So the country of Sweden paid a PR company too much money to start a Twitter account where various “typical Swedes” have been given the opportunity to tweet, the idea being that these individual Swedish voices would somehow promote tourism in Sweden. A couple of days ago, the current Swede at the helm of the account, Sonja Abrahamsson, blurted out:
This was followed by an additional four tweets along the same lines that were similarly misspelled.
It seems as though the Assad regime hasn’t been slaughtering enough people in Syria, because this incident has actually become international news. Whereas the Colbert Report pokes fun at Ms. Abrahamsson, articles in Ynet and The Times of Israel suggest foul play, and the Jerusalem Post and Commentary Magazine even accuse her of anti-Semitism.
Now, let’s look at what this 27-year-old single mother of two actually said in her five controversial tweets, word for misspelled word:
“Whats the fuzz with jews. You can’t even see if a person is a jew, unless you see their penises, and even if you do, you can’t be sure!?”
“In nazi German they even had to sew stars on their sleeves. If they didn’t, they could never now who was a jew and who was not a jew.”
“Once I asked a co-worker what a jew is. He was ‘part jew’, whatever that means. He’s like ‘uuuuh… jews are.. uh.. well educated..?’”
“Where I come from there is no jews. I guess its a religion. But why were the nazis talking about races? Was it a blood-thing (for them)?”
“I’m sorry if some people find the question offensive. Thats was not my purpose. I just don’t get why some people hates jews so much.”
You’d have to be sky-high on crack to identify this as anti-Semitism. Ms. Abrahamsson actually asks questions that I’m sure many people wonder about. Maybe 12+ years of education should have addressed these questions, or maybe Ms. Abrahamsson just didn’t pay attention during the crucial classes (or her English classes, for that matter), but her ignorance is very typical for your average post-Christian Swedish person. Stephen Colbert might find this ignorance funny (though I personally, as a Swede, find his Swedish chef gag offensive), but her questions remain unanswered.
Since we’ve already established that there isn’t enough horror going on in the world to merit our attention, let’s look closer at Ms. Abrahamsson’s questions and apply some Talmudic hermeneutics to our interpretation of them.
“What’s the fuzz with jews.” — “What is the [fuss] [that people make] with [regard to the] [J]ews[?]“
She’s not saying that Jews are fussy: she’s asking why people make a fuss about Jews. And why does she ask this question? Because from what she can understand, there is only one physical characteristic that can be used to identify Jews (or Jewish men, to be precise), and even that characteristic is not foolproof. So how is it that people speak about Jews as a clearly defined group of people, often in a disapproving way (e.g. “Jews have too much power”, “Jews are greedy”)? How can so much negative emotion (“fuzz”) be directed at a group of people that’s so hard to identify? If a group of people poses a threat to a society, wouldn’t reason dictate that the individuals belonging to this group be at least reasonably indentifiable? Maybe the supposed threat that this group poses is as artificial as the yellow stars that the Nazis forced the Jews wear?
Essentially Ms. Abrahamsson is trying to understand what it is that fuels anti-Semitism. Maybe she’s asking her questions in a crude and vulgar way, maybe Twitter isn’t the right forum to address them, maybe a certain PR company is making too much money off of a really bad idea — there are so many maybes — but is Ms. Abrahamsson an anti-Semite for trying to make sense of something that does not make sense to her?
Absolutely and categorically not.
From what I can tell, Ms. Abrahamsson is an honest person who can’t imagine why anybody would hate Jews. More than that, she doesn’t even know how to identify a Jew, which makes the hating of Jews that much more puzzling to her. This actually makes Ms. Abrahamsson the polar opposite to an anti-Semite: not a creepy philo-Semite who loves Jews with the same intensity as anti-Semites hate us, but someone who is indifferent, casually ignorant, and maybe a little bit curious. The fact that someone grew up in Europe and managed to reach the age of 27 without being tainted by a single anti-Semitic stereotype should make us all very happy. This kind of ignorance is actually bliss, or “blizz.”
Even though there are about 20,000 Jews in Sweden, only a handful can be identified as such, for example by what they wear (e.g. Chabad rabbis). So it makes complete sense that Ms. Abrahamsson thinks that there are no Jews where she comes from. Maybe it’s true, or maybe she just doesn’t know, because their last name might be Abrahamsson, and hey, that’s her name. And let’s be honest, there are plenty of Jews in the Diaspora who value education above everything. Education entails the ability to make money, which increases your chance of survival when the natives get restless. It’s a simple historical and sociological fact. Hence ”rich Jews.” Hence Jews finding their ways into places of power. There is nothing sinister involved, no grand plan, no conspiracy. Just Jews, hell-bent on survival, who forgot why they were supposed to survive in the first place. We all know this; it’s not a secret. Maybe Ms. Abrahamsson should know this, too, but she clearly doesn’t.
So why not just tell her what the fuss is with the Jews?