Netanyahu is terrible in lots of ways, and absolutely deserves criticism and resistance, but this is some antisemitic BS. A brief history of Ashkenazi last names, and why the fact that they sound Polish or Russian or German is meaningless...
Ashkenazi Jews have no tradition of using surnames. None. For almost all of Ashkenazi history people were known only by a given name and a patronymic. For example, Moishe ben (son of) Abraham.
This is still how we do Hebrew names, and up until the early 19th century that was the *only* way we did names. Jews didn't have family names that passed from generation to generation. So how do we have all these European sounding Jewish last names now?
At the end of the 18th century the Holy Roman Emperor Josephus II made a new law that Jews had to have last names. Specifically *German* last names. Prussia adopted the same policy shortly afterwards, and it was implemented region by region over several decades.
The naming process was completed in Prussia around 1845. Russia copied the policy, starting giving Jews Russian language surnames early in the 19th century.
How last names were assigned varied by region, but in almost all cases names were assigned by a central authority, not chosen by the Jews using them. Most were entirely artificial. Two unrelated words were just jammed together to make a new name.
Other regions used professions, others used descriptions of where the person was from, others used patronymics, others used "nicknames", describing the person being named.
The "nickname" variety was often cruelly ironic. A lame man would be named "Schnell", a poor man would be named "Silberman", a thin man would be named "Gross". There is one record of a rabbi being named "Gottlos" - godless.
No matter how the name was chosen, the end result was the same - a people were assigned new names by their oppressors, in the oppressors' language, and forced to use them publicly. It was forced assimilation. It was cultural erasure.
And it was recent. Benjamin Netantyahu's grandfather Nathan was born in 1879. It was his father or his grandfather who was assigned Mileikowski as a surname. Shedding the name wasn't an act of sneaky subterfuge. It was an act of resistance.
He wasn't hiding a long history of Polish-ness. He was un-hiding a history of Jewishness that his recent ancestors had been forced to cover over. Implying that the name imposed on him by his oppressors is more "real" than the name he chose for himself is also an act of oppression
The belief that Ashkenazi Jews were just Europeans who followed a different religion is entirely incorrect. The level of violence waxed and wanted, but Jews were an oppressed minority for millennia.
The Jews who fled to mandatory Palestine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and to Israel in the mid 20th century were not privileged Europeans. They were escaping centuries of physical and cultural violence.
This is an important point. I focused this thread on Ashkenazi Jews because the history of those names is so recent, and because I see "Ashkenazi Jews are really European" rhetoric floating around. The same thing happened to Sephardic Jews much earlier
This kind of thing was very, very common. Last names were given as insults, especially as desecrations of aspects of life that are sacred to Jews. Claiming that these are our *true* names and denying the right to shed them if we choose is cruelty.

I forgot about my very favorite category of artificial last names! Acronyms! Some Jews would make acronyms of meaningful phrases that just *sounded* German or Russian. Katz is my favorite - Kohen Tzadik, "righteous priest".

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