Anti-Judaism, by David Nirenberg

In the 1960s, Jewish comedian Lenny Bruce famously quipped:

If you’re from New York and you’re Catholic, you’re still Jewish. If you’re from Butte, Montana, and you’re Jewish, you’re still goyish [non-Jewish]. . . . Italians are all Jews. Irishmen who have rejected their religion are Jews. Mouths are very Jewish. And bosoms.

In a benign and humorous way, Bruce’s sweeping stereotypes hint at a more often malevolent trend in millennia of Western thought. He slyly riffs on the ubiquitous deployment of vague notions of Jewishness to caricature groups with little or no connection to the practices or beliefs of living Jews.

 

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