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What does it mean to be a Jew?
Posted: 12 August 2008 11:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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In principle I think we agree.  I think we should all see ourselves as merely people.  But like it or not, nationalities, ethnicities do exist.  People share a common culture, common language, common ideologies and even common religions.  Those are all uniting factors, and they are also factors that differentiate them from everyone else.  I agree that these factors should not be used to determine who should be included in one’s sphere of moral concern.  Unfortunately there is a long history of people doing exactly that.

A couple of days ago I was talking to my dad about the current mess in Georgia.  He told me that the Georgians, even though they were Christians, they helped impose an economic embargo on Armenia (whose other neighbors, Azerbaijan and Turkey) are Muslim.  What he was saying was that Christians ought to stick together and unite against Muslims - for no other reason than religion.

Another example.  I was working in strange city.  I went to the movies.  I showed my student ID at the box office.  The guy behind the glass saw my Armenian name.  So I got a free ticket.  Why?  He was Armenian too.  Tribalism.  Pure and simple.  We take care of each other simply because that’s what we are supposed to do.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali talks about this in Infidel as well.

So, it will take a while for people to begin to include ALL human beings within their sphere of moral concern.  And only then can the issue of the treatment of animals be addressed with any hope of meaningful resolution.

Ciao,

Rami

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Posted: 12 August 2008 09:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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You both make compelling, and quite similar points, however, thepredatorhandshake cannot be trusted… he doesn’t like TV’s Craig Ferguson…

or Joan Didion…

or Susan Sontag. smirk

My husband’s grandmother was Jewish, and he never refers to himself as Jewish… is the term reserved for the pure ethnic Jews in your opinion, Rami?

Ethnic labels suck… everybody fuck! cool grin

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Posted: 12 August 2008 11:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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isocratic infidel - 13 August 2008 01:07 AM

My husband’s grandmother was Jewish, and he never refers to himself as Jewish… is the term reserved for the pure ethnic Jews in your opinion, Rami?

Ethnic labels suck… everybody fuck! cool grin

My father is Armenian.  So I am, genetically speaking, half Armenian.  But I do not refer to myself as Armenian.  I do not feel Armenian.  I did not grow up speaking the language, I did not grow up in the culture, their customs are foreign to me.

If your husband grew up here in the States, does not speak Hebrew or Yiddish, is not religious, he probably feels the same way about his Jewish roots as I do about my Armenian roots.  He probably does not feel “Jewish”.  And should not be required to identify himself as such.

However, like it or not, I am 50% Armenian - genetically speaking.  In that repsect, and in that respect only, I am half Armenian.  And in that respect and in that respect only my partner is 100% Jewish.  Both “Jewish” and “Armenian” are words that describe ethnicity.

I have no opinion on whether one should consider oneself Jewish is only one of one’s grandparents are Jewish.  I depends on whether or not one identifies oneself as such.  But if one is merely discussing ethnicity, then I would say that your husband is 25% Jewish.  I mean, somedays I identify as American.  I have recently foresworn all allegiance to all foreign principalities, etc and I am about to take the Oath which is going to make my being a US citizen official.  I FEEL like an American.  But to a lot of Americans, I am still a “Middle-Easterner”, or a “European”, or what-have-you.  The truth is that no matter how I feel inside, I am 50% Armenian, 37.5% Bulgarian and 12.5% Greek - genetically speaking.

What was my point?  I’m a little lost now…

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Posted: 14 August 2008 02:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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I think you got lost Rami, because while making your point you started to recognize the ridiculousness of identifying one’s self by one’s ethnicity.  cool hmm

My question was rhetorical, meant to make you see the absurdity of ethnic labels, but I do appreciate your honest efforts in answering.

You said my husband:

“should not be required to identify himself as such.”

And neither should your partner. Even if he’s been told he “is 100% Jewish.”

Who’s 100% of any ethnicity? Does he know for a certainty that all of his ancestors that came before him never interbred with ANY other ethnic group? If ALL of his ancestors are “pure” ethnic Jews, he comes from a long line of perpetuators of homogeny… not something to be especially proud of is it? I get it that you’re saying it just IS what it IS and no big deal (and I agree, in terms of heredity, it doesn’t matter what mixture on non-mixture one is genetically speaking) but what’s the point in pointing out one’s ethnicity unless it’s to make a superiority claim of some sort?
I think I’ll repeat myself from my earlier post:

What good does is do, except to make one look like a giant, pretentious and homogenous ass?

And one more time: Ethnic labels suck… Everybody fuck! (I may have to make this my new signature…whadda ya think?) cool smile

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Posted: 14 August 2008 11:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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“isocratic infidel” date=“1218762604”]I think you got lost Rami, because while making your point you started to recognize the ridiculousness of identifying one’s self by one’s ethnicity.  cool hmm

My question was rhetorical, meant to make you see the absurdity of ethnic labels, but I do appreciate your honest efforts in answering.

That depends on what one means by “identifying one’s self”.  I have absolutely zero of myself invested in my ethnicity.  I have a soft spot for some things Bulgarian (I must confess, tonight, as I was watching the volleyball match between the USA and Bulgarian team, I was rooting for the Bulgarians…), but I do not identify as “Bulgarian.”  However, I did grow up in Bulgaria, I speak Bulgarian and I am genetically partly Bulgarian.  So, when I say that I am Bulgarian, that’s all I mean.  I do not mean that I have any kind of an allegiance to Bulgaria or that I have invested “my self” in this label.

Ultimately words are just noise.  It is the meaning behind them that matters.  Even if I were to label myself as “Bulgarian” that does not mean that I identify as Bulgarian, that I treat people as Bulgarians vs non-Bulgarians.  I hope I am explaining myself clearly.

You said my husband:

“should not be required to identify himself as such.”

And neither should your partner. Even if he’s been told he “is 100% Jewish.”

Nobody is requiring him to label himself as Jewish.  I don’t think he really thinks of himself as such.  He’s just… a dude.  But sometime he will say that he is Jewish because that informs people of his upbringing, his culture - and frankly, it lets people know that he is not a Christian, so they know not to ask him to hold hands and say grace or invite him to Bible study…

The fact is, there are all kinds of different cultures in this world.  And in the US many of them coexist.  Simply informing people of the culture in which one was brought up is not necessarily labeling oneself of making this label the core of “one’s self”.

Who’s 100% of any ethnicity? Does he know for a certainty that all of his ancestors that came before him never interbred with ANY other ethnic group? If ALL of his ancestors are “pure” ethnic Jews, he comes from a long line of perpetuators of homogeny… not something to be especially proud of is it?

I totally agree.  But whether it is something to be proud of or not, the fact is that both his parents were genetically Jewish.  So he is Jewish.  AND he was brought up in the Jewish culture and religion.  All of those things make him Jewish.  But that does not mean that he has any of his identity invested in his being Jewish.  So, what’s the problem?

I get it that you’re saying it just IS what it IS and no big deal (and I agree, in terms of heredity, it doesn’t matter what mixture on non-mixture one is genetically speaking) but what’s the point in pointing out one’s ethnicity unless it’s to make a superiority claim of some sort?

Whenever I mention that I am Bulgarian I am not making any such claim.  I am simply saying that I am the son of a Bulgarian, that I grew up in Bulgaria, in the Bulgarian culture.  That’s all.  It is no different with being Mexican or French or Taiwanese.  It is merely informing people that one is the product of a certain culture. 

I think I’ll repeat myself from my earlier post:

What good does is do, except to make one look like a giant, pretentious and homogenous ass?

And one more time: Ethnic labels suck… Everybody fuck! (I may have to make this my new signature…whadda ya think?) cool smile

I sort of answered that already.  I agree that tribalism has to go.  I agree that we ought to stop investing the core of our identities in our ethnicities, cultures or religions.  I agree that we should simply see each other as persons, as humans, who are all in this - life - together.  But I think it is incorrect to assert that whenever one says one is from a certain ethnicity or culture, one is automatically making a claim of superiority. 

Now, having said that, I agree that this is a sentiment that is present in Judaism - the religious ideology thereof.  Did you guys see Munich, the movie with Eric Bana, in the role of the Israeli assassin, going around, avenging the deaths of the Israelis killed during the 1972 Olympic games?  At the end of the movie, deeply disturbed by all the killing he has committed, he turns to his boss and tells him “Come on… We are Jews!  We are supposed to be better!”  Or something to that effect.  I understand what the filmmakers were trying to say, but it revealed a deep-seated sense of “We are superior.  God chose US.  God told US His Will.  WE are the moral ones.  We ought to know and do better than everyone else.”

So, I get ya.  But at the same time, let’s not presume that “this is how Jews feel.”  And let’s not presume that every time one says one is the product of a certain culture, one is necessarily asserting one’s superiority.

Smooches?

Rami

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Posted: 15 August 2008 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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isocratic infidel - 13 August 2008 01:07 AM

You both make compelling, and quite similar points, however, thepredatorhandshake cannot be trusted… he doesn’t like TV’s Craig Ferguson…

Never heard of him. A quick google search reveals him to be the current presenter of the Late Show, a show so pathetically puerile as to be less real than an apparition.

“Let’s talk to celebrities, because they have so much to say…”

“And we can exclusively reveal that Katie Holmes had an affair with Matthew McConnaughey, and that the deformed child she spawned only weeks ago, belongs to him and not to Theta Clear Thomas Cruise..”

YAWN.

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Posted: 16 August 2008 07:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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Rami - 15 August 2008 03:32 AM

I speak Bulgarian and I am genetically partly Bulgarian.
Rami


Genetics has nothing to do with this conversation, Genetically speaking there is a bigger difference between some one of blood group type “A”, type “B” or “AB” or “O”, and there is NOT genetic difference between some one from Russia or Armenia or USA, Japan, China or any other country in this world even the good old Latin’s has no significant genetic difference with the “pure Arian” white supremacy BS.
Cultural and ethnic differences exist and mostly determine by good old tribal believe system in which we grow.

Genetically speaking your armenian-bulgaro-american background is not different than my chorotega-moro-spanish background brother. Culturally we maybe years or centuries away but our make up is the same.

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Posted: 17 August 2008 10:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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mammooth - 16 August 2008 11:21 PM

Genetics has nothing to do with this conversation

Thank you! Finally someone in agreement with me. Like I said, if you place any creedence in the idea of genetic/cultural causality you end up with Mein Kampf.

Therefore a Jew can ONLY be someone who believes the Torah.

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Posted: 17 August 2008 04:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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mammooth - 16 August 2008 11:21 PM
Rami - 15 August 2008 03:32 AM

I speak Bulgarian and I am genetically partly Bulgarian.
Rami


Genetics has nothing to do with this conversation, Genetically speaking there is a bigger difference between some one of blood group type “A”, type “B” or “AB” or “O”, and there is NOT genetic difference between some one from Russia or Armenia or USA, Japan, China or any other country in this world even the good old Latin’s has no significant genetic difference with the “pure Arian” white supremacy BS.
Cultural and ethnic differences exist and mostly determine by good old tribal believe system in which we grow.

Genetically speaking your armenian-bulgaro-american background is not different than my chorotega-moro-spanish background brother. Culturally we maybe years or centuries away but our make up is the same.

This is silly.  Of course there are differences between ethnic groups.  Heck, there are genetic differences between individuals.  The reason is, to a large degree, having access to a limited gene pool because for most of human history people have lived most of their lives within a very small radius of where they were born.  Yes, we are all “the same” in terms of all being of the same species, but that’s it.  No one here is arguing for white supremacy or Jewish supremacy, so I am distressed that you bring up “pure Aryan” white supremacy BS and that Predator is bringing up the Jewish supremacy BS.  Let’s not get the issues confused with our agenda. 

Simply because we believe that all people are to be treated as equal, that does not mean that all people are exactly the same.  We are not the same.  At th level of the individual we are not the same.  Why would we be the same at the level of ethnicity?

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Posted: 17 August 2008 04:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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thepredatorhandshake - 17 August 2008 02:29 PM
mammooth - 16 August 2008 11:21 PM

Genetics has nothing to do with this conversation

Thank you! Finally someone in agreement with me. Like I said, if you place any creedence in the idea of genetic/cultural causality you end up with Mein Kampf.

Therefore a Jew can ONLY be someone who believes the Torah.

Bulloney.  Mein Kampf was the expression of an ideology according to which certain ethnicities were superior to others.  Simply asserting that the reason why we have ethnicities is because of genetic differences does not make any assertion that one ethnicity is superior to another.  Black people are genetically different than white people.  Isn’t this a no-brainer?  Merely abserving that black people and white people are the products of different gene pools does not in any way suggest that one group is superior to the other.  So, your assertion about Mein Kampf is woefully erroneous and, worse, an appeal to emotion.

Once again, and for the last time, “Jew” can refer to ethnicity as well as to religion, or both.  Like it or not, ethnicities do exist.  There is such a thing as a Jewish ethnicity.  If you reserve the term “Jewish” onle for people who practice Judaism, then what do you call the desendants of Jews who do not practice Judaism?  There would be no word with which to describe their ethnicity.

Judging form your last post, you are not really interested in conversation, but in mere confirmation of your established position.  So, I will gracefully bow out of this conversation, as I have nothing further to add to what I have already stated.

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Posted: 17 August 2008 04:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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Rami - 17 August 2008 08:22 PM

Simply because we believe that all people are to be treated as equal, that does not mean that all people are exactly the same.  We are not the same.  At th level of the individual we are not the same.  Why would we be the same at the level of ethnicity?

The reason this happens is because people mix categories. They take the legal/political concept of equality and allow it to bleed over into other areas such as the biological/genetic. There are obviously ethnic differences just as there are gender differences. This is a good thing - viva la difference. Variety is the spice of life, and all that.

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Posted: 17 August 2008 06:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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Rami - 17 August 2008 08:33 PM

Black people are genetically different than white people.  Isn’t this a no-brainer?

Is it really a no brainer? I think you need to go back to your biogenetic class and learn few definitions such as
Gene, gene expression such as genotype and phenotype, and certainly have nothing to do with ethnicity. Ethnic identity is further marked by the recognition from others of a group’s distinctiveness and by common cultural, linguistic, religious, behavioral or biological traits. Those biological traits are certainly not genetically determine, but are a variance of the phenotypic expression of the same genetics. Viva la difference Bruce but that difference is what we have learn to believe.
Rami if you want to believe in genetic differences you probably have a better luck finding such difference by classifing people by the blood type rather than by the color of their skin.

[ Edited: 18 August 2008 01:47 PM by mammooth]
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Posted: 18 August 2008 05:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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Rami - 17 August 2008 08:33 PM

Bulloney.  Mein Kampf was the expression of an ideology according to which certain ethnicities were superior to others.  Simply asserting that the reason why we have ethnicities is because of genetic differences does not make any assertion that one ethnicity is superior to another.  Black people are genetically different than white people.  Isn’t this a no-brainer?  Merely abserving that black people and white people are the products of different gene pools does not in any way suggest that one group is superior to the other.  So, your assertion about Mein Kampf is woefully erroneous and, worse, an appeal to emotion.

NO.

If you READ my post, you will see that it is people making a link between genetics and culture, as a CAUSALITY, that I totally disagree with. You’ve put your words in my mouth, and not gone by what I wrote.

I never appeal to emotion. That would be illogical, Admiral. :p

Once again, and for the last time, “Jew” can refer to ethnicity as well as to religion, or both.  Like it or not, ethnicities do exist.  There is such a thing as a Jewish ethnicity.  If you reserve the term “Jewish” onle for people who practice Judaism, then what do you call the desendants of Jews who do not practice Judaism?  There would be no word with which to describe their ethnicity.

How about calling them by their nationality?

Instead of “Here is David. His mother thinks he’s a Jew, because she’s a Jew, so he might as well take this label blindly, even though he’s 99% sure that Yahweh is a fiction.”

we can have “Here is David. His mother thinks he’s a Jew, because she’s a Jew, but he doesnt believe in Yahweh, and since he lives in North London, he can call himself British.”

Why not?

Judging form your last post, you are not really interested in conversation, but in mere confirmation of your established position.  So, I will gracefully bow out of this conversation, as I have nothing further to add to what I have already stated.

Oh I am sorry, I didnt realise that a requisite feature of a conversation was I had to change my mind and agree with your standpoint. I thought a conversation allowed us to debate this civilly and still not agree. I suppose reading people’s posts and not putting your words in their mouths is a requisite feature also, though.

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Posted: 18 August 2008 12:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
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thepredatorhandshake - 18 August 2008 09:44 AM

we can have “Here is David. His mother thinks he’s a Jew, because she’s a Jew, but he doesnt believe in Yahweh, and since he lives in North London, he can call himself British.”

Why not?

What the fuck are you trying to prove, asshole? That you’re feisty and argumentative online? Anyone can do that, and you’re as ordinary as white flour. I’m sure, as you’ll observe from the number of posts I have, that I’ve argued with assholes like you previously. What’s important is whether you have any ideas or not. Take my word for it: You don’t. What’s evident from your participation in this thread is that you like jerking off semantics like so many with two philosophy courses on their transcripts.

[ Edited: 18 August 2008 12:13 PM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 19 August 2008 04:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
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Salt Creek - 18 August 2008 04:06 PM
thepredatorhandshake - 18 August 2008 09:44 AM

we can have “Here is David. His mother thinks he’s a Jew, because she’s a Jew, but he doesnt believe in Yahweh, and since he lives in North London, he can call himself British.”

Why not?

What the fuck are you trying to prove, asshole? That you’re feisty and argumentative online? Anyone can do that, and you’re as ordinary as white flour. I’m sure, as you’ll observe from the number of posts I have, that I’ve argued with assholes like you previously. What’s important is whether you have any ideas or not. Take my word for it: You don’t. What’s evident from your participation in this thread is that you like jerking off semantics like so many with two philosophy courses on their transcripts.

:D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

Wow! You have 4000 odd posts. I bow to your superiority. I’ll remember in future to check with you, oh heavenly king, should I wish to have an opinion, or worst still, express it.

Incidentally, my opinion - that genetics do not lead to cultural differences, but that the perpetuation of ethnic identities and memes, leads to those differences - is widely held by a great many people who designed your philosophy course. Yes, that’s right, YOUR course. Your words. Not mine.

You couldn’t think of anything relevant to say, so you just reverted to insult. Not that it bothers me, oh heavenly king wink

Dr. Christopher

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