Sherry Chayat

from “JAP-Baiting on Campus”

Almost 30 years ago, Lilith reported on a swell of graffiti and abusive chants, expressing a pernicious amalgam of misogyny and anti-Semitism. The comprehensive report, worth reading in full, spurred investigations on campuses around the U.S., national TV talk shows, public lectures in Jewish settings and the purging of self-deprecating “JAP” merchandise from synagogue gift shops. [Fall 1987] 

The stereotype of the JAP—the Jewish American Princess —is a relatively new phenomenon, emerging after years of Jewish Mother jokes and slurs. But whereas the Jewish Mother has been lampooned as overanxious, overprotective, and overbearing, her vast capacity for love and self-sacrifice, albeit guilt producing, has given these jokes an inner core of tenderness; the mockery has been more rueful than vilifying. And perhaps more importantly, although the Jewish Mother has become part of American folklore, jokes about her have been geared toward a predominantly Jewish audience.

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