A Sino-Israeli Flower Blooms
In case you weren’t sure we’d really entered a multi-cultural, post-post-modern, fusion, eclectic, it’s-a-small-world-after-all age, check out this new piece by Buddha-killer Matthew Fishbane at Tablet. He recently visited China, partly in pursuit of Jews, and brings back a report on the opening of the extravagant Israel Pavilion at Shanghai’s World Expo 2010, in less than 100 days.
If the Beijing Olympics was China’s global coming-out party, the Expo may be its debutante ball, with China cast as the steel-eyed, crisp-uniformed, square-jawed Prince Charming, and Israel (and every other foreign visitor) in high heels, looking to dance. “A good Expo is very important in what we call ‘The Image of Israel,’ our branding,” says Eldan, the consul, flipping through slides describing the Hall of Light, which will put Kings David and Solomon alongside Albert Einstein. Israel’s pavilion is designed to accommodate 2.5 million visitors, equivalent to a third of Israel’s population. “If a small country takes a significant budget to the Expo, the Chinese will remember this,” Eldan says.
For once, Israelis are faced with the task of having a positive image to uphold, rather than with a struggle to be taken as anything other than miserable, bellicose, and unsafe. “The Chinese know nothing about what a Jew is,” a venture capitalist at the Chamber meeting told me. “They have no concept, so they have no prejudice.” Instead, they hold a deep-seeded stereotype of the you tai ren, as Jews are sometimes called in China, that says, as another businessman put it, “Wow, you are smart. And you are rich!”
Read all of Kosher Chinese.