The most wonderful aspect of globalisation, apart from increasing human wealth and therefore happiness, is how many more cultures meet one another and interact and create new individual identities. I find the meeting of Chinese and Jews particularly fascinating for personal reasons.
Below are some wonderful quotations of Chinese historical figures on Jews and all aspects of Jewish culture. Savour the sometimes jarring, sometimes revealing, always bizarre mix.
These first few quotes are all copied from the delectable if slightly fusty “Chinese Perceptions of the ‘Jews’ and Judaism” by Zhou Xun.
And I wish to assure you of my sympathy for this movement [Zionism] — which is one of the greatest movements of the present time. All lovers of democracy cannot help but support whole-heartedly and welcome with enthusiasm the movement to restore your wonderful and historical nation, which has contributed so much to the civilization of the world and which rightly deserves an honourable place in the family of nations.
—- Dr. Sun Yat-sen (孫中山), the then-President of the Republic of China and founder of the Nationalist Party (Kuomingtang 國民黨), 24th April 1920, in a letter to the editor of “Israel’s Messenger”; a copy of this letter is supposedly currently stored in the archive of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem
[The God of Israel and David Ben Gurion are] terrorists
— Zhou Zuoren, a famous writer of the May Fourth period, in “Yindu yu Yiselie” (印度與以色列, “India and Israel”), “Renmin wenxue” (人民文學, “People’s Literature”), July 1957
Alas! How could I falsely pity the Jew? I cannot but pity the Jew. I do not pity the Jew of the past, I pity the Jew of the future. Jew! Jew! Tiny reflection of the prospect of our own country. The old Jew goes, the new Jew comes, but the misery of the new Jew surpasses the misery of the old Jew. Alas, when I write these words, the tear stains want to father traces of blood, the traces of blood want to dry up in black marks […] The past of the Jews is China’s today, the present of the Jews will be the future of China.
— “Wuhu Youtai” (嗚呼猶太, “Alas, the Jews!”), in Zhejiang Chao (浙江潮, “The tide of Zhejiang”), Issue 7, 1903
The Jewish Mark Twain [and] the greatest writer of modern Jewish literature
— Shen Yanbin (沈雁冰), aka Mao Dun (茅盾), on Sholem Aleichem (שלום־עליכם). ‘On June 18, 1959, a commemoration of one hundred years since his birth was held in Shanghai. Many of his works were also translated into Chinese in conjunction with the event’.
Poetry will never disappear. The hot-blooded spirit of the poet [Bialik, ביאליק], framed with gold, wrapped by frost, will burst out as majestic as the roar of the sea!
— Ci Cheng, “Xiandai de Xibolai shi” (Modern Hebrew Poetry), Xiaoshuo yuebao, page 7, 14:5, 1923.