Anti-semitism in Taiwan

For almost six years I’ve lived in Taiwan and never directly witnessed any anti-semitism, though I’ve heard about the idiot with a gas chamber restaurant (ha ha, great fun), the other idiot with a Hitler propane gas company, or whatever, and the idiots in the KMT party comparing A-Bian to Hitler in campaign posters.

But in the two months I’ve been employed at my present job I’ve heard anti-semitic comments from at least four people, most of these people making such statements on repeated occassions, including my boss making about 10 gratuitous references in one conversation to the fact that a certain lawyer is a jew (apparently suggesting that he’s shrewd or clever, I believe, but I didn’t ask exactly what he meant by it because I was so pissed off by the repeated reference that I almost walked out of the room). Other times they’ve referred to the opposing side in a case we’re handling as a jew, making clear that they meant he’s a sneaky, untrustworthy, evil bastard.

These comments came from my 55 year old boss, who’s a bright lawyer who lived in the US, but is also a slight idiot; a high-level 55 year old head of a business unit; a 35 year old lawyer who’s a nice guy and was educated in the US; and others. As I mentioned, these comments totally infuriate me, even if they don’t explicitly state, “he’s a sneaky jew” but only mention that irrelevant fact a number of times (heck even 1 time is more than enough).

Has anyone else encountered such offensive conduct here in Taiwan? How did you respond? How should I respond next time? I’ve been tempted to blurt out, “at least he’s not a sneaky Chinaman,” but so far have restrained myself.

I have. But not from Taiwanese. From some Russian models I was working with. And once from some American asshole.

When I went for a copy editor test at TT the edit section of the test was titled- The murdered Jews memorial. Or something like that. The entire piece continuously had it as the murdered Jews and so on. I wish I could remember the piece word for word, because it was so vicious. :fume:

One Israeli guy said to me “the only good Arab is a dead Arab”. I found that pretty repugnant but I ignored it because I value the guy’s friendship, even if he is a racist.

Sure, I get it all the time; mildly racist remarks from Taiwanese, South African, Irish, Canadian, etc., I don’t take it personally, but it does sometimes take me aback when something somewhat ignorant is blurted out. Sounds like you’re hearing it alot worse than the lighthearted, but still kinda inappropriate, commentary I’ve experienced thus far.

he was probably being complimentary :wink:

i’ve wondered more than once that that stereotype is so widely known over here. the extra distance (and ignorance associated with it) certainly doesn’t make it any more attractive.

on a side note i was once told the hakkanese were the “Jews of China” due to their dispersion and stereotype similarities like clannishness, penny-pinching, diligence…

When I was in Wenzhou, China, I heard a taxi driver say that people from Wenzhou are the “Jews of China”, meaning they were clever at business.

That might very well be the problem. I’ve heard US-educated locals here spout stuff off about Mexicans that they could have only picked up while they were in America.

This place is so backward sometimes that I bet calling somebody a sneaky Jew bastard or shylock is actually a compliment in the twisted morality of the speaker.

Meaning he is good at making money by any means and we all know that reaping unnatural profits at the expense of others is the Taiwanese paradigm of success.

I dont know that anyone in Taiwan cared about jews or semites. I know Taiwan’s got a lot of help from Israel in developing some air defense missiles however.

I also know any country that messed with Jews or Israel ended up in a real mess (like Nazi Germany)

I guess God always upholds his promises…

[quote=“rahimiiii”]I also know any country that messed with Jews or Israel ended up in a real mess (like Nazi Germany)

I guess God always upholds his promises…[/quote]

Amen to that. :notworthy:

My first landlord in Taiwan (an experience that led me to buy an apartment :smiling_imp: ) said she thought the Chinese and Jews had a lot in common and that both races were stingy with their money. I immediately disliked her after she made this statement. I told her making money, being frugal, and working hard are universally admired and these traits are the backbone of society.

I do think they actually mean their comments about Jewish people to be compliments.

Just last night the owner of a Dumpling House told me the “Hakka are the Jews of China” story.
I actually think that Chinese people admire Jewish people from what little they know.
I was at the Science museum in Shi Lin with my GF a couple of months ago. They had an entire display set up with children’s toys. The advertisment for the display said something to the effect of, “These are the toys that Jewish mothers give their kids to make them smart”.

One of the interesting parts of being a foreigner in Taiwan is that we recognize how lucky we are to have grown up in a mixed society. Taiwanese and other Homogenous countries just don’t know or understand other cultures. It’s not an active prejudice, it’s that they have never met a Jew, a black person, indian person, etc.

Believe you’ve made your point Taiwaner. :wink:

Agreed, the only context I’ve heard in reference to you tai ren (jews) is that they tend to be more intelligent and better at business. However, i am willing to bet that’s not the context coming out of a mostly-US trained bunch of lawyers.


Thanks everyone for the illuminating comments. Again, today, one of the very high-level, apparently well-educated managers in my company made a point of telling me the irrelevant fact that a certain lawyer’s a jew (everyone makes the same remark about the guy).

Yes, I believe he and the others meant it largely in that sense about this lawyer who represents our company, and is very bright and competent. I guess they figure it’s somewhat of a novelty to be represented by a jew, but lucky for us that we are.

Yes, I believe they meant it in that sense when they’ve noted repeatedly that the guy we’re suing in one case is a jew. I believe they make note of that to emphasize how sneaky and cunniving he is.

Yes, I believe that’s true as well. Sometimes I get lulled into thinking we’re basically the same and overlook our substantially different viewpoints.

You’re kidding right when you say they are possibly suggesting that because he’s a jew therefore sneaky and cunniving?

Black :idunno: :ohreally: :noway:

I’m pretty sure he meant, “I believe my boss is making a reference to the stereotype that Jewish people are…” rather than excusing his boss’ comment or supporting the stereotypes in it.

Again today.

I’m being questioned by a top-level manager of the company, who is concerned about the cost of a pending lawsuit in Los Angeles in which our company is the plaintiff. The matter is set for trial in a few months and the monthly legal costs are very high, but the defendant is completely unreasonable and refuses to make a settlement offer, so it looks like we’ll have to continue paying those costs and take the case to trial.

Distraught over that prospect, the manager points out that the party on the other side and his lawyer are both jews. . . and so is our lawyer. . . :saywhat:

The manager’s otherwise a very decent guy and it’s clear he feels a little sheepish raising such a point, but he asks in a slightly obscure way if I feel that maybe because they’re all jews they might be working in cahoots with each other and our lawyer isn’t representing our best interests at all, but is part of some sort of jewish conspiracy.

I find such comments extremely offensive (I think few US corporate managers would make the same suggestion about Chinese lawyers, etc), but I think Taiwaner got it right. It’s not that these people are malevolent; they’re just ignorant.

I’m rather puzzled: How are Taiwanese able to identify foreigners as being Jewish or not? They’re not usually very good at distinguishing one kind of waiguoren from another.

That’s a pretty disturbing addition to the story.

I had a Taiwanese person tell me last week, “Don’t all white women become fat and ugly when they turn 30?”.

I love Taiwan, the culture and everything, but the one thing that does continually bother me is the latent racism here. The way they treat darker skinned peoples (especially Philippinos) is very disturbing.

Overall, it always makes me appreciate this aspect of Western culture. For all our flaws and faults, at least we strive to really look beyond “skin deep”.

Their views of Jews and Judaism is overall very positive though. There are quite a few books in Chinese about how to do things in “Jewish ways”. I’m pretty sure some of them have been best sellers.