Content Warning: discussion of the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, and the history of Israel and Palestine.
Kira interrogates a Cardassian and Nog tries to join Starfleet with his bar mitzvah money this week as we look at two Deep Space Nine episodes to ask: who are the real mensches of the Alpha Quadrant? No, really, we examine the perennial criticism that the Ferengi are anti-Semitic caricatures, and it's rejoinder, that the Bajorans are the real Jews of Trek, and they're pretty great. Does either theory hold water? Kinda! We watched "Duet" (DS9 S1:E19) and "Heart of Stone" (DS9 S3:E13).
"Jews in Space" is a Mel Brooks song that plays at the end of History of the World Part I. Watch it on YouTube.
Rest in peace Aron Eisenberg, who starred as Nog in "Heart of Stone". Eisenberg died in late 2019.
Our favorite "space Jews" in one relationship.
“To me, DS9 was largely about the Jewish diaspora. Cardassians are Nazis, Ferengis represent Jews as the world sees them (i.e., anti-Semitism), and Bajorans represent Jews as they see themselves (i.e., Israel)." via Medium.
The above quote is from a pretty great blog post called "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine In 82.5 Hours," which we recommend you check out.
You can find some more context for the broader concept of "space Jews" and how it shows up in science fiction at TV Tropes. This article in the Washington Post discusses "space Jews" as well as the Ferengi, as does this one in The Forward, which attempts to refute it by discussing the Bajorans. The Washington Post piece also explains how Jews became associated with money-lending.
You should have just recommended me because I'm your son's best friend, but okay.
"[The Ferengi believe] that it is nature's way to reward the clever at the cost of the weak. They believe in the law of quid pro quo and believe it is dishonest to take or receive without fair payment, although their idea of 'fair' is that which profits them the most." "The Ferengi Memo" via Memory Alpha.
“In America, people ask ‘Do the Ferengi represent Jews?’ In England, they ask ‘Do the Ferengi represent the Irish?’ In Australia, they ask if the Ferengi represent the Chinese. The Ferengi represent the outcast… it’s the person who lives among us that we don’t fully understand.” -Armin Shimerman, who played Quark, via Player One.
A meme about the are-they-or-aren't-they anti-Semitic debate via Star Trek Shit Posting.
Bajor and "Duet"
This episode was loosely based on the play/movie/book "The Man in the Glass Booth", about a fictional holocaust survivor who fakes his dental records so that he can be tried in Israel as a Nazi war criminal. The play/movie/book was inspired by the real life Nuremberg Trials and the trial of Adolf Eichmann.
This episode is much more exciting than this image lets on.
We go on to compare the Bajoran Resistance to the Haganah, and Major Kira's resistance cell, the Shakaar, to the Israeli splinter resistance group, the Irgun, who were instrumental in overthrowing British rule of Mandatory Palestine, but also committed acts of terrorism that killed civilians. You can learn more about the Irgun and their involvement in Israeli government at the Jewish Virtual Library.
Kira's got a gun
Major Kira and the Shakaar freed the Gallitep labor camp, which we compare to the Irgun's liberation of the aliyah bet Atlit detainee camp in Palestine, which held Jews fleeing the Holocaust who were illegally immigrating to Israel as refugees. Some of these Jewish refugees were also held in British camps in Cyprus. We also compare the Gallitep labor camp to Nazi concentration camps.
In comparing the depiction of Bajorans to Jews, we reference the Memory Alpha articles on Bajoran religion, Bajoran history, and the Occupation of Bajor.