16 August 2012

So, we really are a people

Please accept my apologies for my absence from these columns these past two weeks or so, but it's been the Olympics here in London, and I've been glued to the tv or listening to the radio while out and about. And didn't the Brits do well? 3rd place overall, ahead of the Russians (and the Australians, but don't let my Oz cousin read this: lovely man, but a bit sensitive on the topic!). The crowds really did roar the GBR athletes on to medal places: we managed a couple of visits, and had sore throats as a result. We've also got tickets for some of the Paralympics events: now there are the real Olympians - overcoming their disabilities (and possibly the depression that goes with becoming disabled) and being prepared to perform in public.

BTW, there's a drama-doc on BBC2 this Thursday at 21.00 BST (and available here for a further 7 days) about Lewis Gutmann, the German-Jewish emigre neurologist who developed the programme that became the Paralympics. Also BTW, The Times (of London and also behind a pay wall - see below - so you'll have to take my word for it) reported last Saturday that (a) sportspeople from democracies have won more medals in total than those from dictatorships and tyrannies in the Modern Olympics - there's food for a PhD someone - and (b) the same is true of countries whose official language is English (so that's why Israel does so badly: nothing to do with world-beating technofreaks).

However, what this is really about is an article in The Tablet that reports on research that shows (as if we didn't know already: if we were less closely related, we wouldn't argue with each other all the time) that Jews are related to each other, even if the links are oddly skewed. Thus, those expelled from Spain and Portugal are relatively closely related to Ashkenazi Jews, and relatively distant from other, older established, North African Jewish communities. Also, most strangely, Syrian Jews are more closely related to Ashkenazis than to other Middle Eastern Jews. Go figure.

The article is here. Unfortunately, online Haaretz has hidden itself behind a pay wall while I wasn't looking, so the internal links won't work. Personally, I already spend enough on media links without adding to the total.

By Brian Goldfarb.


KatieNorcross said...

i really don't give a damn about the Olympics. I didn't watch them, follow them or even care about them. It is a total anti-Semitic exercise in bs and until they hold at every opening ceremony a moment of silence to honor the Jews sorry Israelis who were murdered, they should be shun by everyone.

GideonSwort said...

So Brian, what does that mean? are we a nation, a people a race? or SimplyJews?

yitzgood said...

Jews, depending on how assimilated they are in other populations, have the things that generally set one "nationality" off from another: language, dress, cuisine, religion, endogamy. "Nationality" is not the only word you can use for this kind of grouping and most of the words you could use don't have exact definitions in common usage.

LouiseShah said...

"sportspeople from democracies have won more medals in total than those from dictatorships and tyrannies in the Modern Olympics..."

Oh, but just wait until they introduce sack racing. Saudi women will be hard to beat.

Seriously, if jumping up and down on a trampoline can be an Olympic sport, why not sack races?


LouiseShah said...

Hear! Hear! The modern Olympics movement has become a farce.

Anonymous said...


SnoopyTheGoon said...

I was always for sack races. Brings out the real spirit in a man/woman, that one.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Has become? It was always a big show. Unlike the Mondial, of course ;-)

Brian Goldfarb said...

Gideon (and sorry for the late response - we've been away again), my preference, as a sociologist would be to avoid the "race" tag (too many very nasty implications) and the nation one too (implies the sharing of a common spot on the Earth's surface - yes, but...) and go for "nation". This allows us to acknowledge a great deal of shared inheritance while disagreeing (and aren't we good at that!) as to just what we do share.

Mostly, I guess, the genuine scientific knowledge that we, collectively, share significant DNA markers allows us to poke a (metaphorical) sharp stick in the eye of the likes of Shlomo Sand and his ilk.

Always a good feeling.