Thursday, January 26, 2017

Are Jews people of colour?

Are Jews people of colour? Here's another thoughtful piece from Dani Ishai Behan (pictured) in The Times of Israel:

 The question remains: are Jews a people of color (or POC)? This is something I’ve thought long and hard about for years, and I’m still not sure if I have it right. Nevertheless, I think that, in many ways, we do qualify as a POC. For one thing, we are an indigenous people of the Middle East. Our identity, our DNA, our culture, our language, and our history all attest to who we are as a people – centuries of exile doesn’t change that, unless you’re prepared to advance the position that white British settlers are now indigenous to the United States and Canada. And if Middle Easterners writ large are considered POC, then Jews are by extension POC as well (although I suppose one could make a case for the very rare convert, e.g. Ivanka Trump).

Second, and most importantly, racism has always been a factor in our daily lives, even if it doesn’t always take on forms that are immediately recognizable to non-Jews. After all, each minority’s experiences are shaped by their own respective histories and relations with the dominant majority, and we are no different. People who routinely compare us to Irish and Italians invariably fail to acknowledge that antisemitism remains a powerful force in Western society, whereas anti-Irish and Italian prejudices have long since taken their rightful place in the dustbin of history.

Another argument that is frequently made is that a large percentage of us have white-ish appearances, but this is fairly common among all Levantine groups, not just Jews. Moreover, fair skinned Latinos, Iranians, Pashtuns, and Native Americans aren’t exactly rare either. This is called “white passing”: the ability to blend in and escape some of the more immediate effects of non-whiteness while still suffering from the marginalization and othering that non-Jewish minorities experience. To put it another way, looking white is not the same as being white.

Read article in full

2 comments:

Rodin New York said...

If the fair skinned people I see on the news from Syria, Lebanon and Palestine are now reclassified as "people of color" then so should Jews be reclassified. If the Iranians who changed the country's name to Iran from Persia to emphasize specious "aryan" identity that the Germans conferred on them and are now non-white than Israel's people ...all of Israel is now non-white. Pathetic that classifications of race devised by 19th century Europeans are so important to the Left and the many people who claim to be Afro-centric or non European-centric.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

basically agree with Rodin. Skin color is a red herring in the Arab-Israeli conflict for various reasons, one being that both Jews and Arabs present a broad range of skin colors, and Rodin has perceived that empirically many of the Syrian, Lebanese and Land of Israel Arabs are white and in fact paler than many of the Jews in Israel.

I object to skin color being transformed into a social construct rather than an empirical fact. Both dark people and white people can be both oppressors and oppressed. In judging the Arab-Israeli conflict real history has to be a major consideration, rather than skin color presumed on the basis of political prejudices relating to geographic origins.