Correspondence

Sorting Out Jew-Haters

"The Jews" stand in people's minds for so many things that you can find their despisers in places where there are not many Jews around to hate—or even enough to attract much attention to begin with. Take, for example, that outlying fringe of the settled world, New Zealand, where I spent last summer (winter in the Southern Hemisphere).

The closest spot on earth to the Antarctic, the South Island suffers a harsh winter, with cold gales sweeping up from the south; its population, gathered in just a few towns and cities on the East Coast, enjoys not only nature's grandeur—the magnificent Southern Alps, the rain forests on the West Coast and the Tasman Sea—but also nature's earthquakes on a very regular basis. The people breathe air as polluted as Denver's and, looking longingly to the warm sun to the north, endure a winter gloom that compares with Labrador's.

It was here—among a people with impeccable manners as well as a cold intolerance of difference, who are patronizing to the Maori, scarcely pretending to tolerate Chinese and Indians and Jews (American accents don't fare all that well either)—that I encountered incidents that some may class as anti-Semitic, and encountered them often (three times in one month), personally, and directly. What I heard were, if not anti-Semitic, then at least gauche and stupid remarks about Jews and Judaism untempered by even...

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