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Of course much of this narrative is false and exaggerated, but the point is that this “lachrymose” version of Jewish history is entirely mainstream among Jews and a cornerstone of Jewish education and Jewish self-conception.
A passage that is remarkably similar to Portnoy appears in my review of Yuri Slezkine’s The migration of the Jews to the urban centers of the USSR is a critical aspect of Slezkine’s presentation, but it strains credulity to suppose that these migrants threw off, completely and immediately, all remnants of the Eastern European shtetl culture which, Slezkine acknowledges, had a deep sense of estrangement from non-Jewish culture, and in particular a fear and hatred of peasants resulting from the traditional economic relations between Jews and peasants and exacerbated by the long and recent history of anti-Jewish pogroms carried out by peasants.), who ice-skates “in her blue parka and her red earmuffs and her big white mittens—Miss America, on blades! Yes, he eventually joins in, but not before they enact a bad movie—not Hollywood, but San Fernando Valley triple-X. That comes from an episode in her life, from before Portnoy met her, when a couple swingers picked her up and wanted her to eat a banana while she watched them copulate. Growing up in Queens, he fantasized of fame and fortune, and, once he got them, he struggled to maintain them by building himself into a larger-than-life figure.With her mistletoe and her plum pudding (whatever that may be),” but as a grown-up he graduates to the real woman he nicknames The Monkey. For having a past that gets him hot, she gets degraded with an animalistic nickname. He yelled at employees like he was a studio boss from the 1920s—the only thing missing was a riding crop.Traditional Jewish shtetl culture also had a very negative attitude toward Christianity, not only as the central cultural icon of the outgroup but as associated in their minds with a long history of anti-Jewish persecution.The same situation doubtless occurred in Poland, where the efforts of even the most “de-ethnicized” Jewish Communists to recruit Poles were inhibited by traditional Jewish attitudes of superiority toward and estrangement from traditional Polish culture.
The same dynamic is going on throughout the West as a result of African and Muslim migration.