Andrey (azangru) wrote,

I'm curious about the "or Jewish" bit.

In circa-WW2 Germany, or in the USSR, Jewishness was understood as an ethnicity. It was, indeed, something you were born into, willy-nilly.

But in the modern English usage, at least in the examples in the media that I have seen, Jewish is an identity. Usually defined by religion, or observance of traditions, or association with specific communities. In which case it is definitely something that is acquired by choice.

Hence, by the way, my confusion about the word antisemitism. It is one thing to be triggered by someone's heredity, or surname, or physical appearance, which, I thought, was what passed for casual antisemitism in the Soviet Union. It's quite a different thing to be repelled by a culture someone adheres to, in which case I don't really understand the difference between hating the Jews and hating the Republicans, or the Conservatives, or the Democrats, or whatever.

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