The Operated Jew

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The Operated Jew (German: Der operirte Jud’) is a satirical antisemitic book published by the German physician Oskar Panizza in 1893. Written from a medical perspective, it highlighted the more scientific form of racism that became characteristic of the modern era.

Plot summary[edit]

The book told the story of a young Jewish doctor, who because of antisemitic pressures, seeks to escape his Jewishness by submitting himself to a series of violently painful medical procedures. The doctor has stereotypical Jewish features: black curly hair, oily skin, thick lips, and a large, hooked nose, an effeminate voice, has poor posture and is orthopedically impaired.

He agrees to undergo a complex medical operation in order to free himself from his Jewishness. Ultimately, he arranges to have all his bones straightened out, has his hair dyed blonde, and gets his larynx altered to change his voice. He is placed in a bathtub and given a blood transfusion by pure Aryan virgins.

Having been seemingly cured of his Jewishness, he weds a blonde German woman. However, just as he is about to deliver a speech at his wedding, his voice takes on a high pitch, as all his previous Jewish features resurface. He ultimately winds up as a gelinatous puddle on the floor, thus signifying the immutability of the Jew: a Jew is always a Jew, regardless of whatever attempts at assimilation he may undertake.

The book incorporated all the elements of modern, racial antisemitism: the expression of desire on part of the Jew to escape his identity, the lengths to which he will go to transform himself, the pornographic quality of the affair (as exemplified by the Aryan virgins), and the impossibility of it all. It sought to illustrate that Jews cannot escape their race; if they try, they become something non-human, and indeed sub-human.

References[edit]

Zipes, Jack (1991) The Operated Jew: Two Tales of Anti-Semitism. New York and London: Routledge

See also[edit]