DISCRIMINATION


DISCRIMINATION
DISCRIMINATION, distinguishing between people on the basis of the group to which the person belongs rather than individual characteristics. With rare exceptions, contemporary forms of discrimination against Jews were not based upon the type of legal device and sanction that reached its apotheosis with the nuremberg laws . The postwar disclosure of the details of the Holocaust generated such massive popular revulsion that legal forms of antisemitism became taboo, for the gas chambers and the concentration camps were the ultimate consequence of legalized anti-Jewish discrimination. Antisemitism continued to find expression in the contemporary world in non-legislative discriminatory patterns. Sophisticated formulations to mask the antisemitic intent of the pattern were elaborated, and in no case could the pattern appear to be overtly antisemitic. Even where complete or almost complete exclusion of Jews was practiced, the rationale for such action had to be explained on grounds other than religious or ethnic discrimination. The more characteristic pattern took the form of "tokenism" (i.e., the admission of one or a few Jews into a non-Jewish milieu) or a quota system, which restricted the number of Jews to a precise or approximate percentage of the total composition. The overall pattern of discrimination was selective in character: not all or almost all Jews were the objects of discrimination and not all or almost all spheres of public life were the loci of the discriminatory pattern. There were, however, certain major postwar exceptions to the selective character of non-legislative discrimination. During the "Black Years" in the Soviet Union (1948–53), virtually all Jews were subject to some form of discrimination, and many were even more harshly treated. A similar phenomenon occurred in Poland during 1968, with the difference that Polish Jews were permitted and even encouraged to emigrate. These anti-Jewish campaigns were deliberately masked, however, in the first case as "anti-cosmopolitanism ," and in the second as "anti-Zionism." -Soviet Union The Soviet Union, where in 1970 approximately one-quarter of the world's Jewish population lived, offered a classic example of how antisemitic motivation on the highest level was expressed in either exclusion, tokenism, or quota techniques. Andrei D. Sakharov, the distinguished Soviet physicist and co-creator of the hydrogen bomb, acknowledged in 1968 that "in the highest bureaucratic elite of (the Soviet) government, the spirit of antisemitism was never fully dispelled after the 1930s." A burgeoning Russian nationalism, which fed upon traditional antisemitism and was reinforced by the determination to erect barriers against Western influences and contacts, provided the motivation for the policy, as Jews, characteristically, had family as well as spiritual and cultural links with the West. Sakharov specifically mentioned the Soviet Union's "appointments policy" as the device by which discrimination against Jews was effected. That "appointments policy" excluded Jews from all key policy-making positions. Whereas the percentage of Jews in the Central Committee of the Communist Party was 10.8% in 1939, over the course of years, the percentage was reduced to almost nil – only one Jew remained in the Central Committee in 1970. There were no Jews in the Politburo, the Orgburo, or the top levels of the Secretariat. In the sensitive areas of diplomacy, security, foreign trade, and military affairs there were virtually no Jews: at the top levels, there was none at all; elsewhere in the hierarchy there were less than a handful. The political sphere, which embraced soviets on various levels and which was manipulated by the Communist Party apparatus, was characterized by "tokenism," whereby a tiny percentage of Jews was selected by the party. In contrast with the composition of the Supreme Soviet in 1937, for example, when approximately 3.5% of the deputies were Jewish (before the new "appointments policy" had been instituted), at the end of the 1960s, with a membership of some 1,500, it contained a token number of Jews – 0.25%. The same percentage obtained in the Supreme Soviets of the 15 Union Republics, in which there were 14 out of some 5,300 deputies; one or two Jewish deputies were chosen for some of the Union Republic Supreme Soviets. On the bottom of the legislative scale, the local soviets, which comprised over 2,000,000 members, received a similar token number of Jews (about 8,000). The percentage on this level approximated that of Jews in the legislatures on the republic and national levels. The quota system was used in the various branches of administration. Yekaterina Furtseva, minister of culture from 1960, explained how the system was initiated. If "a heavy concentration of Jewish people" was found in a governmental department, "steps were taken to transfer them to other enterprises …" At about the same time, Canadian Communist Party leader J.B. Salsberg was told in Moscow that the "transfer" method was applied to Jews in the "once-backward" Union Republics in order to make room for the newly trained native cadres in the administrative apparatus. In December 1962, Premier Nikita Khrushchev told Soviet intellectuals that Kremlin policy was aimed at preventing too many Jews from holding prominent posts, and in June 1963, the Party's principal theoretical journal, Kommunist, admitted the widespread use of the quota system in the training and placement of cadres in the various Union Republics. The quota system was most clearly expressed in university admission practices. The Soviet Bulletin of Higher Education (December 1963) disclosed that "annually planned preferential admission quotas" prevailed in Soviet universities. Nicholas De Witt, a U.S. specialist on Soviet educational   practices, explained that the quota system operated "to the particularly severe disadvantage of the Jewish population." In a study published in 1964, he found that "in those republics where Jews constitute an above-average proportion of the urban population, their representation among university students is well below the rate of the general population's access to higher education." Whereas in 1935 the Jewish enrollment in Soviet universities was 13% of the population, by the 1960s it dropped drastically to little more than 3%. The pattern of discrimination against Jews in political and social life paralleled a policy that deprived the Jewish community of the ethnic and religious rights to which it was constitutionally entitled and that other Soviet ethnic and major religious groups enjoyed. It should be emphasized, however, that the pattern of discrimination, especially in the civic and political arenas, was not endemic to Communist societies. In other European Communist countries (including Poland until 1967–68), Jews held prominent positions at all levels of the party and state administration. Even in the U.S.S.R. the anti-Jewish pattern of discrimination did not extend to everyday channels of social life. Residential restrictions were nonexistent, and there were no barriers to membership and participation in the lower levels of the Communist Party, trade unions, armed forces, social services, and clubs. Employment opportunities, other than administration, in such fields as science, medicine, law, and the arts were widespread. Particularly in the crucial area of the sciences, Jews ranked high both in absolute and relative terms, although the quota system in university admission practices brought about a decline in the percentage of Jews in relation to other nationalities. With the disintegration of the Communist system, all forms of official antisemitism virtually came to an end in Russia and Eastern Europe, replaced in many cases by grassroots antisemitism. -United States This Soviet pattern of discrimination was in striking contrast with the pattern prevailing in the United States, where in 1970 one-half of the world's Jewish population resided. Discrimination against Jews on the national political level was neither existent nor sanctioned. Jews played an important and active role in all areas of political, public, and community life, although to a lesser extent outside major population centers. Yet the chauvinism of an old, established patrician class, combined with a nativist-Populist tradition and an "in-group" phobia of those striving to protect their insecure status (in an extended period of upward social mobility), perpetuated patterns of social discrimination against Jews in non-government spheres – employment, housing, and social institutions. The techniques employed were exclusion, tokenism, and the quota system. Widespread patterns of discrimination in private industry were notable principally on the executive or management levels; no problem was apparent below that level. A study published in 1968 showed that comparatively few Jews were found in executive positions in the insurance, automobile, and shipping industries. A 1967 survey of 38 major companies in the New York City area, including utility and transportation companies, commercial banks, oil concerns, electronic firms, and stock exchanges, revealed that the proportion of Jews among the total number of executives was relatively small. Private employment agencies abetted the perpetuation of discrimination by responding positively to the real or imagined prejudices of their clients. Exclusive residential areas, both in suburbia and high-rental urban cooperatives, were often characterized by quota practices. By means of restrictive covenants, a complete ban on the sale of property to Jews could sometimes be effected. Even though the Supreme Court ruled that covenants were not legally enforceable, the device was still used, as, e.g., in certain choice locations in Washington, D.C. and Detroit. Resort hotels, especially in certain vacation areas, also erected barriers against Jews. A study in 1956–57 showed that one out of four hotels carried on such practices, with an even higher ratio in Arizona resort hotels. Particularly distinctive on the social landscape was the pattern of discrimination in country clubs and city social clubs. According to a 1961 survey, three-quarters of the former and 60% of the latter either excluded Jews or maintained quotas against them. A study released in 1969 emphasized that discrimination in these clubs led to an "almost insurmountable barrier" for Jews who strove for advancement in industry and finance. The reason for this crucial linkage between social-club discrimination and employment opportunities was the fact that top-level business executives frequented these clubs and "naturally turned to the ranks of those they knew." In local communities, social clubs were vital factors in the power structure, and the scope of Jewish participation in the local decision-making process was directly proportionate to the extent that they excluded or restricted Jews. Progress in removing barriers against Jews, however, was made gradually, especially in the employment field. Other private forms of social discrimination had greatly declined by 1970. Typical of this trend were university admission practices. An American Council on Education study in 1949 revealed that the average Jewish university applicant had considerably less chance of being accepted than a Catholic or Protestant of comparable scholastic ability. The technique generally used was a fixed quota. Since then, and especially from the 1960s, restrictions based upon religion or ethnic origin were significantly reduced, confining themselves largely to a few exclusive cooperatives, athletic or golf clubs, and law firms. -England The American pattern of social discrimination was paralleled, at least to some extent, in the United Kingdom. In the early 1960s it was estimated that approximately one-half of British golf clubs prevented, as far as possible, the admission of Jews to membership. Usually a quota system was applied, although in Manchester nearly 100 clubs adhered to an unwritten "Aryan paragraph" providing for total exclusion. Whether and to what extent there was a decline in club discrimination from the middle and late 1960s was never studied. Private   school (called "public" school in England) enrollment was also characterized by a form of snobbish discrimination effected by the quota system. A London newspaper study in the late 1950s showed that the best-known boys' "public" schools limited the number of Jewish students to 10–15%. Some girls' "public" schools excluded Jews entirely, while others placed a 10% quota on them. The absence of careful studies on "executive suite" discrimination made judgment about employment practices in England difficult, although in the 1960s relatively few Jews were found in finance and heavy industry. It can be surmised, however, that this problem and related forms of social discrimination were less pressing than in the United States. As in America, the political sphere was virtually devoid of discrimination. The basic motivation of discrimination in England appeared to be social, a vestige of patrician snobbishness perhaps reinforced by religious considerations. The extent to which the American pattern of social discrimination was present in other Western and Latin American countries was not made the object of any scientific study. -Arab Countries Whereas antisemitism in most parts of the Jewish-populated world was expressed by subtler forms of discrimination, in the Arab countries the necessity for pretense was not felt, especially after the Six-Day War (1967). Discrimination against Jews was open, callous, and frequently brutal. Upon the establishment of the State of Israel, all the Jews in Iraq were classed as enemy aliens. This act was accompanied by the sequestration of Jewish property and businesses and the banning of emigration. In March 1950, when the ban was lifted for one year, almost all of Iraq's 120,000 Jews fled, leaving 6,000 in the country. Further anti-Jewish discriminatory legislation was enacted in the years that followed, while the outflow of Jews continued, and, as of May 1967, the 2,500 remaining Iraqi Jews faced sharp limitations in the areas of citizenship, travel, and property. The Six-Day War brought on even more repressive measures: all Jewish homes were placed under surveillance; telephones were disconnected; personal property could not be sold; assets were frozen; licenses were canceled; the dismissal of Jewish employees was ordered; and travel from their area of residence was forbidden. A complete ban on emigration made the discriminatory pressures under which Jews lived all the more burdensome. Several Jews were publicly hanged in Baghdad, together with Muslim opponents of the regime, as "imperialist and Zionist spies." The situation in Syria was similar. Even prior to the Six-Day War, Syrian Jews were forbidden to sell property and move about beyond a one-and-a-half-mile radius from their place of residence without a special permit. Jews were required to carry special identity cards, and after the war, the 4,000 Syrian Jews were not permitted to emigrate. Just prior to the Six-Day War, the UAR conducted a registration of its 2,500 Jews and, within two or three days of the outbreak of hostilities, ordered the imprisonment of the great majority of Jewish males. Most of these prisoners were released during 1968 but others were kept in prison until 1969and 1970. Prior to the war, the 4,000-member Jewish community in Libya was subject to a variety of restrictions, including a ban on emigration. The outbreak of war unleashed popular violence against Jews. When the ban on emigration was lifted soon after the war ended, the entire Jewish community fled. The tiny Jewish community of Aden underwent a similar experience. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: E. Goldhagen (ed.), Ethnic Minorities in the Soviet Union (1968); S. Schwarz, Jews in the Soviet Union (1951); W. Korey, in: Midstream, 12 no. 5 (1966), 49–61; A.D. Sakharov, Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom (1968), AJYB, 69 (1968), N.C. Belth (ed.), Barriers: Patterns of Discrimination against Jews (1958); B.R. Epstein and A. Forster, Some of My Best Friends (1962); Rights, 7 no. 1 (Feb., 1968); B'nai B'rith International Council, Survey, Report 64–1 (Jan., 1964); R.M. Powell, The Social Milieu as a Force in Executive Promotion (1969); M. Decter, in: Foreign Affairs, 41 (1963), 420–30; B.Z. Goldberg, The Jewish Problem in the Soviet Union (1961); N. De-Witt, Education and Professional Employment in the U.S.S.R. (1961); idem, The Status of Jews in Soviet Education (1964). (William Korey)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • discrimination — [ diskriminasjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1870; lat. discriminatio « séparation » 1 ♦ Psychol. Action de distinguer l un de l autre (des objets de pensée concrets). ⇒ distinction. Littér. Action de discerner, de distinguer les choses les unes des autres avec… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • discrimination — di‧scrim‧i‧na‧tion [dɪˌskrɪmˈneɪʆn] noun [uncountable] 1. ECONOMICS the process of treating one market, country, type of product etc differently from another: • the discrimination in favour of imported wine when it comes to excise duty ˈprice… …   Financial and business terms

  • discrimination — I (bigotry) noun bias, blind zeal, class prejudice, favoritism, illiberality, intolerance, opinionativeness, preference, prejudice, race hatred, race prejudice, racialism, racism, unfairness, want of forbearance associated concepts: blacklist,… …   Law dictionary

  • Discrimination — Dis*crim i*na tion, n. [L. discriminatio the contrasting of opposite thoughts.] 1. The act of discriminating, distinguishing, or noting and marking differences. [1913 Webster] To make an anxious discrimination between the miracle absolute and… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • discrimination — 1640s, the making of distinctions, from L.L. discriminationem (nom. discriminatio), noun of action from pp. stem of discriminare (see DISCRIMINATE (Cf. discriminate)). Especially in a prejudicial way, based on race, 1866, Amer.Eng. Meaning… …   Etymology dictionary

  • discrimination — [n1] bias bigotry, favoritism, hatred, inequity, injustice, intolerance, partiality, prejudice, unfairness, wrong; concepts 29,689 Ant. fairness, tolerance discrimination [n2] particularity in taste acumen, acuteness, astucity, astuteness, bias,… …   New thesaurus

  • discrimination — penetration, insight, *discernment, perception, acumen Analogous words: wisdom, judgment, *sense: subtlety, logicalness or logic (see corresponding adjectives at LOGICAL) Contrasted words: crassness, density, dullness, slowness, stupidity (see… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • discrimination — ► NOUN 1) the action of discriminating against people. 2) recognition of the difference between one thing and another. 3) good judgement or taste …   English terms dictionary

  • discrimination — [di skrim΄i nā′shən] n. [L discriminatio] 1. the act of discriminating, or distinguishing differences 2. the ability to make or perceive distinctions; perception; discernment 3. a) partiality, or bias, in the treatment of a person or group, which …   English World dictionary

  • Discrimination — This article focuses on discrimination in sociology, not statistical discrimination. For other uses of the term, see the entry for discrimination at Wiktionary. Part of a series on …   Wikipedia