Prior to age 22, I never once had a conversation about “the Jews.” My friends, family and relatives never talked to me about “the Jews.” We all admired the pluck of Israel, but I had to convert to Judaism to be able to have frequently chats about “the Jews.”
I first knowingly met Jews at UCLA in the fall of 1988. I was 22. I became fascinated.
The other day, I met a Jewish woman who asked me where I was from.
Woman: “I hear there’s anti-Semitism there. My friend had her car keyed.”
Luke: “Where does she live?”
Luke: “Yeah, I hear there’s a bit of that there.”
A mate of mine in regional Australia says that asking someone if they’re Jewish is like asking if they’re gay. It’s just not done.
We had thousands of hours of chats growing up in Australia and he confirmed to me that we never once talked about “the Jews.”
In regional Australia today, if you said you were gay, people wouldn’t be mad at you, but people would think you were weird. If you said you were Jewish, it would be equally so. It’s so out there on the weird side of normal. There’s one Jew in the this rural area and she keeps quiet about it.
Would her car get keyed? No. There’s not aggravation. There’s curiosity and ridicule, whispers and sly grins.
In Australia’s cities, a poofter or a Jew or a Muslim might get beat up but in regional Australia, people tend to be kinder and milder.