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November 27, 1987 - Image 154

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-11-27

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FRIDAY, NOV. 27, 1987

`JAP' Jokes

Continued from preceding page

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explained as an irritating
whine by a spoiled 3-year-old
or a JAP at any age.
Other items are - "Slap-a-
JAP" t-shirts that picture a
Jewish woman waiting to
have sponges thrown at her
and "JAP-buster" shirts.
At Syracuse University,
trendily-dressed women last
year risked being "JAPped"
at football games. While
walking in front of the stands,
certain women were targeted
by appearance by members of
the pep band, who shouted
"JAP JAP JAP," spreading
the chant throughout the
Among the graffiti cited
from SU., Lilith reported such
slurs as "Solution to the JAP
Question: When they go for
their nose jobs, have the doc-
tor tie their tubes as well."
`Stereotypes permeate,"
said Irving Levine, director of
the AJComm
ittee's national
affairs department, at the
conference. "AJP jokes are not
benign. But reflecting on a
history of prejudice should
tell us and teach us they are
"It (stereotyping) can choke
or kill the group," he con-
tinued, ". . and it's killing
the chances of our forbears to
live an effective life in socie-
While JAP jokes are ac-
cepted and told by many peo-
ple, including Jews, the anti-
Semitism inherent in them
remains unnoticed, according
to Susan Weidman Schneider,
editor of Lilith. "It is hidden
behind a scrim of misogyny,"
she said at the conference.
Allowing these attacks on
Jewish women ultimately
permits "more direct and
classic anti-Semitic jokes and
verbal abuse," she added.
Depiction of Jews as loud
and vulgar, self-serving and
dishonest traces back to the
anti-Semitic tract Protocols of
the Elders of Zion, Schneider
Jewish women must be
alert to two implications of
these jokes, according to
Schneider. First, their self-
esteem could be critically
damaged by the stereotypes.
Citing part of the Lilith
series, Schneider told ofa stu-
dent's encounter at State
University of New York at
Binghamton, where the word
JAP was spray-painted on a
dormitory door. But it was not
clear whether the graffiti was
meant for the young woman
with the dozen expensive
sweaters or her roommate
with the high scores on her
law school placement exams.
"Jewish women are just do-
ing what others are taught to
do," said Schneider — to be
self-sufficient and care about

their appearance.
She also warned that the
relationship between Jewish
women and Jewish men is be-
ing harmed as both attempt
to escape from this stereotype,
often by distancing
themselves from their Jewish
identity. "This leads to a path
to intermarriage and diluting
strength as a community,"
she said.
These barriers between
Jewish men and women were
first constructed in popular
literature, noted Francine
Klagsbrun, author of Married
People: Staying Together in the
Age of Divorce. She called
Herman Wouk's - Marjorie
Morningstar the "great-
grandmother of Jewish
princesses," and cited Brenda
in Philip Roth's Goodbye,
"These were written by
men trying to find their own
voice in America," Klagsbrun
said. "It's easier to show the
pushiness —and vulgarity of
Jewish women than to say
how difficult it was to find
their own way."
women are still the targets
of men's insecurities, accor-
ding to Klagsbrun. Women
struggle to balance careers
and home lives and Jewish
women are becoming
religious and lay leaders, yet
they are labelled as -spoiled,
ridiculous princesses, she
Klagsburn continued that
when Jews use the term JAP,
it is a code word for self-
hatred, forcing Jews to set
themselves apart from other
Jews because of their own
self-doubts and insecurities.
When many of the women
began to protest the issue in
recent years, they were told to
"lighten up," because JAP is
just part of the language. But
complacency, according to
Schneider, is "being party to
a dangerous coalition of anti-
women, anti-Semitic feel-
Those attending the con-
ference called for action to
stamp out the term JAP. Mer-
fish succeeded in persuading
the rabbis in her community
to realize the latent anti-
Semitism inherent in JAP
humor, and the Houston Rab-
binical Council passed a
resolution addressing the
matter, a consciousness-
raising act, as was the con-
ference itself.
AJC's • Houston chapter is
also developing an educa-
tional packet on JAP-
stereotyping to be distributed
to rabbis throughout the
By overlooking the pro-
blem, the Jewish community
is abetting JAP stereotyping,
according to Ruth Septee,

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