Why Is Malaysia One of the World’s Most Anti-Semitic Countries?

According to a 2014 survey by the Anti-Defamation League, 60 percent of Malaysians hold anti-Semitic beliefs—the highest proportion of any country in Asia outside the Middle East. Hatred of Jews also figures prominently in Malaysian political discourse, rearing its head most recently in the context of the corruption scandal now rocking the country. Jon Emont connects these sentiments to the country’s own social and ethnic divisions:

Anti-Jewish prejudice in Malaysia did not develop in response to the tiny population of Jews who lived here, but instead was tuned to the frequencies of a Muslim world that saw the rise of Israel—and the subjugation of the Palestinians—as the religion’s great humiliation. . . . [Now commonplace in Malaysia is the] idea . . . that Jews are using rival political parties as proxies to dismantle the Muslim Malaysian state. . . .

There are strong similarities between the prejudice that Jews faced in Europe and the one faced by ethnic Chinese throughout Southeast Asia. In both cases, heightened senses of nationalism in host countries in the 20th century led to systematic persecution of the “entrepreneurial minority” based on accusations that the minority was abusing its host country’s generosity and exploiting locals for its community’s own benefits. . . .

[Furthermore, the Muslim, ethnically Malay] ruling party, [now using anti-Semitic allegations to defend its prime minister from charges of corruption], is facing a challenge from an Islamist party that promotes the use of Islamic law. Despite their major philosophical differences, this party and the ethnic-Chinese Democratic Action Party (DAP) have formed an alliance to challenge the ruling United Malay National Organization, so linking DAP with Jewish money could be an attempt to undermine this alliance . . . [in] an attempt to “out-Muslim” rival political parties.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, East Asian Jewry, Malaysia, Politics & Current Affairs, Southeast Asia

The Rise of Denominational Judaism in America

For some time, the divisions separating Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism have been basic facts of American Jewish life—although every few years some discussion arises about the possible end or reshuffling of these categories. Zev Eleff delves into the origins of these denominations, and how Jews came to speak of denominations at all, in conversation with Dovid Bashevkin. Among much else, Eleff explains that it was pragmatism, rather than egalitarianism, that motivated early reformers to switch from the traditional sex-segregated synagogue to mixed pews. For one of the first American rabbis to assert his Orthodoxy, the sticking point was his commitment to “congregationalism”—that is the independence of local communities from governing bodies. (Audio, 128 minutes. Interview begins at 49:26.) A transcript can be found at the link below.)

Read more at 18Forty

More about: American Judaism, Conservative Judaism, Orthodoxy, Reform Judaism