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Are Jews white? Show more Show less
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In a landmark 2018 court ruling, Jews became a protected "race" under American law. This judgement was divisive. The case, in which a Catholic convert had been denied a job beause of his Jewish bloodline, should have been a victory for victims of anti-Semitism. Instead, many Jews saw its result as short-sighted. They argue that formalising racial distinctions legitimises racism. And that this approach is in the same genre of identity politics as the Holocaust. Others claim that categorising Jews as a minority ethnic group helps protect them against discrimination. Are Jews white?

No, Jews are not white Show more Show less

When "white" is used to categorise people within our society, it includes social, political, and historical dimensions that Jews are disconnected from.
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Calling Jews "white" legitimizes anti-Semitism

As Jay Rosenbaum writes in The Jerusalem Post, "The term white as it is used today often has more to do with socioeconomic status than skin tone. To question whether Jews are “white”... is to question whether the term “white” describes any Jew, especially when it is used as a political tool to deny us the status of a persecuted people."

Context

If Jews were white, they would have the privileges associated with being white. History shows that the Jewish population has been repeatedly persecuted or held as a scapegoat for social issues. Calling Jews white only further legitimizes anti-Semitism.

The Argument

Anti-Semitism functions as a majority system of power oppressing the Jewish demographic, solely for being Jewish. Simply designating the Jewish population as “white” connotes a message of privilege and societal dominion. These messages adulterate the historical persecution, genocide, and discrimination upon the Jewish community.[1] Calling Jews white also reinforces an existing global narrative depicting Jews as “colonial oppressors.” The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has painted Jewish culture (Israeli Jews) in a new light as an aggressor preying upon a minority. Labeling Jews as “white” would only engender feelings of oppression and exploitation typically associated with the white supremacy complex, exacerbating modern conflicts with the Jewish community. This simple designation would in turn encourage anti-Semitic outcry to an already controversial narrative. [2] Furthermore, calling Jews white adds them to the majority, yet the Jewish demographic has been the minority for at least the last century. If Jewish people were in the white majority, it would give a reason for minorities to participate in anti-Jewish sentiment, therefore legitimizing anti-Semitism. [2] The already vulnerable Jewish population does not need another target on its back as a “colonial oppressor.” Calling Jews white would only reinforce hostility and legitimize anti-Semitism.

Counter arguments

Adding the Jewish population to the white majority would only benefit them. Jews would endure less anti-Semitic backlash as they would blend in with the white majority, no longer being a minority. Jews would also benefit from white privilege, lessening their vulnerability to anti-Jewish sentiment.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://paulkivel.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/imnotwhiteimjewish.pdf
  2. https://www.jpost.com/jerusalem-report/are-jews-white-and-why-it-matters-632671

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This page was last edited on Sunday, 20 Sep 2020 at 18:16 UTC

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