Okay, listen up! Anti-Semitism is an ugly scourge. It dehumanizes Jews and enables the hate and violence that has colored so much of our history.

But there’s anti-Semitism and there’s anti-Semitism.

There are anti-Semites who treat Jews as sub-human, or animal-like. There are some who consider Jews liars, cheats, thieves, etc. There are anti-Semites who attack Jews on the basis of looks, physical attributes, etc. There are anti-Semites who find negative stories or incidents relating to Jews and ascribe those motives, actions or behavior to all Jews. There are anti-Semites – sometimes embodied in the form of organizations and countries (certain NGOs and UN bodies…) – who treat the Jewish state, Israel, differently than all other states . Of course, there are anti-Semites who practice or seek to practice violence against Jews.

Then there are errors in judgment that may be anti-Semitic but unintentionally so. Malice is the differentiator. For example, when somebody who is ignorant about Jews but is a good person who means well, says something unpleasant about Jews, the first thing to do is gently correct them. Once corrected, take note of their behavior and it will be pretty easy to see whether they meant to be malicious or had made an innocent comment.

Let me also elaborate on one more point: many Jews are inherently paranoid. This is because we are the survivors of some of the horrors perpertrated against our people over millenia and in true Darwinian fashion, we’re the ones who are still around because we are lucky and because we are attuned to dangers lurking around the corner. Now just because we’re paranoid, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some people who are out to get us…but we need to be aware of who is an enemy and who isn’t.

It is in this spirit that I declare Ronan Tynan innocent!

“Two Jewish ladies were coming to view [an apartment in his building] and the agent said, ‘They are very particular’. And I said, ‘I don’t know how they will deal with having a singer beside them, practising all the time. That could be scary.’ We laughed about it.”

Tynan (49), from Kilkenny, had both legs amputated after a boating accident when he was 20. He studied medicine, became a recording artist and emigrated to New York 10 years ago. He became famous for singing at memorial services for firefighters and police killed on September 11th, at Ronald Reagan’s funeral, George W Bush’s White House and the wedding of former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani. He is best known for his performances at Yankees games.

On Thursday morning, another estate agent showed up with a potential tenant. “At least they’re not [Boston] Red Sox fans,” the agent joked. “At least they’re not the Jewish ladies,” Tynan replied, alluding to the finicky clients he had met earlier.

Dr Gabrielle Gold-von Simson, the prospective tenant, who is Jewish and a paediatrician at NYU Medical Centre, asked: “Why would you say that?” Tynan replied: “That would be scary” and laughed. “I referred back to the previous three weeks, when I had that conversation with the estate agent’s partner,” Tynan explained…

Apparently the good doctor recommended he make a $1000 contribution to charity as penance. Did he really need to do penance for that comment? Why not invite him for a chat, explain what was hurtful and move on? He wasn’t being malicious.

And in the same spirit I declare Edwin O. Merwin Jr., Chairman of the Bamberg County Republican Party, Denmark and James S. Ulmer Jr., Chairman, Orangeburg County Republican Party, North, INNOCENT.

Poor old Edwin and James were out there defending Jim DeMint from some well-intentioned, well-deserved and probably correct Democratic attacks. In the process, they put their foot in it:

There is a saying that the Jews who are wealthy got that way not by watching dollars, but instead by taking care of the pennies and the dollars taking care of themselves. By not using earmarks to fund projects for South Carolina and instead using actual bills, DeMint is watching our nation’s pennies and trying to preserve our country’s wealth and our economy’s viability to give all an opportunity to succeed.

Well, based on the reaction in SC, you’d think they were preventing Jews from working in hospitals or law firms, keeping them out of the country club, calling them hook-nosed shysters, trying to gas them or just being all mean and stuff.

One of two Jewish Democratic state Senators, Joel Lourie, said he was outraged:

“The words of these key Republican leaders are disgusting, unconscionable and represent prejudice in its purest form,”

Well, not quite.

You see, they were making a generalization, but they were trying to make a positive generalization. They didn’t say all Jews were wealthy, they didn’t say Jews got wealthy by cheating or stealing, they didn’t comment about Jewish values or Jewish ethics. No, all they did was say that some Jews watched their pennies and those pennies became dollars.

Now, I’ll give Rep Lourie a pass here. I’ve never lived in the South and I can understand how there may be greater sensitivity to the issue down there than in large urban centers in the Northeast, Midwest or West Coast. But for heaven’s sake, do they need to be shamed or insulted? It’s not as if they splattered Israel’s name all over the media because of an FBI sting operation that had nothing to do with Israel. It’s not as if they wrote a letter of admiration to Electronic Intifadah. It’s not as if they tried to become members of Stormfront. It’s not as if they came on to our site and began making disgusting generalizations about Jews or encouraging violence against us.

None of the above.

Can we all try to be sensitive but reasonable please? Isn’t this an opportunity to MAKE FRIENDS with people who should have known better but made an innocent mistake? Let’s bring them to our side, folks, because we need friends and not more enemies. Seriously, let’s try to be smart about this…

Oh and before somebody tells me I don’t know what I’m talking about, know that I used to have pennies thrown at me by some not so nice Catholic teenagers when I was a teenager because I was Jewish. This happened a number of times and I didn’t always have a chance to fight back. Today, however, their children probably wouldn’t throw pennies at my son because as they’ve grown, their attitudes have changed. Our society is changing and while there may be deep-rooted negative feelings about Jews in some circles (Mel Gibson anybody?), these are all people who can be shown the mistake of their ways. Gently. It’s easy to make enemies, but it’s also stupid. It’s also not necessary when a little tolerance and smarts could make them friends and allies.

Let these poor Republicans go back to their cigar-smoking, country-clubbin’ ways and let’s save our anger and outrage for truly outrageous anti-Semitism.

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  • Their would throw dimes instead. Inflation you know. 🙂 When I saw the the quote about the tenants, none of the context was included and it sounded terrible.
    The reactions aren’t really about anti-Semitism, they’re a good PR opportunity.