Probably a fanciful extension of the acronym PARU Polish and Russian Union.
‘Peruvian or Peruvnik..originated in Kimberley during the Diamond Rush Days...The Jews from Eastern Europe were looked down upon by English and German Jews. The Polish and Russian Jews were of course excluded from the Kimberley club so they formed their own club which they called Polish And Russian Union. The acronym is Paru, which was and still is an expression of contempt and an assertion of superiority on the part of those using the word.’ (D. Schrire, Letter, 2 May 1989). But see also quotations 1923 and 1944.
1.In historical contexts.A contemptuous name for a Jew, particularly one from eastern or central Europe. Also attributive.
1897Star 7 July 5That the Government will not listen to the oily tongues of the numerous deputations financed by a clique of Peruvians..must be the earnest wish of every person who has been waiting patiently for them to do something towards improving the morals of this town.
1900Rand Daily Mail (Pettman)Behold one of the most striking types of Johannesburg life — the Peruvian.
1905[see sense 2].
1912W. WestrupLand of To-Morrow 218At the opposite side of the road was a fruit store of sorts...It was run by a Jew of the kind locally known as Peruvian, and..was a very third-rate kind of place.
1923B. RonanForty S. Afr. Yrs 163Those early days saw the influx of that strange race, locally known as ‘Peruvians’. How they obtained their title is not very clear. I believe it was first given to some Polish and Russian Jews who came out to South Africa after failing to make a living after the failure of Baron Hirsch’s Jewish colonisation scheme in South America.
1944A.A. RobackDict. of International Slurs 58Peruvian Jews, Jews, who having been unable to cope with colonization conditions in South America come to settle in South Africa.
1956H.M. BateS. Afr. without Prejudice 59Kruger..saw in this a deliberate move by Rhodes to dominate the polls with mine employees and..‘Peruvians’ (a term of contempt which is applied to Jews of low class).
1972E. RosenthalInformant, Cape TownAccording to Max Sonnenburg, the expression originated in the early days of Kimberley, where a body was set up, called ‘The Polish and Russian Union,’ the initials of which ‘P.R.U.’ gave rise to the word ‘Peruvian’.
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