advanced relatively speaking, but certainly doable by tens of thousands of high school aged students each year.

And then there's two levels of competition past that I never made it to... just 1... damn... question... short...

And then there's two levels of competition past that I never made it to... just 1... damn... question... short...

I got a perfect score on the AIME in 1998, but they didn't let Canadians write the USAMO back then. :-(

Makes an interesting read.

Does anybody know what kind of repository Cornell is there running? The paper seems a bit odd structured and I don't really see that as an open-access publication(lack of DOIs). Or is this just a working paper repository?

It's the arXiv, a fairly well-known open-access repository. It contains a mix of unpublished drafts / working papers, preprints of papers at various stages in the submission/review process, and manuscript versions of published journal articles.

More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ArXiv

I've just browsed the pdf and problem 2 is my favorite.

At least when I was studying there (late 90-s), all entrance exam problems were supposed to be solved without any calculus. The motivation given was that algebra and geometry give enough variety of material for hard and beautiful problems and high school calculus is a joke so they would have to teach it again from scratch.

This problem can be done without any derivatives, actually. First observe that since (x-y)^2=(y-x)^2, we have |F(x)-F(y)|<=(x-y)^2. Given x and y with y>x, divide up the interval between them into x_0=x, x_1, x_2, ..., x_n=y evenly spaced. Then applying the observation above and the triangle inequality, since F(y)-F(x) is the sum of the F(x_(i+1))-F(x_i), we have |F(y)-F(x)|<=n*((x-y)/n)^2=(x-y)^2/n. Since n can be arbitrarily large, |F(y)-F(x)| is smaller than any positive number and hence 0, so F(y)=F(x).

Note that 2 here can be replaced with any number greater than 1; this is actually a well-known fact, that any Hölder-continuous function on the reals with exponent greater than 1 is constant. But I suppose it would not be well-known to high-school students! To be honest, I mostly only know it because of the old legend about the student who... well, here's a link: http://mathoverflow.net/questions/53122/mathematical-urban-l...

My thoughts exactly!

Here’s a “Russian” problem: find the largest projection on the plane of a box with sides a, b, c.

Thanks to you, I just spent half my morning trying to solve this without getting anywhere. I tried using vectors a, b and c that i project unto the xOy plane to get the sum of three parallelograms.

But then the problem is to parametrize these three vectors' positions. The first one can be define in spherical coords as (acos(phi)sin(psi), asin(phi)sin(psi), a*cos(psi)) but then I need to introduce a third parameter for vector b and write both b and c using this system...

I'll give it another try this afternoon using matrices.

EDIT: Alright, I guess you can write a, b and c as a rotational matrix using Euler angles ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euler_angles ). You can probably also cancel one of the angles (let's say theta) by rotating your xOy plane around which doesn't change the problem.

You then just have to calculate S using phi and psi.

S = ||a^b||+||b^c||+||c^a||

and solve

dS/d(psi) = 0 and dS/d(phi) = 0

However, that's way too much trig for me for today so I'll leave it to someone more courageous than me.

Well, I don't care about my math rep so... I don't get it.

You've listed 3 sides of a box. Does that mean that the "fourth" side is part of one of those 3 sides so a = b = c? Or are you asking for the orientation and relative length of the 3 sides such that the fourth side would maximize the area of the box?

I think the question is asking something akin to "You have a box with width a, height b, and length c. What's the biggest shadow you can make?"

For example, if you think of the sun straight overhead, then the shadow will have area a*b. But if the sun moves over, then the shadow will grow by inclusion of some of the height of the box.

You don't know how to represent a rectalinear shape with only 3 sides? Man, you really are behind.

... kidding :)

The "3 sides" are the height, width and depth of the box.

Truly remarkable.. and chilling.

I don't understand how these problems would be harder for Jews than anyone else. It's controversial in my opinion to claim that educated Jews are worse at these based on their ethnicity.

edit: wow people responded too quickly, sorry if it was to something I edited out

They're not supposed to be; the goal was to give Jews harder questions which had supposedly simple answers:

> One of the methods they used for doing this was to give the unwanted students a different set of problems on their oral exam. I was told that these problems were carefully designed to have elementary solutions (so that the Department could avoid scandals) that were nearly impossible to find.

They could also give huge boolean formulas, and ask the applicant to decide if it is satisfiable[1] or not. Simple yes or no answer, which is quite a hard (NP-hard) to come by.

But then again, it would probably fool nobody.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boolean_satisfiability_problem

While it is obvious that a satisfiable instance will have a simple yes-certificate, it is not known if for any unsatisfiable instance there is a short no-certificate (i.e. SAT is in NP, but believed not to be in coNP). The Jewish problems had to have simple solutions, while it could be hard to find a small proof of unsatisfiability of some large formula.

The Mathematics Department of Moscow State University, the most prestigious mathematics school in Russia, was at that time actively trying to keep Jewish students (and other \undesirables") from enrolling in the department.One of the methods they used for doing this was to give the unwanted students a different set of problems on their oral exam. I was told that these problems were carefully designed to have elementary solutions (so that the Department could avoid scandals) that were nearly impossible to find. Any student who failed to answer could easily be rejected, so this system was an eective method of controlling admissions.

It was arbitrary.

This was a set of problems only given to Jewish candidates.

I had the very same doubt the author of the comment you replied to seems to have had. What confused me is that I thought that the 'directioning' these problems to Jewish people was an implicit scheme.

After all, simply directing the questions to Jewish candidates is discrimination too start with. They took so much care in finding a set of problems they could justify as not discriminative that I though they had developed a clever scheme to implicitly direct the questions.

I mean, the university prepared itself to answer "But the problems aren't hard, check out the solution!" when asked "Why did you give hard problems to Jews?". I would simply ask "Why didn't you give everybody the same set of problems?". What I don't get from having skimmed over the paper and comments is how they prepared to the latter question.

There are ~50 mutually exclusive religions in this world. It is prudent to create 50 independent states for these people. https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Religious_wri...

And have ~50² religious wars in the process? No, thanks.

Only 50? There are probably well over 50 mutually exclusive Christian sects alone.

I'd pack my bags and go so quickly, so whose loss would be it be? Then as a non-Jew, I think I'd do the same.

Haha, you think it was that easy to emigrate from the USSR, especially for Jewish men and women? There's a reason people didn't, and it isn't because everyone thought they were better off staying.

Actually, it was easier to emigrate from the USSR for Jewish men and women than for the rest of the nation due to refugee programs that US offers for minorities suffering persecution. I think other countries offer those two.

I am one of the people whose parents emigrated in 2004 as Christian refugees, btw. They had to prove they suffered from religious persecution (bible raids, not getting into colleges, etc).

The whole 'give me your poor and hungry' thing never really went away ;-)

> Actually, it was easier to emigrate from the USSR for Jewish men and women than for the rest of the nation due to refugee programs that US offers for minorities suffering persecution.

I don't think that made it any easier getting out.

I would've made it out. That's what I believe.

You are an arrogant prick who has no clue what it means to be thrown in jail for requesting a visa. Yes, people did get out. But the flippancy with which you say, essentially, "I would have been better than all those other people who didn't make it out or were jailed for daring to ask" is troubling.

If he had lived then, he wouldn't have requested a visa. People smart enough to be on hacker news would also be smart enough to build a simple hot air ballon, or use any of the other was to escape detailed innthe museum at check point charlie.

Thanks, maybe packing bags is too indulgent. Perhaps hiding under a train carriage, just above the tracks.

Spoken like someone whose never set foot outside the Western world.

The main reason this sort of attitude pisses me off is because it assumes -- arrogantly -- that hundreds of thousands of people stayed in the USSR because they were not as determined/motivated as some kid on HN. You simply have no clue how uninformed you are about the reality of that situation at that time.

Hiding under a train carriage to escape the country? Are you kidding!? Try it some time, it's harder than you might think.

While your "pissed-off"-ness may be overstated for HN, I very much appreciate your comment. Thanks.

My (Jewish) great-grandmother left the USSR in the late 1910's hidden in a hay cart at the bottom of a freight ship. I wouldn't be here today if not for that feat.

There wasn't USSR in 1910, it was called a Russian Empire then.

Ah, my mistake. I believe it was pre and right around the revolution, so it was certainly the Russian Empire, not the USSR.

Dude, this is as obvious as hiding your key under your doormat. They checked for that with dogs, flashlights and the like. Also, USSR track width was different than anyone elses, so carriages had to be moved between platforms with a crane.

haha, being karma-bombed here.. will not reply in this thread. QED on the article's accuracy. Thank you for confirming my thoughts!

This thread prove only one thing: you can be sound and logical Hacker News reader, but once the topic is Jews and/or Israel - you become irrational and brain-washed.

Mdasen's comment is the only smart reply on this thread.

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