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David Duke and Me

David Duke and Me

What do a Jewish mother of four and a Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard have in common?


Every writer craves publicity, and I'm no exception. Good publicity can lead to more book sales, speaking engagements, and just plain nachas. But while some insist there is no such thing as bad publicity as long as they spell your name right, some publicity is harder to brag about than others. I mean, how does a Jew brag about being quoted by David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan? Oy.

How does a Jew brag about being quoted by David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan? Oy.

You could have blown me over with a fluffy matzo ball when I received a shocking email via a Google alert. The link in the email took me to a place I never imagined visiting: the official web site of David Duke, who named me as part of a devious cabal responsible for the "Jewish-supremacist domination of media, culture and politics." Apparently, this belief is always annoying for people whose wardrobes include white sheets and hoods, but is especially irksome in December, since it's now almost impossible to find any type of nativity scene in public – and it's all the Jews' fault!

The Klansman railed against me ("The Jewish writer Judy Gruen") because in an essay I had written about Chanukah, I celebrated the Maccabbee's efforts to fight assimilation, arguing that this was a timeless message. I could almost feel Duke's blonde hair stand on end when he posted these lines from my essay:

"In an open society, Jews need a reason to behave more like Maccabees and less like Greeks. That’s why the word Hanukkah means “dedication,” but its root word, chinuch, means “education.” When we are shown the beauty and value of our moral heritage, we will naturally work to preserve it, even at the cost of our lives."

He also quoted a few other Jewish writers who argued as I did: Jews shouldn't assimilate ourselves into extinction. But Duke was miffed, to put it mildly, that while overt religious symbols of Christmas were being challenged and even banished from public places, and schoolchildren forbidden from singing traditional Christmas songs, Chanukah symbols and music were everywhere! After all, a huge menorah was just lit in front of the White House by those Jewish supremacist Chabadniks!

But David, I didn't plant that giant menorah on the White House lawn. Honest! (Maybe Rahm Emanuel did it. Ask him.)

After giving it some thought, I realized that in his own nutty, Jew-hating way, Duke was giving me a grudging compliment. After all, we Jews aren't letting anyone take away our public menorah lightings from us unless they pry them from our latke-greased, sufganiot-stained fingers. We still joyously and unapologetically celebrate our 3,500-year history of Jewish identity and Jewish values, even if it makes us a bit out of step in today's "Dancing with the Stars" culture. Frankly, we are leaving David Duke and his buddies in the dust, which may cause a laundry problem for those white sheets.

And even someone as misguided as David Duke can't help but notice that while countless other civilizations that tried to kill us have come and gone, we are still here, still eating latkes and sufganiot, and more importantly, studying Torah and doing mitzvot. Duke may have learned this while studying for the Ph.D. in history he claims to have from a university in Kiev, Ukraine, where I've no doubt there is an endowed chair in Jewish Supremacist Studies. (By the way, Duke's latest book is called Jewish Supremacism, which he claims has been translated into 14 languages. Hmm, let me guess: Is Arabic one of them?)

Duke's latest book has been translated into 14 languages. Hmm, let me guess: Is Arabic one of them?

But he is wrong when he claims that Jews like me wield so much power over the media, culture and politics. Frankly, if I had any power over the media, I'd run my own magazine and give myself a large salary, with a company credit card. I'd outlaw reality TV shows, and exile Jon and Kate to an island in the Maldives, never to be heard from again. If I had any political power, I would solve part of the health care coverage crisis by forcing underdressed young women to go home and put on sweaters, instead of showing the whole world all their preexisting conditions. But has any of this happened? Is any of this likely? One would therefore have to conclude that my attempts at anything close to media and cultural domination have been unmitigated failures.

Besides, as much as I might enjoy cultural domination for a while, I doubt I would have the time, the energy or the organization skills to pull it off. Heck, I can't even manage to dominate the forces of paperwork from piling as high as Mount Kilimanjaro on my desk. When would I find time to orchestrate the removal of nativity scenes from public parks, force children to sing "Oh Chanukah, Oh Chanukah!" instead of "Silent Night" at school, light two-story tall menorahs at the White House, and otherwise "tear down the traditions of white people?" I just don't have that kind of free time. I still drive carpool.

So David, you give me credit for far more influence than I could ever dream of having. My real "power" comes from being lucky enough to be a member of The Tribe. And yes, we will continue to fight the good fight, to keep doing mitzvot and live proudly as Jews. That's why we're still here now, and will always be, long after your white sheets have become just an ugly footnote in history.

December 20, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 19

(19) Stephen, January 4, 2010 4:29 PM

Georg von Starkermann is wrong

I loved the article and found it most inspiring. However, I'm afraid that I find Mr. von Starkermann's diatribe both incorrect and offensive. I happen to be a "leftist Jew" (Orthodox) who happens to disagree with the current Israeli government as to how to best assure the continued survival of the State of Israel. My views are just as much based on Torah principles as his. To say that that makes me an anti-Semite OR a potential convert to Xianity - just because I don't agree with his viewpoint - is both inaccurate and unfortunate. It also points out that the same baseless hatred by Jews of other Jews is just as much with us as it was in 70 CE. This does not bode well for the coming of Moshiach!!

(18) Beverly Kurtin, December 25, 2009 10:46 PM

The Kooky Klan Korps

Oy, Judy, thanks for the laughs. My ribs are still hurting! You have brilliantly shown that the best way to counter what the Kooky Klan Korps (isn't that what KKK means?) is to poke fun at them and laugh in their faces. I love Mel Brooks 'cause he manages to make us laugh at the Nazis and other purveyors of Jew-haters of the world. Their asinine beliefs betray just how ignorant and backward they are. We are accused of having all the money in the world. Nu? I, greedy money grubbing Jew that I am, live on less than $20,000 a year. Does that mean I'm really not Jewish? Do I have to turn in my Tenach and Siddurs? Methinks that it is beyond time that we shake in our heels because some groups don't like us. Laugh at them, show them to be the fools they are. If they don't like us being around, let them wait until the Christian place of eternal punishment features ice skating; they they can freeze their tushies off waiting for us to disappear. Am Yisrael Chai!!!!!!

(17) David Schwed, December 24, 2009 6:36 PM

You're a very good writer

Thank you for a pleasant optimistic read. Yes, we're still here and those who would destroy us are gone. As I look at Hamas, Hezbollah, and many of the haters I wish them many blessings as their time on this earth is short. By not choosing life they choose their own destruction.

(16) howard yagerman, December 24, 2009 4:12 PM

A bigot by any other name

David Duke is an admitted anti-semite and Jew hater and should be carefully watched but what about those who pretend to be mainstream critics?Ann Coulter,Pat Robertson and of course Jimmy(Al Het) Carter.Ann Coulter was heard to say that the cresh is a "historic" symbol while the menorah is a" religious " symbol or Pat Robertson talking about the Jewish inluence in society or Jimmy Carter lambasting Israel at every turn and recently in his typical treacly,smarmy manner saying forgive for the sins I have commited against you to the Jewish people. It is those who wear sheets and hoods in their heart and walk among us as mainstream pundits we have to fear not the nut jobs everyone can identify.It has been said that the greatest trick the devil has accomplished is to convince us he does not exist.

(15) Jacob, December 24, 2009 5:26 AM


I was just curious to see what david duke looks like and what hes about this guy a sick individual and devotes his life to hatred for the jewish people. As the rabbi of aish said (rabbi Noah Weinberg Z"L) THEY ARE DEDICATED TO FIGHT G-D HOW ARE WE GOING TO BE AS DEDICATED AS THEY ARE?? Lets just do the write thing and what we are supposed to be doing as jewish people.

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