The Jews Run New York, Don’t They?
Sometimes you have the funniest conversation with the relations of patients and sometimes they are infuriating too. Case in point – an elderly relative of a young female patient of mine who proved the point that age does not beget wisdom and a bigot ever changes his colors. This gentleman had recently done an all expenses paid trip across the united states of America courtesy a son who is working there as a software engineer. The gentleman kept up a constant running monologue on the wonders of America and I, lost in my work with the girl, rarely heard the droning buzz until something he said struck a chord within me and I stopped abruptly and turned around to stare at the man.
What he said was this (verbatim) “New York alone is not nice – it is just like India and is so chaotic. And that’s because it is full of Jews everywhere. In fact, the Jews run New York, I heard”. Now I have never met a single Jew in my life and I don’t know how they are in reality but generalizations based on stereotypes I have met all my life and fought against vehemently. All South Indians do not say “Aiyyo Rama” for everything nor do they love idlis and eat them all the time- breakfast, lunch and dinner. All Punjabis are not good hearted patriotic persons and nor are the Sardarjis cheats if you go by just your experience of Delhi’s taxi drivers. You get the drift of what I am saying?
Anyway the old man who had been misinformed about the Jews had obviously not bothered to take the time to find out if his assumptions were true. Growing up in socialist India all our reading materials were full of Indian-Arab solidarity and the popular media in India often had a pro-Palestinian slant (Yasser Arafat was a much feted national hero in India)and it was all about the apartheid in the occupied lands and west bank and how the intifada was a war for freedom. It wasn’t until later, much later, when i started reading independent sources off the Internet (thank god for Google search) and especially after watching Schindlers List I realized that maybe the Jews had a reason for doing what they were doing. I could see their side of the equation too even if I didn’t sympathize with it. I came to the conclusion that blaming the Jews for the atrocities of the Israeli state in the West bank of the Jordan (occupied Palestinian territories) is as stupid as blaming me for the Indian state’s atrocities in the North East States like Manipur or Nagaland for instance. People are just people everywhere; they have absolutely no say in what their rulers do in their name.
And to make such sweeping generalizations based on a two month tour of a land is indicative of inborn bigotry and race baiting. When you are born and grow up in a clannish way with an inherent sense of entitlement you never take the opportunity to cross over the aisle and see a different view point. The loss is the bigots for they go to their graves with a warped world view and never realize the world is a far more nuanced place than their beliefs allow them to see. As for the old gentleman in my clinic I turned around at his Jews run New York comment and asked him “why not? If someone has to run it why not the Jews? Who else would you want to be running it? Us, Indians? Did you see the streets outside? its nearly 80 years since the British left and we have been running things all that time with this effect” and I turned back to my work conscious that maybe i had spoken too much or too sharply. But it turned out good for it shut him up until the time came for to present my Fee List. And that is a different story for another time.