What Is Intelligence?

Ahh, what would the world be without the occasional declarations by some Ashkenazi Jews to remind us of their superior intellectual prowess? Of course, their claims can be substantiated with little to no effort. Forget IQ tests, statistics or research papers to validate such claims; all one has to do is pull from their personal chronicles. I mean, have you ever met a dumb Ashkenazi? Of course not. They don’t exist. At least not in the minds of individuals such as rabbi Yehoshua Zuckerman.

According to Zuckerman, Moroccan Jews are incapable of conveying the ideas of faith within a Western context which attributes to their political affiliation. He does, however, give them credit for being “pure” and “natural” despite their woeful mental incapacity. Remind me to send him a fruit basket next Rosh Hashana for that gracious acknowledgment.

So Sephardi Jews — Jews who originate from Africa — or darker skinned Jews are intellectually inferior to their less melanin-replete Jewish counterparts, i.e. European Jews. Hmmm…now where have I heard a similar argument?

Honestly, the belief that people who originate from Africa are somehow less intelligent than those from Europe is an age-old claim dating back at least to the 15th century. It was the premise for chattel slavery. Remember? Those savage, uncivilized and feeble-minded Africans who were running through the jungle naked with bones in their noses. Why, they needed to be saved by the enlightened and humane Europeans!

And let’s not forget about the Ethiopian Jews. Well if it weren’t for Operation Moses where would they be?  No doubt wandering in the wilderness. It was only the empathy of the state of Israel which rescued the Ethiopians from their disparity delivering them into the land of milk and honey.  The promised land, Israel, where they have been welcomed with open arms. Welcomed to mop floors and clean toilets but not welcomed to learn side by side with other Israeli children. Not because of the color of their skin, though because we all know racism does not exist in Israel. It’s due to their inability to keep up academically. Allowing them in classrooms would lower the standard of learning according to “educators”.

The truth of the matter is there is no group of people inherently or genetically more intelligent than another group. Neither our ethnicity, nationality nor even our genes determine intelligence. Even when we see certain ethnic groups excelling academically it is not attributable to their being Ashkenazi Jews, Japanese or Russian.

A number of contributing factors account for academic success. The value system of a group of people, cultural traditions, access to certain learning tools and opportunities, even expectations — none of which is contingent upon one’s ethnic make-up.

Furthermore, what exactly is the barometer for measuring intellect?  I’m sure most would contend Harold Urey and Ernest Lawrence set the bar when it comes to measuring intelligence. What about the ability to cut a person open and remove his or her heart and replace it with another? Definitely the knowledge to be able to drill hundreds even thousands of feet below the surface to extract oil is no small achievement. And what about those in the finance industry who trade derivatives, credit default swaps, and speculate? These are skills which assuredly require a certain wiring of the brain.

I would be remiss in not acknowledging the skill and aptitude present in accomplishing all of the aforementioned. But how intelligent is it to destroy the world in which you, your children and your children’s children have to exist? How intelligent is it to consume and partake of things which you are aware will destroy your body? I fully appreciate the knowledge of an open heart surgeon, however I prefer the knowledge of the one who can teach me how to preserve the heart I was born with. Intelligence is not just knowledge. It is the application of that knowledge. An educated fool is nonetheless, a fool.


Image: smokedsalmon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mikki Israel is an American-Israeli or Israeli-American, depending on the circumstances. Mikki currently resides in Israel but comes to the U.S. whenever Israelis become too annoying, then returns after the Americans have become a headache.  She is a freelance writer for whatever media outlet is brave enough to print the news — minus the spin.


  1. ooh wee this was good. Great stuff, Mikki!

  2. Mia Imani says

    Powerful and insightful piece!


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