Now they call us ‘White Jews’: A new American antisemitism

If you remain silent when you hear the term “white Jews,” you are not doing your part to stop this creeping hatred.

American and Israeli Jews [Illustrative] (photo credit: REUTERS)
American and Israeli Jews [Illustrative]
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A recent controversy about anti-Jewish views in the Women’s March has lifted the curtain on a new antisemitism that is percolating in American circles.
“Now Women’s March activists are grappling with how they treat Jews, and whether they should be counted as privileged white Americans or ‘marginalized’ minorities,” The New York Times noted in a recent piece. The labeling of Jews as “white” and debates on how to “treat Jews,” as if Jews are packages in a supermarket is a form of dehumanizing rhetoric designed to force Jewish people into a binary of “white/non-white” that is currently trendy in US discussions.
The new toxic discussion taking place primarily in the United States is designed to label Jews as “white supremacists.” For instance, Tamika Mallory, the Women’s March leader, told the Times that this issue was raised at an early meeting of the marchers.
“Since that conversation, we’ve all learned a lot about how while white Jews, as white people, uphold white supremacy, ALL Jews are targeted by it,” she said. Some groups on the far Left have even embraced this concept. Rebecca Vilkomerson tweeted about it on December 24.
“We white Jews especially need to recognize that centering out own status as victims here is a power move, as well as a way to avoid self-reflection on our relative status in a white supremacist world,” Vilkomerson tweeted.
It is particularly interesting, given the history of antisemitism, how Jews are now considered not only recipients of white privilege, due to their often passing as white, but are seen as emblematic of whiteness and a part of white supremacy. The concept of antisemitism was coined by anti-Jewish activist Wilhelm Marr, who objected to the idea that Jews would assimilate into Germany. Antisemitism became entwined with the idea that Jews were a separate “race” from white Europeans, particularly Germans and northern Europeans. Today that has come full circle and Jews are portrayed as not just passing as white, but of being an example of white supremacy.
How can this be, only 70 years after the Holocaust that the people genocided for being non-white and non-European are now called white supremacists? It is part of a carefully managed agenda in the United States to not permit Jews to be part of discussions about “people of color” or racism. The reason for this is that hatred of Jews has always been about creating an all-encompassing other that is dehumanized and then defining that as “the Jews.” Therefore in European history, Jews were hated for not being Christian, accused of blood libels and forced to live in ghettos or enter cities through the gate where the swine and sewage was. Then came the era when Jews were assimilating and becoming less religiously observant so they were labeled not as a religious problem, but an ethnic-racial problem. Oriental “wandering Jews,” who were foreigners. Today in the US where the popular view in some left-leaning circles is that being “white” is a kind of slander, Jews are “white Jews.”
The term “white Jews” is anti-Jewish because no other group is subjected to this same slur of forcibly shoehorning them into a false whiteness. For instance, Muslims, of which there are almost two billion, are not called “white Muslims.” Only Jews are called “white Jews.” Used often enough, the term is designed to dehumanize Jews and take away their diversity, forcing them into the “white” category in America, the category that means “majority” and “privileged.”
The term “white Jews” should be resisted. It is designed solely to make Jews not only an “other” but at the same time a member of the majority. “White” means “majority” in the US, while “Jew” means “other.” So labeling Jews “white” is a way to purposely attack and single out this one group. You’ll notice that those who use this term don’t say “white Muslims, white Hindus, white Catholics.” There is only one group whose religion they seek to lump in with “white.” The goal is to say this often enough until the word “Jew” is synonymous with white. And you’ll notice that “white supremacy” is often lumped in as well, until the word “Jew” in some American circles will be synonymous with “white supremacy.”
This strips Jews of their historic and wonderful diversity. Jews are from Yemen, Morocco, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Ethiopia, India and many other places. When Americans say “white Jews” the idea is to rip that diversity away and bleach it out until there is no history of Jewish people. Jews are even told now that any discussion of Jews being victims of racism is a way for Jews “dwell” or “center” on themselves. The only minority group in America told that it cannot discuss its suffering, and that it is “white.” Just as the term antisemitism, coined in the 19th century, led to dehumanizing of Jews, the term “white Jews” is designed to dehumanize, to package Jews into one monochrome and binary concept of race.
If you remain silent when you hear the term “white Jews,” you are not doing your part to stop this creeping hatred. There are no white Jews. There are Jews. There are white people. One is not synonymous with the other. Some Jews may appear white, or even have origins in Europe. Some do not. There are many more Muslims who pass as white than there are Jews. If you don’t use the term “white Muslims” then you must not use the term “white Jews” and anyone who uses the term “white Jews” must be immediately confronted as to why no other religion gets this “white” definitional treatment.