Aharon Appelfeld’s rage at the German language (and Arendt’s need for it)

Israel/Palestine
on 157 Comments
Aharon Appelfeld
Aharon Appelfeld, at the Toby Press

Israeli writer and Holocaust survivor Aharon Appelfeld has won this year’s Independent foreign fiction prize for his 2006 novel, Blooms of Darkness (Hebrew title: Pirhei HaAfela). The award, sponsored by the Independent newspaper, also presented £5,000 to Jeffrey M Green who translated it into English. It seems self-evident that the 80-year-old would write in Hebrew given he was brought to Palestine in 1946 as a child refugee. Nevertheless, several media outlets reporting on the story cite Appelfeld’s repulsion for and rejection of the German language:

‘Although the author grew up speaking German, he chooses to write instead in the Hebrew he learned from the age of 14, calling German “the language of the murderers”.’

Appelfeld expressed this view in an exchange published in the December 1982 issue of the Boston Review.

You see, it would be not only a paradox, it would be tragic, to write in the language of the murderers. Just to think about it is enough to stop it. I suffered as a Jew and I was trying to find my roots. My family were Jews, the history and culture of the Jews–naturally it brought me to Hebrew, the main Jewish language, from the Bible.

The mother tongue of Hannah Arendt was also German. Unlike Appelfeld, Arendt was already in her 20s when she fled Germany in 1933– for France, and then America. A scholar of German Romanticism, she would later write The Origins of Totalitarianism and Eichmann in Jerusalem in English. And when it came to German, she said: 

I have always consciously refused to lose my mother tongue… I write in English [now], but I have never lost a feeling of distance from it. There is a tremendous difference between your mother tongue and another language. For myself I can put it extremely simply: In German I know a rather large part of German poetry by heart; the poems are always somehow in the back of my mind…. The German language is the essential thing that has remained and that I have consciously preserved…. What is one to do? It wasn’t the German language that went crazy.

The interviewer Günter Gaus went on to ask her if in cases where the mother tongue is forgotten, this is the result of repression. ‘Yes, very frequently,’ Arendt continues. ‘I have seen it in people as a result of shock. You know, what was decisive was not the year 1933, at least not for me. What was decisive was the day we learned about Auschwitz [in 1943].’

It’s a famous interview, and Günter Gaus conducted it in German. You can listen to it here. It also appears in English in “’What Remains? The Language Remains': A Conversation with Günter Gaus,” in Hannah Arendt’s Essays in Understanding, 1930–1954. The interview took place in 1964, towards the end of the controversy that had raged over Arendt’s report in The New Yorker on the trial of Eichmann. Her old friend the historian Gershom Scholem had criticized her report for the ‘heartless, frequently almost sneering and malicious tone’ in which she discussed the actions of the Jewish councils in Europe under the Nazis.

‘In you, dear Hannah’, he wrote, ‘I find little trace’ of ‘Ahabath Israel: love of the Jewish people’. Arendt tells Gaus that her Jewishness was ‘one of the indisputable factual data’ of her life that she had never wanted to change, but she had ‘never in [her] life “loved” any people or collective group’ — only friends.

The Jewish inhabitants of Aharon Appelfeld’s native town of Czernowitz spoke Viennese German, to which words in Yiddish and Ruthenian were added in everyday speech. He has written in Haaretz that ‘This mixture created a new language; I do not know if it was organic, but it was full of nuances and contrasts, and was the source of Czernowitzian humor’. As Appelfeld explains in his 1982 interview, although the language spoken at home was German, he learned to speak many other languages:

My grandparents, they’d spoken Yiddish. The maids in my home were Ukrainian, so I spoke Ukrainian. The regime was Rumanian, so I picked up a bit of Rumanian. And then I was in Russia and picked up Russian, then Italy and picked up some Italian. So I came with a bunch of words, different languages–but still very deeply disoriented.

Yet the English-language press (at least) is keen to report his angry statement on the German language itself, without the further qualification that he frequently expressed disdain for Jews who did not adopt Hebrew – whose revival he believes is ‘probably a miracle’. These Jews ‘preferred to remain in their countries and not join the Jewish community,’ which he calls a tragedy ‘from the Zionist point of view, probably from the Jewish point of view’. 

More nationalism: Appelfeld informs his interviewer that ’Jews in America are living a double identity,’  

but it’s becoming less and less double. It’s becoming more American, less Jewish. I’m probably the first person you’ve met [Mr. Appelfeld says this playfully] who identifies himself as a Jew–who says in his first sentence, I’m Jewish, I’m a Jewish writer, I’m writing for Jews, I do not have any pretensions to understanding Americans.

Appelfeld also claims that when the Zionist movement began ‘Palestine was a waste–rocks and hills and sand. Very under-populated by Arabs. Then Jews came to Palestine slowly at the beginning of the century and established some villages and small towns.’ 

The western media apparently delights in the fact that Appelfeld offers a vengeful rationale for why he doesn’t write in German, (after 66 years in Palestine/Israel why would he?), even while many survivors of the Nazi era and the Holocaust continue to speak it as their mother tongue or write and read it through their scholarship or love of Germanic literature. Arendt is an inspiring example, but not only for her statement that ‘it wasn’t the German language that went crazy’. She stands in antithesis to the nihilism of writers like Appelfeld who advocate collective punishment and the erasure of the Palestinian narrative, pouring scorn on those who choose their own ‘tribe’ – a term Arendt used instead for her eclectic group of close friends.

At the end of the war, Arendt wrote the essay ‘Organized Guilt and Universal Responsibility’ for the Jewish Frontier (January 1945). She argued that it is reasonable, in varying degrees, to hold the German people morally responsible for Nazi crimes, but stated why the notion of collective guilt was unacceptable and adapted her criticism to the postwar situation in Germany. A German version of the essay was published after the war in Die Wandlung.

After the death of her husband Heinrich Blücher (a German philosopher and poet) in 1970, she refused to give up her Riverside Drive apartment in Manhattan because Blücher’s absence was ‘there and alive in every corner and at every moment’. In a letter to her friend Mary McCarthy, Arendt explained her decision by recalling lines from Friedrich Hölderlin, the German lyric poet:

Und vieles
Wie auf den Schultern eine
Last von Scheitern ist
Zu behalten

“And much/ as on your shoulder/ a burden of logs/ is to bear and keep” – In short: remembrance.

(In Hannah Arendt: For Love of the World, by Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, second edition, Yale University Press 2004)

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157 Responses

  1. MichaelSmith
    May 20, 2012, 3:05 pm

    As you say, Appelfeld comes from Czernowitz/Cernăuţi/Chernovtsy, a city that was successively Austrian, Romanian, Soviet, and Ukrainian. His ties to German may not be that strong. Then again, Paul Celan, a Jewish writer from the city who’s parents died in Nazi labor camps wrote in German and is considered the great postwar German poet. But Appelfeld may have been thinking of Celan’s unhappy end. Perhaps he thought a clean break preferable to living with ghosts and regrets.

    Given that Appelfeld writes mostly about European Jews in the interwar years, it’s both expected and a bit odd that he writes in Hebrew. With that subject matter it’s expected that he’d want to make a break with that world, but he must be aware that writing about a German- or Yiddish-speaking world in Hebrew may give a different color or texture to experiences.

    Has anyone read Appelfeld’s latest? “Until the Dawn’s Light,” written in the nineties and only published in English last year. From the reviews it seemed like tired stuff, though like much that he wrote it’s certainly relevant to the concerns expressed here.

  2. pabelmont
    May 20, 2012, 3:06 pm

    Perhaps somewhere there is someone (a Palestinian) for whom Hebrew is “a” native language (probably not “the”); should such a person refuse with utter revulsion — because of the horror of Israel’s bestiality — to write in Hebrew?

    I know that USA MSM reporters in Israel seem not to have learned to read it, but that’s doubtless only because learning it (or Arabic) is a very, very hard job. And not needed for these amanuensis-folk.

    • seafoid
      May 21, 2012, 4:05 am

      If Israelis hate German why do they pronounce their Rs as the Germans do? why not switch to an arabic sounding r in Hebghew ? It is the Middle East after all.
      Following that they could pronounce h as h instead of kh
      The ain will be more difficult but it is possible to master.

      Ma sha Allah

      • AllenBee
        May 21, 2012, 11:48 am

        “Renan’s scholarly approach to Hebrew and Semitic is quite neatly illustrated by the few quotes given here from Herder’s Platonic dialogue Vom Geist der Ebräischen Poesie – translated in 1833 by James Marsh, under the title The Spirit of Hebrew Poetry. Alciphron is the doubter, who characterises Hebrew as a nasty, brutish and unsubtle language, unsuitable for poetry, when placed up against the more flexible and elegant Greek. His interlocutor, Eutyphron, seeks not to subvert Alciphron’s position, agreeing rather with the basic premise that Hebrew is certainly unsuitable as a language of science and clear reason. Eutyphron attempts to portray these primitive qualities as being part of Hebrew’s strength as a language , saying that it is precisely the “naturalness”, the “groundedness”, the “physicality” of the language which makes it all the more suitable as a means for the expression of the human passions, ie poetry:
        “The further South, the more refined will be the imitation of nature.” (The Spirit of Hebrew Poetry, p. 34)
        Similarly, here (p. 37), Eutyphron implicitly agrees with Alciphron’s dismissive characterisation of what he sees as Hebrew’s primitive tense system:
        Alciphron: “…the two tenses of the Hebrew are after all essentially aorists, that is, undefined tenses, that fluctuate between the past, the present, and the future, and thus it has in fact but one tense.”
        Eutyphron: “Does poetry employ more. [sic] To this all is present time. It exhibits actions and events as present, whether they be past, or passing, or future.”

        In Alciphron’s place substitute the hubristic linguistic Darwinism of some mid-tolate- nineteenth century Indo-European (or Indo-Germanic) scholars, and for Eutyphron read Ernest Renan, blowing the trumpet (or shofar) for the Semitic languages. The rhetorical device by which Eutyphron seeks to prove his points about the virtues of Hebrew poetry, and which is the device by which Renan “defends” the Semitic languages in general, actually unde rmines those languages from the beginning, by admitting their inferiority. They are not to be considered equals. When Alciphron says (p. 39) :

        “Add the systrum, the kettle -drums and the symbals, and your dance of savages will be complete.”
        Eutyphron can only reply:
        “Be it so. We are not frightened with names, while the thing itself is good.”

        Surely, though, such a disparaging remark requires a more robust defence than “be it so”. Compare with this passage from Renan’s Histoire générale et système compare des langues sémitiques (pp. 145-6, author’s translation), where Renan seeks to balance this perception of cultural inferiority, by pointing out the “saving grace” of the Semitic peoples, namely a strongly rooted sense of spiritual unity. … I am the first to acknowledge that the Semitic race, compared to the Indo – European race, genuinely represents an inferior combination of human qualities. It does not have the same lofty spirituality that has only been witnessed in India and Germany, nor the feeling for the proportions of perfect human beauty which Greece has passed on to the Romance nations, nor the profound and delicate sensibility which is the dominant trait of the Celtic peoples. The Semitic consciousness is clear, but limited; it has a marvelous conception of unity, but cannot attain multiplicity. The word “MONOTHEISM” encapsulates and explains all its characteristics in . (Histoire générale et système compare des langues sémitiques1 pp.145-6) ” Ernest Renan, 20th century Thinker on Nationalism, and 19th century Orientalist a paper by Chris Heaton, Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics University of Edinburgh

      • seafoid
        May 22, 2012, 4:44 am

        “Add the systrum, the kettle -drums and the symbals, and your dance of savages will be complete.”

        Yet it was the Europeans and the Americans who industrialised mass murder

      • pabelmont
        May 22, 2012, 10:20 am

        I suppose Yiddish was based on (and thus, oh so sadly in political retrospect, contaminated by) German. Or, of course, Polish. My guess: Hebrew (Hebghew) as pronounced in Israel probably comes from Yiddish (Ashkenazic) rather than from Sephardic (or Arabic). Actually, it is rather funny to hear Americans not admitting to be agents of Israel saying Kamaz (or KHamas) for Hamas.

        As for me, I never learnt the various H’s in Arabic or the ‘a (is this the AIN?). So that if I try to say “Open sesame” (Iftah sim-sim) I probably get the final “h” of “iftah” wrong.

    • Ethan Heitner
      May 21, 2012, 8:09 am

      Anton Shammas writes in Hebrew (beautifully). Several Israeli Jews from Arab countries continued to write in Arabic (there was one, an Iraqi, who died a few years ago who I remember reading insisted on continuing to write in Arabic only).

      • Shmuel
        May 21, 2012, 10:11 am

        Anton Shammas writes in Hebrew

        As do many other Palestinian scholars and writers (including the very popular Sayed Kashua). Sami Michael switched from Arabic to Hebrew for practical reasons, but came to love the Hebrew language (which he learned informally, as an adult).

        I am reminded of Simone Daud’s first post at Mondoweiss:

        I grew up and came of age in a small tobacco smoke filled apartment on the edge of the Wadi aN-Nisnas neighborhood of Haifa, where the remaining Arabs of Haifa who managed to avoid exile were herded in 1948. I slept sleepless nights on a carpet between the kitchen and a small living room. My life was not an ordinary life of an Arab child in Haifa. The house was always full.

        At night the kitchen saw an ensemble of insomniac old German Jewish professors, lawyers, and writers who had agglomerated around my parents. Always in dark uncolored suites and hats. Each night quietly lamenting, often wailing, for things that have passed. But what of the future? Nothing of the future that I can remember; except once in the ever so European synagog of Weizmann Institute, one of these professors insisted that I should study Mathematics at university; I was six years old and can’t remember the language that was used but remember the sentence.

        In the afternoons our living room was heavily laden with young Arab poets and emerging intellectuals. The greatest Arab poet of our time, Mahmoud Darwish, passed through that room and converted packets of the Israeli brand TIME cigarettes into the poetry of our generation. These intellectuals spoke of the future and never of the past. These Arabs were aspiring, as it were, to appropriate for themselves Jewish humanist traditions. Plotting their own colonial enterprise. The colonisation of the coloniser.

        I like the idea of “colonising the coloniser”.

  3. piotr
    May 20, 2012, 3:16 pm

    Appelfeld obviously grew up in a multi-lingual environment where choosing a language was — a choice. In the same time, it was quite famous in Ashkenazi circles that no groups was more proud of their country of origin than German Jews (meaning, they had a tendency of viewing themselves as more cultured than their co-religionists from places like Romania).

    • Shmuel
      May 20, 2012, 4:33 pm

      no groups was more proud of their country of origin than German Jews

      And some others even showed them deference. When I lived in Jerusalem, an elderly German-speaking couple lived in my building. When I met the woman for the first time (and got invited to tea), she introduced herself, saying “I am from Czernowitz, but my husband is from Berlin”.

      • OlegR
        May 20, 2012, 6:10 pm

        That reminds me.
        Did you see this movie
        link to cinema.co.il

      • Shmuel
        May 21, 2012, 1:59 am

        Did you see this movie

        No, but I haven’t read any Appelfeld either.

        I’ve met many German-speaking Jews, and Appelfeld’s attitude to the German language is certainly the exception (and, as Eleanor points out, motivated by nationalism as well as trauma). Many of the professors at my department at HU were German-speaking, and my professor of German language (a German Jew from Hamburg) very obviously loved his mother tongue. Someone mentioned that German was also the language of German Jews. Our final exam was a text by Martin Buber.

      • OlegR
        May 21, 2012, 9:02 am

        I think the whole comparison between Appelfeld and Arendt is flawed
        at it’s core.

        Arendt was a grown up assimilated German intellectual
        with a firm world view that did not witness the worst of the Holocaust by escaping in the neck of time.

        Appelfeld was an 8 year old Jewish boy form Chernovtzi (ostjuedn)
        that were very different (think ashkenazi sefaradi kind of difference)
        from their assimilated brethren in Germany that survived the full horror of the Nazi rule.

        I understand why Phil relates more to Arendt they have a lot of similarities between them.
        I also understand why he finds it difficult to relate to Applefeld.

        Ps.
        See the movie it’s extraordinary, and especially in relation to Jews like Arendt

      • Shmuel
        May 21, 2012, 9:49 am

        As I wrote, I think Appelfeld’s attitude is the exception – even among German-speaking “Ostjuden”. I had a couple of great-aunts, from Galicia – the other Austro-Hungarian enclave in the Ukraine (sorry, piotr) – who identified with German language and culture, and did not stop as a result of the Holocaust. Both escaped in time (one by the skin of her teeth – she refused to leave her beloved Vienna), but lost most of their relatives and the entire society in which they had been raised. One ended up living among Yiddish-speakers in Canada, and the other among German-speakers in Palestine.

        As for the movie, I may see it, but something tells me you and I don’t exactly share the same tastes.

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 21, 2012, 10:41 am

        “I think the whole comparison between Appelfeld and Arendt is flawed
        at it’s core.”

        LMAO. Of course you do. Appelfeld’s statement can be read as non-thinking, nationalistic bombast and Arendt was a thoughtful critic of the exercise of power. You get off on the former and are deeply troubled by the latter, because you’re a mindless bully.

      • Ellen
        May 21, 2012, 10:41 am

        Yiddish is German, a medieval German, spoken in the east. It was preserved and lived on as many of those in Eastern Europe lived closed communities. A speaker of High German (which does not mean qualitatively better, but only that it is not the German dialect of the flat lands to the North and to the East) can communicate just fine with a speaker of Yiddish German.

        This might not be a very good comparison, but perhaps it is sort of life the Elizabethan English that could still be heard in some areas of the southern part of the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake up until the early 60s. I still remember hearing it. Different and antiquated, but it was English for sure.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 21, 2012, 10:42 am

        The greatest champion of the German language is Marcel Reich-Ranicki, a famous literary critic in Germany, also a half-Ostjude, born 1920 in Wloclawek, Poland. He survived the Holocaust in hiding.

        He is actually the one who revived and reinforced German national pride in her language by telling us: There is more to German culture than Nazis. – But he doesn’t like Günter Grass.

      • Shmuel
        May 21, 2012, 11:41 am

        Martin Buber also came from a family of Ostjuden, spent a good part of his childhood in Galicia, and grew up speaking both German and Yiddish. He never stopped writing or speaking German.

        The entire distinction that Oleg is trying to make is a little strange. The Osjuden didn’t consider themselves Ostjuden. For the most part, they considered themselves German. It was their snobbish co-religionists, the self-designated echte Yekkes, who cast aspersions on their “Germanness”. To some extent, I would expect Ostjuden to cling to their Deutschtum with even greater tenacity than those who were to the manor born. On the other hand, a mother tongue is a mother tongue (as Hannah Arendt explains), and it doesn’t really matter how many generations your family had been speaking it before you came along.

      • pabelmont
        May 22, 2012, 10:25 am

        To know what a person’s mother tongue is, ask that person to do a fairly lengthy or complicated arithmetic calculation “out loud”: people tend to be unable to do arithmetic in any language but the one they learned arithmetic in.

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 22, 2012, 10:54 am

        That’s interesting, pabelmont. I would have said to have someone start quickly spelling words, on the assumption that the person would, under the pressure of spelling at high speed, start reverting to the native pronounciation of letters. (N.B.: “Zed” is a big giveaway for all those Brits trying to infiltrate the US. Of course, it also nabs some New Englanders, but false positives is the price of vigilance.)

  4. Annie Robbins
    May 20, 2012, 3:40 pm

    i read the reviews of the novel, sounds exceptional. it’s unfortunate someone of such talent carries a mental block against a language, but understandable. brilliant minds often apply contorted logic.

    thanks for a really good/interesting read eleanor

  5. Eleanor Kilroy
    May 20, 2012, 3:45 pm

    You’re right, thank you – my typo

    • Eleanor Kilroy
      May 21, 2012, 6:17 am

      My comment above was addressed to another commentator (deleted) pointing out Hölderlin’s line should be: ‘Last von Scheitern ist’

  6. PeaceThroughJustice
    May 20, 2012, 3:45 pm

    This review of Appelfeld’s latest, Until the Dawn’s Light, by Gabriel Josipovici makes it sound distinctly creepy–

    “Blanca, who had been a brilliant pupil in the local high school, destined for a university career, ‘converted to Christianity and married hastily, to avoid watching her mother’s death from up close’. That brief sentence is elaborated in the course of the book. Adolf, her husband, turns out to be a boor and a bully. His instinctive anti-Semitism is fuelled by resentment at his Jewish teachers consistently giving him bad marks and eventually getting him expelled from the school.

    “Later, on the run by herself [after killing Adolph with an axe], she lights a fire to warm herself beneath a crucifix next to a church, and when it catches fire and the fire spreads to the wooden structure of the church, she finds the sight pleasing and goes on to burn down any church she comes across.

    “The richness of ambiguity, which was what made [Appelfeld's earlier books] so powerful, is singularly lacking here.Everything is black and white. Jews who have kept faith with the old ways have a strange light emanating from them, while the goyim are the embodiment of evil, which is always linked, rather unpleasantly for those who love animals, with animality; and Jews who renounce their roots always get what they deserve. This curious Manichaeism, one cannot help thinking, is merely the flip side of anti-Semitism, and is unworthy of a serious novelist. …

    • William Burns
      May 20, 2012, 4:34 pm

      If the anti-semitic villain is named “Adolf,” then yeah, we’re probably not dealing with a really subtle text here.

  7. seafoid
    May 20, 2012, 4:14 pm

    Hebrew has become the language of insane Jewish militarism , of the home demolishers, Jewish torturers and YESHA. Maybe If Israelis spoke Yiddish they’d still be plugged into the wider world as well as all the culture they don’t have in Hebrew.

    • Eleanor Kilroy
      May 20, 2012, 5:47 pm

      George Steiner, in Language and Silence, considered the German language “being used to run hell, getting the habits of hell into its syntax”:

      “Languages have great reserves of life. They can absorb masses of hysteria, illiteracy, and cheapness . . . But there comes a breaking point. Use a language to conceive, organize, and justify Belsen; use it to make out specifications for gas ovens; use it to dehumanize man during twelve years of calculated bestiality. Something will happen to it. . . . Something of the lies and sadism will settle in the marrow of the language. Imperceptibly at first, like the poisons of radiation sifting silently into the bone. But the cancer will begin, and the deep-set destruction. The language will no longer grow and freshen. It will no longer perform, quite as well as it used to, its two principal functions: the conveyance of humane order which we call law, and the communication of the quick of the human spirit which we call grace.”

      As MichaelSmith has reminded us above, Paul Celan was a poet and his language was German. He needed to write so he wrote in his language, even though it had been horribly deformed by Nazism – but not irreparably so.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 20, 2012, 8:21 pm

        i remember once someone suggested here, in the future, hebrew should be banned as punishment for the nakba.

        sad thoughts.

      • OlegR
        May 21, 2012, 9:16 am

        /Banned as punishment/
        Interesting logic.
        Arabic is the second official language in Israel. (The third is English
        an inheritance from the Mandatory laws, a good one for a change)

        German is not banned in Israel, it’s not what i would consider the most popular language there is that mental block even now.
        There is a Goethe Institute in Tel Aviv with a good study program from what i have heard.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 21, 2012, 9:27 am

        the ‘logic’ wasn’t roundly embraced.

        did you hear about the university at haifa?

        Faculty demands return of Arabic to University of Haifa’s logo.

      • OlegR
        May 21, 2012, 9:38 am

        I am sure you have read the article.
        Local skirmish Annie this changes nothing.
        Arabic is the second official language it’s not banned
        and never will be banned.

      • seafoid
        May 21, 2012, 12:12 pm

        Just don’t speak arabic in the Jewish settler part of Hevron , in Jewish Jerusalem or anywhere the Jewish fundis hang out.

      • Blake
        May 21, 2012, 3:38 pm

        In 1920 the British Govt installed the Jewish Zionist Herbert Samuel as 1st British High Commissioner for Palestine. Samuel arrived to implement what he had proposed 5 years earlier to prepare Palestine to become a Jewish state. On his first day on the job Samuel made Hebrew an official language of Palestine alongside Arabic & English the letters e & y were added to the end of the word Palestine in Hebrew as an abbreviation of the word Eretz Yisrael (land of Israel). He enacted several hundred laws that would ensure Arab lands would pass into Jewish hands and permitted the establishment of a seperate Jewish educational system INDEPENDENT OF THE PALESTINIAN GOVERNMENT. The crucial British accomplishment was allowing Jews to have their own “army”.

      • seafoid
        May 21, 2012, 4:25 am

        I was in my local supermarket in Zurich last weekend and at the cashier desk there were those bars that they use to separate the goods of different customers. The supermarket brand is M .
        Anyway there were 3 bars

        one had the slogan
        Mehrwert – (value)

        the second had Ein M besser – (a better M)

        And the third had

        LebensrauM

        I think the word is still contaminated

        Hebrew will have to be decontaminated of all the militaristic crap the ziobots have loaded onto it.

      • LeaNder
        May 21, 2012, 9:10 am

        Migros was always my favorite Swiss supermarket. So I may have been attracted wittingly or unwittingly for deeper reasons?

        I struggled with the Nazi vocabulary, believe me. But at one point I really felt it was unfair to blame, if you allow me to slightly personalize, words. I would like to suggest that Lebensraum outside the context of the Nazis is really such a word. Isn’t it chosen precisely for it’s positive connotations, what could be wrong with space to live? Remember what it stood for and what it hid, way beyond the Holocaust and the extinction of other unwanted live, e.g. how many dead Latvians, Lithuanian, Russians, to pick just a few? But was it really the word’s fault?

        consider: Propaganda 101: What You Need to Know and Why or . . . The Word, by Gene Howington.

      • German Lefty
        May 21, 2012, 11:00 am

        “LebensrauM – I think the word is still contaminated”

        Seafoid, I wonder how old you are. Probably older than me. I am in my 20s and up to now I haven’t been aware of the negative connotation of the word “Lebensraum”. However, there are a few other words that I instantly associate with the Third Reich and therefore avoid: Führer (leader), Euthanasie (euthanasia), Endlösung (final solution). Also the word “Jude” (Jew) always sounds kind of negative, although it’s actually a totally neutral term, just like Christian or Muslim. To make it sound neutral, people say something like “He is Jewish.” instead of “He’s a Jew.” Then there is the word “national”, which is very often replaced by “Bundes-” (federal) in the German media.
        Once, my ex-boyfriend referred to something as “Endlösung”. This made me cringe. He clearly wasn’t aware of the word’s historical meaning.
        When I started following US media, I was totally shocked to hear the (English) word “leader” used. At first, I assumed that it’s some kind of pun or allusion to Hitler and thought to myself “That’s not funny at all!” Then I realised that it’s a totally neutral term in English. However, I still cringe a little when I read or hear this word and I am certainly not going to use it, even though it’s a different language.

      • seafoid
        May 21, 2012, 11:45 am

        Führer comes up in Führerschein (driving licence) and führend so it has become somewhat diluted IMO.

        I agree on Endlösung.

        Euthanasie has become a right !

        Lebensraum always reminds me of the General Gouvernement as well as YESHA ;)

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 21, 2012, 12:01 pm

        @ Young German Lefty

        “I haven’t been aware of the negative connotation of the word “Lebensraum”.”
        – Good for you, ‘Lebensraum’ is originally a completely neutral term from Biology meaning ‘the habitat of an animal’.
        ——————-
        “people say something like “He is Jewish.” instead of “He’s a Jew.””
        – Politically correct in Germany is to say: “he/she is from a Jewish family”.
        ——————–
        “neutral term [Jude], just like Christian or Muslim.”
        – Why don’t you say: ‘… just like Basques, Kurds or any other ethnic group.’? – You don’t because it’s not politically correct in Germany to refer to Jews as ‘the Jewish people.’

      • Theo
        May 21, 2012, 12:06 pm

        Führer is not as much leader in english, althought it also has that meaning, but rather a “guide”.
        In Germany there are museumführers, bergführers, etc., those people guide you, not lead you, according to my understanding.

        We should not reduce Germany to Hitler and the nazis, although for jews it was a horrible time, but we should also remember, that that land gave us:

        Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Mendelsohn, Schumann, Wagner, Goethe, Schiller, Schoppenhauer, Nitsche, Heine and Günter Gras, just to name a few of those world famous authors and composers.
        The human brain is so programmed that it will eventually forget the bad things, but remembers the pleasant ones.

        I am not german, not even a decendent, but as the years go by I learned to appreciate what the germans are and can do. The british are getting hyterical, because they lose their lead in politics, industry and general influance in Europe. Those colonists never learned to work hard and since the colonies are gone, there is noone left to do a decent work. This must be said, because in Brussels the british keep raising anti-german feelings, as they did a hundred years ago, when Germany surpassed them in industrial output and quality.

      • German Lefty
        May 21, 2012, 12:17 pm

        “Führer comes up in Führerschein (driving licence) and führend so it has become somewhat diluted IMO.”
        Oh, right. I totally forgot about that. It’s perfectly acceptable to use the word “Führer” in combination with other nouns as compound, e.g. “Fahrzeugführer” (vehicle driver) or “Geschäftsführer” (chief executive). One can also use the adjective “führend” (leading). However, one would never use the word “Führer” as stand-alone noun in the way it is used in English, e.g. “leader of a party” or “leader of an organisation”. This would sound too dictatorial.

      • German Lefty
        May 21, 2012, 12:32 pm

        @ Klaus
        “Why don’t you say: ‘… just like Basques, Kurds or any other ethnic group.’? – You don’t because it’s not politically correct in Germany to refer to Jews as ‘the Jewish people.’”
        No, this has nothing to do with political correctness. Okay, I hope I don’t get bashed by anyone again when I say this, but I don’t consider Jews an ethnic group. One can become a Jew by converting to Judaism, just like you can become a Christian by converting to Christianity. If Jews were an ethnic group, then you couldn’t become one by conversion. Also, Jews don’t look any different from non-Jews. Take, for example, Michel Friedman and Marina Weisband. Could you tell that they are Jewish just by looking at them?

      • Annie Robbins
        May 21, 2012, 12:42 pm

        If Jews were an ethnic group, then you couldn’t become one by conversion.

        what is your definition of an ethnic group GL? it is not the same as a race you know. perhaps you are unfamiliar with the common definition link to en.wikipedia.org

        its members identify with each other through a common heritage, consisting of a common culture, including a shared language or dialect. The group’s ethos or ideology may also stress common ancestry, religion, or race.[1][2][3]

        The process that results in the emergence of an ethnicity is called ethnogenesis.

        and here is the common definition of ethnogenesis link to en.wikipedia.org

        Ethnogenesis can occur passively, in the accumulation of markers of group identity forged through interaction with the physical environment, cultural and religious divisions between sections of a society, migrations and other processes, for which ethnic subdivision is an unintended outcome. It can occur actively, as persons deliberately and directly ‘engineer’ separate identities to attempt to solve a political problem – the preservation or imposition of certain cultural values, power relations, etc. Since the late eighteenth century, such attempts have often been related to language revival or creation of a new language, in what eventually becomes a “national literature”.

        people can engineer their identities and their ethnicities, especially over time. if one converts to a religion, marries someone from that religion and raises children in that culture then over time..they become part of it and part of the ethnicity. just moving from one culture to another and adopting that culture as ones own morphs ones ethnicity. here in the US we have lots of sub groupings but there is an american culture and american ethnicity we share.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 21, 2012, 12:58 pm

        - “I don’t consider Jews an ethnic group.” – Young German Lefty

        They are BOTH a religious community AND an ethnic group (in their OWN minds) – that’s what Michael Walzer called their “anomalous status”. Here is a good definition:
        __________________________________________________
        “Zvi Zohar, a professor of law and Jewish studies at Bar-Ilan University (Israel) told me that in Judaism’s classical view of itself, Jews are best understood as a “large extended family” that accepted a covenant with God. Those who didn’t practice the faith remained part of the family, even if traditionally they were regarded as black sheep. Converts were adopted members of the the clan.”
        _________________________________________________
        – You got the religious element: covenent with God
        – You got the ethnic element: family, clan

        Note: Converts are considered like adopted children of the family/clan.
        —————————–
        The above quote is from NYT, March 2, 2008 “How do you prove you’re a Jew?” by Gershom Gorenberg

      • German Lefty
        May 21, 2012, 1:05 pm

        Thanks a lot, Annie. Coming here is totally worthwhile. I have never quite understood the difference between ethnicity and race. I assumed that ethnic group means sharing the same race plus the same culture. Therefore, I thought that it’s impossible to join another ethnic group later in life. Anyway, could you please explain to me why Jews are considered an ethnic group, but not Christians and Muslims?

      • Annie Robbins
        May 21, 2012, 1:20 pm

        why Jews are considered an ethnic group, but not Christians and Muslims?

        primarily, i suppose, because it is their choice and that is how they self identify. but i am not sure one can say for certainty there are not christians and muslims who consider themselves, in the wider context, as sharing ethnicities. also, there are likely some jews who do not recognize a shared ethnicity with all other jews (ethiopian jews who are required to ‘convert’ when they arrive in israel, or so i have heard). also, note some jews have stricter qualifications for being jews whereas some people recognize jews from just a jewish father..depending on how the person themselves self identifies.

        people have differing views on ethnicity. this was part of the big hullabaloo about shlomo sands book. link to inventionofthejewishpeople.com
        although i have not read it i’ve heard he considers ‘israeli’ to be an ethnicity in itself. for some people the use of the word ‘peoples’ designates a shared living space, more based on the geographical. the idea of people as a nation is relatively new, nationhood being relatively new. so there are many ways one can approach the concept ethnicity. as opposed to race which i think of as clear cut..the same way elements are clear cut..water is not fire etc..but when you merge them there are endless possibilities, from rainbows to smoke. same thing, you can merge races and the original ‘elements’ of each race is a permanent feature. whereas ethnicities are mutable. a baby brought up solely in one culture will be the ethnicity of that culture as opposed to whatever DNA they might have. ethnicity is more mind related (how they identify) whereas race is biological. i think.

      • German Lefty
        May 21, 2012, 1:26 pm

        @ Theo:

        “We should not reduce Germany to Hitler and the nazis, although for jews it was a horrible time, but we should also remember, that that land gave us …”
        Right. Please tell that to the Brits and the “Amis”. If you follow British and US media, you would think that WWII just ended yesterday. Whenever Germany is mentioned, they find a way to link the present-day Germany to Nazi Germany. It is so frustrating.
        Germans are still referred to as war mongers and Jew killers. The “Amis” should really update their almost 70-year-old war jokes and start referring to themselves as war mongers and Muslim killers.
        A while ago, I read some articles from the Germany section of the Guardian website. Roughly every second article that dealt with the contemporary Germany contained a reference to Nazi Germany.

        “The human brain is so programmed that it will eventually forget the bad things, but remembers the pleasant ones.”
        Well, I am a pessimist. So, I tend to think of negative things much more often than of positive things.

      • American
        May 21, 2012, 1:32 pm

        “To make it sound neutral, people say something like “He is Jewish.” instead of “He’s a Jew”

        I never understood why calling a Jew a Jew is a negative. It might be because in my early days, before I got all this education on the subject ..lol.., Jews were just people of the Jewish faith. I wouldn’t say for instance a ‘Catholic-ish’ person every time I referred to a Catholic. Sometimes I say Jew and sometimes I say Jewish and really don’t know why I alternate between the two, I guess it depends on how it fits in a sentence or whatever. I think this is ‘bad pc’ which makes describing someone as a Jew like calling a black a n**** or similar. It’s like accepting or acknowledging that Jew is a negative thing and Jew and Jewish are the same thing so why this backward kind of pc on it?

      • German Lefty
        May 21, 2012, 1:46 pm

        @ Annie

        “there are many ways one can approach the concept ethnicity.
        That’s the problem. I really don’t like such wishy-washy terms that are not clearly defined. Therefore, I try to avoid using such words.
        To me, Jews are just like Christians or Muslims. Not more or less special. Do you find that insulting? Probably not. But I guess Zios do.
        Oh, by the way, I am an atheist.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 21, 2012, 1:47 pm

        - “why Jews are considered an ethnic group, but not Christians …?”
        —————————
        Look: Jews often refer to their community as “the children of Israel” (Israel=Jacob was the son of Isaac who was the son of Abraham).

        If the Lutherens/Protestants considered their community the way the Jews do theirs, they would say: ‘We are the children of Martin Luther.’ Absurd?

        Note what I quoted above: A convert becomes an adopted member of the family/clan. When a conversion is completed the rabbis say: “Now you are a daughter/ son of Abraham”. -

      • Annie Robbins
        May 21, 2012, 1:55 pm

        To me, Jews are just like Christians or Muslims. Not more or less special. Do you find that insulting?

        no, not at all. but i do not find it offensive if jews, some jews, most jews or whatever..consider themselves a people or an ethnicity. i respect people’s self identification for the most part (doesn’t mean i will always agree! ei chosen people etc). here’s the thing, i will also respect a jew who says he is not a part of this peoplehood thing. iow, i don’t recognize the right of any jew to speak for all of them. a person like netanyahu, as the PM of israel acts like he is king of the jews..lots of people believe that. doesn’t mean i have to. also think, especially prior to the state of israel, arab jews had much more in common with their community in the arab world and were closer in ethnicity to them. but this is an example of how things can change. for if you target one group within your society, and program them to self identify as ‘other than’ another group of people (like palestinian israelis) then one could end up with arab and european jews identifying as having more ‘in-commonness’ than people their families lived around and with for centuries.

        it’s really not a wishywashy term any more than the concept of emotion as being wishywashy because there’s a variety of them. it’s only a problem if you make it a problem. it can also be a very beautiful thing to be celebrated.

      • German Lefty
        May 21, 2012, 2:00 pm

        @ Klaus

        “Jews often refer to their community as “the children of Israel” (Israel=Jacob was the son of Isaac who was the son of Abraham).”

        Okay, but still that’s nothing more than religious stuff. In my opinion, people must have more in common than just a religion in order to be an ethnic group. Jews live in different countries, speak different languages, have different lifestyles.

      • lysias
        May 21, 2012, 2:01 pm

        Last weekend’s Financial Times has a couple of letters from Chinese people complaining about a writer’s use of the word “Chinaman,” which they claim is racist. As an Irish-American, I have absolutely no objections to being called an “Irishman,” and sometimes myself use the word for myself. And I assume Englishmen, Welshmen, Scotsmen, Frenchmen, and Dutchmen also do not object to those words about themselves.

        The irony is, the word in Mandarin Chinese for “Chinese person” is “Jonggworen”, which, literally translated, means precisely “China-man”. “Jonggwo” (Middle Kingdom) is “China,” and “ren” is “man”.

      • seafoid
        May 21, 2012, 2:14 pm

        Knocking the Germans is a huge part of the modern British identity.
        The war ended in 1945.

        however the english soccer team can never beat the Germans in international soccer

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 21, 2012, 2:14 pm

        “Anyway, could you please explain to me why Jews are considered an ethnic group, but not Christians and Muslims?”

        Because while Christianity and Islam are universal religions of no particular people, Judaism is essentially a tribal religion of the Jewish people or ethnicity. It is treated in the West as an eqivalent to Christianity and Islam (for historic and theological reasons) but whereas those two are universalist, Judaism is not; in what it is trying to be, it is more akin to Shinto (although obviously very different theologically.)

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 21, 2012, 2:21 pm

        “Last weekend’s Financial Times has a couple of letters from Chinese people complaining about a writer’s use of the word ‘Chinama,’ which they claim is racist.”

        It’s a slur. Whether it is being used out of ignorance or racism is another question.

        “As an Irish-American, I have absolutely no objections to being called an ‘Irishman,’ and sometimes myself use the word for myself.”

        It’s not the equivalence. I’m sure that a Chinese man would not object to being called a Chinese man, which is the eqivalent to “Irishman” (lit.: Irish man.)

      • German Lefty
        May 21, 2012, 2:30 pm

        @ Annie

        “but i do not find it offensive if jews, some jews, most jews or whatever..consider themselves a people or an ethnicity.”
        Okay, after your great explanations, I have to say that I agree with you.

        I hope you don’t mind if I ask you yet another question. Perhaps you have heard about the newspaper “Jewish Voice from Germany”. Last month, there was an interview with Sigmar Gabriel.
        link to jewish-voice-from-germany.de
        He was asked the following: “Anti-Semitism and xenophobia are often mentioned in the same breath, but isn’t there something unique about anti-Semitism?” Honestly, I find this question somewhat offensive, because it sounds to me as if the interviewer thinks that anti-Semitism is more terrible than other forms hatred, because Jews are more precious than other people. I wonder what you make of this question. Do you agree with me or do I misinterpret the question?

      • Annie Robbins
        May 21, 2012, 2:38 pm

        i’ve stated many times i think the word racism should suffice for the concept regardless of who the victim(s) are. no i do not believe jews need their own word to describe hatred against them. it’s used for propaganda purposes and societies are conditioned to react stronger to the accusation of racism if framed as hatred against jews.

      • lysias
        May 21, 2012, 2:47 pm

        It’s a slur. Whether it is being used out of ignorance or racism is another question.

        If “Jonggworen” is not a slur — something on which I hope we can agree — how can a literal translation of the word into English be a slur?

      • German Lefty
        May 21, 2012, 2:49 pm

        Thanks a lot, Annie. Count me as a fan of yours.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 21, 2012, 2:49 pm

        @ Lefty

        Jews, in particular the Zionists keep talking about themselves as a people (Volk) they keep talking about Palestine as “the land of our forefathers” etc. They are probably more of an imagined people than a real one. – Anyway, I think my above quote from the NYT is the best take on the matter: Judaism’s classical view of ITSELF.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 21, 2012, 3:02 pm

        it is more akin to Shinto

        hmm, i will have to look into that. i don’t really know what shinto is.

      • German Lefty
        May 21, 2012, 3:06 pm

        @ seafoid
        Oh yeah, Fawlty Towers. How terribly insensitive. There’s really nothing funny about the killing of people.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 21, 2012, 3:06 pm

        why thank you german lefty, i hope you’ll stick around. we probably have a lot on common.

        btw, that article sounded like mea culpa for what he’d said earlier. all that democracy nazi stuff thrown in, he probably had to perform a little to wipe the spit off himself from the cursing directed at him mentioning apartheid earlier.

      • German Lefty
        May 21, 2012, 3:18 pm

        @ lysias
        “If “Jonggworen” is not a slur — something on which I hope we can agree — how can a literal translation of the word into English be a slur?”

        Because words have different connotations in different languages. Take, for example, the English word “German” as demonym. The literal German translation would be “Germane”, which means “Teuton” in English. So, if you used the literal translation of “German” when speaking German, then this would be like saying that present-day Germans are as backward as Teutons. And this is clearly pejorative.

        German = Deutscher
        Teuton = Germane

      • kapok
        May 21, 2012, 3:20 pm

        @Annie Jew vs Jewish? I think the discrepancy arises because the single syllable “Jew” sounds rather abrupt to Western ears. It’s too familiar. Like hey you, Jew. It’s promiscuous; Jew rhymes with thousands of words. But “Jewish” is more redolent of delicate things, tasty things, soft, comfy things. That’s my theory.

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 21, 2012, 3:24 pm

        “If “Jonggworen” is not a slur — something on which I hope we can agree — how can a literal translation of the word into English be a slur?”

        Because “Jonggworen” is not in English and “Chinaman” is, and in English it’s a slur. It’s language; there is no logic to these things. “Polak” in Polish means a Polish man. In English, it’s a slur. That’s just the way it is.

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 21, 2012, 3:26 pm

        Shinto is the traditional religion of the Japanese people. It used to be more widely practiced than it is today.

      • seafoid
        May 21, 2012, 3:28 pm

        I believe the Zionists borrowed a lot of concepts from 19th century German nationalism. Especially the Volk stuff and the Land and of course the Blut und Eisen (which became Blut und Lobbying) . Even though all of the Jews always lived in Israel some of them must have spoken German.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 21, 2012, 3:30 pm

        @ lysias – “Jonggworen”, “Chinaman”, a slur ?

        The Chinese call themselves and all people from other countries “… man”
        A German is “Degua-ren”, an American is a “Meigua-ren” a Frenchman is a “Fragua-ren” etc.

        But why does someone deviate from the offical use of “a Chinese” to say “a Chinaman”? For instance, in English you say ‘Frenchman’, but when you say ‘Franzmann’ in German, you deviate from the official term ‘Franzose’. That’s usually to make fun of them.

      • German Lefty
        May 21, 2012, 3:31 pm

        “i hope you’ll stick around”
        If Mooser doesn’t insult me again, I will.

        “we probably have a lot on common.”
        Thanks. I take that as a big compliment.

        “that article sounded like mea culpa for what he’d said earlier.”
        Yeah, I guess he had to “prove” that he’s not a hater, because he wants to stay a possible chancellor candidate. I find the “Jewish Voice from Germany” pretty right-wing.

      • German Lefty
        May 21, 2012, 3:45 pm

        @ Klaus

        Jews, in particular the Zionists keep talking about themselves as a people (Volk) they keep talking about Palestine as “the land of our forefathers” etc. They are probably more of an imagined people than a real one.

        Exactly, that’s what I mean. I sometimes have a hard time to put my thoughts into words. That’s why I am so glad to have found this website. When I read the articles and comments on here, more often than not I say to myself: “Yes, yes, yes. Precisely what I think, just much better worded.”

      • PeaceThroughJustice
        May 21, 2012, 4:05 pm

        “One can become a Jew by converting to Judaism, just like you can become a Christian by converting to Christianity.”

        In a sense, you’re wrong on both counts. Actually, you can’t become a Jew, even if you are (grudgingly) allowed to convert to Judaism. You can stand on your head for the rabbis, but OlegR is never going to think of you as a Jew in the same sense as he thinks of someone with the proper bloodlines (even a flaming atheist). And you don’t “convert” to Christianity (unless you had already adopted another faith). Christianity is not something you’re born into. It’s something you elect to do.

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 21, 2012, 4:51 pm

        “Christianity is not something you’re born into.”

        That’s nonsense. Most every Christian in the world is Christian because it was the religion of his or her parents.

      • German Lefty
        May 21, 2012, 5:03 pm

        “OlegR is never going to think of you as a Jew in the same sense as he thinks of someone with the proper bloodlines.”
        Yes, I know. But I don’t get why that is. Religion and bloodline are two entirely different things. Conflating the two creates confusion.

        “And you don’t “convert” to Christianity (unless you had already adopted another faith). Christianity is not something you’re born into. It’s something you elect to do.”
        By “convert” I also mean converting from atheism to Christianity or Judaism. Besides, all people are born non-religious, but in most cases parents force their religion on their children. The children didn’t choose it.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 21, 2012, 5:05 pm

        -“Christianity is not something you’re born into.” That’s right.

        But Jews are ‘born Jews’ (some are adopted children of Abraham and Sara).

        It took me quite a while to comprehend the concept of being Jewish.
        Moses Hess said: “In Judaism the notion of God is inherited” (die Erkenntnis Gottes ist erblich). – Well Lefty, it will take you also some time, to make sense of this.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 21, 2012, 5:07 pm

        - “Most every Christian in the world is Christian because it was the religion of his or her parents.”- Woody

        But they did not genetically inherit the Christian faith and the membership of their church. They had to be baptised.

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 21, 2012, 5:18 pm

        “But they did not genetically inherit the Christian faith and the membership of their church. They had to be baptised.”

        Which they do either 1) as infants and/or 2) at a very young age and/or after years of youth indoctrination. No one genetically inherits religion.

        In the same way, one may be genetically Jewish by birth, but is not a member of the Jewish faith by birth. That only comes with later acceptance of the religion.

      • seafoid
        May 21, 2012, 5:19 pm

        One of my colleagues at work is Israeli. His dad is Sephardi and his mother is Ashkenazi. People ask him if he is Ashkenazi or Sephardi.
        I always think he would never have come into the world without the Nazis.

        I saw something yesterday about somewhere where external war was the alternative to social unrest and civil war. I think it was in Monthly Review. And Israel is like that. There are so many tensions in Israeli society. And Ashkenazi/Sephardi still matters because the money is divided unequally. So class comes into it.

        So I don’t buy this Jewish race thing. You can’t beat history out of the people in 3 generations. Even if their great grandparents all said the same prayers.
        Is they were really all integrated there would be no Shas. But Israel is a very hierarchical society. Anglos find it very hard to fit in as well. Maybe that is from the Ashkenazi side. The Juncker style.

      • German Lefty
        May 21, 2012, 5:28 pm

        “But they did not genetically inherit the Christian faith and the membership of their church. They had to be baptised.”

        Klaus, nobody can inherit religious faith. You can inherit neither Christianity nor Judaism.

        Also, baptism wasn’t always required to become a Christian. See Wikipedia: “The Church of Sweden services are sparsely attended. The reason for the large number of inactive members is partly that until 1996, children became members automatically at birth if at least one of their parents was a member. Since 1996, only children that are baptised become members.”

      • seafoid
        May 21, 2012, 5:31 pm

        “It’s like accepting or acknowledging that Jew is a negative thing and Jew and Jewish are the same thing so why this backward kind of pc on it?”

        It’s the sort of thinking that is years behind where the settlers are today

        link to mondoweiss.net

        “The Jews didn’t attack the village”

        I think in the case of Israel it should be okay to say “the jews really fukced it up “

      • German Lefty
        May 21, 2012, 5:37 pm

        “Well Lefty, it will take you also some time, to make sense of this.”
        Nope. I refuse to accept the idea that being Jewish is any different from being Christian or Muslim. Besides, I have an equal dislike for all religions. To avoid misunderstanding, I’d like to add that I don’t dislike the people who practise these religions.

      • lysias
        May 21, 2012, 5:44 pm

        Among my books are an Opernführer and an Operettenführer.

      • libra
        May 21, 2012, 6:00 pm

        German Lefty,

        If you were totally shocked by the English word “leader” you can only imagine my horror to discover that in Germany every town had a “Stadtführer”. But it turned out only to be a pocket guide not a pocket dictator running the place.

      • evets
        May 21, 2012, 6:04 pm

        I think ‘Jewish’ is sometimes preferred because ‘Jew’ was often used as a slur (noun, adj or verb). ‘Jew’ acquired a derogatory flavor and hasn’t entirely lost it.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 21, 2012, 7:24 pm

        @ Woody & Lefty

        – “[the children of Christian parents] did not genetically inherit the Christian faith …” – Klaus

        I should have said: ‘They do not genetically inherit a relation to God.’
        That’s unlike the Jews: They inherit the status as a member of ‘God’s chosen people’.

        – The Jewish faith, i.e. the religious commandments, rituals, how to kook kosher food etc., that has of course to be learned. That’s not inherited.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 22, 2012, 6:57 am

        Lefty: – “I refuse to accept the idea that being Jewish is any different”

        So what do you make of an ‘atheist Jew’? Or of a Jew like Reich-Ranicki who doesn’t believe in Judaism and said: ‘the biblical God is a poorly conceived literary figure.”? Or what do you make of a group that call themselves ‘Jews for Jesus’? – They all define their Jewishness by descent – not by adherence to the Jewish faith.
        – It will take you a while to comprehend that.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 22, 2012, 7:02 am

        “Stadtführer”… a pocket dictator running the place.” – libra

        Thanks libra for that joke, I’ll pass it on.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 22, 2012, 7:39 am

        Lefty: One more little story on the matter.

        A few years ago I met an elderly man in a Cafe. After a while someone came by and called him Moshe. I asked him: Are you Jewish? He answered: “Yes by tribe but not by spirit.” ( “Ja vom Stamm aber nicht vom Geist”).

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 22, 2012, 7:45 am

        “I refuse to accept the idea that being Jewish is any different from being Christian or Muslim.”

        Well, the funny thing about reality is that it exists whether we want to believe it or not. And there a Jewish ethnicty (or nationality or whatever you want to call it. The particular label is not terribly important to me.)

        Think about it this way: If the Greeks had retained their polytheistic religion and the religion became known as “Greekism” and both practitioners of that religion and people who are of (national or ethnic) Greek descent (regardless of whether they practiced the religion or not) were known as Greeks, you would understand that although the two (the religion and the ethnicity) were roughly co-terminus, we would be calling two different things by the same name.

        Same with Jews. A Jew is either 1) a practitioner of Judaism or 2) a person of Jewish ethnicity. While the majority of Jews are both, they need not be.

        Contrast with Islam or Christianity. Both of these things ONLY describe a practitioner of the religion. There is no “Muslim” or “Christian” ethnicity.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 22, 2012, 7:58 am

        - “Greekism” and both practitioners of that religion and people who are of (national or ethnic) Greek descent” – Woody

        You have hit the nail on the head.
        But one could add that the practitioners of the Greekish faith consider the non-practitioners as kind of the black sheep of the tribe. (See my NYT quote above.)

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 22, 2012, 8:03 am

        “But why does someone deviate from the offical use of “a Chinese” to say “a Chinaman”?”

        My guess is that it is because the use of the word “Chinese” as a demonym (especially in the singular) just feels really odd (at least to my well-worn American ears.) I think because the “-ese” ending signals “adjective” and not “noun” to me and I’m guessing others. Why THAT is, I have no idea, as it’s not like there is a boatload of English adjectives with that ending. In fact, the ones I can think of off the top of my head are concerned with nationalities, ethnicities, etc. The net result is that it is much more common to hear “Chinese person” or “Vietnamese man” etc. than to hear someone referred to as “a Chinese.”

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 22, 2012, 8:07 am

        “I should have said: ‘They do not genetically inherit a relation to God.’
        That’s unlike the Jews: They inherit the status as a member of ‘God’s chosen people’. ”

        But only if you first accept the religions tenets. Those tenets have to be learned no less so than the religious commandment, rituals, how to cook kosher food, etc.

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 22, 2012, 8:45 am

        “the use of the word “Chinese” as a demonym (especially in the singular) just feels really odd (at least to my well-worn American ears.)”

        But, of course, it does not sound as odd as does the use of the demonym for people from Hamburg or Frankfurt actually being used as a demonym does!!

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 22, 2012, 8:56 am

        Woody – Isn’t it so (others probably know better):

        – From the point of view of Judaism, Maimonides, at the end of the days – in ‘the world to come’ – the Jewish people as a whole will be redeemed and sit face to face with God.

        – Those who didn’t believe in the tenets and didn’t practice the faith will probably sit in the back rows. – Beside the Jewish people there will also be a tiny minority of ‘righteous gentiles’ in the room, for instance Oskar Schindler and others who saved Jewish lives. ( But you don’t qualify as a ‘righteous gentile’ if you just saved Polish lives.)

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 22, 2012, 10:16 am

        “- From the point of view of Judaism, Maimonides, at the end of the days – in ‘the world to come’ – the Jewish people as a whole will be redeemed and sit face to face with God.”

        I have no idea. I don’t go in for fairy stories and such.

        “( But you don’t qualify as a ‘righteous gentile’ if you just saved Polish lives.)”

        That’s interesting.

      • pabelmont
        May 22, 2012, 10:40 am

        Imagine that Israel became a good deal more unpopular than it is now, that its leaders were tried for war crimes, total BDS, etc., etc., IN THAT CASE, would American Jews be so eager to say, “Israel is the country of the Jewish people, it is my country, Bibi speaks for me, etc., etc., ad naus.” ? In that case, i think the whole concept of “Jewish People” would become unpleasant, a source of anti-semitism, adn American Jews would flee it (as Elmer Berger and others did years ago).

      • German Lefty
        May 22, 2012, 11:13 am

        @ Klaus

        “[The children of Christian parents] did not genetically inherit the Christian faith. – I should have said: They do not genetically inherit a relation to God. That’s unlike the Jews: They inherit the status as a member of ‘God’s chosen people’.”

        The existence of a god is not scientifically proven. As long as that’s the case (i.e. forever), a “relation to god” is merely an element of religious faith. And as I said before, religious faith cannot be inherited. It can only be acquired AFTER birth, either voluntarily through “self-discovery” or involuntarily through indoctrination.

        “So what do you make of an ‘atheist Jew’?”

        Okay, let me use Christianity as example. How do you define “Christian”?
        (1) an official member of the Christian church/community (regardless of whether the person actually believes in Christianity or not)
        (2) a believer in Christianity (regardless of whether the person is an official member of the Christian church/community)

        If your answer is (1), then you have to consider me a Christian as well, because I am a member of the Protestant church. However, I don’t believe in god. That would make me an “atheist Christian”. The same applies to Jews. People can be a member of the Jewish community and not believe in Judaism. Then they are “atheist Jews” or “Christian Jews” or whatever.

        My answer to the question is (2). According to my definition, “atheist Christians” don’t exist. I consider myself an atheist and only call believers in Christianity Christians. You are either an atheist or a Christian, depending on your actual belief regardless of official membership in a community. The same applies to Jews. “Atheist Jews” don’t exist. They are atheists, not Jews.

      • German Lefty
        May 22, 2012, 11:39 am

        “it does not sound as odd as does the use of the demonym for people from Hamburg or Frankfurt actually being used as a demonym does!”

        Hey Woody! I am eating an “Amerikaner” right now.
        link to de.wikipedia.org

        “Well, the funny thing about reality is that it exists whether we want to believe it or not.”

        Ha, ha. Tell that to the god botherers who believe in imaginary beings.

        “Same with Jews. A Jew is either 1) a practitioner of Judaism or 2) a person of Jewish ethnicity. While the majority of Jews are both, they need not be.”

        I get what you mean. And I know that Jews define themselves that way. However, I still don’t see Jews as an ethnic group. As I said before, Jews live in different countries, speak different languages, have different lifestyles, look differently, believe in different things. So, how can there be one big ethnic group of Jews? This Jewish ethnicity only exists in imagination.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 22, 2012, 12:44 pm

        - “This Jewish ethnicity only exists in imagination”. – Lefty

        I said so. -Well, once upon a time it was a real people but now it’s more an imagined people than a real one. – But look, there is a theorem in Sociology that says: ‘If a situation is believed to be real – it’s real in its consequences.’

        All this Zionist talk: ‘Israel, Judea and Samaria (West Bank), is the homeland of all Jews. All Jews have a birthright to live in the land of their forefathers. We Jews are a large extended family. The Holy Land was given to us by God etc’. – If this religious, genealogical stuff is believed to be real – it’s real in its consequences in the Middle East.

        Here is a real consequence: The Israeli identity card has a coded entry for ‘nationality’ (not religion) that can be either ‘Jewish’, ‘Arab’ or ‘Druse’.
        ———————-
        Don’t just dismiss what the Israeli Professor of Jewish studies says in my above NYT quote – what he says is real in its consequences.
        ————————
        And one more point: Hitler’s idea of the Jews was also an imagined reality – but it was real in its consequences.

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 22, 2012, 12:48 pm

        I didn’t realize that Germans called it an Amerikaner. ‘

        Ha ha. I guess I’ll have to be careful to say “Ich bin Amerikaner” rather than “Ich bin ein Amerikaner,” in light of the stories about John F. Kennedy calling himself a jelly-donut.

        link to en.wikipedia.org

        “Tell that to the god botherers who believe in imaginary beings.”

        Ha ha. I try to. They never listen to me, though. I read the other day of the high rate of atheism in Germany (especially given the high rates of atheism in the East). It must make politics and public life so much easier and less tiresome. (I say this with the fresh, painful memories of a few years ago a politician for the US Senate having to run an ad campaign to highlight the fact that she was not a witch. I am not joking.)

        “So, how can there be one big ethnic group of Jews? This Jewish ethnicity only exists in imagination.”

        Well, I would counter by saying that it is a man-made, partly arbitrary grouping, so perhaps it need not make complete sense, so long as it makes sense to them, if what they have in common is more important to them then what they have different. (Why are German-speaking Catholics linked with German-speaking Protestants rather than their fellow Catholics who happen to speak Polish or French?)

      • German Lefty
        May 22, 2012, 4:22 pm

        @ Woody

        “[Atheism] must make politics and public life so much easier and less tiresome.”
        Sadly, religion and state are still mixed way too much. We are reigned by Christian Democrats.
        In East Germany, roughly 75% of people are non-religious. In all of Germany, it’s merely 35%. Not that much for a European country. 30% are Protestants, 30% Catholics and 5% Muslims.
        Last year, the pope spoke in the Bundestag. Some politicians – mainly from the Left Party and the Green Party – boycotted the speech, but most politicians attended it and applauded the pope’s bullsh*t. What a moment of shame.

        “a politician for the US Senate having to run an ad campaign to highlight the fact that she was not a witch.”
        Yes, I remember Christine O’Donnell. Her masturbation monologue was very entertaining, too. FYI, I watch The Rachel Maddow Show from time to time.

        “it need not make complete sense, so long as it makes sense to them, if what they have in common is more important to them then what they have different.”
        Okay, that’s a valid point. But I wonder what they have in common at all. What does an atheist Jew in Canada have in common with a religious Jew in Russia?

        “Why are German-speaking Catholics linked with German-speaking Protestants rather than their fellow Catholics who happen to speak Polish or French?”
        Do you think that this is the case? In my opinion, it depends on the context – whether you deal with the different religious branches in a country or with one religious branch in different countries.

      • German Lefty
        May 22, 2012, 4:45 pm

        @ Klaus

        “I said so.”
        I know. And I agreed with you.

        “If a situation is believed to be real – it’s real in its consequences. The Israeli identity card has a coded entry for ‘nationality’ (not religion) that can be either ‘Jewish’, ‘Arab’ or ‘Druse’. Hitler’s idea of the Jews was also an imagined reality – but it was real in its consequences.”
        Okay, that sounds logical … and really creepy. However, I still don’t consider Jews an ethnic group. But apparently, it’s sufficient that they consider themselves one to make it a reality.

        On an unrelated note, I am watching the Eurovision Song Contest right now. The Israeli song is pretty catchy.

        “Time” by Izabo

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 22, 2012, 5:14 pm

        “In all of Germany, it’s merely 35%.”

        Even 35% sounds really nice.

        ” most politicians attended it and applauded the pope’s bullsh*t. ”

        How much of that was because he is a German, I wonder. I can’t imagine that there wasn’t a bit of “local boy makes good” in the whole thing…

        “But I wonder what they have in common at all. What does an atheist Jew in Canada have in common with a religious Jew in Russia?”

        I think history. A shared sense of are common ends of a long chain. I’m sure there is a bit of unity in face of the real oppression Jews have faced at various times. There are social aspects to these identities that are founded in religion but not of religion. (I reminded of a routine by the Irish comedian Dara O’Briain. He was talking about Irish atheists and about being asked whether he was a Protestant atheist or a Catholic athiest.)

        “Do you think that this is the case? In my opinion, it depends on the context – whether you deal with the different religious branches in a country or with one religious branch in different countries.”

        I think that German identity (insert all the usual caveats here abut THAT) has been both Protestant and Catholic, but still German. It does not seem to me (as an outsider) to be a shared element within two separate groups, but, rather, two possibilities among one single group.

        There is religion commonality between Catholic Poles or Catholics Frenchmen and Catholic Germans, but it strikes me as being a common trait in two clearly different groups.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 22, 2012, 5:15 pm

        omg that link is downright scary. how can you call that catchy? on what planet is that catchy?

      • German Lefty
        May 22, 2012, 5:24 pm

        Oh Annie, you make me laugh.

        “on what planet is that catchy?”
        Welcome to Planet Eurovision. Love it or leave it. I just bought the Israeli song as well as the Greek song on Amazon.

        Here’s the Greek song:
        link to youtube.com

        Greece made it to the final on Saturday, Israel didn’t.

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 22, 2012, 5:35 pm

        LOL. I agree with Annie. That’s pretty hideous. But I’m not much into pop music, so that might have something to do with it.

      • eljay
        May 22, 2012, 6:11 pm

        >> how can you call that catchy?

        I can see how it might be considered catchy in a creepy, retro, J-ABBA-nese, karaoke kind of way. Definitely not my cup of tea.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 22, 2012, 6:36 pm

        On imagined Jewishness
        —————————————-
        – “[the Jews] consider themselves one [an ethnicity] to make it a reality.”

        I’m glad you got my point. But there is always something real to the imagined reality. Let’s look at your question what an atheist Jew in Canada and a religious one in Russia have in common?

        1. both born by a Jewish mother
        2. both circumsised (even the most secular Jews do that with their boys)
        3. both share some cultural, non-religious things Jewish, maybe baguels
        4. both think they are somehow different and exceptional from the rest
        (This last point is the crucial, imagined one)

        Okay Lefty – take care

      • Annie Robbins
        May 22, 2012, 8:18 pm

        ok, tell me if i am crazy or what. i was watching a few of the eurovision youtubes (i liked Rona Nishliu – Suus, Albania)and the israeli one came up again, this time the “Song Contest Official Preview Video ” with over 300,000 hits..link to youtube.com so i checked it out. same shitty song but the performance is very different…i knew it reminded me of something and then it hit me..it is the style of jenin’s freedom theatre from the year before..same performance artists on swings, similar costume type..from Juliano Mer Khamis’s alice.

        link to mondoweiss.net

        so am i crazy or what? purely coincidence?

      • RoHa
        May 22, 2012, 8:24 pm

        “ok, tell me if i am crazy or what.”

        I’m sure you don’t need us to tell you that.

      • eljay
        May 22, 2012, 8:32 pm

        >> Here’s the Greek song …

        Now that’s more like it! No creepiness, just a catchy tune and a very pretty girl. :-)

        Still not my cup of tea, but much easier on the eyes… :-D

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 22, 2012, 10:08 pm

        The Israeli song
        “Time” by Izabo
        link to youtube.com

        I watched it and thought – what does Lefty think about the flags with the Star of David? Are these flags the flags of a religious community or what? Maybe the flags of a people?

        Tell your German friends that this “Jews are just a religious community like the Protestants etc.” is a lie. – Klaus

      • eljay
        May 23, 2012, 8:04 am

        >> I watched it and thought – what does Lefty think about the flags with the Star of David? Are these flags the flags of a religious community or what? Maybe the flags of a people?

        The flag with the Star of David is the flag of the people of Israel. Israel is comprised of Jews and non-Jews.

        Should the flag represent only Jews? And only Jews in Israel, or all Jews anywhere in the world?

      • eljay
        May 23, 2012, 8:18 am

        >> Should the flag represent only Jews?

        If ‘yes’, which flag would represent the Israeli people who are not Jews, and the descendants of these non-Jewish Israeli people?

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 23, 2012, 9:15 am

        The flag of Israel

        I think, the flag with the Star od David represents the Zionist Jews, their movement not world Jewry. But it doesn’t represent the Arab citizens of Israel. It’s the same thing with Israel’s national anthem. It’s the anthem of the Zionist movement only not of the Arab citizens. – Legally speaking, both represent Israel as a state, comprising two people/nationalities. But there is no such thing as an Israeli nation/nationality. – Others probably know better than I do.

        – But I think both the flag and the anthem do not stand for or express a religious faith, like the Christian cross. That was my main point.

      • German Lefty
        May 23, 2012, 11:53 am

        @ Annie

        “i liked Rona Nishliu – Suus, Albania. the israeli one came up again, same shitty song”
        I see. We have an entirely different taste in music. The winner songs of the Eurovision Song Contest are usually upbeat, not ballads.

        “it is the style of jenin’s freedom theatre from the year before..same performance artists on swings, similar costume type”
        Yes, there is indeed some similarity. Hard to say if coincidence or not.

        “so am i crazy or what?
        No, you are the incarnated sanity. The Zios are the lunatics.

        I just got the following comment on an article about pinkwashing on another website:
        “Israel FOUGHT for its right to exist against 4 arab nations and WON. It FOUGHT again in 1967….and WON. The same way the U.S. FOUGHT to have the land it has now and WON. Israel has tried to negotiate for YEARS with the palestinians only to be met with hate.”

      • German Lefty
        May 23, 2012, 12:33 pm

        @ Woody

        “How much of that was because he is a German. I can’t imagine that there wasn’t a bit of “local boy makes good” in the whole thing”
        I think you overestimate German patriotism. There is a lot of local patriotism, but not that much national patriotism. Also, the pope is from Bavaria. Bavaria is kind of a special case. How can I describe it? It’s the Texas of Germany. It’s almost like a different country. A fellow student used to tell people, “I have been abroad for one semester.” When she was asked where she had been, she replied, “In Bavaria.” And then everyone laughed. Too bad that in the USA Germany is usually equated with Bavaria: lederhosen, dirndl, veal sausage, sauerkraut. I can’t stand these things.

        “I think history. A shared sense of are common ends of a long chain. I’m sure there is a bit of unity in face of the real oppression Jews have faced at various times.”
        What if the religious Jew in Russia just converted to Judaism? Then he would have no common history with the atheist Jew in Canada. One could argue that by converting to Judaism the Russian Jew “inherits” Jewish history, but that would be a little far-fetched, because his (actual) ancestors have never experienced oppression.

        “I think that German identity has been both Protestant and Catholic, but still German. It does not seem to me to be a shared element within two separate groups, but, rather, two possibilities among one single group.”
        An anecdote from secondary school: In my federal state, the predominant religious branch is Protestantism. Therefore, pupils can choose between the subjects “Protestant religious education” and “ethics”. However, there were also some catholics in my grade. One would think that as Christians they pick the subject “Protestant religious education”. Pustekuchen! Not a bit of it! All the catholic pupils chose “ethics”. Apparently, they thought they have more in common with godless people than with fellow Christians.

        I’d also like to share another thought, which might sound strange to non-Germans. Whenever people in Germany (e.g. at school, in the media) talk about Jews, it usually happens in the context of the Holocaust or Israel (as a consequence of the Holocaust). So basically, Jews are always portrayed as victims, either of Nazis or of Palestinians. That’s why I am glad about US movies and sitcoms, such as The Nanny and The War at Home. I find it really refreshing to see Jews portrayed as “ordinary” people with an everyday life instead of as victims.

      • German Lefty
        May 23, 2012, 1:04 pm

        @ Klaus

        “both born by a Jewish mother”
        Not necessarily. What if the religious Jew in Russia just converted to Judaism?

        “both circumsised”
        Genital mutilation without consent doesn’t necessarily make you a Jew. You might as well be (1) a Muslim (2) an atheist who had phimosis (3) a Christian whose parents didn’t respect your right to physical integrity.

        “both share some cultural, non-religious things Jewish, maybe baguels”
        What? Bagels? A Jewish thing? Really?

        “both think they are somehow different and exceptional from the rest
        (This last point is the crucial, imagined one)”

        I see.

        “what does Lefty think about the flags with the Star of David? Are these flags the flags of a religious community or what? Maybe the flags of a people?
        The more important question is: What do non-Jewish Israelis think about the flag?
        I agree with eljay. The flag with the Star of David is the flag of the people of Israel. You know, predominantly Muslim countries (e.g. Algeria, Mauritania, Tunisia, Turkey) have a star and a crescent on the flag. So, I don’t see a difference between Judaism and Islam in this respect.

    • lysias
      May 21, 2012, 12:48 pm

      Victor Klemperer, an assimilated German Jew, not only wrote his famous diaries but also the classic work on how the Nazis perverted the German Language LTI: Lingua Tertii Imperii. (I well remember how compelling a read LTI was, so that I stayed reading it several afternoons in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, from which books do not circulate. It’s a relatively short book, but then German is not my first language, so it took a few afternoons.) Note that Klemperer, a scholar on French language and literature, who certainly could have written in another language than German, continued to write his diaries in German in and on the decades after 1945.

      To what extent have the Zionists perverted the Hebrew language, so that a new LTI would be required on their language?

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 21, 2012, 1:15 pm

        “Lingua Tertii Imperii.” – For those poor souls who speak only English LTI means The Language of The Third Reich. – I should read it also.

      • libra
        May 21, 2012, 5:45 pm

        Klaus,

        I thought Latin was The Language of The First Reich. For us poor souls who only speak English this is all getting terribly confusing.

      • lysias
        May 22, 2012, 10:08 am

        Germans consider the Holy Roman Empire their first Reich, the federal Hohenzollern construction of 1870-1918 their second, and the “third Reich” was only aspirational in the Weimar period until the Nazis established it in 1933.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 22, 2012, 12:12 pm

        - “the Nazis established it [3.Reich] in 1933.” – lysias

        You are right (you know more about Germany than I do anyway). I guess libra was joking. But since we are at it I may mention that the Third Reich was also called ‘The Thousand Year Reich’ since it should last as long as the First Reich.

      • lysias
        May 22, 2012, 5:36 pm

        @libra, Klaus Bloemker ,

        Well, now that I stop to think about it, Latin was just as much the official language of the Holy Roman Empire for most of its history as it was the official language of the earlier original Roman Empire. German didn’t become the official language of the Holy Roman Empire until the reign of Joseph II late in the 18th century.

      • seafoid
        May 21, 2012, 3:20 pm

        The Zionists needed a language as a vehicle for their altneuland worldview that later became their ideology that subsequently became a quasi military dictatorship/rule by settler and the language was Hebrew

        so Hebrew
        became the language of mindless Israeli cruelty, the language in which the orders for the brutality were given

        link to youtube.com

        So many phrases of humiliation had to be created since Jews didn’t have an Army with such a need before Israel .

        link to youtube.com

        link to youtube.com

        I wonder what sort of Hebrew will survive the meltdown

  8. libra
    May 20, 2012, 4:27 pm

    Clearly Mr. Applefield isn’t going to say “Danke sehr für die Unterseeboote”.

  9. German Lefty
    May 20, 2012, 5:28 pm

    “It wasn’t the German language that went crazy.”

    That’s true. Smart woman.

    “[Appelfeld] frequently expressed disdain for Jews who did not adopt Hebrew. These Jews ‘preferred to remain in their countries and not join the Jewish community,’ which he calls a tragedy ‘from the Zionist point of view, probably from the Jewish point of view’.”

    Yeah, despise the people who are different from you. Way to go!

  10. OlegR
    May 20, 2012, 6:02 pm

    Chernovtzi , i have been there once
    as a little boy, it’s in Western Ukraine now.

  11. eljay
    May 20, 2012, 8:27 pm

    >> ‘Although the author grew up speaking German, he chooses to write instead in the Hebrew he learned from the age of 14, calling German “the language of the murderers”.’

    The author is right to forgo using a piddly little language like German when he has at his disposal Hebrew, “the language of the terrorists and the ethnic cleansers and the occupiers and the colonizers and the oppressors and the assassins and the supremacists and the war-mongers”.

    • sardelapasti
      May 21, 2012, 1:09 am

      Well, he’s left with a language that not only is the language of mass murderers and criminals against peace. It also is a constructed language, without direct living link to historic Hebrew and that has only had a “revival” within ultra-nationalist Zionist circles, a product of social engineering and political pressure. With less than a hundred years of mother-tongue use and a catastrophic end to native use already in sight, bets on the survival into the future of modern Hebrew are wide open.

  12. Les
    May 20, 2012, 8:54 pm

    Doing intellectual work doesn’t make you an intellectual. No one doubts that Hannah Arendt was an intellectual.

  13. W.Jones
    May 20, 2012, 9:20 pm

    I find Appelfield’s rejection of German understandable, especially because his home region had other languages, and the official language would’ve been Romanian. It reminds me of someone who had a traumatic experience at a location, like a certain block corner, and avoids the location out of bad memories.

    In fact, there were alot of Russians who didn’t want to learn German after WWII because of the bad experiences. And to me, German language reminds me of WWII movies.

    However, from the viewpoint of Reason I disagree, and think it is healthier to overcome the instinctual rejection. You can reason that German was also the language of German Jews, such as those in Appelfield’s hometown. And one can point out that Aramaic was the language of the Rabbinical Targums and the everyday language of Jews in Jesus’ time, and yet it was taken from the Assyrian conquerers of ancient Israel.

  14. HRK
    May 20, 2012, 9:39 pm

    I was listening to some MP3s from the Teaching Co. this last year on the topic of European history (can’t remember the professor, but they’re usually leaders in their field). Anyway, the lecturer mentioned that when the Nazis were electioneering they found early on that talking about the Jews was not effective with the people and didn’t work when it came to upping their party’s numbers in the polls; instead, they found that their numbers went up when they kept matters general and criticized the Weimar government.

    Also, I bumped into a Youtube video featuring another leading historian on the Holocaust (I believe he was Jewish–he was the one who severely criticized Daniel Goldhagen’s book) who indicated that up until 1941 even the top Nazi leadership was unaware of the final solution. The reason: they were counting on the Madagascar plan (shipping European Jews to Madagascar), which only fell through, apparently, in the early 1940s. So, of course, one can safely infer that the German people as a whole weren’t aware of the final solution until at least 1941. And, of course, many say they were always unaware of it even after that date.

    Also, later on this year at my mom’s place I happened to stumble upon a book about a man who started the foot-and-mouth painters association (Mom’s a supporter of the organization)–a German man who had lost the use of both of his arms as a child. As near as I could tell, in around 1935 he was thrown in jail by the Nazis for producing art which was mildly critical of the Nazi regime. (And I believe, if memory serves me correctly, the person who came to arrest him put a gun up to his head, as well.) Throwing someone in jail for mild criticism is bad enough, but now imagine the ruthlessness that one has to have to throw someone in jail who’s lost the use of his arms. After he was released, it took him a while to re-develop the use of his fine neck muscles so that he could paint once again. Again, that was approximately in 1935.

    If you put it all together, what you get is that by far most the German people as a whole did not want the Nazi Holocaust to happen. (I’m not arguing that they have no responsibility in it’s having happened, I should add, simply that the responsibility they do have wasn’t based on direct intentionality.) Yes, of course, there were varying degrees of anti-Semitism in Germany–but probably no more anti-Semitism there than elsewhere in Western Europe (at least until the Nazis fanned the flames after they acquired power).

    And, of course, let’s not forget that there are varying degrees of anti-gentilism among Jews–as we can see from the AIPAC tapes blogged about on this site recently.

    After Hitler got elected, he consolidated his power. And then it was too late to even criticize. Criticism meant jail and later, death.

    So you’d have to have the expectation that ordinary ethnic Germans would be willing to risk their lives to try to help others (despite the probability of futility) during war time with all the craziness and deprivations and lack of good information that happen during war. Guess what? Very few people–today or in the past–Jew or gentile–have ever been willing to risk their lives in what might be a futile situation to help others who aren’t close family.

    Be honest: Would you? If I’m exhibiting even a modicum of humility I have to admit that I really don’t know how I’d react–in fact, I tend to think that if I were to be realistic about my level of bravery I’d probably find an excuse not to act. Again, I’m being realistic; of course I’m not proud of it. (And bear in mind that the Nazis also went after families: So you’d have to be willing to risk your family’s security to help someone else outside of your family.)

    • Sumud
      May 21, 2012, 5:33 am

      Appelfeld’s description of German as “the language of the murderers” is plain old racism.

      It is one thing to say “I can’t speak in German anymore, it is too painful” and it is a whole other thing to say German is “the language of the murderers”. It is much more than that.

      There was pockets of German resistance before and during the war. The nazis did their best to destroy them – and they succeeded.

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 21, 2012, 9:48 am

        “Appelfeld’s description of German as ‘the language of the murderers’ is plain old racism.”

        I don’t think it’s racism. It’s simply a fact that those who orchestrated the Holocaust were speaking German, and it was carried out, by and large, by men speaking German. (Just as the murder at Katyn and the mass rapes of German woman after the war were committed by men speaking Russian. Right, Oleg?)

        It’s somewhat pathetic that, 70 years later, he’s still obsessing to this extent. I have human sympathy for it, but it is pathetic.

    • Ethan Heitner
      May 21, 2012, 8:13 am

      I don’t know what this is supposed to prove. “There are varying degress of anti-gentilism among Jews”– so what? Does that in any way lessen or excuse what happened in Europe? Let us also remember that the Nuremberg laws which codified racism were passed well before the start of the war. Many disgusting scenes of anti-semitism were quite public well before the war– making elderly Jews wash the streets with a toothbrush or their beards, forcibly expelling Jews from universities and places of employment. I do not know what your intentions are, but the sum of your arguments seems to me apologist.

      For that matter, why should non-Palestinians care about Palestinians? Why should anyone stick their neck out for anyone? But plenty of people do. And we know from their example that it was perfectly possible for others and for us.

      • German Lefty
        May 21, 2012, 11:13 am

        @ Ethan Heitner

        “‘There are varying degress of anti-gentilism among Jews’ – so what? Does that in any way lessen or excuse what happened in Europe?”

        No, no! The intention of pointing out anti-gentilism is NOT to lessen or excuse the Holocaust. History is history. Nothing that we do or say now can change what happened. The thing is that ANY kind of hatred or discrimination needs to be fought. Reverse discrimination is just as morally and legally wrong as the original discrimination. Past injustice does not excuse reverse injustice. If people only spoke out against anti-Semitism but not against anti-gentilism, they would apply double standards. And this would be unfair.

      • German Lefty
        May 21, 2012, 11:31 am

        “Why should non-Palestinians care about Palestinians? Why should anyone stick their neck out for anyone? But plenty of people do. And we know from their example that it was perfectly possible for others and for us.”

        I think it is important to consider the circumstances. In a democracy, people can speak up for others without risking their own and their family’s lives. In a dictatorship, that’s just not possible. So, when nowadays people from the Western world speak up for Palestinians, this can’t be compared to the situation in the Third Reich. Of course, that’s not an excuse, just an explanation.

      • seafoid
        May 21, 2012, 5:40 pm

        One of the things about German is that it has a longer shared modern history than the 3 generations of Israeli Hebrew and it takes more than 3 generations to get a decent perspective on the limitations of military power. This poem reminds me of Israel and its future

        link to seniorentreff.de

        Dies ist meiner,
        dieser Herr Wehner
        der bei uns Hauslehrer war
        früh an Lungenphtise verschied
        nachdem er meinen jüngsten Bruder angesteckt hatte,
        der starb an meningitis tuberkulosa.
        Das Verücktste, das er uns
        Beim Abitursaufen
        Erzählte, war,
        dass seine Frau ihn einmal im Kofferraum transportierte,
        “und fährt im Buickwagen am Ufer des Öresund
        heiter spazieren,
        bis sie erwischt wird”.
        Alkohol am Steuer.
        “Und wo ist Ihr Mann?”
        “Hier, in der Anzeige… Pardon!”

        Der Lehrer stammte aus Lissa
        Sohn eines Schmiedes
        ging immer in Holzpantinen
        was bei uns unüblich war,
        seine Braut Liska
        war einen Pfingsten bei uns
        Tochter eines Polizeimajors
        also was Besseres
        sie kicherten oft abends
        wenn die Mücken summten
        und wir schlafen gehn mussten
        aber, wie ich später hörte,
        war es wohl doch nichts Rechtes.

        Dieser Herr Wehner
        ist insofern meiner
        als er irgendwo begraben liegt,
        vermodert in polnischem Kombinat,
        keiner der Gemeindemitglieder
        wird seiner gedenken,
        aber vor mir steigt er manchmal auf
        grau und isoliert unter geschichtlichen Aspekten

        link to nybooks.com

        This is mine
        Herr Wehner
        he was our house-tutor
        died early of phthisis
        once he’d infected my youngest brother
        who died of meningitis tuberculosa.

        Came from Lissa
        son of a blacksmith
        always went around in wooden clogs
        which was unusual with us
        Liska his bride
        stayed with us over Whitsun once
        daughter of a police major
        ergo different class
        the giggling in the evenings
        when the mosquitoes buzzed
        and it was our bedtime,
        but, as I heard later,
        it was a rocky marriage.

        Herr Wehner,
        what makes him mine
        is the fact that he is buried somewhere
        rotting away in a collective farm in (now) Poland
        no one in the village
        will remember him
        but he sometimes appears to me
        grey and isolated
        under certain historical aspects

  15. dbroncos
    May 20, 2012, 9:46 pm

    Arendt is a soothing breath of spring. Uber nationalists everywhere could learn something from this sentiment:

    “… she had ‘never in [her] life “loved” any people or collective group’ — only friends.”

  16. Klaus Bloemker
    May 21, 2012, 9:43 am

    To be honest, I dislike the German language too. It’s the language of many ‘deep- thinking/sounding’ crackpot philosophers like Arendt’s friend Heidegger.

    Being a child of post-WW II reeducation I guess that language self-hate is just the cross I have to bear. – Actually it’s a collective German self-hate of her language. You just got to look at all the silly Americanisms in advertising.

    • Ellen
      May 21, 2012, 10:51 am

      Deutsch ist vielseitig. Wie bei alle Sprachen, est gibt unheimliche schöne gesriebene und gesprochene Deutch, und hässliche Deutsch. Ich habe gelernt Die Deutsche Sprache sehr zu schätzen.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        May 21, 2012, 11:44 am

        Danke Ellen, das hast Du schön geschrieben.

    • Elliot
      May 21, 2012, 11:15 am

      I knew some Germans in the 80s in Israel and they had that German self-hatred, or at least, self-doubt. One of them, whom I got to know well, came to Israel in search of healing. She is no longer dealing with these issues. Others opened up to the complexities of Israel, and became aware of Palestinians. My impression is that Germany, overall, has long since moved on.

      Here’s my attempt at psychologizing Applefeld: His disdain of all things German is representative of his generation’s attitudes. Entering Zionist Israeli society as a teenage boy must have left a strong impression, perhaps creating a new trauma. I wonder if Applefeld didn’t feel the need to prove his Zionist credentials, and is still stuck on that place. Native-born Israelis of his generation famously looked down on Holocaust survivors. The hyper-masculine new Hebrew Man saw the traumatized, European refugees as a vindication of their own rejection of Europe. There was no way Applefeld was going to write in any of the European languages he spoke, including his native Yiddish.

    • German Lefty
      May 21, 2012, 11:45 am

      I like the German language. Actually, I like all languages. Some a bit more than others, but there is no language that I find ugly. I find it wonderful to listen to songs in different languages.
      What pisses me off is when US comedians make fun of German by saying that it sounds angry. They use the same old “joke” again and again, because apparently they can’t come up with something new. And each time I think to myself, “Of course, German sounds angry … but only to people who don’t understand it. So, it’s your own damn fault.”

      • Theo
        May 21, 2012, 12:25 pm

        Lefty

        You can judge a language the best when you do not understand a word of it, because then you listen to the melodies and diction in it. You, as a german, can never know how your mother tongue really sounds.
        I personally love the sound of the italian and french languages. German is much harder, but a very precise way to express yourself.
        My favorit word is:
        Originalwinzergenossenschaftskellerabfüllung. A mouthful, nicht wahr?

      • lysias
        May 21, 2012, 2:16 pm

        I wonder if you could appreciate the beauty of a poem like Goethe’s

        Über allen Gipfeln
        Ist Ruh’
        In allen Wipfeln
        Spürest Du
        Kaum einen Hauch;
        Die Vögelein schweigen im Walde
        Warte nur, balde
        Ruhest Du auch.

        without knowing the meaning.

        I don’t think this English translation captures the music of the words at all, but it does give you the meaning (sort of):

        Up there all summits
        are still.
        In all the tree-tops
        you will
        feel but the dew.
        The birds in the forest stopped talking.
        Soon, done with walking,
        you shall rest, too.

        Interestingly, I have recently become aware of a translation into Russian by Mikhail Lermontov which reproduces the music while changing a good deal of the meaning (although not the marvelous ending):

        Gornye vershiny
        Spyat vo t’me nochnoy;
        Tihie doliny
        Polny svejey mgloy;
        Ne pylit doroga,
        Ne drojat listy…
        Podojdi nemnogo,
        Otdohnёsh’ i ty.

      • lysias
        May 21, 2012, 6:51 pm

        Here’s Lermontov’s translation of the Goethe in Cyrillic:

        Горные вершины
        Спят во тьме ночной;
        Тихие долины
        Полны свежей мглой;
        Не пылит дорога,
        Не дрожат листы…
        Подожди немного,
        Отдохнёшь и ты.

      • seafoid
        May 21, 2012, 3:34 pm

        I love German. I love the way German words for complicated concepts tend to be made up of 2 separate German words instead of some word from Latin.

        And you can introduce new ideas by joining 2 German words together. So the settlement project for example could be described as
        der Torahlandwahn

        The insanity of the Torah and the land

  17. kapok
    May 21, 2012, 3:04 pm

    Retreating to the bosom of one’s tribe betrays a lack of imagination, an unwillingness to face up to a changing world.

  18. wondering jew
    May 22, 2012, 9:36 pm

    There are a number of possible reactions to the German Nazi genocide of the Jews between 1939 and 1945: 1. Convert to Christianity and don’t tell your children that they were Jewish. (Madeline Albright’s parents). 2. Marry a nonJewish woman that you fall in love with and claim that by doing so you are asserting that universalism (or Americanism) is the cure, antidote or answer to the genocidal nationalism of the Nazis. (Arthur Miller). Those reactions are acceptable to this web site.

    Along comes Aharon Appelfeld and says that there is another possible reaction- assertion of one’s Jewish heritage. But on this web site this is labeled as nihilistic by the contributors and as pathetic by the commentators. Only universalism or hiding the past are acceptable answers to the Mondoweiss crew.

    If one is discussing languages and the German language, one should refer to Primo Levi’s “Periodic Table” in which he asserts his advantage in the battle to survive because his science background required a study of German and the lack of a language barrier (or a reduced language barrier) when hearing the commands of the Nazis helped him to survive.

    As far as the harshness of the German language, that has to do with how it is enunciated. Yiddish is probably more than 80% German and the singsong, plaintive, shrugging, rounded shoulders of Yiddish are plainly detectable in its rendition. German is harsh because it is enunciated harshly. If the German speaking people want lessons in how to make their language sound less harsh, I’m sure that the surviving Yiddish speakers of the world would be willing to set them onto that path.

    I agree that Appelfeld’s reaction to the language of his childhood was emotional. It’s a funny thing when they murder your people (sorry, sorry, sorry, I know, “people” is a verboten word in reference to the Jews on this web site, I meant coreligionists), some tend to react emotionally, especially when you were a child when the war started and barely 13 when the war ended and your mother was killed in the genocide. Appelfeld is an artist, and he reacted emotionally. Arendt was a political theorist and a philosopher who was 37 when she heard of Auschwitz or 39 when the war was over, not 13. Her relationship to the genocide was of a completely different nature than that of a child’s.

    • Woody Tanaka
      May 23, 2012, 1:30 am

      Along comes Aharon Appelfeld and says that there is another possible reaction- assertion of one’s Jewish heritage. But on this web site this is labeled as nihilistic by the contributors and as pathetic by the commentators.

      Since I was the only one to use the word “pathetic” and you are too much of a coward to address me by name, I’ll comment here: I did not say “assertion of one’s Jewish heritage” was pathetic, I said his obsession, to the point of holding a grudge against a language, was pathetic. If he wants to trade a major world language for a patched-together tribal patois, like Hebrew, that’s his business. I have sympathy for his humanity, but his reasons are pathetic. Instead of walling himself off in a linguistic ghetto, he would do better to get mental health care for what appears to be untreated post-traumatic stress syndrome, as it might give him some peace.

      Because he’s not “assert[ing his] Jewish heritage,” rather, he’s wallowing in his victimhood. Which, again, is human and understandable, but not terrifically healthy. If he wants to do so, again, that’s his business. But if he expects anyone to look on it and do more than shake their head, he’s mistaken.

      As far as the harshness of the German language

      No one said German was “harsh”; Theo said it was “hard” and appeared to do so in comparison to Italian and French. That’s his opinion. I think that German is a very pretty language (as are Italian and French, (although I find Italian tiresome after a while. [It's like sugar on top of honey on top of sugar on top of syrup]). But while German is definitely a hard and precise one, it is not a “harsh” language.

      “It’s a funny thing when they murder your people”

      But the “they” that did it have been, by and large, dead for decades. Which is kind of why the holding of the grudge against the language is pathetic.

      • wondering jew
        May 23, 2012, 6:27 pm

        Woody- Sorry I didn’t mention you by name. I hardly think the avoidance of mentioning your name is cowardice. I think a thorough discussion of the German language and the oppression it represents in Jewish minds of the mid to late 20th century might be helpful. But I doubt that your voice will add anything but over the top rhetoric like “pathetic” and now “cowardice” to the discussion.

  19. Stephen Shenfield
    July 10, 2012, 8:02 am

    Although it doesn’t fit the Zionist template, an Israeli identity that includes the Palestinian citizens of Israel has emerged. Not very strong, perhaps, but it exists. And Hebrew is central to this identity. There are even a few Palestinian writers who choose to write in Hebrew, like Anton Shammas. Under normal conditions Israel naturally tends to evolve away from Zionism, and Zionists have to engage in a continuous struggle to halt and reverse this phenomenon, to re-Zionize Israel.

    Regarding German. Different regional dialects sound different. Some like Rhenish pronounce “ch” soft as “sh” just as Yiddish (another German dialect) does. German without the “ch” sound is less harsh to the ear that Hebrew.

    Any language can be ideologized through the use of expressions that make ideological concepts seem natural. And any language can be de-ideologized, as German has been de-Nazified. For instance, the Nazis had a word Volksgenosse (best rendered as race-comrade) that expresses the closeness that people of the same ethnic origin are supposed to feel for one another. Does anyone know whether there is an equivalent in Ivrit?

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