Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
It's easy to get entangled in nonsense on these topics because, as is well known, "race" and "ethnicity" are poorly defined and often illogically and inconsistently defined and definitions change over time. The categories exist all the same. I may be sensitive to this issue because over the past decade or two a favorite tacitc of American racists has been to claim that discussion of racism or race is itself.(see the discussion of "color blind" in the wiki steve colbert piece)
Colbert describes himself as racially color-blind and unable to visually identify a person's race,[44] explaining, "Now, I don't see race ... People tell me I'm white, and I believe them, because I own a lot of Jimmy Buffett albums."[45] His race-blindness is a recurring joke, and this statement is often repeated on the show with different punch lines.[46] For this same reason he believed that he was black (even though he's obviously not) when he had an emotional breakdown after watching Obama's inauguration video. He later qualified these statements in his book, stating, "When I say I don't see race, I mean I don't see Black people. But I can spot a Mexican at a hundred paces."[23]

Turkey is usually considered middle eastern. I will cite Wikipedia again, no less.

by rootless2 on Sat Jun 27th, 2009 at 01:31:23 PM EST
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Ahh. Question answered then.
In your last sentence. :)

I asked because many people don´t include Turkey when they talk about the "mess in the Middle East".

So, if you include Turkey...
We here in Germany then got roughly 3 million people of "Middle Eastern descent" (not including North Africa and South East Asia and the Balkans). Around 90% of them Muslims and around 10% of them Jews.

By the way, if you want to learn yiddish, there are several summer courses available in Germany this year.
Just google them in German.

And just to mention it.
I utterly reject that Jews are a separate race. They´ve got a different religion and they are - of course - free to define themselves as a different "ethnicity". As in, they are descendants of "Israeli origin".

Just like people of Polish, Turkish or Spanish origin for example are free to claim their own "ethnicity" in Germany.

by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Sat Jun 27th, 2009 at 03:36:47 PM EST
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Well, "race", has no scientific definition. It is a social construct. So reject what you will, but social constructs exist nonetheless.

As for Yiddish - it was a language that German Jews did not speak much after 1700s.


by rootless2 on Sat Jun 27th, 2009 at 09:15:04 PM EST
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Last time I was in Germany, an otherwise quite pleasant and liberal fellow we were discussing a business contract with, after a few too many glasses of wine, said to me "Well, as a typical Jew, you are reluctant to spend the money, I understand." I'm not religious, so perhaps this was a reference to "ethnicity"?
by rootless2 on Sat Jun 27th, 2009 at 09:21:59 PM EST
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What do you expect your readers to make of that anecdote? The person that said that to you was not "pleasant and liberal". Are you suggesting that this was a "typical German"? That mindless antisemitic prejudice is still typical of Germans?

Anecdotes prove nothing, but they may be used to insinuate far more than they are worth.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 08:50:14 AM EST
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I'm pointing out that "race" is generally a function of "racism". As long as some people believe and act as if other people belong to a "race", the category has a meaning. Arguing that "Jews are not a race" is like arguing that anti-semitism can't apply to Jews because Arabs are semites. The argument is a mischaracterization of what words mean.
by rootless2 on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 11:08:07 AM EST
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I agree with you on the social construct. My question concerned the usefulness of the anecdote.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 12:00:55 PM EST
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that was the point.
by rootless2 on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 12:12:55 PM EST
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My second point is that it's pure denial to believe that a prejudice of centuries, deeply embedded in culture, can just disappear like that. Things change - and certainly multi-cultural Berlin today is not what it was in the 1940s, but it's not something de-nova either.
by rootless2 on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 11:27:55 AM EST
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I sincerely hope he didn't get the contract.

I'm sorry you had to go through that, but can you explain how saying "Germans are/did" is different from saying "Jews are/did"?

by Sassafras on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 09:34:04 AM EST
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But, of course, "Jews are/did ... " is a perfectly fine construction in the appropriate context. "Eastern European Jews spoke Yiddish" is totally clear - most of us know that not all of them did so and many spoke other languages too.
by rootless2 on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 11:13:51 AM EST
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dodo is PNing to try and keep distinctions clear, and any possible hint of racism nipped in the bud, very worthy, but still PN, i think.

rootless is not insinuating anything, and in fact defends him/herself dispassionately.

it's good to be vigilant, but i think this is a bit over the top, as while technically true, i don't feel any bad will to the germans in rootless' comments, just perhaps a conflation, a generalisation quite appropriate for a discussion like this, all the more understandable when the family history is laid out.

it is too easy to make the nazis something 'other', and yet all european countries have abused jews throughout history, the german nazis just took it to its nightmarish conclusion most recently, so no-one here feels unsullied somewhat by our collective past in this and other regards.

the past is very much alive and much still unexpiated, by rights palestinians should hate hitler more than anyone, and this thread reveals how the phenomenon of fascism wounded so many people in so many countries, and those wounds have very thin new skin over them.

her in italy i get a distinct impression that fascism has not been processed completely, and the germans outrageousness was easy to point to, saying 'at least we never did that, when colluding was an integral part of that 'chain of pain'.

the fact that the new uber-right is gathering momentum in europe is another sad sign we have not learned our lessons well enough, that sweeping things under the historical rug is always a bad idea.


the first time i visited germany with my s.o. every time i saw a smoking chimney i felt sick, and i lost no relatives through warcrimes.

it seems obvious to me that rootless' comments are in good faith, and PNing them has led us into a forest of misunderstanding, though i applaud anyone keeping a hyperscanner alert for any whiff of racism.

it's not racist per se to state a truth, even a general one, and the guilt of nazism tainted many without german borders, even supported by 'high-class' financiers from europe and the usa.

plenty of guilt to go around, i give a lot of credit to the germans for how hard they have tried to expiate what they did, yet the comment about how many graveyards the new germany was built over was a slam to the gut.

both are right in this discussion, just talking past one another a bit, i reckon.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 02:21:22 PM EST
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