Jews are smarter, and funnier too

Israel/Palestine
on 101 Comments

From Haaretz: “What makes Jews so smart?” By Manuel Trajtenberg:

The intellectual success of the Jews in the modern era and their prominence in occupations in the realms of commerce, medicine and finance since the Middle Ages are among the most challenging mysteries in the long history of the Jewish people.

Zvi Eckstein and Maristella Botticini present in their book “The Chosen Few,” recently translated into Hebrew by Inga Michaeli ‏(Tel Aviv University Press‏), a revolutionary thesis about the development of the Jews’ relative advantage in occupations that necessitated literacy and education: After the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E., the survival of the Jewish religion demanded that every Jew learn to read and write, and acquire knowledge-acquisition skills; whoever was unable to do so − became assimilated. Thus, out of necessity, the Jews found themselves possessed with skills that proved critical for their economic development.

Comedian Robert Klein and writer Lawrence Richards talking on public radio in NY about their new movie, a portrait of a generation of comics in the 50s and 60s.

Robert Klein: All cultures laugh I’m sure, but I believe that the Jewish culture is especially given to humor. Maybe it has to do with oppression. I feel the same way about Irish culture. There was American slave humor. There was even concentration camp humor…

Richards:  We also touch… on some of the issues that you almost have to to try to convey elements that deserve to be at least mentioned: Why there are so many Jewish comedians. One of the reasons for the creation of the film was this amazing stat, that a poll was taken in the early 70s, and Jewish people represented at that time, I don’t think it’s changed that much, about 3 percent of the population but about 80 percent of the comedians.

Klein repeated the claim on a weekend show on National Public Radio:

Jacki Lyden: What was the connection between Jewish humor and the Catskills? Why were so many people coming from New York City itself and why had a lot of people congregated there from the diaspora around Europe?

KLEIN: Well, of course, we’re talking about people who settled in New York. It was only about 90 miles away. It was inexpensive in the small places. And, of course, humor has always been a very, very important part of the Jewish culture. I daresay all cultures laugh. But let’s face it, Jews are overrepresented in professional comedy by an enormous amount and underrepresented in the priesthood. But…

I grew up with these beliefs. Maybe they were true once. But hanging on to them in this era of Jewish power and cultural prominence seems like uninterrogated vanity. 

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

101 Responses

  1. amigo
    August 5, 2013, 10:13 am

    “Robert Klein: All cultures laugh I’m sure, but I believe that the Jewish culture is especially given to humor. Maybe it has to do with oppression. ”

    Which oppression would that be.The oppression of Jews or Jews oppressing Palestinians.

    I doubt the Palestinians see room for levity in their neck of the woods.

    • Pamela Olson
      August 5, 2013, 11:22 am

      Palestinians are actually masters of dark humor. Problem is, very few people understand their situation well enough to get it!

  2. Abdul-Rahman
    August 5, 2013, 10:17 am

    A far more convincing historical thesis was put forth by sociologist Stephen Steinberg in his book “The Ethnic Myth” link to amazon.com, in a chapter about what Steinberg termed the “Jewish Horatio Alger Myth” link to books.google.com

    Here is an important section from an article written back in 2000 by anti-racism activist, author and educator Tim Wise discussing this general topic and citing Steinberg’s work among others link to timwise.org

    “The truth is always more complex than the fantasy. Read Stephen Steinberg’s The Ethnic Myth: Fact is, Jews haven’t all been successful, and pretending otherwise harms the less-than-affluent Jews who, thanks to the triumphalist image, are perceived as especially flawed in some way. Even as Glazer and others were developing the Jewish Horatio Alger image in the ’60s and ’70s, fifteen percent of Jews in New York City were poor or near poor, as were twelve percent of Jews nationally. About a third of Jewish men at this time were working class, not the professionals and scholars portrayed by stereotype.

    And Jews who came to America and succeeded hardly came with nothing. Jews from Russia came with experience in manufacturing, commerce, or as artisans: three expanding economic sectors in the ‘New World.’ It wasn’t our culture or values that were impeccable, but rather, our timing. Our experience in the garment and textile industries fit perfectly with an economy where those industries were growing 2-3 times faster than the economy as a whole. Indeed, two-thirds of Jewish immigrants between 1899 and 1910 were skilled laborers, compared to forty-nine percent of English immigrants, fifteen percent of Southern Italians, thirteen percent of the Irish, and six percent of Poles. And blacks, no matter their skills, abilities or ambitions, were locked out of the sectors open to many Jews, seeing as how for most of this period, ninety percent were still serfs on the national plantation known as the American South.

    When my great-grandfather came to America in 1910, though he was poor, and a religious minority, he was offered work the very first day that was off limits to African Americans whose families had been here for over 200 years. Not yet fully ‘white,’ he was nonetheless favored over America’s untermenschen. Over time, if he played the game, and tried hard to forget the old world ways that had kept his family and people alive, and if he took special care not to teach his children Yiddish, nor act or speak too Jewish, then he could work, save some money, send his child (my grandfather) to a college blacks couldn’t attend, who would then be able to get a house in a suburb where blacks couldn’t live, and send his children, including my father to schools that were segregated. He was a hard worker, to be sure, but one whose hard work was met by access to an opportunity structure. No shame in that, but also no model minority.

    And the much-heralded Jewish cultural emphasis on education is also largely mythical. As anthropologist Miriam Slater has noted, and as Selma Berrol’s study of Jewish experience in New York City confirms, economic mobility and success — largely due to the above-mentioned good timing, pre-existing skills, and apartheid barriers elevating us over blacks — came before substantial educational gains in the Jewish community. In the early part of the century, the average American Jew (supposedly part of a culture with a special affinity for education) was a 7th grade dropout, and working class Jewish kids typically received no greater level of schooling than other working class immigrant children. Indeed, a look at pre-immigrant Jewish ‘education’ makes clear that to whatever degree learning was valued, it was largely Talmud-based instruction, for males only: hardly indicative of a special love of the life of the mind.”

    • seanmcbride
      August 5, 2013, 12:02 pm

      Do you have thoughts on the factual accuracy of the following quote?

      Among the reasons for the relatively high Jewish use of the internet is that on the average, Jewish households have an annual income about 14% higher than that of other American households. Perhaps even more important is that 60% of Jewish adults aged 25 and over have a four-year college degree or higher, compared to 28% in other American households.

      article; title=American Jews and the Internet; publication=Israel National News; date=August 4, 2013; url=http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/13644

    • Elliot
      August 5, 2013, 12:43 pm

      I wonder if the significantly higher percentage of skilled Jewish immigrant workers a hundred years ago as compared with their non-Jewish contemporaries from other countries, has to do with anti-Semitism back in the old country. Italians tended to come from the poorer areas of Italy, Sicily for example. If I remember correctly, Jews were desperately poor in the Pale of Settlement but they also had to leave Russia because anti-Semitism blocked their advancement.

      • yrn
        August 5, 2013, 1:36 pm

        Elliot

        You don’t observe Phil Rational.
        Phil wrote that the Jewish advantage was “destroyed by the success”.
        So for sure those “Jews who were desperately poor in the Pale of Settlement but they also had to leave Russia because anti-Semitism blocked their advancement. had the significantly higher percentage of skilled Jewish” as they were not successful.
        So in order for the Jews to have the Jewish advantage, they must return to be desperately poor and have something to blocked their advancement.

    • hophmi
      August 5, 2013, 1:07 pm

      I’d like to see the basis for the statement that the average American Jew in the “early part of the century” was a 7th grade dropout. There are a lot of assumptions in that sentence.

      I’d generally agree with the thesis that timing was important, and I certainly have never thought that the achievements of the American Jewish community were based on our innate gifts as Jews. I do think we have a culture of knowledge and thinking, and that our religion historically has elevated the scholars among us to positions of power and authority. The Catholic Church has a similar tradition, though as a couple of scholars have pointed out, celibacy has meant that some of the greatest minds in Catholicism could not reproduce, while in Judaism, reproduction has always been encouraged.

      It is silly to argue that Jewish cultural values, particularly the emphasis placed on learning and study, played no major role in Jewish advancement in the twentieth century. It is the culture of Talmudic learning – its emphasis on knowledge, memory, reasoning, critical thinking, and so on, that helped shaped the ability of Jews to succeed educationally. When even the ignoramuses in your community still have some foundation in thinking and reasoning, your people are probably going to do well in an emancipated environment. When your culture starts formal education at the age of 3 or 4, that’s probably going to help down the line.

      The tragedy of slavery, not to mention the Jim Crow atmosphere that followed it, was that it broke up traditional and family structures that have benefited communities like the Jewish community (and all communities) over time. Those problems are not fixable in generation; it takes many generations to fix. Our traumatic event lasted a few years, not long enough to destroy our historical memories and historical traditions and values.

      • seanmcbride
        August 5, 2013, 2:21 pm

        Hophmi makes a lot of sense here:

        It is silly to argue that Jewish cultural values, particularly the emphasis placed on learning and study, played no major role in Jewish advancement in the twentieth century. It is the culture of Talmudic learning – its emphasis on knowledge, memory, reasoning, critical thinking, and so on, that helped shaped the ability of Jews to succeed educationally. When even the ignoramuses in your community still have some foundation in thinking and reasoning, your people are probably going to do well in an emancipated environment. When your culture starts formal education at the age of 3 or 4, that’s probably going to help down the line.

        I agree. And there is no need for Jews to apologize, as a culture, for their love of learning and literacy. They should be proud of it.

        But of course smart Jews should have figured out by now that Zionism is probably a cul-de-sac — a dead-end street. They should know when to cut their losses and not dig themselves ever deeper into a losing situation.

        And Jews are least funny when they (some of them) are badgering Americans to wade into endless self-destructive wars and political conflicts to prop up Israeli policies that are increasingly indefensible around the world. Not funny at all.

      • The Hasbara Buster
        August 5, 2013, 5:53 pm

        Nonsense. Look at Israel. How many Israeli Nobel laureates are Mizrahi? How many great musicians or writers are of Sephardi descent? Yet Middle East Jews have exactly the same Jewish traditions as European Jews. Their children also go to Talmudic schools, but they don’t thrive to the same extent as their Ashkenazic counterparts.

        So the key to the success of European Jews can’t be Jewish traditions themselves. It must be something else.

        In fact, I’m tempted to state that European Jews thrived in spite of Talmudic schools, where they learned useless stuff: the Bible instead of Newton’s Principia; superstition instead of mathematics. It’s only thanks to the gift of Enlightment they received from the Europeans that Jews became scientists and artists and chessplayers.

        The comparison with the Catholic Church is BS. The Church funded composers, writers, physicists, mathematicians and chemists. The Jewish religion never funded scientific research or the arts (the “scholars” hophmi brings up were Talmud scholars, not thermodynamics experts). There’s no native Hebrew word for “university.”

        So let’s not romaticize things. Let’s not try and find easy explanations for what appears to be a highly complex phenomenon.

      • miriam6
        August 5, 2013, 11:49 pm

        McBride ;

        And Jews are least funny when they (some of them) are badgering Americans to wade into endless self-destructive wars and political conflicts to prop up Israeli policies that are increasingly indefensible around the world. Not funny at all.

        I think the 2003 invasion of Iraq was , from an American policy – making – point – of view ,the logical outcome of America’s ( supported by the U.N. and many Western nations of course ) unusual policy of refusing to draw a line under the Gulf War of 1990-1.

        Due to this American /Western policy , Iraq was then even after the war ended with Iraq’s defeat , subjected to a programme of sanctions with no end in sight.

        9/11 ( ironically one of the grievances behind the terrorist attack itself may well have been this programme of crippling sanctions imposed on Iraq)provided the pretext for the next step by America of abandoning sanctions in favour of an endgame involving a far more direct programme of intervention , war, and military rule by Washington.
        The 1990-1 Gulf War was the first foreign policy challenge America faced in the wake of the end of the Cold War.

        It provided George Bush Snr. the opportunity to outline his vision of the post Cold War , New World Order , a World Order with only one remaining superpower.

        However, the New World Order was much like the old one…

        Noam Chomsky;

        Oh, yes. I mean, control over the Middle East, especially the energy-producing regions, has been the driving force of American foreign policy since World War II.
        The documentary record wasn’t completely available then, but it was already clear.
        Actually, I didn’t know it then, but U.S. efforts to control the Middle East had been the leading theme in U.S. foreign policy since World War II.
        One of Roosevelt’s main advisors, A. A. Berle, said around the late 1940s that if we can control the Middle East, we can control the world.
        The State Department described the Middle East as a “stupendous source of strategic power,” the “greatest material prize in history.”
        Those were the common conceptions of planners in the late 1940s.

        In fact, even during the war they began to sense this, with a mini-war going on between the U.S. and Great Britain over who would control Saudi Arabia.

        link to palestine-studies.org

        This book suffers from a bad case of historical amnesia.
        Not so long ago, America and its allies in the West were anxious about the rising tide of Third Worldism, and about the possibility of the Soviet Union turning anti-imperialist sentiment to its advantage in the Cold War.
        Not surprisingly, therefore, Washington was on the lookout for reliable strategic partners who could enforce Western interests in various parts of the so-called Third World.
        It was this concern, rather than the machinations of a domestic lobby, that explains the unusually close relations that the US forged with Israel in the 1960s.
        And this was not a marriage of convenience between two equals: the US was, and remains, the dominant partner in the relationship.
        And once it feels that Israel has become a geo-political liability, it will have little hesitation in ditching its ally, whatever the arguments of the Israel lobbyists.

        It would be better to explore the wider issue of why Washington promotes policies around the world – in North Korea, Russia, Iran and elsewhere – that often prove short-sighted and which undermine America’s strategic position.
        Surely the Israel lobby is not responsible for bringing about the distracting and unnecessary clash between America and North Korea, which occurred in the middle of the inconclusive engagement in Iraq?
        A closer inspection of the evidence would suggest that, in recent decades, many Western nations have lost the capacity first to evaluate their geo-political interests, and second to act on them.
        Certainly since the end of the Cold War international relations and diplomacy have acquired an unusually arbitrary character.
        It is Western nations’ seeming inability to act in accordance with their national interests – and not just in Iraq – which really needs to be addressed.

        link to spiked-online.com

        And finally , if I may quote Dan Crowther;

        The lobby is doing nothing more than holding chocolate cake in front of an over eater; do something about the eating disorder, the lobby has no power.

        link to mondoweiss.net

      • ziusudra
        August 6, 2013, 6:42 am

        Greetings Hasbara Buster,
        …. there’s no hebrew word for University…..
        Because Hebrew died out as a spoken language, ca 200BC!
        It started its revival as a spoken language in the 80/90s in
        Falesteena.
        No one ever spoke Hebrew in Europe from 200BC to 1945AD!
        The first Univs. in Europe spring up in Paris, Bologna, Prague, etc.
        in the 12th C.
        … Catholic Church funded……
        The State/States of Italy funded the Church with Bishops & Cardinals of which became Popes building Cathedrals for the enslavement of the People
        while the ruling Church sold their offices to rich families. These familes employed artisans.
        ziusudra

      • jon s
        August 6, 2013, 5:20 pm

        Ziusudra, You’re quite wrong about Hebrew. I suggest that you read some reliable sources on the subject.

    • Daniel Rich
      August 5, 2013, 5:23 pm

      @ Abdul-Rahman,

      Q: Even as Glazer and others were developing the Jewish Horatio Alger image in the ’60s and ’70s, fifteen percent of Jews in New York City were poor or near poor, as were twelve percent of Jews nationally. About a third of Jewish men at this time were working class, not the professionals and scholars portrayed by stereotype.

      R: That means [respectively, and assuming your numbers are correct] 85% and 88% were not…

      2% of population | 541 – 45 = 8,3% of congress. Now, that’s what I call impressive.

      We Jews are a funny breed. We love to brag about every Jewish actor. Sometimes we even pretend an actor is Jewish just because we like him enough that we think he deserves to be on our team. We brag about Jewish authors, Jewish politicians, Jewish directors. Every time someone mentions any movie or book or piece of art, we inevitably say something like, “Did you know that he was Jewish?” That’s just how we roll.

    • ziusudra
      August 6, 2013, 3:24 am

      Greetings Abdul R.,
      IQ & Comedy.
      At random, Italians sing, US Blacks are excellent in sports. Ethiopians are Long distance runners. Most violinists are of Eastern Euro. history, like their Comedy.
      Where were the great achievements of this same abundance of inate talent betw.
      the great culures of the past like Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Egypt, Greece & Rome?
      They ne’er noted any achievement of this now long exstinct ethnicity.
      Of all the generations since the industrial rev. how many individuals succeeded out on the whole of the group? Any success in the past was due to a ‘helper': the Saracens in Europe gave them employment. The Indus. Rev. of the west did also. The vast wealth & Capitalism of the US, The rise of Protestantism in Holland. The enlightenment in Europe, etc, gave this group help. They didn’t excell in Poland & Russia, but in Germany. Who’s doing the majority of non professional work in Israel & the US? Normal followers of Judaism.
      ziusudra
      PS Ashkenasi must be corrected. Ashkenasz is a biblical figure & only the Name of the Sephardi ‘places of learning’ in German Towns in the 10th C. It was the Germans that falsely called them Ashkenaszi.

    • Keith
      August 6, 2013, 4:58 pm

      ABDUL-RAHMAN- “Indeed, a look at pre-immigrant Jewish ‘education’ makes clear that to whatever degree learning was valued, it was largely Talmud-based instruction, for males only: hardly indicative of a special love of the life of the mind.”

      Israel Shahak agrees: “It is important to note that all the supposedly ‘Jewish characteristics’- by which I mean traits which vulgar so-called intellectuals in the West attribute to ‘the Jews’- are modern characteristics, quite unknown during most of Jewish history, and appeared only when the totalitarian Jewish community began to lose its power….take the love of learning. Except for a purely religious learning, which was itself in a debased and degenerate state, the Jews of Europe (and to a somewhat lesser extent also the Arab countries) were dominated, before about 1780, by a supreme contempt and hatred of all learning (excluding the Talmud and Jewish mysticism)….Study of all languages was strictly forbidden, as was the study of mathematics and science. Geography, history- even Jewish history- were completely unknown….Only one loophole was left, namely the time that even a pious Jew must perforce spend in the privy. In that unclean place sacred studies are forbidden, and it was therefore permitted to read history there, provided it was written in Hebrew and was completely secular….” (“Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years,” Israel Shahak)

  3. aiman
    August 5, 2013, 10:18 am

    “I grew up with these beliefs. Maybe they were true once.”

    These beliefs are myths. Otherwise, how can one explain that the wisest medieval Jew (still celebrated) was an underling of a philosopher called Averroes? If Jews held more power, the wisest medieval Muslim would well have been an underling of a Jewish philosopher. How do heralded identities fare in different times? It has everything to do with power, liberality (as opposed to the establishment “liberalism”), opportunity, patronisation and the socio-economic landscape. People usually get to act smart and funny when they are privileged in the first place.

  4. Marco
    August 5, 2013, 11:17 am

    “But hanging on to them in this era of Jewish power and cultural prominence seems like uninterrogated vanity.”

    Yes, and let’s interrogate this belief briefly. Consider: if someone genuinely believes that Jewish people are smarter than gentiles, what does this imply?

    Well, for one thing, it necessarily means that black people, or at least all blacks who are not Ethiopian Jews, are intellectually inferior to Jews!

    Yet if a white person were to say such a thing, it’s likely the same person crowing about Jewish excellence would ferociously condemn them.

    You’ll notice that it’s acceptable in public and in respectable circles to proclaim Jewish intelligence. But we’re not supposed to notice what this entails: non-Jewish stupidity. How can you condemn racism towards blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities when you agree that they’re intellectually inferior, either as a result of a deficient culture or inadequate genes?

    When you frame it this way it becomes clear that what we’re dealing with here is not simply vanity or hubris, but naked racial bigotry. And when you connect it to the issue of ethnic-networking that Philip has previously addressed on this site, you have the makings of a serious social problem.

    • hophmi
      August 5, 2013, 1:13 pm

      “But we’re not supposed to notice what this entails: non-Jewish stupidity. ”

      Jewish intelligence entails non-Jewish stupidity? How so? If I say M&M’s taste good, does that mean Reese’s Pieces taste bad?

      “How can you condemn racism towards blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities when you agree that they’re intellectually inferior, either as a result of a deficient culture or inadequate genes?”

      How can you talk about any culture in positive terms if it means that you’re by definition referring to all other cultures in negative terms?

      “When you frame it this way it becomes clear that what we’re dealing with here is not simply vanity or hubris, but naked racial bigotry.”

      No, it comes off as so much illogical defensiveness by people who are looking for a reason to level accusations of racism.

      I’ve got a great idea. Let’s end anthropology. It’s clear that for you, attributing any quality to any culture is, by definition, attributing a deficiency to everybody else.

      • Marco
        August 5, 2013, 2:27 pm

        Semantics. If Jews are intellectually superior it means other races and ethnicities are intellectually inferior.

        Let there be no obfuscation on this point: it simply considered unacceptable and racist to speak of any other ethnic group in this way.

        But Jewish people, many of whom are otherwise passionately opposed to similar racial sentiments when voiced by whites, nevertheless feel privileged to speak this way about themselves.

        If you’re confused about this, consider the alternative. If members of a WASP elite were to go around saying that they’re smarter than Jewish people, that either Jewish genes are deficient, or Jewish culture lacks the erudition and respect for learning found among white Protestants, don’t pretend you wouldn’t consider them anti-Semites.

      • TomAmitaiUSA
        August 5, 2013, 2:33 pm

        “Jewish intelligence entails non-Jewish stupidity? How so? If I say M&M’s taste good, does that mean Reese’s Pieces taste bad?”

        If you say A is smarter than B then you are also saying that B is dumber than A. At least that’s how it seems to mein goyishe kopf.

      • hophmi
        August 5, 2013, 4:11 pm

        “If you say A is smarter than B then you are also saying that B is dumber than A. At least that’s how it seems to mein goyishe kopf.”

        Sorry, still illogical. Saying A is smart is not the same thing as saying B is dumb. B would take it that way only if B has a big inferiority complex.

      • RoHa
        August 6, 2013, 2:49 am

        “Saying A is smart is not the same thing as saying B is dumb.”

        Can’t you see the “-er” of comparative form?

        Saying A is taller than B is also saying that B is shorter than A. It is not the same as saying that B is short, but that is not the point. The point is the comparison. If tall is good, then A is superior to B.

        And in the same way, saying A is smarter than B is also saying that B is dumber than A. If smart is good, then A is superior to B.

        Now it may or may not be true that Jews are smarter than non-Jews (which is the important question) and it probably is racist to say so (but totally unimportant*) but let us not pretend that the claim does not mean what it obviously does mean.

        (*In the same way that it is not important whether or not a claim is anti-Semitic, and it is important whether or not the claim is true.)

      • libra
        August 6, 2013, 7:06 pm

        hophmi: Saying A is smart is not the same thing as saying B is dumb.

        Couldn’t agree more. Likewise, saying H is dumb is not the same thing as saying M is smart.

      • bilal a
        August 5, 2013, 2:48 pm

        It seems IQ is substantially influenced by socio-economic opportunity, ie ‘If youre so smart, why aint you rich?” is the wrong direction of causality.

        Ron Unz writes:

        The Lynn/Vanhanen data on Jews also provide some suspicious IQ disparities. American Jews have among the highest tested IQs, with means being usually reported in the 110–115 range. Yet Lynn and Vanhanen report that Israeli Jews have strikingly low IQs by comparison. One large sample from 1989 put the figure at 90, while a far smaller sample from 1975 indicated an IQ of 97, with both results drawn from Israel’s large Jewish majority rather than its small Arab minority. The IQ gaps with American Jews are enormous, perhaps as large as 25 points, and difficult to explain by genetic factors, since a majority of Israel’s Jewish population in that period consisted of ethnic Askhenazi (European) Jews, just like those in America. The huge economic gulf between Israeli Jews, who then had less than half the average American per capita GDP, and American Jews, who were far above average in American income, would seem to be the most plausible explanation.

      • Taxi
        August 5, 2013, 3:18 pm

        Being a follower of zionism is not smart. Just ask Albert Einstein.

        To me, jewish people who think they are smarter than non-jews because they were born jewish, are pathologically suffering from an acute case of Napoleon’s Complex.

      • hophmi
        August 5, 2013, 4:12 pm

        “jewish people who think they are smarter than non-jews because they were born jewish, are pathologically suffering from an acute case of Napoleon’s Complex.”

        I know literally no one who thinks Jews are smarter by virtue of their being born Jewish. That’s a complete distortion.

      • Shingo
        August 5, 2013, 5:01 pm

        They are also social Darwinists.

      • RoHa
        August 6, 2013, 7:56 pm

        “… jewish people who think they are smarter than non-jews because they were born jewish, are pathologically suffering from an acute case of Napoleon’s Complex.”

        Is there to be no end to the commas after subject clauses?

      • Tuyzentfloot
        August 7, 2013, 3:08 am

        Is there to be no end to the commas after subject clauses?

        I know it’s a subversive thought but there’s a valid reason why people always want to put them there. Because they think it’s helpful to emphasize the end of the subject clause.

      • Taxi
        August 7, 2013, 3:54 am

        RoHa,
        “Is there to be no end to the commas after subject clauses?”

        Well don’t go swooning and fainting, Professor Grammar:

        “Yet, as is true with any rule of writing, the rules on comma usage can be broken if doing so serves the sentence, the scene, or the story. Know the reason for using or not using commas, but use them as you see fit to add style and nuance to your writing.”
        link to theeditorsblog.net

      • RoHa
        August 7, 2013, 10:02 pm

        “they think it’s helpful to emphasize the end of the subject clause.”

        They are wrong. It is unhelpful. It gives the impression that a subordinate clause was inserted between the subject and the object, so that the reader has to go back and try to find the start of the subordinate clause. That is why the rule is that there should never be a comma after a subject clause.

        (And the “because” clause should never be used as a separate sentence. If it must be separated from the clause it explains, it should be preceded by “this is…” Thus, your second sentence should be “This is because they think …”.)

      • RoHa
        August 7, 2013, 10:06 pm

        Professor Grammar is fulminating, not swooning and fainting.

        Putting a comma after the subject clause does not serve the sentence. It does not add style or nuance. It only makes the sentence more confusing and creates the impression that the writer is a semi-literate.

  5. Tzombo
    August 5, 2013, 11:52 am

    “All cultures laugh I’m sure, but I believe that the Jewish culture is especially given to humor.”

    Well, whadyaknow, Israelis are not Jews then, I guess…

  6. amigo
    August 5, 2013, 12:06 pm

    “The intellectual success of the Jews in the modern era and their prominence in occupations”MT

    They are certainly prominent in the 65 year old occupation.

    But I would hardly call it an intellectual success given that it is all falling apart and about to blow up in Zionist faces.

  7. hophmi
    August 5, 2013, 12:19 pm

    “But hanging on to them in this era of Jewish power and cultural prominence seems like uninterrogated vanity. ”

    Why? We comprise under 2% of the country and a small fraction of 1% of the world’s population.

    Are we allowed to say anything about ourselves that is positive without offending you, Phil?

    • amigo
      August 5, 2013, 1:52 pm

      “Are we allowed to say anything about ourselves that is positive without offending you, Phil?”hopmi

      Sure like to hear you brag about not being an apartheid rogue nation involved in colonialist oppression.

    • Cliff
      August 5, 2013, 2:10 pm

      Hoppy

      You are not Einstein or Chomsky or any other great Jewish thinker.

      You are a Zionist troll.

      Being Jewish does not give you any right whatsoever to latch on to the great PEOPLE (who happened to be Jewish) of history.

      Classic cult-mentality that elevates the self-delusion of its unworthy and ORDINARY members.

    • Ecru
      August 5, 2013, 2:27 pm

      The problem is Hophmi people like you have a nasty habit of deliberately not taking anything else into account for success except for a Jewish person’s ethnicity, no matter how vague the link may be. Up to and including “well his great-great-great-granduncle on his mothers side was Jewish so that explains everything.” You’re basically Jewish supremacists, no more pleasant or correct than White supremacists.

      Hmm, maybe Nutteryahoo should genetically test all comedians to make sure they’ve got the mythical Jewish gene before allowing them to claim their “birthright.” Just a thought.

  8. seanmcbride
    August 5, 2013, 12:23 pm

    # Jewish comedians

    1. Adam Sandler 2. Al Franken 3. Albert Brooks 4. Andrew Dice Clay 5. Andy Kaufman 6. Ben Stiller 7. Bette Midler 8. Bill Maher 9. Billy Crystal 10. Buddy Hackett 11. Carl Reiner 12. Chelsea Handler 13. Don Rickles 14. Gene Wilder 15. George Burns 16. Groucho Marx 17. Henny Youngman 18. Howard Stern 19. Jack Benny 20. Jackie Mason 21. Joan Rivers 22. Jon Stewart 23. Jonah Hill 24. Judd Apatow 25. Larry David 26. Larry Sanders 27. Lenny Bruce 28. Lewis Black 29. Marx Brothers 30. Mel Brooks 31. Milton Berle 32. Mort Sahl 33. Neil Simon 34. Peter Sellers 35. Rodney Dangerfield 36. Rob Schneider 37. Sacha Baron Cohen 38. Sarah Silverman 39. Seth Rogen 40. Sid Caesar 41. Three Stooges 42. Woody Allen

    That’s quite a collection of talent. Perhaps Jews overall do in fact produce more first-rate comedians than other ethnic, religious and cultural groups. Why? I’m not sure.

    Peter Sellers is my favorite comedian of the bunch, by the way — pure genius. (Sidenote: Sellers was raised as a Roman Catholic — but he had a Jewish mother.)

    • eGuard
      August 5, 2013, 1:00 pm

      The true pattern is that you like American comedians.

    • jon s
      August 5, 2013, 1:07 pm

      Add: Jerry Lewis, Jerry Seinfeld.

    • Citizen
      August 5, 2013, 2:06 pm

      @ seanmcbride
      Re Seller, ditto Maher, and maybe Handler? I think her mother came from Germany and is a Mormon, although she was raised as a Reform Jew.
      Here’s a partial list of 27 Irish American comedians: link to famouswhy.com
      Note inclusion of Maher.

    • Ecru
      August 5, 2013, 2:21 pm

      Question : how many of the booking agents at American comedy clubs are Jewish? Since humour’s such a personal thing it’s bound to have an effect. There are other factors at play as well of course (percentage of ALL comedians – not just successful ones – who are Jewish or not-Jewish for example) but I’m curious about this one.

      And that thing about Sellers – hmm, so his Catholic father and Christian upbringing in a Christian country had nothing to do with his humour, ONLY the ethnicity of his mother? Who wasn’t even a practising Jew? And what about his fellow Goons? Spike Milligan for example (who I actually think was funnier than Sellers but not as good an actor).

      And one last thing – many of those comedians you mention I’ve never heard of, those I have, many I don’t think are that good. Seriously are you sure you want to claim Sacha Baron Cohen? The man’s as funny as bubonic plague. And about as charming.

    • marc b.
      August 5, 2013, 2:33 pm

      sean, with all due respect many on your list aren’t funny. not a bit. andy kaufman. funny. adam sandler. not funny. gene wilder. funny. sarah silverman. not funny. and on. (rob Schneider?!)

      here’s another theory, candidly if quietly admitted in public. (I’ve heard it told on NPR on various shows by garry marshall, lorne michaels, etc. – and I believe steven van Zandt and david chase when talking up their recent movie, ‘not fade away’) people tend to hire their relatives and friends, and also want to work with other people they feel comfortable with, and don’t cause problems. like asking for too much from their contract. steven van Zandt, bless his heart, admitted in an interview that there were loads of other bands and musicians better than the e-street crew that got passed over because … well, he didn’t fully explain, but anyway, you get my point.

      part of the theme that Weiss is pushing here, to his credit, is that cream doesn’t rise to the top necessarily (as seanmcbride’s demi-list of mediocrities proves.)

      PS I tried searching wiki for the list of ‘gentile’ comedians, or ‘non-jewish’ comedians. maybe i’m just a bit of a half-wit when it comes to internet searches, but nothing came up. what does that mean exactly?

      • marc b.
        August 5, 2013, 3:07 pm

        don’t have time to look up everything, but here is the van Zandt quote:

        VAN ZANDT:
        And you know what, Terry? We had that discussion about everything, constantly. It was one of our challenges, to try to and figure out exactly how good they should be at any given moment. And David mostly – with the exception of that song, perhaps – but mostly, you know, he was on the side of having them be a little bit worse than better.

        And I argued against that, because there were a whole lot of really good bands in my neighborhood that never made it, you know – better than us, by the way. You know, there were guitar players that were better than me and Bruce. You know, there were singers that were better. There were bands that were better.

        And plus, I thought it was really important that the audience really constantly rooted for them. And we still, you know, made them out of tune occasionally and, you know, did all that, you know, to make sure it wasn’t too – to keep it totally authentic.

        But I really wasn’t that concerned about it being too good, because the truth of the matter is, what makes a band successful, one successful and one not, I think has everything to do with management rather than the actual – you know, I mean, you have to have some talent, obviously. But you look back in history at who made it and who didn’t, and I guarantee you there’s a manager there that’s the critical factor.

      • Citizen
        August 5, 2013, 8:05 pm

        @ marc b
        Tribal nepotism goes a long way to understand sean’s list. Many of those are not funny to me, nor to anybody I know. The Jewish community have their own version of what once was the WASP network in America–comedians are part of that.

      • marc b.
        August 6, 2013, 9:30 am

        absolutely, citizen. comedy is a unique commodity, and the best in my opinion, comes out of pain, personal, psychological pain, discrimination, misogyny, etc. that’s why most of the best on smcbride’s list are the ‘older’ comedians, who came out of an era when jews were still outsiders to an extent, though not necessarily as portrayed. (African-americans, native americans have always, everywhere had it worse in this country.) some more contemporary comedians, like andy dick when he is at his out-of-his-mind best, have their own personal backstory that makes them good, but it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with ‘jewishness’ it seems. (see his andy dick show ‘daphne aguillera sketch’. I still piss myself watching that.)

        garry marshall hiring penny marshall isn’t a crime, but that relationship is not the recipe for the best in comedy, or more broadly, a meritocracy. (nepotism. there really isn’t much of an explanation beyond that for the likes of rob Schneider or pauly shore.)

      • unVet
        August 5, 2013, 9:47 pm

        Marc,

        Not too likely you will see my reply, since it wont be posted for another 12 hours. But, just in case you do come across it, wikipedia does have a list of 1073 American comedians. There ard categories of African American comedians, American Comedians of Arab descent, American male comedians, American female comedians, along with a few other categories, but no category of American Jewish comedians or American gentile comedians. When you have a little spare time, you could go through the list and make up lists of Jews and non-Jews. Just to get you started: Bruce Bruce is African American not Jewish and I am betting that Ahmed Ahmed is not Jewish.

    • Daniel Rich
      August 5, 2013, 6:35 pm

      @ seanmcbride,

      Write a list of the real funky ones. It saves you time, coz it’s a ‘one liner.’

    • RoHa
      August 5, 2013, 9:36 pm

      I’ve never heard of most of those. Of those I have heard of, the following can be funny.

      15. George Burns 16. Groucho Marx 21. Joan Rivers 22. Peter Sellers 42. Woody Allen

      The others vary from boring to pathetic.

    • G. Seauton
      August 7, 2013, 12:24 am

      Seems it’s easy to make lists of comedians by ethnicity. Here’s one you’re sure to like, Sean:

      Short list of Irish comedians (with emphasis on Americans)

      Kirstie Alley, Art Carney, George Carlin, Jane Curtin, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Farley, Christian Finnegan, Jackie Gleason, Denis Leary, Anne Meara, Bill Murray, Conan O’Brien, Carroll O’Connor, Rosie O’Donnell, Catherine O’Hara, Colin Quinn, Mickey Rooney, Molly Shannon

      I could throw in Bill O’Reilly, but his comedy routines are inadvertent.

      Maybe the Irish are the funniest people in the world?

      • seanmcbride
        August 7, 2013, 10:19 am

        G. Seauton,

        There are many first-rate Irish-American comedians — but I do notice that the list Jewish-American comedians is slightly longer. :)

        (George Carlin and Bill Murray are my favorite comedians on your list. You could also add Bill Maher — who is both Jewish and Irish by ethnicity, apparently.)

  9. Qualtrough
    August 5, 2013, 12:29 pm

    If Klein is right just about every other comedian should be a Palestinian.

  10. Annie Robbins
    August 5, 2013, 12:58 pm

    I don’t think it’s changed that much, about 3 percent of the population but about 80 percent of the comedians.

    i doubt 80 of comedians are jewish. it’s possible 90% of the best comedians in the world we’ve never heard of.

    and while we are on the topic of what we have and have not heard of, do we think npr’s coverage of the jewish community reflects a circumstance that jews are just more interesting newsworthy people?

    do we think jews doing the dabke is more newsworthy than palestinians doing the dabke? do they get so much coverage in the new york times because they are better dabke dancers?

    about .1 percent of the dabke dancers are jewish but about 99.9 percent of the nyt dabke coverage belongs to them. is it because they do better dabka?

    what makes jewish dabke dancers so newsworthy?

    • hophmi
      August 5, 2013, 1:24 pm

      “do we think npr’s coverage of the jewish community reflects a circumstance that jews are just more interesting newsworthy people?”

      No. This is a classic version of hearing what you want to hear.

      “do they get so much coverage in the new york times because they are better dabke dancers?”

      No. They get coverage in the NY Times because they’re a well-regarded troupe performing in Lincoln Center, which is in New York, which the NY Times covers.

      “about .1 percent of the dabke dancers are jewish but about 99.9 percent of the nyt dabke coverage belongs to them. is it because they do better dabka?”

      See, the problem is, you say stuff like this, and it’s complete nonsense. You saw a couple of stories on an Israeli dance troupe performing this dance, and you now think that every NY Times story on this issue is about it.

      When you make these accusations, do you ever bother to do the legwork and actually look at the Times coverage to see if, you know, maybe you’re WRONG?

      Here are the NY Times articles that have mentioned the dabke in recent years. The only other one that references an Israeli dance troupe dancing it is an article about Adalah’s protest of the Batsheva dance company at BAM in 2010.

      So maybe it’s time for a retraction.

      link to nytimes.com

      link to nytimes.com

      link to nytimes.com

      link to eastvillage.thelocal.nytimes.com

      link to nytimes.com

  11. joer
    August 5, 2013, 1:18 pm

    There are a lot of Jewish comedians. I think part of the reason is tangental to the centuries of being peddlers in Europe. If you were dragging a cart of rags from town to town trying to sell them, being able to make people laugh with a few jokes would help with sales…and survival. Eventually, the humorous banter became a tradition to itself and some Jews didn’t need to even have rags to sell if they were funny enough.

    • hophmi
      August 6, 2013, 10:07 am

      I think the reason, if there is a reason, is that great comedy is borne of pain, and there has been a lot of pain in Jewish history. Laughing about pain is a survival mechanism.

  12. seanmcbride
    August 5, 2013, 1:38 pm

    Yes — there is a Wikipedia page for this topic:

    Category:Jewish comedians

    link to en.wikipedia.org

    How in the world did I forget Jerry Lewis and Jerry Seinfeld? And I should add that Andy Kaufman was probably as great a genius as Peter Sellers. Robert Klein isn’t so funny. In fact, he’s a bit of a pill.

    • yrn
      August 5, 2013, 1:53 pm

      Jerry Seinfeld ???
      How about all the gang of Seinfeld:
      Larry David, Julia Louis-Dreyfus,Jason Alexander, Goldie Hawn, Barbra Streisand,

      • seanmcbride
        August 5, 2013, 2:13 pm

        yrn,

        Keep this in mind: if these great Jewish comedians had injected Jewish nationalism and Zionism into their work, they wouldn’t have been so funny — probably not funny at all. Their appeals lies in their universalism — their basic humanity. They speak to all of us.

        (Jackie Mason is reputedly a Kahanist — but when he is being funny — and he can be incredibly funny — he is not being a Kahanist.)

      • Citizen
        August 5, 2013, 8:16 pm

        @yrn
        Yes. The Seinfeld Show characters interaction is funny. Larry David’s show Curb Your Enthusiasm has no appeal, in contrast, to most American. What do Goldie Hawn and Streisand have to do with Seinfeld Show? They are not part of that regular gang. The real star of the Seinfeld show is whoever cast the regular characters on the show. David might have wrote the parts and their verbal interaction, but he himself fails when trying to act himself in what he wrote.

  13. David Doppler
    August 5, 2013, 1:40 pm

    In any social group there is a power structure, and challenges to it are of keen interest to all involved – a natural tension that functions as a great “set up” for humor. Much of Jewish humor in the past played off this tension – like the class cut-up that reaps laughs by mocking the teacher and principal. Americans have a natural distrust of authority, and enjoy seeing the powerful mocked and brought down – we like it so much we built it right into the constitution so that three co-equal branches can continuously bring each other down. So it has been very entertaining watching an oppressed minority mock the former American power structure. Larry Miller reminiscing in the WSJ [http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704779704575553970213008384.html]:

    “Besides, every Marx Brothers movie has essentially the same plot and theme anyway, one that I personally find very appealing: Good-looking, slender WASPs try to run the world and short, Jewish men turn it upside down.”

    Americans enjoyed it when it was “the powerful” being mocked by class cut-ups, but it won’t be funny any longer, if it’s the powerful mocking others. “Uninterrogated vanity” is a great term, and also describes Ruth Wisse attributing exceptionalism in Jewish humor to having agreed with God to be the chosen people. [http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323393804578556041646158214.html]

    There’s nothing funny at all about self-absorbed powerful people preening themselves over their social status, whatever its source, until someone starts mocking them. This is why SNL’s fellate-a-donkey skit was so funny: the power and the tension it creates have shifted.

  14. American
    August 5, 2013, 2:08 pm

    ‘Jews are smarter, and funnier too”

    Oh brother, here we go again. This will be another 300 comment long thread.
    In the several years I have been hanging around the Israel issue I have seen like a gazillion articles about Jews being smarter and more intelligent than others.
    Those who promote it usually claim it’s due to special ‘genetics’ of Jews . …which is like a race -based reason..al la the Bell Curve. Then there are some way out promoters that claim the “smarter than you” gene was implanted by God in the ‘ chosen people”. Then there are those that claim the suppression of Jews by others
    drove them to ‘become’ smarter than others in order to survive and into certain fields. Then there are those who claim something superior about Jewish ‘culture’..either ethnic or religious based culture…make them more intelligent than others.

    Before people start discussing who’s the smartest of them all they should first agree on or “define what basic or raw ‘intelligence’ actually is.
    Separate from all other factors such as conditions, opportunites, needs driven efforts, support systems, evolving social and other trends, etc., etc. that determine any individual’s or group’s success.
    Success not necessarily being attached to any inate intelligence or visa versa…we see plenty of proof of that every day these days.

    Humor?…that’s a matter of individual taste I would say. I ‘ve always liked the British humor and see most American humor as sort of crude compared to the more sophisticated British humor, the difference being between a flat hammer and a very sharp, more subtle scalpel.

    • Keith
      August 6, 2013, 6:23 pm

      AMERICAN- “Oh brother, here we go again.”

      Congratulations! This is the best line in the whole thread. And just when I was becoming overwhelmed by déjà vu! And yes, IQ tests are vastly overrated and used to justify all manner of unjustifiable situations. And success at the upper levels is more the result of ruthless power-seeking than problem solving. In the real world, it is frequently the pond-scum that rises to the top!

    • libra
      August 6, 2013, 6:34 pm

      American: I ‘ve always liked the British humor and see most American humor as sort of crude compared to the more sophisticated British humor, the difference being between a flat hammer and a very sharp, more subtle scalpel.

      Ouch! You certainly know how to slip that hammer between the ribs.

  15. hophmi
    August 5, 2013, 2:35 pm

    “There’s nothing funny at all about self-absorbed powerful people preening themselves over their social status, whatever its source, until someone starts mocking them. This is why SNL’s fellate-a-donkey skit was so funny: the power and the tension it creates have shifted.”

    LOL. It was funny to you because you agreed with its politics.

  16. dbroncos
    August 5, 2013, 5:13 pm

    Good analysis, David Doppler.

    ” This is why SNL’s fellate-a-donkey skit was so funny: the power and the tension it creates have shifted.”

    Yet the skit was deemed unfit for television, not for its profanity, but because the powers that be are still too powerful to allow a broadcast of that kind of mockery of themselves- not for long I hope.

    • hophmi
      August 6, 2013, 10:04 am

      “Yet the skit was deemed unfit for television, not for its profanity, but because the powers that be are still too powerful to allow a broadcast of that kind of mockery of themselves- not for long I hope.”

      Not an iota of proof to suggest that this is the case. Skits get cut from SNL all the time, usually because the show can’t fit them into the broadcast.

  17. mcohen
    August 5, 2013, 5:15 pm

    David Doppler says:

    “This is why SNL’s fellate-a-donkey skit was so funny: the power and the tension it creates have shifted.”

    Shrek and donkey an item?

    The best ever was watching ” beverley hills cop” on acid
    oh man that scence with eddie murphy at the country club with his message for victor brought tears to my eyes
    link to movieclips.com

    Now thats funny

  18. Krauss
    August 5, 2013, 5:19 pm

    Well, humor is a subjective thing.
    But it’s demonstrably true that Jews have done very well in comedy, either as writers(Chuck Lorre, Lorne Michaels) or as comedians themselves(Lenny Bruce, Lewis Black) or something in-between(Jon Stewart, Seinfeld, Larry David, Woody Allen and so on).

    Of course a lot of entertainment bosses are Jewish too, so they recognize and like humor they understand from a cultural gut level. But while I think that’s a factor, I don’t think it’s enough.
    In Weimar Germany, and especially in Berlin, which was something of the world’s cultural capital at that time, Jews were about 85% of the playwrights in the theaters.
    So it seems to be something cultural.

    As for intellectual achievement, Jewish disproportinate achievement is well-known(just look at the Nobels), but at least according to Ron Unz, it is shrinking, but is still about 3x what the average white Gentile performs, not bad, but not 15x as it once used to be.

    Another trait is probably bragging. Some cultures, notably the East Asian ones like the Japanese, are very shy about asserting themselves. Not us. We let the world know that we’re smarter – and funnier – than them. Why be shy about your strengths?

    Of course, it’s ethnic chauvinism. But when did that ever stop anyone?

    • tokyobk
      August 6, 2013, 1:58 am

      That is a common but wrong assessment about the Japanese, imo. The Japanese are not shy. They are much like the WASP (read Richard Brookheiser’s excellent book on) in that it is embarrassing to brag about oneself because one’s achievent should be natural and overwhelming such that membership in the elite is obvious, not at all because of shyness. Bragging is a sign that one is not int he natural elect.

      “If I have to brag that I went to Tokyo University it is embarrassing because of course one such as I went to Todai.” Is how a friend put it once.

      But, as I think you know, being from a striving culture is different than being from an arrived culture.

      • Krauss
        August 6, 2013, 6:07 am

        In response to tokyobk:

        That is a common but wrong assessment about the Japanese, imo. The Japanese are not shy. They are much like the WASP (read Richard Brookheiser’s excellent book on) in that it is embarrassing to brag about oneself because one’s achievent should be natural and overwhelming such that membership in the elite is obvious.

        I’ve heard this kind of argument but I reject it, and I do so in large part because WASP culture is not elite culture. There is this strange view among Jews, especially among Jews who grew up in the 60s and 70s, that WASPs are all these patrician, rich people. Sure, most elites in the 60s and 70s were WASPs, but most WASPs were not elites. And I still find a reluctance to brag among WASPs who have made it from a poor background. Or just look at the culture of Northern Europe(UK, Netherlands, Scandinavia) and compare it to Israel and you see how different people behave. Jews are just pushier/braggier by nature.

        Unlike a lot of people, I don’t necessarily see this as a problem, in large part because there’s a lot of emphasis on self-criticism in the rabbinical and Jewish tradition, so it seems the ancient rabbis knew our inclinations and wanted to guard against our excesses. But more fundamentally, and I think this is a cultural heritage from my proud Jewish mother, if you’ve done well for yourself, especially if you came from a people that has been oppressed, why wouldn’t you celebrate it? Life’s short anyway.

        But, as I think you know, being from a striving culture is different than being from an arrived culture.

        That’s certainly true, which is probably part of the reason why Jewish achievement, still good, is not as astronomical as it used to be among university students. Compare this to Asians, who are economically quite successful but who are still culturally marginalized. This is a situation closely mirroring the situation of Jews in the 1950s, which was already an affluent community in those days but who was culturally outsiders and thus identified with the black liberation movement, for example. This also birthed the famous maxim that “Jews earn like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans”.

        Today, the Jewish culture is much more arrived than striving, which is why you see radically changed views on issues like immigration, for instance. Beinart has been writing about this. A majority of Jews in Arizona supported the draconian laws there. In a national poll of Jews in 2012, the biggest plurality wanted to reduce immigration. This just shows that the Jewish community understands that there is no real threat to the diaspora, no real place left where you might see a mass exodus and as such, in accordance with an arrived community’s sensibilities, the views on immigration has shifted even if the official Jewish organizations hold on to those views.

        And let’s not even mention foreign policy, where most Americans are weary of war but where most Jews share positions more closely towards a Republican hard-right position when you ask on interventionism, Islam and wars in the Middle East.

      • Shmuel
        August 6, 2013, 6:25 am

        Jews are just pushier/braggier by nature…. so it seems the ancient rabbis knew our inclinations and wanted to guard against our excesses.

        Funny, the Talmud calls us “naturally shy”. I guess the ancient Rabbis had never heard of Minsk or Brooklyn ;-)

      • hophmi
        August 6, 2013, 10:02 am

        “most Jews share positions more closely towards a Republican hard-right position”

        Total and complete nonsense. It is exactly the opposite.

      • Krauss
        August 7, 2013, 4:35 am

        Hophmi, as usual your role is to deny, deny and deny without really having an argument.

        Desperation.

      • hophmi
        August 7, 2013, 12:48 pm

        “Hophmi, as usual your role is to deny, deny and deny without really having an argument. ”

        Krauss, as usual, you can’t defend what you said, and you’re getting nasty and personal.

        And in this case, what you said is really ignorant nonsense. Most Jews do not have any foreign policy view in common with the GOP hard right, not on foreign policy and not on Islam. You said a national poll in 2012 is your source. You didn’t cite it, which means to me, given the polls I’ve seen, that you’re either misreading it or distorting it.

        The vast majority of Jews favor diplomacy over military action and view Muslims as an important religious community in the United States.

      • hophmi
        August 7, 2013, 12:50 pm

        “Jews are just pushier/braggier by nature”

        No, they are not. That’s an antisemitic stereotype, with zero basis in reality.

    • RoHa
      August 6, 2013, 2:52 am

      “Another trait is probably bragging.”

      Civilized people in most parts of the world regard bragging as shocking bad manners.

      • Tuyzentfloot
        August 6, 2013, 4:20 am

        Civilized people in most parts of the world regard bragging as shocking bad manners.

        Which is a bit unfortunate because all kinds of bragging are considered as a form of competitive behaviour. If people are proud of something and they like to mention that, that should be fine.

      • RoHa
        August 6, 2013, 7:53 pm

        “all kinds of bragging are considered as a form of competitive behaviour”

        Exactly why it is bad manners.

        “If people are proud of something and they like to mention that, that should be fine.”

        There is a difference between mentioning an achievement and bragging. But being proud of it should be enough.

      • Tuyzentfloot
        August 7, 2013, 3:30 am

        There is a difference between mentioning an achievement and bragging. But being proud of it should be enough.

        There is a lot of freedom in how to perceive the bragging(pejorative word choice). When kids mention their achievements this is not treated as competition and it’s accepted. When grownups do the same it is much more tolerated in the US than in the UK. In the UK nothing is ever perceived as “just mentioning an achievement”. It’s always bragging. There’s no room for people airing their satisfaction about their achievements. That in itself leads to all kinds of false humility practices. I think the ability not to perceive it as a threat is healthier.

    • hophmi
      August 6, 2013, 10:03 am

      ” Not us. We let the world know that we’re smarter – and funnier – than them.”

      Again, total and complete nonsense. This is a STEREOTYPE, not a fact. And it’s a vicious antisemitic stereotype, with no basis in fact.

  19. Stephen Shenfield
    August 5, 2013, 5:58 pm

    There is a kind of critical intelligence that arises in the transition from one culture to another, when the individual is marginal to both cultures, able to see them both in relative terms and thereby rise above them, at least to some extent. Many Jews possessed this intelligence of bi-marginality (and the humor that expresses it) at a certain stage of their movement from the traditional world of the medieval ghetto into modernity — Thorstein Veblen talked about this — but there is nothing essentially Jewish about it. In the US today that stage is well past. Israeli Jews are typically devoid of this kind of intelligence (the Zionist human engineering project called “the new Jew” was designed to suppress it), but Palestinian citizens of Israel as bi-marginals par excellence have been forced to develop it.

    Of course, the type of intelligence I’m talking about has nothing to do with “smartness” and “success” (those who “succeed” are those who lack the moral qualities needed to stay at the bottom).

  20. tokyobk
    August 5, 2013, 7:36 pm

    The problem with these conversations is we take snapshots for movies.

    Its quite possible for one group to be better by objective standards at one thing than another at any given moment. The problem and error comes when we take these to be essential and immutable qualities.

    In fact, Ashkenazic IQ’s were quite low in the first such tests. Jews were not thought (by popular standards) of as funny in the 19th century but over the course of the 20th began to define “funny.”

    African Americans, once written off to the margins of white society, have changed American culture so completely that there is barely any music that is not black influenced. Young whites who “act” or “talk” black aren’t faking it anymore. Listen to WASP poet Taylor Mali speak and you hear a “black” voice.

    Ashkenazic influence is on the wane without a doubt. Another group will be funnier and smarter and richer and more politically powerful in our lifetimes. Though doubting that Jews achieved amazing and comparatively higher levels of success than other groups is (sometimes player hating) denial.

    • MRW
      August 5, 2013, 9:02 pm

      Though doubting that Jews achieved amazing and comparatively higher levels of success than other groups is (sometimes player hating) denial.

      Pew says the Hindus are higher in the US.

      • tokyobk
        August 6, 2013, 1:50 am

        Chinese and Koreans on the rise as mentioned in my comment, which if you notice on Jews was in the past tense.

        South Asians are also highest on kinship networks and frequency of travel back to the homeland.

  21. Citizen
    August 5, 2013, 8:27 pm

    There’s the bemused smirk of the haves, and the painful belly laugh, or funny snort of the have-nots, the humor of the master, and that of the slave, of the heir, and of the indentured servant, etc. Compare, e.g., The Honeymooners, or Archie Bunker, with Family Guy or Curb Your Enthusiasm. See anything?

    How about comparing Doug Stanhope with Lewis Black? Doesn’t this comparison show the winds of funny have changed?

  22. RoHa
    August 5, 2013, 9:38 pm

    And I thought that it was the British who were funnier than others, and the Chinese who were smarter.

  23. Tuyzentfloot
    August 6, 2013, 3:10 am

    This thread isn’t very funny is it? It should be replete with links to good humor and with quotes and be drifting completely OT.
    Where I live, the american sitcoms and movies are of course well known but the reference for interesting humor always was Great Britain, so my frame of reference is a bit different.
    Here. Mel Smith just died and he isn’t mentioned often. link to youtube.com

    Mooser’s gone btw? I’ve seen him pop up at JSF now and then but not here anymore. You’d think I bought Leo Rosten’s Joys of Yiddish because I’m so philosemitic? Nope. Mooser said it was funny. Ok, that and me collecting odd dictionaries. Still not sure what the first edition had extra though, I thought it had some dirty bits that were cleaned up afterwards. Maybe the bit about the Falashas got thrown out later.

  24. Ecru
    August 6, 2013, 4:06 am

    Ok how about some other things that Jewish people are “more accomplished” in than most any other people.

    Self pity
    Endless navel gazing/Narcissism
    Claiming to be better than anyone else at almost everything.
    Reducing EVERYTHING to ethnicity no matter how tenuous the link and ignoring any other explanations.
    Tribal nepotism.
    Passing off terrorism as self-defense.
    Ethnic-cleansing.
    Xenophobia.

    Now for the usual cries of “ANTISEMITISM!” Well tough. If you want to reduce “good” things to ethnicity, it’s perfectly fair to reduce “bad” things to ethnicity. Equally RIDICULOUS.

  25. Talkback
    August 6, 2013, 7:59 am

    Tell some jokes about Jews. Than you will see if a Jew is funny or not. (Same goes for other people).

    • Citizen
      August 6, 2013, 9:58 am

      Jewish comedians tell jokes about their own people, even though often times most gentiles in the audience think they are only referencing the foibles of human nature, not some characteristic disproportionate to the tribe. However, seldom do jokes by Jews about Jews touch upon, for example, the list provided above by Ecru.

  26. mcohen
    August 6, 2013, 8:20 am

    Ecru says
    August 6, 2013 at 4:06 am

    “Now for the usual cries of “ANTISEMITISM!””

    a true story -story of my life actually

    when I was about 12 years old the beatles were running hot-anyone remember those days
    rolling stones,beatles,grand funk,bad co.,led zeppelin …………..
    anyway i hated the beatles-refused to buy there records

    here,s why-my hearing has always been bad -only the low frequencies

    one day i am listening to this song on the radio by the beatles
    Hey JUDE
    only thing is i thought they were singing HEY JEW and this got me all worked up,
    wtf,never going to listen to these dogs again
    and from then on -beatles were banned from my collection
    song came on the radio -turned it off
    my dad said he would never drive a Mercedes benz
    well i said i would never listen to the beatles

    years later i get invited to a party -took this girl that i had the hots for-all good,i am, having a good time -couple of things,anyway music comes on and its dance time -next thing i know a slow number and its Hey Jude
    i shout out to the dj to turn ” the Nazi crap off”
    suddenly all goes quiet and my date looks at me and says “what are talking about”
    and i say these guys are anti semites you know -who the hell are they to be singing “HEY JEW”
    well everyone started killing themselves laughing thinking what a great joke it was
    yeah man a regular comedian-
    anyway here are the lyrics -just change the jude to jew

    Hey jude, don’t make it bad.
    Take a sad song and make it better.
    Remember to let her into your heart,
    Then you can start to make it better.

    Hey jude, don’t be afraid.
    You were made to go out and get her.
    The minute you let her under your skin,
    Then you begin to make it better.

    And anytime you feel the pain, hey jude, refrain,
    Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders.
    For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool
    By making his world a little colder.

    Hey jude, don’t let me down.
    You have found her, now go and get her.
    Remember to let her into your heart,
    Then you can start to make it better.

    So let it out and let it in, hey jude, begin,
    Youre waiting for someone to perform with.
    And don’t you know that it’s just you, hey jude, you’ll do,
    The movement you need is on your shoulder.

    Hey jude, don’t make it bad.
    Take a sad song and make it better.
    Remember to let her under your skin,
    Then you’ll begin to make it
    Better better better better better better, oh.

    • MRW
      August 7, 2013, 3:53 am

      That’s funny, mcohen. And for the record, apparently Jude was Paul’s name for John Lennon. He wrote the song for him, IIRC.

      Then, there’s this, so I may have it wrong:

      The original title of the song was “Hey Jules” Paul wrote it for Julian (John Lennon’s son) as John and Cynthia were going through their divorce. “Uncle Paul” was trying to offer support and comfort to Julian. John thought the song was about him in the line “go out and get her.” To John, this meant Paul’s blessing to persue and eventually marry Yoko Ono. John told Paul not to change any lines in the song….”

    • Shmuel
      August 7, 2013, 4:06 am

      one day i am listening to this song on the radio by the beatles Hey JUDE
      only thing is i thought they were singing HEY JEW and this got me all worked up

      A friend once insisted, in all seriousness, that “coo coo ca-choo” in Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” was in fact “go cook a Jew”.

      • Ecru
        August 7, 2013, 12:52 pm

        @Shmuel

        Co cook a Jew? Considering human meat was once referred to as “long pig” I’m not sure that would be kosher.

  27. Talkback
    August 7, 2013, 6:44 am

    What about the Woody Allen of international law, Alan Dershowitz? He’s hillarious and never brakes character.

  28. jon s
    August 7, 2013, 6:52 am

    In “Baby You’re a Rich Man” , instead of “baby you’re a rich man too” John Lennon supposedly sang “you’re a rich fag Jew” , in “tribute” to Brian Epstein.

    • Ecru
      August 8, 2013, 1:10 pm

      And your point in spreading this rumour (and it’s nothing more than that) is?

    • Annie Robbins
      August 8, 2013, 1:36 pm

      and according to the biographer bob spitz (who made that allegation) lennon and epstein were also lovers! never mind there’s no evidence epstein ever claimed that and lennon refuted it. seriously jon what is the point of dragging that in here?

      link to slog.thestranger.com

      You should also know that Spitz is a pathological liar. Only about 25% of what he says is true. No publisher ever wants to do another book with him because he so pisses off his editors–and anyone who gets to know him. He is like the character in the movie “Catch Me If You Can”, seemingly charming, but reallya sociopath.
      Posted by Jaqui | May 23, 2008 5:56 AM

      interestingly that comment was made in 08, and according to spitz wikipage, he has not published a book since

      link to en.wikipedia.org

  29. LanceThruster
    August 8, 2013, 2:16 pm

    “I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I mean, S-M-A-R-T!” ~ Homer Simpson

Leave a Reply