Don't be a Jew!

Article published on Feb. 22, 2006
Article published on Feb. 22, 2006
The anti-Semitic expressions that are still present in European languages demonstrate just how much the fear and distrust of Jewish people has been engrained into our society

If, when in France, you eat like a Jew (manger en juif), it implies that you are eating alone. In Holland, a jodenfooi is a Jewish tip, i.e. a tight-fisted one, while the Hungarian phrase ne légy zsidó ('don’t be a Jew') is the equivalent of the Italian phrase che rabbino! ('what a rabbi!') and means 'don’t be so stingy!'

However, our languages are not content with the stereotype of the ‘penny-pinching Jew'. A Hungarian chant mocks the Jewish prohibition of eating pork: Do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-si-do, szalonnát eszik a zsidó! ('the Jew eats the bacon!'). In France, when you bang your funny bone, you bang your 'little Jew' (le petit juif). This comes from the time when this would happen to Jewish retailers, while they were counting up their products using their forearms.

In Germany, all anti-Semitic expressions have disappeared. Or, let's say, almost all: A small firecracker is called Judenfurz, which means 'a Jew's fart'...