The jazz pianist Herbie Hancock said that, “Globalization means we have to re-examine some of our ideas, and look at ideas from other countries, from other cultures, and open ourselves to them.” This all sounds great, until he continues: “And that’s not comfortable for the average person.” From Hancock’s perspective, we Jews are above average. Globalization is not comfortable — it challenges long-held assumptions and can be humbling and even humiliating. For us, it’s a historical default position. And we have learned over time to leverage the discomfort of globalization.
Discomfort creates intellectual capital, the unintended benefit of being denied citizenship, professional access and property ownership for centuries. Property is not portable. Brains move, and they did. Serendipitous discoveries, great literature and scientific advancement are nourished from this global well, and in this sense, we have contributed immeasurably to the growth of science and culture.
Erica Brown, “A Better Jewish Network”, The Jewish Week (5 December 2014), 66.