Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Where Are the Jews?

My students in our Hispanic Civlization class have written their first mini-quiz. It dealt with the three cultures of Medieval Spain: Jewish, Muslim, and Christian. 

For some incomprehensible reason, about a dozen students, who answered all questions perfectly, neatly excised the Jews from their responses. Their answers look like they tried to avoid writing the word "Jew." I'm trying not to read too much into this, but it kind of makes me wonder .  .  . Where are the Jews?


V said...

I can imagine two reasons. In one model, your students' responses are a manifestation of some deep subconscious antisemitism.
According to another model, they are too afraid to say anything about Jews which, even if only by a large stretch of imagination, could be considered antisemitic.

Clarissa said...

Well, the questions were like the following:

"Which 3 cultures laid the foundations of Hispanic Civilization?"

The answer was supposed to be: Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

Or another questions:

"What's Sepharad?"

Answer: the Jewish name for Spain.

It's kind of hard to say anything anti-semitic in this type of a response.

Anonymous said...

the word 'Jew' is missing from my iPhone scrabble too!

is it possible that the word itself is becoming a representation of antisemitism and hence being avoided??

V said...

M., I do not agree. Before proceeding with explanation, I want to assure everybody that I have deep respect to Jewish people and have no intention to offend them.

I guess the reason for avoiding mentioning the Jews is the following: Experiences show that one has to choose the words very carefully when discussing anything to do with Jews (or Israel) in order to avoid accusations of antisemitism. My favorite example - during the last Lebanon war they quite seriously discussed it in the Montreal Gazette if ANY criticism directed at Israeli handling of the conflict is antisemitism.
Thus, I guess, some people, not very confident in their ability to choose balanced expressions, could decide to avoid ever mentioning any Jew-related subjects altogether.

Clarissa said...

But seriously, my questions only required the word "jews" to be among the three answers. Nothing else. No analysis, or anything like that. Nobody could go wrong there, I think.

So this is still a mystery.