Friday, May 15, 2009

Three Little Maids From School

[I miss Gilbert and Sullivan!]

Well, not exactly maids, more like three grandmas...we're waiting for class to start, outside the Alma Institute in Tel Aviv.

The subject was "Racism and Anti-Semitism," and I learned a lot about history. For example, anti-semitism is a particular example of racism, and racism started in the nineteenth century as a way to justify colonialism. The racism geni was let out of the bottle, so although genetic science and Barack Obama have shown that "race" is technically a meaningless category, racism persists even among its victims.

Before the 19th century, there was plenty of anti-Judaism, but it was based on religion (e.g. the Spanish Inquisition) or culture (the ghettos), not "race," which hadn't been invented yet. The difference, although it may seem like hairsplitting, was that a person could choose to convert or assimilate into the mainstream religion or culture, but not to change his/her "race."

Now I have to work on forgiving the British as well as the Germans. Was I better off before the lecture?

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