Fate of Kaifeng Jews as a reflection of their treatment by the Han Chinese

@andygogo (1580)
December 29, 2006 2:38pm CST
The Jews don't feel they are Jews if they are not persecuted. "I am persecuted, therefore I am" seems to be their motto. The Kaifeng Jews in China were the only exceptions. I had never met a minority person in my extensive travels in China that behaved in a fearful manner showing that they had been oppressed subjects in China. NEVER. By and large I can tell you that Hans have treated the minorities very well -- sometimes even better than they have treated themselves, as in the case of more stringent population control policies for the Hans. That's right, which other nation in the world would officially let their minorities have more kids than themselves even if there were a population control policy in place? Where there weren't any written scripts to begin with, the Han majority had literally been inventing systems of writing for the minority peoples who only had spoken languages. I had never seen or heard anything like that in history or in the other nations I had been to either as a sojourner or stayed for prolonged periods of time. So the way the Chinese had treated the Jews at Kaifeng was not exceptional, and the assimilation process of the Jews there was not a unique phenomenon. Minority peoples become part of a nation only if they are fully accepted as equals not as a matter of policy but as an intrinsic aspect of its national behavioral pattern. No Chinese would ever pick a Jew out of a crowd and say, "He is a Jew, let's trash him." China didn't grow to be a nation of 1.3 billion people for no reason. There are 56 nationalities inside her borders. Do you think any of the other 55 nationalities would join our nation in its consciousness if they feel alienated in any way? Why were there Jewish ghettos in Warsaw and not in China? The siege mentality of the Polish Jews was not accidental. It was a relic from centuries of alienating persecution by the Catholic Church because the Jews were identified as Jesus Christ's murderer. How ridiculous can monotheism be? The Catholic Church did not even allow the Jews to own land. That pushed the Jews into professions that needed money-managing skills instead of leading comfortable lives as landlords in Europe, and that's the historical reason why Jews became such skilled bankers nowadays. Take the Tibetans as another example. These folks have their own traditional calendar and this year their New Year's Day fell on the same day as the Chinese Lunar New Year. The Hans encourage all the nationalities inside China to be self-respecting minorities and so they go out of their way to promote minority cultures. During the past week, if you go to all the Spring Festivals for Chinese New Year celebrations, you will feel the cohesive power of the Chinese nation, and if you were a foreigner new to this feeling of close affinity, he will want to become part of the celebrations. In time, the assimilative process works into one's subconscious, and one becomes a Chinese -- all naturally and without coercion or pre-planned policies. In contrast, look at how the Soviets treated the Afghans from 1979-89 when they occupied the land. When the Russians were in Afghanistan during those years, they forced the elite Afghans to study Russian by sending them back to Moscow. They enforced an education curriculum emphasizing the study of Russian, just like White Americans forced young Native Americans to study and be brought up in English schools in their policy of forced assimilation of the original occupants of the land. What could be crueler than to force one to forget about one's cultural roots? If you had read the French novel about the "Last Lesson" when Alsace-Lorraine was ceded to Germany in 1870, talking about giving French language lessons to kids living in those two hitherto French provinces for the last time, you will understand the feelings. Similar feeling existed amongst many Chinese in Taiwan when the island was ceded to Japan as a result of the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895. To this day the lingering emotions affect the Sino-Japanese relations, and such a colonial educational system was responsible for the mangled personalities of the Taidus whose parents were brought up as Japan loyalists on the island -- they are Chinese but many (such as Lee Tenghui) have Japanese hearts. Coming back to persecution of minority peoples through shepherding them towards abandoning their customs and languages, I would point to the fact that such persecution is counter-productive in the long run. In fact, instead of forcing laowais to learn the Chinese language even though China is presently the engine for global economic growth, the Chinese are flocking to study foreign languages in droves. In time though, after we have ventured outwards to enter the foreign markets just like the foreigners are entering ours, and China's national strength has increased further, many laowais will naturally want to study Chinese. In fact, this has begun to happen already. Never by force or coercion. If they enjoy it, they will do it. Jews were assimilated in China because they were treated as equals due to the intrinsic value system of Chinese culture, not because one culture was better than the other.
1 response
• China
12 Mar 07
I come from kaifeng and i know one of my grandpa's friend is a jewish, It is said that the jews stayed in kaifeng in 1000 years, that was song dynasty in China and kaifeng is the capital at that time. It seems that they live a very comfortable life in here and become a part of local people finaly.