1.3 Billion People CAN Be Wrong

In spite of Shanghai’s history as a haven for Jews, the rest of China appears to be perpetuating a dangerous stereotype. A recent Washington Post article reports that some disturbing titles have become popular sellers in China’s bookshops:

One promises “The Eight Most Valuable Business Secrets of the Jewish.”Another title teases readers with “The Legend of Jewish Wealth.” A third provides a look at “Jewish People and Business: The Bible of How to Live Their Lives.”… In the past few years, sales of “success” books have skyrocketed, publishers say, and now make up nearly a third of the works published in China, and perhaps no type of success book has been as well marketed or well received as those that purport to unveil the secrets of Jewish entrepreneurs. Many of these tomes sell upward of 30,000 copies a year and are thought of in the same inspirational way as many Americans view the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series.

Full story.

To add to the weirdness, with 50-odd titles on the subject, no one seems to be able to track down any of the authors. But they’re flying like kreplach egg rolls off the shelves of whatever is the Chinese equivalent of Borders.

Hot Air
wonders if this phenomenon of “Jewish” business books can be considered anti-Semitic since the attitude is of emulation (regardless if it’s based on fictitious nonsense) rather than negativity. Or, put another way, should the ADL be concerned that millions of books are being read that claim “all Jews are rich and you can be too!” instead of “all Jews are rich and must be destroyed”?

Is there such thing as a positive stereotype? Would it be offensive if I decided to write a book called “Asian Secrets of the SATs”? (Yes, yes it would.)

*The sculpture is from 9th century China portraying a Jewish merchant in Luoyang, on display in the Luoyang Museum in Henan Province.

7 thoughts on “1.3 Billion People CAN Be Wrong

  1. …no one seems to be able to track down any of the authors.

    I bet they are some meshugganah Chinese Jews. Oh wait, that would put suspicion on me!

    Seriously – it seems sterotypical to me rather than anti-semetic. (But that doesn’t mean that it’s ok.) Although…there are a lot worse stereotypes that we have.

  2. When I was traveling across Indonesia (in my much younger days), I discovered that the Chinese were referred to there as the “Jews of Asia.” b/c the Chinese people in South Asia are in the minority, in a diaspora, often entrepreneurial, perceived as smart, well-educated but also grasping and greedy … yadayada, we all know this drill.

    So this has led me to the theory that East Asia is a is a parallel longitudinal universe, in which the “Jews” are not a tiny
    minority — but instead we are the huge massive culturally dominant 800 lb gorilla of this parallel longitudinal world… (yes,
    I’m compensating here) .. I’m trying to work out the details of this dream/theory — Confucius & his school are in the place of the Talmudic Sages; Taoism becomes Kaballah (or vice versa)…although I’m not sure who the Chinese Moses was … oh wait, if we were Chinese, I guess we might not need one, since on the other side of the world the Jews are 1.3 billion in number rather than 13 million in number.

    But the best part of this … all good Chinese restaurants hereby become totally kosher no matter what they serve.

    Orieyenta — i think this makes you like the
    greatest Yenta since Sarah imenu.

  3. This is very interesting to me. There was a similar rash of fascination with Jews in the late 1980s in Japan, spurred on by many best-selling books with a range of stereotypes from “admiration” to disturbing. While the perpetuation of negative stereotypes is always a concern, we need to also consider the source.

    Neither Japan nor China have a history of antisemitism in the same way that there is in Europe, so the basic assumptions and motives for such books are not usually the same. So why the interest?

    In the late 1980s, after the economic “bubble” in Japan burst, people were probably looking for some inspiration or magical know-how. In addition, being such an insular country, Japan observers often look at other countries or ethnicities more to hold up as a mirror to themselves than to create a racist platform. Like Jews do as well, it comes from having that “insider-outsider” way of looking at the world. Jews were just the flavor of the month. Not saying it’s good to be stereotyped — only that it is not as alarming to me in the saame way as when it comes from Europe b/c the history and assumptions are different.

    I don’t have the depth of knowledge about China as I do with Japan, but I would hazard a guess that increased prosperity, interaction with the world at large and curiosity might have something to do with it. I wouldn’t be surprised if this wave, too, passes without leaving much of a lasting impression.

  4. Orienyenta ~ glad you’re weighing in here, since you’re the most qualified, yes? 🙂

    Dan ~ Um, you lost me at Confucious, but yes, I agree, everyone’s Jewish.

    Jean ~ Yes, I agree it’s more amusing than alarming. But, y’know, I sure would like some of them Jewish money secrets myself 😉

  5. Yeah just where is all that “Jewish money”??? –I know I don’t have it … did the leprachauns hide it??? & no yenta, I don’t think everyone’s Jewish … just us and the Chinese … and of course the Chinese Jews … the leprauchans are NOT Jewish … although if you watch PBS on Saturday morning, I’m told there’s an Irish sheep on a cartoon who has Mel Brooks’ voice … not that I would know what’s on TV on Shabbos, ahem.

  6. Shalom arigato Yenta Robato for exposing us to the dangerous possibility of billions of Jew hating Asians reading about our business secrets. Does Chinese translate into Hebrew very well? Do Chinese Jews get circumcised…that could be risky.
    What do Chinese Jews eat on the High Holy Days? Pizza?

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