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Jewish World Review May 15, 2001/ 22 Iyar, 5761

Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder

Jackie & Raul
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Consumer Reports

THE LAST ANTI-SEMITES -- IN the last presidential election a Jewish candidate for the second highest office in the land received more of the popular vote than his non-Jewish opponent. To any sensible person this would have indicated that in America anti-Semitism is deader than a lava lamp or a hula hoop and is simply waiting to be interred in that great graveyard of bankrupt political philosophies along with White Supremacy, The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere and Deutschland Uber Alles.

But, unfortunately anti-Semitism is alive and well and still lives on. We are not talking about the likes of Leonard Jefferies, Jesse Jackson and Calypso Louie Farrakhan, all of whom have the decency to talk out of both sides of their mouths, one side saying anti-Semitic things and the other side saying the former side didn't really mean what it said. We are talking about the self-hating Jews of Tenafly, and how it took a piece of string to bring them out of the closet.

An eruv is a symbolic border, usually a piece of string that is placed around a home or synagogue. Orthodox Jews are allowed to perform certain tasks within the borders of the eruv that would ordinarily be denied to them on the Sabbath or other holy days. Particularly affected are young Jewish families who would otherwise be prohibited from taking their strollers and baby carriages outside of their homes due to the prohibition of carrying on these days. An eruv, which makes the area it encloses one large domain, thus permits them to take their children out of doors to move about and play within its parameters.

All of this seemed harmless enough until the town and particularly it's Jewish mayor, Ann Moscovitz, found out that this sort of thing was happening. One would think that Hannibal Lechter moved into Tenafly and was going to open a butcher shop.

The town and its Jewish mayor moved both in the courts and legislatively to prevent the creation of the eruvs. No sensible reason was offered why the Orthodox should not be allowed to hang the string. They could not make a separation of church and state argument since the courts had already ruled that to allow eruvs is merely an accommodation to a religion, not an establishment of one. They could not say that the strings are eyesores, since they are usually hung along power lines, and are therefore virtually invisible. Nor could they say there was a danger of tripping over them since you would have to be a member of the Knicks to even reach them.

The real reason, of course, for Mayor Moscovitz and her colleagues' panic was that they believed in the cockroach theory. Once you let some in, soon a flood of them will follow. They wanted to disassociate themselves from those kind of Jews, didn't want them in the neighborhood and didn't want outsiders to associate them with those kinds of Jews. The fact that you observe the same kind of dynamic in African-Americans, Hispanics and other immigrant groups makes it no less offensive.

The only area in which you can get away with this sort of self-hating behavior is in humor. An African- American can tell a racial joke about his kinsman with the same kind of immunity that a Jewish comedian receives when he tells a joke in stereotypical Jewish dialect. Our advise to Ms. Moscovitz and her colleagues: if Orthodox Jews moving into your community makes you nervous, don't run to court, or call special sessions of the legislature. Tell a couple of jokes about them. Otherwise the joke will be on you. Talking about jokes, did you hear the one about the Jewish mayor who was putting on her corset and saw this piece of string that she...

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© 2001, Jackie Mason & Raul Felder.