November 22, 2018

Do American Jews Still Believe They’re White?

“Some years ago, Rabbi Michael Lerner invited me to address a gathering of his Tikkun group. I think that it was about the time that an op-ed authored by Henry Louis Gates Jr. cast the black community as the last zone for anti-Semitism in the United States. In a note to Gates, I pointed to statistics that showed a decline in anti-Semitism among blacks. He told me not to worry because there’d be a follow up in The New York Times, where his op-ed appeared, that would address the issue of racism among Jews. How did blacks express their anti-Semitism? Joe Lieberman was their first choice for president in 2004, and when Al Sharpton entered the race, Lieberman was their second choice.

During the Tikkun meeting, an elderly Jewish woman said that Jews are not white. “We’re Semites.” She was ignored.

I was reminded of her remark when The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin responded to the shootings at the Tree of Life in Pittsburgh. Appearing on Joy Reid’s show, the weekend of Oct. 26-28, she said of the alt-right, “And if you can believe it, they do not believe that Jews are white.” Has Rubin been so isolated from the millions of anti-Semites that she’s surprised that whites, some of whom are not considered white in Europe, do not accept Jews as members of their tribe? Now, Rubin has broken with the conservative movement, reminding one of the split between German and Jewish feminists when the German government swerved to the right under Hitler.”

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