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< Back to question Are Jews white? Show more Show less

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?

Yes, Jews are white Show more Show less

There is only one necessary condition for whiteness: being white. Jews are white.
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Jews are perceived as white

Whiteness is not performative, it is defined objectively by how one is perceived. Jews are privileged in society by virtue of their skin colour. One need look no further than the great levels of wealth and education enjoyed by Jews, relative to others, as proof of white privilege in action.
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Jewish racial identity has always been a multifaceted issue. The intersectionality of race and religion of the Jewish demographic poses a challenging means of racial designation. Regardless, Jews are perceived as white due to their generational privileges in society.

The Argument

Although Jews of color amass the majority of the world’s Jewish population, Jews are still perceived to be white. Ashkenazi Jews, or light-skinned Jews with European descent, have used their white privilege to define Jewish culture to be perceived as white. These light-skinned Jewish demographics predominantly exist in developed and influential regions such as America, Europe, and Israel. As a result, the stereotypical white “Western” Jew only reinforces the perceived white narrative for the rest of the world’s Jews to emulate. [1] Even from the beginning of U.S. legislation, Jews were legally considered as white. Jews had the right to gain US citizenship under the Naturalization Act of 1790, which deemed them among the “free white persons.” [2] As American society progressed and race relations formed, Jews were still considered white. Seemingly white Jews did not face color-based discrimination from slavery, the Jim Crow Era, segregation, or criminal profiling. [2] Even in modern society, the perceived whiteness of Jews gave them a leg up in society compared to people of color. Jewish individuals also live with white privilege, the covert societal benefits of being white. [2] Jewish people have been included in the white demographic since the earliest days of America. They have been continually perceived as white, regardless of their religious practices.

Counter arguments

Jews of color make up the majority of the world’s Jewish population. Jewish people of color cannot be perceived as white; skin color is a prominent distinction. Even in areas with predominantly white Jews, Jewish people of color still cannot be perceived as white. At that point in the matter, the narrative becomes less about the Jewish faith and more about the color of skin.[1]


Rejecting the premises



This page was last edited on Sunday, 20 Sep 2020 at 18:23 UTC

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