It's almost a month old, but since my letter to the editor of the Canadian Jewish News has finally shown up online, I thought I'd go ahead and post it. Here it is:
Schulich misses the point
Seymour Schulich claims that if only Jews shunned the accoutrements that made them look overtly and obviously Jewish, they would be able to “fit in with the majorities” as he did, and all would be well at York University, as well as in the wider world (“Jews should stop ‘whining’ about York U, benefactor says”).
His reasoning reminds me of the thinking that was prevalent among German-born Jewry prior to the Nazis’ rise. German Jews, who were very assimilated, were alarmed when the Ostjuden, Jews from eastern Europe, started showing up in Germany. These Ostjuden, who were fleeing pogroms and other forms of oppression, tended to be far more observant, and therefore looked the part, a sight that prompted the assimilated Jews to fear that they would be lumped in with their more “backward” brethren.
We all know the horrific story of what came next. The tyrant who took over Germany didn’t much care whether you were a fine, upstanding German Jew who knew how to “fit in” or you were one of the more Jewish-looking Ostjuden. As far as he was concerned, a Jew was a Jew, and all were deserving of eradication.
It is shocking, and I must say, more than a little saddening, that a man of Schulich’s eminence seems oblivious to that lesson.
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