Are Jews a Racial Group or a Religious One in the Eyes of U.S. Law?

 The question of whether the Jews constitute a race, a nation, a religion, or something else entirely hardly admits of a simple answer, and perhaps need not be resolved. But these categories are given meaning by American law, in which some injunctions prohibit racial discrimination, other religious discrimination, and so forth. Eugene Volokh observes:

To begin with, in late 1800s America, “race” was often used to include groups such as Jews, Arabs, Swedes, Italians, and the like. That’s important, because the Civil Rights Act of 1866 provided that “All persons” have the same rights “to make and enforce contracts . . . and to the full and equal benefit of all laws,” “as is enjoyed by white citizens.” And in Shaare Tefila Congregation v. Cobb (1987), the Supreme Court held that this covered discrimination against Jews (even though most of us would today be generally viewed as “white”) and not just against, say, Blacks or Asians.

These days, Jews, Arabs, and the like aren’t usually labeled a “race” in America (though hostility to those groups is sometimes labeled “racism”). As a result, where the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans discrimination based on race, it might not be understood as covering discrimination against Jews. But such modern statutes, including the 1964 act, also generally ban discrimination based on national origin and religion. If someone discriminates against Jews because he disapproves of their religious beliefs, that’s prohibited religious discrimination.

So in most situations, discrimination against Jews in employment, hate crimes, and the like counts as illegal discrimination. . . . And, of course, much anti-Semitic behavior targets Jews based on both their religion and ethnicity, in which case several of these laws might apply.

But every so often there are complications . . . [that] can lead to some complicated litigation, such as Bonadona v. Louisiana College (2019), in which a religious college was allegedly discriminating against the plaintiff (who had earlier converted to Christianity) because of his Jewish ethnicity.

Read more at Tablet

More about: American Jewry, American law, Anti-Semitism, Discrimination

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security