Marshall “Masher” Grainge, my fearsome (but fearsomely fair) high school vice principal, always used to say that “they do things big in America.” But then China came along and did things multiple factors bigger. Leeds-New York-Beijing. Big-bigger-biggest. Huge-huger-huguosi.
By 2050, when Jews only speak either Mandarin or Hebrew, we’ll look back on this transitional Yid-Chinglish with fond incomprehension. Until then we’ll keep squinting at the signage and eating in Huguosi Nosheries around the world.
Hat tip, as always, to Nick “Huguosi” Frisch.
Books that purport to chronicle world Jewry’s plot to rule the world are flying off shelves in China and Japan. Such conspiracy theories are also prevalent in Malaysia, the Philippines and, to some extent, throughout Asia, according to a recently published essay by the Anglo-Dutch writer Ian Buruma. But unlike standard-issue Western antisemitism — accusations of Christ-killing, blood libel — the anti-Jewish propaganda in contemporary Asia is not religious in nature, Buruma writes:
“So what explains the remarkable appeal of Jewish conspiracy theories in Asia? The answer must be partly political. Conspiracy theories thrive in relatively closed societies, where free access to news is limited and freedom of inquiry curtailed. Japan is no longer such a closed society, yet even people with a short history of democracy are prone to believe that they are victims of unseen forces. Precisely because Jews are relatively unknown, therefore mysterious, and in some way associated with the West, they become an obvious fixture of anti-Western paranoia.”
Woody Allen once said, “My view of reality is that it has always been a grim place to be … but it’s the only place you can get Chinese food.”
In this week’s New Yorker, writer Patricia Marx tags along with rabbis/kashrut supervisors working in China — the fastest-growing exporter of kosher goods on earth. The rabbis in Marx’s story don’t care much for Chinese food (and one of them has never even heard of Woody Allen), but they do offer a theory on the affinity that Western Jews have for Eastern dishes: “Are there any foods that Jews don’t like?”
To the backdrop of China’s thriving kosher food industry, books such as “The Jewish People’s Bible for Business and Managing the World” — yes, managing the world — and “The Jewish Way of Raising Children” were Chinese-language bestsellers last year, Marx writes.
Human rights activists critical of the upcoming Beijing Olympics have gained a surprising new ally: the “re-established Sanhedrin.”
Yes, that’s right, the re-established Sanhedrin — a body launched in 2004 by a group of Israeli Orthodox rabbis in a somewhat audacious attempt to reconstitute the ancient supreme rabbinic court of the same name — has reportedly ruled that “participating in these Olympics will be deemed a danger to the well-being of humanity,” pointing to the Chinese communist regime’s human rights abuses.
Even more surprising is that, according to YNet, these Orthodox rabbis were spurred in part by claims from Israeli athletes who are practitioners of Falun Gong and complained of the persecution of Chinese members of the Buddhist-influenced exercise movement. The Sanhedrin also approached the Chinese embassy in Israel to hear the regime’s side. Ultimately, however, the Sanhedrin appears to have weighed in firmly on the side of the Falun Gong practitioners.
Case in point — as the Guardian reports — Sharon Stone:
Stone sparked an international outcry with her remarks, made last week during a red carpet interview at the Cannes film festival. “I’m not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans because I don’t think anyone should be unkind to anyone else,” she said.
“I’ve been concerned about how should we deal with the Olympics, because they are not being nice to the Dalai Lama, who is a good friend of mine.”
“And then this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and then I thought, is that karma? When you’re not nice that the bad things happen to you?”
Some Chinese were, understandably, not pleased by the actress’s musings. Stone has since apologized.