American Jews Should Not Confess Their “Whiteness”

November 6, 2020 | Joe Schwartz
About the author:

This year, Joe Schwartz left the United States with his family to live in Israel, not so much out of conviction or necessity, he admits, but primarily because his wife wished to. He has thus been able to witness in two countries public mismanagement of the pandemic as well as intense political polarization. But the changed American political climate following the killing of George Floyd convinced Schwartz that his family had made the correct decision, and that the country where he had once lived was no longer one he wanted to call home:

Until [this summer], it had been possible for a Jew like myself—liberal in temperament and politics, committed to Jewish life, to the Jewish people, and to the flourishing of both—more or less to ignore the discourse to my left, and the way an American obsession with race had begun to derange the Jewish community.

All of this changed in June. It began to become clear that discreet silence would no longer be tolerated, and we must each of us at long last accept our “whiteness,” and make a declaration of it in public. (Indeed, . . . the “Ethicist” at the New York Times confirmed that Jews have a moral duty to swallow the bitter pill of our whiteness). Today, to accept one’s whiteness serves as a kind of public confession of inherited guilt: it means, we Jews have benefited from, and therefore are implicated in, “white supremacy”—and therefore must devote our political lives to fighting its structures.

It turns out, however, that the most malign—indeed “genocidal”—outpost of white supremacy in the world is Israel. So declared the political platform published by the Movement for Black Lives in 2016. Back then, most prominent Jewish organizations issued public condemnations of the platform and balked at associating themselves with the movement for which it spoke. This time around, however, the anti-Zionism of the movement went unmentioned, as all but the minority of avowed politically conservative Jews marched or posted messages of support on their social-media profiles.

It is true that many if not most liberal Jews who embrace BLM this time around do not yet accept that corollary; but by showing themselves willing to swallow their scruples, confess their white privilege, and raise the BLM banner, the liberal Jewish community has abandoned its resistance to the (no-longer) New Left, and in short order it will abandon its embattled Zionism, as well.

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