Roger L. Simon

Who Needs Paris When You Can Have Harbin?

Some Jews may be leaving France because of rising anti-Semitism, but they are being welcomed back to China, according to a front-pager in today’s LAT: A Home for Jews in China

Now, after years of not being welcomed, they are returning to a city that is eager to see them. Harbin recently announced a $3.2-million renovation of its main synagogue, and it is stepping up efforts to preserve other historically significant buildings and sprucing up the Jewish cemetery, Asia’s largest.

For the Chinese, it’s less a warm and fuzzy embrace of the old days than a fairly blatant bid to spur the struggling local economy. Last month, at an international conference on “Jewish History and Culture in Harbin” that was attended by nearly 100 former residents and their families, officials gushed about the “always smart” and “always good with money” Jews who might help return Harbin to its former glory.

Well, what’s a little prejudice with your moo goo gai pan?