How Many Jewish Violinists Are There In Your Band?

In an anecdote popular in the seventies, a Soviet conductor argued with his colleague from New York, saying that since he had seven Jewish violinists in his orchestra, there was no anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. The New York conductor did not know how many Jews there were in his group.

And so it should be.

It was with sincere satisfaction that I noticed the lack of response to the dirty little hints regarding the background of the current First Lady, dropped from time to time by the media. No reaction from the media inclined me to think that there is such a thing as principled journalism, after all. Acquired cynicism would rather suggest a tacit agreement that certain things are not to be written about. It does not matter – what is important was the end result.

This is probably why I was so surprised by the article in Newsweek (after all, a serious magazine) that brought attention to the family background of the candidate for the next First Lady with all the grace of an elephant at the Ming china exhibition.


It was my first surprise – another came with the media storm the article provoked.
To be clear – I do not think the authors of the piece are anti-Semites – I do not know them, nor do I think that pointing out someone is Jewish is a sign of anti-Semitism. For me, such type of classification is qualitatively the same as the “grandfather in the Wehrmacht” argument – no less, no more. Both opinions attest to similar qualities of the character of those who voice them.

The article was not written by anti-Semites, but in my opinion its objective was to draw the attention of potential voters to such an element of the candidate’s biography that could induce them to change their minds.

And that is simply disgusting.

Also distasteful is the media storm (although the phrase “shitstorm” seems more appropriate in this case), which broke out as a result of the Newsweek article. Ignoring the media “fart” would have drastically reduced the extent of its range, and the racket raised in the media – both in support and against the case – warranted only one thing – that the comments about the non-Aryan origins of the potential First Lady have now reached everyone – even those who do not buy Newsweek.

At this point I should wonder why some publications are consistently silenced, while others become a nationwide sensation, but I’d rather leave that to the readers of this text and their own imagination.

I just wonder whether we ever come to a point where the origin of the violinist will be of a lesser importance than the quality of his performance.

Photo: Frame from the film “Fiddler on the Roof” (1971)