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New York - Why Are Jews So Argumentative?

Published on: March 2, 2009 10:29 AM
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New York - What? You think Jews argue a lot? You got a prob lem with that?

More than 60 members of my tribe shoved into a room on the Upper West Side yesterday to tackle an age-old question that’s perplexed scholars, rabbis and folks who’d rather gouge out their own eyeballs than sit on a trans-Atlantic flight.

Namely, why are Jews so argumentative?

You might as well ask why the sky is gray.

Just bringing up the question these days seems an invitation to hatred, disdain and a longer wait time at the Carnegie Deli. But Rabbi Peter Schweitzer, of the City Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, tried to persuade the room that obnoxious and exhausting fighting is not one of Jews’ less attractive traits.

Rather, it’s “part of our cultural fabric. We challenge authority when we argue.”

But on the Upper West Side, where everything can be questioned - except leftist politics and good corned beef - you can argue about just about anything. The weather. The price of a cab ride. Anything, that is, except ironclad liberal orthodoxy.

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After telling some stories about cute, Jewish kibbitzing from out of the Bible, Schweitzer made his point:

“It’s like Republicans today undermining Obama - but for no other reason than being obstructionist.”

He got laughs. But his words went completely unchallenged.

Even by me, and I’m a card-carrying Hebrew.

After the talk, a woman in the audience wondered why President Obama surrounded himself with so many Jews.

Um, because they’re smart? Ambitious? Effective?

“Did Obama pick so many Jews because he wanted an argument?” she actually said.

Her question, too, went unchallenged.

Which brings up another age-old question: Are events like these good for the Jews?

This might start an argument: I doubt it.



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Read Comments (15)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Mar 02, 2009 at 09:51 AM Cameraman Says:

How dare you call all Jews everywhere argumentative?Did you actually interview every single Yid and measure their argumentativeness.

2

 Mar 02, 2009 at 09:53 AM Anonymous Says:

Azeleche shtissim....

3

 Mar 02, 2009 at 09:44 AM deep thinker Says:

Jews were chosen becouse they are an "am keshie oref" that seeks the truth and the truth only questioning and wanting to understand.

4

 Mar 02, 2009 at 09:56 AM Anonymous Says:

While I have no comment on the sociological or cultural explanation for the perception that Jews are argumentative, I feel the statements about Obama are completely ridiculous.

As a Jew, I oppose much of what Obama does, not for obstructionist reasons at all. I feel his policies are dangerous. His bailout plan is irresponsible, and will make matters much worse. Time will tell, and I am willing to be wrong on this. His policies on terrorism and the Middle East are the most alarming positions since WWII. Some predicted that he will make the United States the enemy of Israel. I hope this is dead wrong, but doubts are beginning to crop up too quickly. The war on terror is over, and the thugs are winning.

His surrounding himself with Jews in his cabinet and other senior positions is actually ominous. This protects him from the accusation that there is anti-Jewish sentiments, and he can then blame some of the most catastrophic decisions on them. It should be unfair to prejudge a president, but then isn’t that what the drive-by media did to George W. Bush?

Some scientific study of the phenomenon might be warranted, but leave the President out of it. His motives are certainly unrelated, and I, for one, am scared stiff. Daven.

5

 Mar 02, 2009 at 10:20 AM The Truth Says:

Reply to #1  
Cameraman Says:

How dare you call all Jews everywhere argumentative?Did you actually interview every single Yid and measure their argumentativeness.

The fact that you are arguing with the article, proves its point!!!

6

 Mar 02, 2009 at 10:09 AM Malka Says:

What is argumentative about wanting knowlege and understanding? When I was a child, I think I believed we were an argumentative lot. As I became an adult, I learned that being asked what I was doing or why I was doing it had nothing to do with people demanding that I explain myself TO THEM. Rather, it had everything to do with instilling in me the skill of understanding for MYSELF why it is I did what I did or believe as I do. I don't think I'm putting it clearly, but part of my point is that wanting to know if someone understands what they're saying or doing or meaning can be perceived as argumentative, but who takes seriously a person who can't tell you why they do what they do or want what they want?

7

 Mar 02, 2009 at 11:54 AM Berel Says:

Reply to #5  
The Truth Says:

The fact that you are arguing with the article, proves its point!!!

100% correct!! 'cause we all know that if anyone argues on anything, no matter how ludicrous, it's because they're argumentative!

8

 Mar 02, 2009 at 11:43 AM bitachon Says:

Reply to #6  
Malka Says:

What is argumentative about wanting knowlege and understanding? When I was a child, I think I believed we were an argumentative lot. As I became an adult, I learned that being asked what I was doing or why I was doing it had nothing to do with people demanding that I explain myself TO THEM. Rather, it had everything to do with instilling in me the skill of understanding for MYSELF why it is I did what I did or believe as I do. I don't think I'm putting it clearly, but part of my point is that wanting to know if someone understands what they're saying or doing or meaning can be perceived as argumentative, but who takes seriously a person who can't tell you why they do what they do or want what they want?

You had a very good therapist and you repeated her/him well.
And I DISAGREE with the author!!

9

 Mar 02, 2009 at 12:34 PM Anonymous Says:

Q: Why do Jews answer a question with a question?

A. Why not?

Or in other words, we like to challenge assumptions. A question, challenges the initial assumption. Who said there is anything wrong with answering a question with a question?

10

 Mar 02, 2009 at 12:15 PM 1084 Says:

Reply to #5  
The Truth Says:

The fact that you are arguing with the article, proves its point!!!

well we see in the gamarah that there are arguments so same with us

11

 Mar 02, 2009 at 04:04 PM esther Says:

one could ......argue that being argumentitive,that is not accepting a situaton or statement at face value say by a czar or priest,has helped us survive galus for 2000 years.

12

 Mar 02, 2009 at 06:14 PM Anonymous Says:

Simple answers 1) Jews are insecure so they have to show they are smarter then the next guy 2) they don't know how to get along?

But I have a question to all my Jewish friends; do you always have to speak so loudly? Do you think everyone has a hearinf deficit?

14

 Mar 03, 2009 at 01:14 AM Anonymous Says:

Why is everyone arguing about the arguers and causing more arguments?

The argument is is there more arguemnts bu us or not. Why do we have to argue about this? And another argument I have with the arguiers is spend more time not arguing so we do not have to argue about who is right and who is wrong all the time.

I am tired of these arguments.

15

 Mar 03, 2009 at 09:08 AM Malka Says:

Reply to #8  
bitachon Says:

You had a very good therapist and you repeated her/him well.
And I DISAGREE with the author!!

Bitachon, what I wrote I learned from my rabbi. So thank you.

16

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