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Jewish World Review
April 11, 2007
/ 23 Nissan, 5767
Micheal Ray Richardson isn't an anti-Semite. He's right
The now-let go coach said Jews are 'crafty' and adept at security. Correct on both counts
Until recently, Micheal Ray Richardson (that's how he spells it) was slightly famous for having once told a sportswriter that his team, the New York Knicks, was "a sinking ship." When the writer asked how far the ship might sink, Richardson replied, "The sky's the limit."
That remark, however, wasn't what got Richardson into trouble; repeated drug use did. He wound up banned from the NBA, a vagabond basketball player in Europe. Lately he has been making a comeback as coach of the Albany Patroons in the Continental Basketball Assn.
But the comeback hit the skids. Once again, sportswriters were involved. Asked about his contract negotiations, Richardson said he didn't expect problems because "I've got big-time lawyers. Big-time Jew lawyers."
Alarmed, the reporters warned Richardson that his words could be considered insulting because they fit the stereotype of Jews as crafty and shrewd.
Richardson didn't even blink. "Are you kidding me?" he demanded. "They've got the best security system in the world. Have you ever been to an airport in Tel Aviv? They're real crafty. Listen, they are hated all over the world, so they've got to be crafty. They got a lot of power in this world, you know what I mean? Which I think is great. I don't think there's nothing wrong with it. If you look in most professional sports, they're run by Jewish people. If you look at a lot of most successful corporations and stuff, more businesses, they're run by Jewish [sic]. It's not a knock, but they are some crafty people."
For these observations, Richardson was suspended by the Patroons, forbidden by team owner Ben Fernandez to even attend practice. Predictably, Abe Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, praised this punishment and demanded an apology: "Micheal Ray needs to understand that when he suggests that all Jews are crafty, that Jews have a lot of money and power, he is conjuring up classic anti-Semitic stereotypes…. We hope that Micheal Ray will realize the pain his words have caused to many people and make clear that he understands why his remarks about Jews were so inappropriate and offensive."
Excuse me, but Richardson didn't say anything offensive (and while we're on the subject of offensive, what's with the "Micheal Ray"? Are he and Foxman first-name buddies?).
In fact, Jews, as a people, are smart, in my experience. And they're proud of it (especially the dumb ones). Wake up a Jew in the middle of the night and he can rattle off the Jewish Nobel Prize winners in alphabetical order. Believe me, I've been a Jew for 59 years, and I know what I'm talking about.
What other hurtful things did Richardson supposedly say? That Israel has the best airport security in the world? This is both true and something Israel itself brags about. That Jews are hated and need to protect themselves? That's the founding premise of the Anti-Defamation League itself.
Sure, Richardson exaggerates when he says that Jews own most sports teams. As far as I can tell, Jews (about 1% of the population) only own about half the teams in the NBA (and a pretty fair proportion in baseball and football too). So what?
As to the observation that Jews run a lot of successful businesses, no kidding. Jews are very likely the most economically successful ethnic group in the U.S. What's the matter with that?
Richardson, who was a popular player in Israel during his NBA exile years, is guilty of nothing more than free speech. Even if his observations were wrong which they are not there's nothing at all insulting about them. What is insulting is the notion that you can't speak honestly about Jews without getting into trouble.
At the moment, Jews have real enemies in the world: Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and the mullahs of Iran, to name a few. You want to fight anti-Semites, fight them.
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"A Match Made in Heaven: American Jews, Christian Zionists, and One Man's Exploration of the Weird and Wonderful Judeo-Evangelical Alliance"
(Sales help fund JWR)
From Publishers Weekly:
In this provocative study, Chafets, a journalist and former Menachem Begin press secretary, explores American evangelical support for Israel. Chafets interweaves reflections on the history of American Christians' embrace of Israel with contemporary reporting, visiting places like Jerry Falwell's Liberty University and tagging along on an evangelical tour of the Holy Land. Perhaps his most important point is that, despite American reporters' claims that only Israeli fanatics have accepted evangelical support, in fact "mainstream Israel" has welcomed the alliance. Chafets argues that especially in a time of war, American Jews need to realize that it is "Muslim fascists," not evangelical Christians, who are Israel's enemy. He acknowledges that much Christian Zionism includes belief in an end times scenario in which Jews don't fare well, but asks why Jews should care so much about their place in Christian eschatology, since Jews reject Christian accounts of the end times tout court . Altogether, Chafets's portrait suggests a great gulf between American Jewry and Israelis, and also points to great diversity of views among American Christians: liberal Protestants tend to be more equivocal in their support of Israel. This intensely readable book, which ends with a warning that evangelical enthusiasm for Israel ought not to be taken for granted and is sure to spark heated debate.
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© 2007, Zev Chafets
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