The image is of a sunrise over the Sea of Galilee taken by Futurowoman.

Learn to love it, folks. Someday, you might have to move there.


“Moi? Uh uh, not me. I’m groovy, and I love America. I get to live here and read witty Eli Valley comics that make fun of those Jews with the use of nasty stereotyping because life here is so comfortable and grand that a little self-deprecating humor about them is good for the soul. Those Jews don’t resemble me in any way and I’m an example of how good America is to Jews. What we have here is special and resembles nothing we’ve ever seen before.”

Thanks to the New Republic, I have been enlightened. Through them I learned of the poll taken and published in the Boston Review. The results can be questioned but bring home some serious questions about the perception of Jews by the non-Jewish public.


Neil Malhotra and Yotam Margalit put this poll together with admittedly leading questions.

First question: “How much to blame were the Jews for the financial crisis?”

…Responses falling under five categories: a great deal, a lot, a moderate amount, a little, not at all. Among non-Jewish respondents, a strikingly high 24.6 percent of Americans blamed “the Jews” a moderate amount or more, and 38.4 percent attributed at least some level of blame to the group.

Interestingly, Democrats were especially prone to blaming Jews: while 32 percent of Democrats accorded at least moderate blame, only 18.4 percent of Republicans did so (a statistically significant difference). This difference is somewhat surprising given the presumed higher degree of racial tolerance among liberals and the fact that Jews are a central part of the Democratic Party’s electoral coalition.

I wonder how many Jewish Dems blame Jews.

Educational attainment also correlates with variation in anti-Semitic attitudes. Whereas only 18.3 percent of respondents with at least a bachelor’s degree blamed the Jews a moderate amount or more, 27.3 percent of those lacking a 4-year degree did so.

They ran an interesting test of how people respond subconsciously to Jews.

To address this question, we carried out a simple but powerful experiment. Participants in a national survey were randomly assigned to one of three groups. All three groups were prompted with a one-paragraph news report that briefly described the Madoff scandal. The text was the same for all three groups, except for two small differences: the first group was told that Bernard Madoff is an “American investor” who contributed to “educational charities,” the second group was told that Madoff is a “Jewish-American investor” who contributed to “educational charities,” and the third group was told that Madoff is an “American investor” who contributed to “Jewish educational charities.”

…In a follow-up question, participants were asked for their views about providing government tax breaks to big business in order to spur job creation.

…Individuals explicitly told that Madoff is a Jewish-American were almost twice as likely to oppose the tax cuts to big business. Opposition to tax cuts for big business jumped from 10 percent among members of group one to over 17 percent among the members of group two, who were explicitly told about Madoff’s Jewish background. This difference is highly significant in statistical terms. The implicit information contained in Madoff’s charitable history also produced an aversion to big business, but to a lesser degree, with opposition to corporate tax breaks in this case increasing to 14 percent.

…When we examine the results of the experiment on Jewish voters, we find that respondents had the exact same policy preferences in all three groups.

There are problems with the survey. The questions are direct and they do involve Jewish figures. The numbers look bad but a glass-half-full view of it is that the vast majority of respondents did not blame the Jews or display anti-Semitic sentiments. Then again, if you extrapolate these numbers to the general population, there are tens of millions of Americans who believe the Jews are responsible for the lousy economy.

And most of them come from the ranks of the party which gets 75-80 percent of the Jewish vote.

Shabbat shalom.

About the author

themiddle

32 Comments

  • Hey TM, you might be able to appreciate the comic if you take off the ideological blinders for at least the time it takes to read a few panels. I realize that’s asking a lot, and that the comic might have hit too closely to home, but try to recognize that I was making fun of stereotypes that originated with Zionist ideology itself. It wasn’t self-deprecating humor. It was humor deprecating the ridiculous stereotypes and caricatures that pass for historical and contemporary Zionist discourse, both inside Israel and in Jewish educational institutions in the Diaspora.

    Maybe if you weren’t a primary contributor to a website that perpetuates such preposterous caricatures of Jews, you’d be able to look at the comic a little more objectively. Because you missed the entire point.

  • I would be interested to see the ethnic and racial breakdown of these “Democrats” who blame the Jews.

    Having said that, Foxman is absolutely responsible for promoting policies that are a danger to our national interests, harms labor, attack a fair treatment of the majority population, and promotes appeasement towards Western Islamicists.

    These policies include amnesty, which will drive the cost of labor. Exactly what Big Business wants.

    These policies include specifically anti-white, or “Jim Snow” laws such as the Hate Crimes laws, which offer protected classes to minorities, but nothing to people who are attacked merely for being white.

    Foxman has directed the ADL to join the international lynching of Geert Wilders, whose warning against the internal Islamicist threat is something we should all take seriously, and the ADL should be communally denounced in uncertain terms for their role in villainizing this great man.

  • David,

    “Themiddle” wasn’t referring to the recent Foxman comic but to a comic from May 2008 — “Israel Man and Diaspora Boy.”

  • Actually, I was referring to this comic (Israel Man and Diaspora Boy), the Foxman comic and others.

    I don’t think I miss the point. I get the point and say so in the paragraph about your work. I think your comics are sharp and witty (I read all the panels carefully). They also rely, fairly or unfairly, on stereotypes that you can get away with because you’re Jewish and are poking fun at the Jewish world. All this is well and good…until you realize there are people out there who actually believe the negative stereotypes that you AND I understand in a way they don’t.

    What is false about this statement?

    “…make fun of those Jews with the use of nasty stereotyping because life here is so comfortable and grand that a little self-deprecating humor about them is good for the soul.”

    And your comics don’t hit close to home. What makes you say that, exactly?

    Is it because I don’t think the ADL is evil and has their role? I do believe they waste tremendous resources unnecessarily and although Foxman gets press coverage, he isn’t always the best ambassador for the Jewish people. On the other hand, this survey shows that a group monitoring and commenting on anti-Semitism in the US is not yet outmoded.

    As for Israel man and Diaspora Boy, your caricatures are so overt and ugly that for some sophisticated souls who might have a clear knowledge of the history of early Zionism they probably represent a very different thing than for the vast majority of Jews and non-Jews who haven’t got a clue. As ck writes just below, nuances are entirely lost.

  • EV: You might want to take off the ideological blinders as well. The vast majority of the people that write for Jewlicious are diaspora Jews. And there isn’t a comic that you have put out that hasn’t been posted on Jewlicious. Do I think that Jewish life is better in Israel than it is in the Diaspora? Yup. Do I think the diaspora is completely worthless? Clearly not. Not even close. I think we’re a little more nuanced than that and I am sorry that I and many of us refuse to fit into your neat little preconceived notions of what a Zionist is. We’ve evolved a little from the days of clearing swamps and whatnot. But Jewlicious is really all about dialog so thanks for stopping in and leaving your two cents!

    DK: Amnesty will drive the cost of labor down? Is that what you’re saying? Because I figure it’ll drive the cost of labor up – all these previously illegal workers will now have toi be paid at least minimum wage, no? And Abe Foxman isn’t the only one supporting Hate Crime laws. There’s no reason why a crime primarily motivated by the victim’s white skin should not be prosecuted as a hate crime. Hate crimes have a very high evidentiary standard, due to the increased penalties, and are notoriously difficult to prosecute regardless. Besides, Abe Foxman represents me as much as he represents you, which is to say, not at all. I don’t know why y’all keep throwing that at us!

  • TM,

    You linked to one comic, Israel Man and Diaspora Boy, published a year ago. Your statement was that the comic “make[s] fun of those Jews with the use of nasty stereotyping because life here is so comfortable and grand that a little self-deprecating humor about them is good for the soul. Those Jews don’t resemble me in any way and I’m an example of how good America is to Jews. What we have here is special and resembles nothing we’ve ever seen before.” This shows such a clear misunderstanding of what the comic was actually making fun of that it’s difficult to know where to begin. I’ll just summarize it: It’s making fun of Zionist caricatures of Jews. To refer to “nasty stereotyping” in the comic without acknowledging the nasty stereotyping it’s actually mocking is, well, bizarre.

    In terms of your other issue of stereotypes — my comics criticize various aspects of Jewish communal and political life. I know, you might prefer it if I were to draw comics about happy rabbis rescuing bunny rabbits from burning buildings in Tehran. For somebody who refuses to countenance any criticism of Jews, or who interprets any criticism of Jews as antisemitism, yes, my comics will feed into their sensitivities about airing dirty laundry in public. But stereotypes? I’m commenting on the Jewish world. In the early 20th century, Yiddish cartoonists in America and in Europe did the same. It was the mark of a living, breathing culture — something that might seem quaint in the LOL world of Jewlicious. So yes, people like you, and maybe some people at the ADL paid to do these things, will cry “stereotypes” if I criticize — as I did in The Shonda — Jewish community leaders for acting outraged over Madoff while accepting money from horrifically tainted sources. (None of the slimy examples in The Shonda were made up. None.)

    Then you say this: “your caricatures are so overt and ugly that for some sophisticated souls who might have a clear knowledge of the history of early Zionism they probably represent a very different thing than for the vast majority of Jews and non-Jews who haven’t got a clue.”

    — My comics are actually meant for people who have a clue. People who don’t have a clue, they can get their Jewish cultural content from Aish or from Jewlicious. I’m not giving myself a lobotomy for the sake of the lowest common denominator you apparently think I should be writing and drawing for. Besides, antisemites will find cause for their fury wherever they look. They don’t need me for that. And actually — not that I would ever cater my comics in any way for this group, but it bears mentioning — a Jewish community that refuses to criticize itself and refuses to shout out against its own ethical lapses provides far more fodder for antisemites than critical comics could do.

    ck,

    I appreciate that you’ve made some effort recently to give nods to “the LES” or whatnot, but Jewlicious has since its inception traded in hateful rhetoric against the very idea of a contemporary Jewish Diaspora — rhetoric that is based, yes, in the earliest Zionist treatises on Jewish life, and rhetoric that has nothing to do with whether you have writers in LA or wherever. And in the link I supplied above, you yourself made the stupefying comment that “I would gladly give up all the considerable accomplishments of Diaspora Jewry made over the past 100 years if I could get back those 6 million Jews. Yeah. The Diaspora’s been fantastic for us!” Is that the “nuance” you’re referring to, ck? Is that the modern, tolerant Zionism you seem to refer to, a contemporary Zionism I’m apparently out of touch with? No, it’s standard Zionist discourse, whether put forward by the Sochnut or by Jewlicious. What’s funny is that these comics aren’t satirizing a defunct Zionism of the past. They’re satirizing the Zionism as expressed on this very website.

    You wrote the above remark two years ago. If you’ve changed since then, more power to you. But I remember when we had that discussion, it was pretty much the closest I had come in years to arguing directly with someone who holds blatantly antisemitic views.

    Have we really “evolved a little from the days of clearing swamps and whatnot,” ck? I hope so — but reading the things you’ve written here about the Diaspora makes me realize that the nuance you speak of might be as chimerical as the idealized Israel Man mythology I was satirizing.

  • Oh EV. Dear, dear EV. I stand by that statement now as I did then. And I understand you offense – the notion that the death of 6 million Jews was a necessary result of diaspora life – that virulent, violent Antisemitism is an inevitability and that the only way to save the Jews is to buy into Zionism. But again, while I stand behind my statement, it is one that merits further discussion because nothing is quite as simple, as cut and dried as all that. Does the diaspora cause Antisemitism? Does Israel cause more? Or is Antisemitism one of those persistent historical anomalies, capable of sustaining itself against reason, logic, truth and decency even in the absence of Jews? I think that last possibility is the one that best reflects reality.

    Please try and interpret my comments without that filter that assumes that I am a complete idiot. And really, you need to stop that constant meme of yours that tries to paint Jewlicious as some kind of monolithic Ziopremicist Web site with a single agenda. Our diaspora contingent represents CA, NY, Philly, DC and Germany. You want to take umbrage with what I write? Cool. No problem. but don’t project that on our other bloggers.

  • To drag the thread in a somewhat different direction, here’s another TNR blog entry that might paint a slightly different picture of American perceptions of Jews.

    http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/the_plank/archive/2009/05/06/americans-love-the-jews-but-aren-t-so-sure-about-the-buddhists.aspx

    To quote from the entry, about a study done on American religion and religious tolerance, “When Americans are asked about their warmth toward members of other faiths (including the self-identified non-religious), they tend to rank Jews the highest (it seems Tom Lehrer was wrong*), followed closely by mainline protestants and Catholics.”

    So, yeah, I’d say that despite pockets of bigotry that most certainly exist, this country is definitely Good for the Jews. And I’m saying this as one who considers herself a staunch Zionist – the fact that most people in this country seem to genuinely “like” Jews is strongly correlated with the fact support for Israel is comparatively stronger here.

  • What’s the LOL world of Jewlicious? (Please, someone clue me in.)

    BTW, I live in the Rhineland – what’s more to expect from provincial Eurotrash? – , but took a few pictures of Prussia today.

  • EV,

    The first thing I’ll note is that I’m sorry I’m not using my real name and your name is out there. That gives me an unintended advantage. I will try to be as fair as I can with my remarks bearing this in mind and seeing how what was a mild criticism of your work has become a mini war.

    The first thing I’ll say is that it surprises me to see the venom with which you react to modest criticism. Your comics do rely on stereotypes and they are negative. The Zionist caricature you created is really quite a nasty one and the depiction of the diaspora Jew in the eye of the Zionist caricature might work a little better if I didn’t know as many married couples where one parter is Israeli and the other is a diaspora Jew. Maybe they play “Zionist and Diaspora Jew” in the privacy of their bedroom and I just don’t know about it…or maybe your point has some basic elements of truth taken to a degree that translates to the same grotesqueness with which you draw that Diaspora Jew as envisioned by the Zionist caricature.

    In The Shonda, you don’t give names. You make the characters, except for Madoff, into stereotypes of Jewish characters. All rabbis apparently accept tainted money and all Jewish non-profits do. And all Jewish businessmen deal in dirty money. Is that what you mean to tell us? Again, I know Jewish businessmen, rabbis and non-profit leaders in the Jewish world and the vast majority are upstanding citizens who don’t behave in any way that merits the type of caricature you’ve given us.

    You don’t want to “dumb down” your work? Don’t. Nobody asked you to. Nobody asked you to stop publishing. Nobody asked you to treat others with kid-gloves. Publish all you want and have fun and success doing it. But recognize that my comment above is that you feel comfortable creating your art and those of your readers who enjoy it do so because “life here is so comfortable and grand that a little self-deprecating humor is good for your soul. Those Jews you caricature, you and your fans believe, don’t resemble you in any way because you all are examples of how good America is to Jews and don’t believe you have to worry about fallout from severe criticism of other Jews. What you believe you have here in the US is special and resembles nothing Jews have ever seen before.”

    I stand by my original remark. You wouldn’t be so complacent about these caricatures if you didn’t feel as comfortable as you do in this society. That’s a great thing and it should be that way. This post is about changes to our society that are unfolding before our eyes and they will take away this complacency. They might, if allowed to fester, change life for Jews in the US in quite negative ways in the long run. 32% of Democrats believe Jews are to blame for the current financial turmoil. Are you responsible for any part of it, EV? Am I? Maybe it’s time you focused your sharp pen on some of the people out there with these beliefs?

    “My comics are actually meant for people who have a clue. People who don’t have a clue, they can get their Jewish cultural content from Aish or from Jewlicious.”

    The rest of your comments where you compare Aish to Jewlicious, relegate us to some sort of cheerleading faction of all things Jewish community or Israel and call us stupid for not understanding your work or lazy for not reading all of your panels are just silly. Nobody here is insulting your intelligence so it may be prudent for you not to insult your own intelligence with silly remarks.

  • Raeefa, thank you for your informative comment. I didn’t claim that life in the US was over for Jews. My point is that things are changing. If you track my posts over the past couple of years about Carter, Walt & Mearsheimer or recently about Chas Freeman and Michael Scheuer, you will see that this survey is really just reinforcing that these public figures are either influencing broad sections of the American public, making it okay to voice these thoughts, or are representative of a large segment of the public. None of that changes what you’ve written which is that Jews have been warmly received in recent decades by fellow Americans.

  • TM, I definitely agree with you that these trends are worrisome, and that there have been more and more attacks on Jews and Israel accepted by the “mainstream” in recent years. My comment wasn’t intended to draw attention away from that fact, but only to highlight that there is cause for optimism as well as pessimism.

    And I’d also like to venture the point that maybe the fact that almost twice as many Democrats as Republicans blame Jews for the financial crisis isn’t such a shocker, considering that these recent instances of anti-Semitic tendencies (Carter, Walt/Mearsheimer, etc.) have been predominantly among the political left. That is not to say that being liberal or Democrat means being anti-Israel, far from it – only that the vast, vast majority of anti-Israel rhetoric is coming (with the exception of Pat Buchanan) from the left. If we’re going to worry, we might be wise to focus our worrying not on the U.S. as a whole, but some segments of it.

  • Maybe they play “Zionist and Diaspora Jew” in the privacy of their bedroom

    I would hope so!

  • Walt & Mearsheimer are of the political Right. They are only perceived to be on the Left because, well, because when it comes to Israel they sound just like left-wing critics.

  • According to Malik Ali (aka Derek Gilliam) who spoke on Thursday at UC Irvine, and this was confirmed afterward in a follow-up conversation with him, “Americans cannot tell the difference between Zionist Jews and Regular Jews. The Zionist Jews are the ones that are responsible for the economic downturn.”

  • If uh…any of the ladies reading this here website would like to engage in a little Zionist/Diaspora role playing, I believe EV is single.

  • The next person I run across who blames Jews for the economic downturn with be the first one.

  • Would Jews be viewed more favourably though if they all lived in Israel? The way it appears to me (looking at history, too), the lesser people actually get exposed to “real” Jews as opposed to mythical stereotypes, the more people are willing to accept those stereotypes. It doesn’t exactly help then that there are MOTs out there that are keen on living up to those stereotypes.

  • xisnotx – I’m fully aware that Walt and Mearsheimer are of the “realist” branch of the right. But, as TM already pointed out, their views are aligned with, and have been promoted by left-wing critics of Israel

  • I think I responded to this survey. It was a phone survey and they asked my opinions about a bunch of stuff, including who I blamed, I said Republicans, Bush and Jewish bankers.

    But in hindsight, I think I should have said “somewhat” on Jewish bankers. Jewish banks hedge funds and so forth did not create the circumstance for the crisis. It was Republicans de-regulating it, Jewish frims like Lehmen Brothers just saw and opportunity and took it. They put themselves first because they dont feel like they are part of this country. That’s my biggest complaint with organizations like AIPAC and many of the powerful Jews in America, is that they seem to owe allegiance to Israel first. I’ve heard it said… AIPAC should be IAPAC, they do after all put Israel first.

    And this recent insult of Biden by Israel with yet more illegal settlements, is it for me. I’m done even pretending to be pro or neutral towards israel.

  • … let me be clear. I don’t blame All Jews. There many progressives, like Max Blumenthal, that I’ve actually met personally and are great people.

    I just mean the powerful ones, and I blame them just as much as I would the Christians working at those gangster financial firms.

Leave a Comment