Reader Post: Jews and Race – The “Skin Color” Argument in Anti-Israel Discourse

559697_227256277422164_1043435995_nThe Jews, also known as the Hebrew people, Judeans, or Israelites, are a Southwest Asian diaspora indigenous to the Fertile Crescent, located in what is now Israel, Palestine, southern Lebanon, and the Eastern Bank of the Jordan river. The Jewish identity, language, culture, religion, holidays, and folklore were all born and developed as a subset of Canaanite culture on the westernmost shores of the Asian continent, nearly 4000 years ago. For roughly 2 millennia, we enjoyed independence in our land of origin, eventually building one of the most glorious, prosperous, and ultimately influential kingdoms in the entire region, at a time when most of the rest of the world were still farmers or hunter gatherers. The Jewish/Israelite impact on Middle Eastern culture is, without a doubt, significant. In fact, it’s hard to imagine what modern Arab or Iranian culture would look like if it weren’t for the Jews.

That’s not to say that there were no bumps in the road. Given our desirable (and vulnerable) location at the crossroads of Asia and Africa, we have had more than our share of colonizers. First the Assyrians, then the Babylonians destroyed the Jewish kingdom and carried a large chunk of its people off into slavery. Eventually, the Persians conquered Babylon and sent most of the Jews home, allowing them to rebuild their Temple. Those who remained in Iraq became today’s Mizrahi Jews.

Although we successfully repelled the Greeks, commemorated in what we today recognize as Hanukkah, the Romans conquered Judaea (or Yehudah in Hebrew) in 63 BC. The Romans were tyrannical, despotic rulers* who tried to stamp out Judaism, and almost succeeded when it destroyed the Second Temple and most of the inhabitants were (again) exiled or carried off into slavery, mainly to Rome. The Ashkenazim (Jews of Central/Eastern Europe) and Sephardim (Jews of the Mediterranean and North Africa) are the direct lineal descendants of these slaves, settling in other areas of Europe at various times and absorbing some Southern European, North African, and minimal Central/East European ancestry. To this day, both Ashkenazim and Sephardim maintain a closer genetic relationship to other Levantine groups (Samaritans, Druze, Cypriots, and Palestinians especially) than to native Europeans (save for Greeks and Southern Italians) or North Africans, which could be considered somewhat of a miracle given their long sojourn outside of Eretz Yisra’el. Others were dispersed to regions such as India, Ethiopia, South Africa, and East Asia, where they faced less persecution and assimilated to a much larger degree.

What does all of this have to do with skin color and race? The answer is a simple one. The Jews, as mentioned above, are an indigenous Middle Eastern tribe who, despite centuries of racist persecution and attempts at cultural extermination, never lost their identity, religion, culture, blood, or any of the key components that make Jews a native people of the Middle East. Indigenous status cannot be lost via colonization and exile. Rather, it has to be given up willingly, either via assimilation or a complete rejection of one’s indigenous cultural identity. For example, one can easily find a white North American claiming Cherokee or Choctaw heritage, but if they are not accepted as a member of the tribe, keep none of the traditions, and do not identify as a member of said tribe, they cannot be considered indigenous in the anthropological or political sense. With all of that said, it should go without saying that Jews are, and remain, a people of the Middle East as opposed to their host countries, unless one also accepts that white European Americans are now native to North America rather than Europe.

And as such a status entails, most in the Jewish community (particularly the Ashkenazim, Sephardim, and Mizrahim) still look the part, or retain at least some of their Semitic traits. Furthermore, one can find about as many Arabs, especially from the Levant, who are light in pigmentation and could easily pass for Europeans. Throughout most of our history until no less than 50 years ago, Jews living in the West were perceived not as native Europeans, but rather as swarthy, foreign Orientals from Asia and a direct threat to the “purity” of European Christian culture. One can easily find examples of this in the writings of prominent European historians and philosophers, such as Immanuel Kant who stated openly that the local Jews were “Palestinians among us”. Further examples can be found in antisemitic caricatures, many of which have lasted well into modern times, and in George DuMaurier’s novel ‘Trilby’, whose antagonist is described as a dark skinned Asian man of Jewish stock (note: the antagonist in question is, in fact, a Polish Jew). There are other examples, but I’ll stop there for now. Today, the idea that Jews are merely a religious group, no different from Christians or Mormons, is a common refrain among antisemites and the anti-Zionist left. So what changed?

One factor is the assimilation of many Jews into North American and European culture since the late 19th century, and beginning in the early 70’s, substantially higher levels of admixture and intermarriage with Europeans and white North Americans. Most Jews in America no longer “look” Jewish, since the majority now have a white grandparent or two.

So how did this happen? Put simply, as the left began to drift away from its initially strong support for Israel and Jews to an increasingly antagonistic stance, the Jewish community in the West splintered in two directions. Many of us either moved towards the right (buttressing the leftist image of Jews and “the white man” as “one and the same”) or remained on the left, sacrificing our “chauvinistic” Jewish national identity and all of its trappings in the process, favoring social acceptance and belonging instead.

Another factor in this shift is, as mentioned above, the left’s betrayal of Israel and her diaspora in conjunction with increased exposure to anti-Israel propaganda, courtesy of the Soviet Union and the PLO. Modern Jews, as they would have it, are not “really” descendants of the indigenous Israelite tribes of the Middle East. Rather, they are foreign conquerors, mainly of Eastern European and Khazarian stock, who just so happen to be of the “Jewish faith”.

This narrative stems, in large part, from the general refusal of most Arabs and Muslims to acknowledge the legitimacy of the Jewish claim to self-determination on their ancestral lands. According to them, there was never a Jewish Temple on the mount where the Dome of the Rock now sits, Jesus was a Palestinian Arab Muslim, and the Palestinians are the “real” descendants of the ancient Israelites (that is, if they’re even willing to acknowledge that Jews once lived there) who have lived there since “time immemorial”. The real reason for Arab animus towards Israel (which began long before the 1948 war, and the refugee crisis) is a religious and cultural one. In large segments of Arab culture, Jews are considered an inferior people who are entitled only to “protection” (provided we pay the jizya, a poll tax, and even then, our safety was not guaranteed as pogroms were frequent) and religious autonomy, but not national or social freedom. Furthermore, the hard right-wing sects of Islam adhere to a sort of Brezhnev doctrine i.e. anything that is conquered by Muslims, at any point in history, can never be shared or given back to its original inhabitants. For example, I vividly recall some Muslims telling me online that once they reconquered Israel, they would go after Spain and Portugal. But I digress.

The third reason for the “Jews are white people” mantra derives from post-Holocaust insecurities among Jews. In other words, since the Nazis and their allies targeted Jews (along with Roma) as an inferior non-European people, the issue of race is a very sensitive one for many descendants of Holocaust survivors and refugees, and a large portion of them prefer to embrace it as a religious and cultural identity rather than an ethnic one. They fear that reasserting their national/ethnic identity will put themselves “back” in the line of fire of white nationalists and the hard right, as if they ever left it in the first place.

And last but not least, this change in perception is also a result of antisemites (of the more traditional variety) no longer finding it convenient to cast the Jewish people as Semitic Middle Easterners. It was easy to malign Jews as non-whites when they were a vulnerable minority in Europe who didn’t have a state in their homeland to defend themselves with. But now that they have a good chunk of their land back, a high class, well trained army, tanks, borders, and nuclear weapons, they now have all the reason in the world to deny the national/ethnic identity of the Jews, thereby undermining their claims to a state in Israel in the hopes that it will one day be dissolved and the Jews will be vulnerable, defenseless minorities once more, so that their attempts at finishing Hitler’s work may continue in earnest. It also has the added benefit of relieving Europeans of post-colonial, post-Holocaust guilt by throwing these assertions back onto the Jews, validating and redeeming their sense of moral worth (aka “See? The Jews really are evil! Hitler was right! We’re not such bad people after all!”).

All of that aside, racism and left wing ideology were at one point considered contradictory. That is, one could not be racist AND left wing simultaneously. However, radical left politics and antisemitism now co-exist comfortably with one another. And as an ardent leftist myself, I feel it is necessary for the well-being of our movement to expunge Jew-hatred in all of its forms from our ranks. And this is where we must start.

About Binyamin Arazi

This could be you! To submit a post for publication on this site, click on the Submit Post link on the left of the top menu below the banner, fill in the details, and use the editor to write your post. More details here

Facebook Comments

  • Hard Little Machine

    I don’t know about you but I’m one of the Jewluminati Space Lizards.

  • Norman_In_New_York

    In the last public opinion poll on the subject, around 2/3 of Americans favored Israel, around 10% favored the Arabs, and the balance either professed neutrality or were undecided. Accordingly, our proper targets should be elites who perpetrate these prejudices. They need to be confronted and cornered.

  • E ben Abuya

    Terrific article. Kol ha’Kavod

  • E ben Abuya

    Terrific article. Kol ha’Kavod

  • E ben Abuya

    Terrific article. Kol ha’Kavod

  • E ben Abuya

    Terrific article. Kol ha’Kavod

  • Faith Luber

    I, too, am a leftist Jew. Unfortunately, I can never call myself a “Progressive” because of that faction’s stance on Israel. And I have always been hesitant to pigeon-hole myself as “white.”

  • Faith Luber

    I, too, am a leftist Jew. Unfortunately, I can never call myself a “Progressive” because of that faction’s stance on Israel. And I have always been hesitant to pigeon-hole myself as “white.”

  • Faith Luber

    I, too, am a leftist Jew. Unfortunately, I can never call myself a “Progressive” because of that faction’s stance on Israel. And I have always been hesitant to pigeon-hole myself as “white.”

  • Faith Luber

    I, too, am a leftist Jew. Unfortunately, I can never call myself a “Progressive” because of that faction’s stance on Israel. And I have always been hesitant to pigeon-hole myself as “white.”

  • Faith Luber

    I, too, am a leftist Jew. Unfortunately, I can never call myself a “Progressive” because of that faction’s stance on Israel. And I have always been hesitant to pigeon-hole myself as “white.”

  • Penny Dingman

    God gave it to Israel jews as a everlasting possession. King Solomon

  • jim

    The part about the Greeks is not quite true. The Ptolemy Dynasty which was direct decedents of Alexander the Great’s Generals was in control of today Israel. The Greeks and the Jews lived quite successfully together under the Ptolemy Dynasty. Until one of the Ptolemy decedents Kings wanted the Jews to become Pagans and follow this religion. The Jews revolted against this and did not very long. There were battles between the Greeks and the Jews but there were no massacres. This is Hanuka. They carried on being the rulers until the Romans took over… The Romans negotiated deals so the Greek ruling families now came under Roman Rule….. Alexander’s policy was to meld in all different cultures and religions with the Greek one. It wasn’t policy for them to make people change their religions and cultures. Diversity was promoted. The Jews then were not strong enough or had enough cohesion to battle against the Persians. The Greeks gave the security and safety to Jews for centuries. The Jews prospered greatly under these conditions of rule laid down by the Greeks. The Greeks and Jews worked very closely in commerce. The Romans are a different Story. The second burning of the Temple was instigated by the revolting Jews that started after CE and lasted about 200 years. The Jews caused a lot of destruction against the Romans and murdered millions of Roman Citizens which were predominantly Greek. The Greeks were good Roman Citizens they never revolted against the Roman Rule. The Romans destroyed the Temple and attacked the Jewish people of Judea, Samaria etc because they wanted to stop the revolution and the constant massacre of her citizens. This disrupted commerce and the taxes. So the Romans which applied the same deterrent of massacre against all nationalities even their own. It is the way they controlled the empire. If you listened you would prosper and if you didn’t you would pay the results.

    • Ben

      You didn’t read the article, did you? From the looks of things, you’ve never heard of a little holiday called Hanukkah, which I explained in the article itself.

      • Jim

        Yes I know what Hanuka is and I also reference it in my response. I am not refuting what you say and agree but the variation I have read from non Jewish Historians is slightly different. The Jewish revolt that was going on over 200 years was aimed at the civilian populations of the Roman Empire to destroy their economy and weaken them. Form the account I have read than I million Roman citizens with the predominant amount of them being Greek residents of the Middle East from Cyprus all the to Egypt. This is why the Romans attacked the temple and destroyed it. I am not saying that you didn’t have the right to liberate your self from the Romans but it was the cause of your plight as well.

  • jim

    Maurice this is new about Greece validating Nostra Aetate. This was never ever instigated by the Greek Orthodox Church. The reason why Greece did not have good relations with Israel since her founding is because the Socialist Government of Papadreou who was married into a wealthy Central European Jewish Dynasty did not want to negotiate with Israel and recognize its identity, Even the Israeli leftists are the same. Also Greece being a poor country was sourcing all her petroleum from the Gulf states and where getting special deals from them for oil. This helped them survive. It was purely economical and ideological. Greece were liberated from the Turks since 1821.

  • http://mapugavalera86.pe/ Mario Augusto Puga Valera

    I love this article. The lie of “Jews are white” must die soon.

  • jim

    Although adding to what I said below I cannot refute the validity of the historic evidence produced only the minor variations that I added below to the article and other bloggers. I am open discussion and advice. Intrinsically the Greeks influenced the Jews a great deal but Jewish religious doctrine influenced immensely the Greeks. It was the Greeks from Egypt right around to Minor Asia that promoted Christianity. This influence of Jewish doctrine came from the centuries of them living together peacefully in the middle East. Another major reason that Greek was the first translation of the Talmud/old testament in the library of Alexandria. This was so other scholars could study the scriptures.

Israellycool is testing Sovevos. Click for more info.