Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al
2017-05-23 08:32 pm (UTC)
Thanks for adding this perspective to the discussion!
can be problematic, but I am not sure if the root problem is the definite article, or if it's the fact of making negative generalizations. But one might say, eg: "In the recent US election, the Jews overwhelmingly voted for Clinton"; the usual politically correct pattern is to say something like "Jewish-Americans" but that hyphenated form sounds rather unnatural to me. If I rephrased the sentence to say "Jewish people in America voted for Clinton" it still sounds quite stilted. And I'm currently seeing a lot of social media discussion about "is Corbyn good for the Jews?" often phrased in those terms by Jewish posters, and they're possibly being slightly ironic but they're not making a negative generalization.
I think the NT example is telling because it chimes with what Boyarin is saying, that so much writing about "the Jews", whether in Greek, Latin or later English is really coming from a Christian perspective. The Jews are defined and named by Christians. One of the issues that came up in our discussion at the weekend was the phenomenon of some people, particularly Sephardi activists, who want to be called Hebrews or Israelites, because they see "Jews" as an unwillingly imposed identity.
I don't think I've ever been called Jew as a synonym for mean. I've had a beggar say: you Jews are so mean! because I didn't give him enough money, but he didn't think just using the word was enough to convey his disapproval. Much sympathy on dealing with that kind of name-calling as a schoolkid, though.
I really appreciate that you've put thought into when it's right for you to describe yourself as Jewish! In some circumstances you could probably say "I'm ethnically Jewish" or "I have a lot of Jewish family", but yeah, speaking up about offensive remarks is an admirable stance to take. (I personally hate talking about fractions of Jewishness, because to me it it is reminiscent the horrible Nazi classifications of blood taint. Religiously one is either Jewish or not, there are no fractions, and ethnically, I don't believe people can be divided up into parts like that.)
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