Against the Phrase “Jews of Color”

June 18 2020

“As a Jew of Color, I Need More People in My Community to Speak Up,” blared a recent headline from the left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz, followed by a declaration that “all members of the Jewish community need to do more to confront racial injustice” in response to the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis. Kylie Unell, however, rejects the notion that she has something worthy to say about America’s current political woes merely because of her skin color:

When I tell people that I do not have much to say about my experience as a “Jew of Color,” I see faces drop just a smidge. I sense that people want to hear about the time I was rejected because of the color of my skin, or when I was sitting in services at a synagogue and somebody came up and asked what inspired a nice non-Jewish girl like me to visit a synagogue, unaware of the fact that I am an observant Jew.

The truth is that nothing like that has ever happened to me, thankfully. . . . Aside from [a] few standout moments, I have always felt at home in the Jewish world. It is the only world I know and, more than that, it is an expression of all that I am.

The 20th-century German-Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig defines Judaism as a person’s “most impenetrable secret, yet evident in every gesture and every word.” To call myself a Jew of Color would be to ignore that indefinable trait inside of me that is expressed in all that I do and unites me with my fellow Jews throughout the world.

The very phrase “Jews of Color” designates a portion of the Jewish population as different from the rest. It is a catchall for those in the Jewish world who look different, whose stories are worn on their bodies. [It] is a term that does not signal progress. Instead, it holds us back. It keeps us from seeing what makes every individual Jew unique. We all have a story to share whether our skin hints to it or not.

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Read more at Jewish Telegraphic Agency

More about: African Americans, American Jewry, Franz Rosenzweig

 

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy