Are Jews White?

Ari Ben Canaan writes:

For Brodkin, who considers herself both White and Jewish, does not appear to take into account that most American Whites do not consider themselves to be anything other than American Whites. When told that their identity is oppressive, shameful, and ought to be eliminated, most American Whites do not have any other identity toward which to turn. Brodkin’s attack on their identity, rather, is an attack on the only identity that they have. As such, its disingenuity is doubly vicious.

This is not to say, of course, that Ashkenazi Jews should never consider themselves partly White, or at least something approaching White. I have argued elsewhere that while Ashkenazi Jews may consider themselves either Jewish or White, but not both. Nevertheless, Brodkin and others are right to note that different racial groups can occasionally merge together, so let us grant on this basis that Ashkenazi Jews can indeed consider themselves both Jewish and White. Still, even if this supposition is true, what is White about Ashkenazim is not membership in any privileged social class, for what makes us partly White was apparent in us long before we attained to full social acceptance in the middle of the past century. As recent studies have shown, up to half of Ashkenazi ancestry is European rather than Levantine, and the culture of Europe is deeply imbued in Ashkenazi history and identity – to be sure of this, one need only look at the long list of Jewish classical musicians, scientists, philosophers and artists, or at the traditional central and eastern European dishes that we eat at our Shabbat tables. We maintain, to be sure, our own separate, Jewish identity, but there can be no doubt that Europe and European culture have left an indelible mark on our own culture and heritage, just as we have left our mark on them.

But should we choose to embrace this European heritage and consider ourselves partly White, it ought not be in order to acquire a mere guise behind which to criticize those other Whites from whom we are still, as Jews, apart. Should we choose to think of ourselves as White, we ought to consider other Whites as our friends and allies, as compatriots in a civilization that we have built together. We should not deny that gentile Whites have a robust identity as the descendants of a great European civilization whose culture, history, mythology and achievements belong to them just as the culture, history, mythology and achievements of East Asian civilizations belong to the East Asians and the culture, history, mythology and achievements of Jews belong to the Jews. All of this is, needless to say, consistent with a view that objects to racism and hatred against others: there is nothing about taking pride in the culture and heritage that produced Bach, Kant, Einstein and the Arthurian legends that commits one either to hatred of the cultures and heritages that produced Jazz and algebra or to the belief that non-Whites should be oppressed. For this reason, should we choose to identify ourselves as White, we should take no less pride in that which makes us White than we already do in that which makes us Jewish, and we should never deny the same pride to gentile Whites.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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