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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?

Jews are not a race Show more Show less

Judaism is a religion. Therefore any argument premised on Jewishness as a race, is problematic.
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Jews are an ethnically diverse religious group

Jews are defined by their religious beliefs, not their racial identity. Viewing them otherwise can lead to dangerous consequences. History shows us that when people choose to see Jews as a distinctive race, it is usually to give license to subordinate them.

The Argument

Jews cannot be categorized as a race because they are defined by their religious beliefs rather than their racial identity. Racism is the process whereby certain characteristics, like religion, are taken as signs of biological difference.[1] Therefore, considering Jews as a race fuels anti-Semitic sentiment. This argument stems from the fact that Judaism is a religion. Judaism does not fit in the classification of a race because anyone can become a Jew by converting. The convert is considered a Jew in every regard. There are Jews from a variety of races, including African-American Jews, Indian Jews, and Latino Jews.[2] Therefore, Jews are an ethnically diverse religious group. They have a shared religious identity rather than a shared racial identity.

Counter arguments

One counter-argument comes from genetic research. Scientific evidence suggests that Jews are a distinct biological race. The research of Harry Ostrer, a medical geneticist and professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, suggests that Jews exhibit a distinctive genetic signature.[3] This distinction is enough to define Jews by their racial identity. Another point argues that while Jews may not be a bio-genetic race, they are a socio-historical race. Steven Kaplan, a professor of comparative religion at Hebrew University, asserts that the racial identity of Jews is a cultural reality. It forms a major part of their social identity and self-image. Jewish identity is frequently defined in terms of appearance, descent, and, most recently, genetic heritage. We cannot dismiss these categorizations as only popular misunderstandings because they make up the core social-historical constructions of the Jewish identity.[4]

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

Further Reading

The Myth of the Jewish Race (book) by Alain F. Corcos: https://lupress.cas.lehigh.edu/content/myth-jewish-race

References

  1. https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/judge-rules-judaism-not-race-jewish-people-can-be-targeted-ncna896806
  2. https://www.aish.com/atr/Race_or_Religion.html
  3. https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/dna-links-prove-jews-are-a-race-says-genetics-expert-1.5220113
  4. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14725880305901?journalCode=cmjs20

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This page was last edited on Tuesday, 29 Sep 2020 at 17:08 UTC

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