Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

If to Jew down someone is a verb, not to hurt others with words is a verb too

Recently, a New Jersey City Council President’s used the term ‘Jew down’ and apologized. But now, a councilwoman has opined that that wasn’t anti-Semitic. To ‘Jew down’ refers to the stereotype that Jews are cheap and negotiate for unreasonably low prices. She claimed it was just a verb.

To be careful not to hurt others with your words is a verb too. And if you found you failed (a verb too), you need to apologize (try to verb-alize it).

When I was in high school, I had a job on-the-side in the kitchen of an old-age home. I didn’t learn to cook but boy did I learn to do dishes.

One day, my boss told me: “And work properly or I’ll have an old Jew take you away.” I immediately answered: “I’m not afraid of my father.” I felt sorry about being so aggressive but it popped out and couldn’t be undone.

My boss stood there in utter disbelief about what she just had realized. She grew up in a village in the Catholic South and this was a normal expression there. She had never connected such proverbial Jews to actual Jews in her life. She had Jewish friends. No one would say that she was anti-Semitic — not even my parents who were Holocaust-survivors — and they had some pretty high standards before liking non-Jews.

In fact, my boss’ name for friends was Sam. This, because she was so different from all her other family members that they said: you must be from the Jews and called her Sam. Sam and Moos [moas] (Moses) were names used in jokes about Jews — compare the German Max and Moritz.

Now, how could she talk to me about an old Jew and not think of Jews? It’s simple. It’s what you’re used to from a young age and never got to question. You probably think that ‘breathtaking’ is something wonderful. But it reminds me of asthma. Yet, in Dutch, that is ‘adembenemend,’ literally: breath-taken-away, which to me sounds as fantastic.

When we talk, we’re bound to make mistakes. We need to learn to say: “I didn’t realize what I was saying. I apologize.” Not all people find that easy to admit but it can be learned. Becoming defensive is not helpful.

In the case of the US city council, all the three culprits apologized. Yet, for one of the city’s lawyers it didn’t sound sincere at all. That is a problem.

About the Author
The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. To see other blog posts by him, a second blog - under construction - can be found by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture.
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