Punditarian has some comments on my recent posts about Jews. We appear to be in substantial agreement -- with the main problem being that he has completely missed my point when I compared the English and the Jews. I was not at all interested in the question of what the future holds for the English. I was merely trying to extract what lessons we can learn from their rather distinguished history to date. How did the English do so well from the 11th to the 20th centuries? I think the answer to that could have lessons for Jews. And there is nothing in that answer that is at all threatening to Jewry or Judaism. Quite to the contrary. Jews have survived for 3,000 years amid great suffering. I believe that there are ways to reduce that suffering. It has been said that when we stop learning we die so I do hope that Jews are still capable of learning some things. If so, I believe that the English are one group who could teach most people something.
I think the only area where Punditarian and I disagree is fairly trivial. He wants to call Jews a nation. I have no strong feelings about that at all. My only point is that Jews are not a race and he seems to agree with that. Nonetheless his use of "nation" is a bit peculiar. In ordinary usage, "nation" refers to the people of a particular place under a single government. So Israel is undoubtedly a nation but Jews generally are not. Whether you call Jews a nation, a people or just a group, however, the only really interesting question, it seems to me, is how they are defined. It is of course an old question that has been debated for many years and Israel itself has effectively thrown up its hands over the matter and declared that you are a Jew if you think you are. Being one of those pesky social scientists, however, I still strive to bring a bit of order out of chaos so I still like my definition that you are a Jew either because of your own religion or the religion of one of your recent forebears.
In an earlier post, Punditarian conflated geneology with genetics in discussing one of my statements but I concede that the statement concerned was unclear enough to enable that. I could not see how any modern day Western Jew could trace a GENEOLOGICAL connection to the Israel of 2,000 years ago but Punditarian took me to be referring to a GENETIC connection. There is of course no doubt (as we see here) that some Western Jews derive some of their genes from the Middle East and, hence probably from ancient Israel. Overall, however, Jews are racially very mixed. I trace some of my ancestry to Scotland but that does not mean that I am a Scot.
One point made by Punditarian that I rather liked, however, was his point that Jews have always been only weakly endogamous. As he notes, the Bible itself records plenty of examples of marrying "out". The book of Ruth is in fact all about one such episode.
Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here