SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Whitney Tilson Stereotypes Jews

Friday, November 19, 2010

Whitney Tilson Stereotypes Jews

I obliterated my junior year in high school in 1981. My parents instead of sending me to the regular local summer school instead sent me to a tutoring, education based camp in Maine. It was awesome. Instruction in the morning, afternoon free, study hall at night, what more could a 17 year old ask for.

We were basically on our own. Little two bed cabins were our quarters. I had a bunkmate named Gustavo from Columbia. I'll never forget the day he found out I was Jewish. I guess I was something of an aberration to him since there are not many Jews in Columbia. Anyway, he asked me point blank if I was Jewish. When I answered in the affirmative he replied, "Are you a good businessman?" I laughed. It was just another Jewish stereotype. He didn't know better.

The reason I am bringing this up is that Whitney Tilson in his ADHD written email today informed the known universe that he had just gotten back from Israel (God I wish I had known, I would have called Shin-Bet) and commented on the Israeli educational system. But what disturbs me is comment Whitney made about the system. Whitney blabbered, "was a shock to me because if there’s one thing that’s defined Jews for 4,000+ years, it’s an overwhelming focus on education." You are not Gustavo, you are not 17 years old, we are not in Maine, and you should know better.

To borrow a line from fellow blogger NYC Educator, really? Is this what you think Jews are only about? I guess I am guilty of stereotyping too. Think of how I stereotype you? The photo at right with you in front of the phallic shaped object whilst in Israel makes one wonder.

But enough about you and your rest room proclivities. Let's first explain to you about education in Israel, and why I think the college graduation rate is low.

The Israeli education system is broken up into several parts. There are; state (Mamlachti), state-religious (Mamlachti dati), Independent (Haredi) schools (Chinuch Atzmai) and Arab. Now yes, the majority of the population attends the state schools. But unlike here in America in which the government gives zero dollars to private and religious schools, the other non-state schools do get some funding by the government but are free to hire their own teachers.

The Haredi schools offer intensive Jewish studies programs and emphasize tradition and observance. Obviously, this is for the more Orthodox and hard core Zionists. The Chinuch Atzmai schools the emphasis is almost entirely on Torah study and offer very little in terms of secular subjects. So like my great grandfather that never worked but just read the Talmud, these two systems seem to focus more on the religious, non-secular education.

Did you know that Israel is not a homogeneous country? Like the United States, the population comes from many different countries and cultures.

What I think also might hinder the graduation rate is that Israeli males are required to emlist in the IDF at the age of 18 and are committed for three years. Israeli women are committed for two years. But then again even when they are out there is that pesky reserve system of the IDF which one must serve in until the age of forty five for up to one month a year, or for any national crisis. I am sure this skews one's college experience a bit.

What also skews one's college experience is the bombings, the rockets, the walking through every day life with wondering if you will be attacked for no reason other than being a Jew.

Now do I know this as fact? No. But I am capable, unlike you, to speak of the Jewish experience.

Now to your stereotypical remark. First off we, and I mean the Jews, have been here a lot longer than 4,000 years. This is 5771. Do the math. However, I doubt that the Jews were getting formal schooling that long ago.

I think where you get this absurd notion that Jews are all about education is that the Jews who came through Ellis Island were mostly from Eastern Europe. They knew that education was the way to go. But remember, your alma matter Harvard, really wanted nothing to do with Jews until about 50-60 years ago. Whitney, Jews weren't even allowed surnames until early in the 19th century.

What you said not only perpetuates this myth, this stereotype, but to claim that this is the only thing that Jews are known for is their educational prowess just smacks of ignorance. Aren't we known for losing 6 million? Aren't we known for our fine cuisine? Aren't we known for our keeping of traditions that are almost 6,000 years old? Aren't we know from bouncing back from adversity whenever shits like you open your mouths?

Whitney, your email, this blog post is being forwarded to the Anti-Defamation League. A person in your position, of your imagined stature should not be making comments such as this.

What you said makes one think about how you not only feel about Jews, but what you truly think of the boys and girls of color you so profess to care about.

Oh, and here is a video you might enjoy.


Unknown said...

Fuckin' A, he's an anti-Semite for sure!

Anonymous said...

Whitney needs to meet Abe Foxman. Let's see Whitney make that remark.

Anonymous said...

Um, how is it prejudiced to say that Jews are usually well educated? Prejudiced against non-Jews, maybe, but against Jews?