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.

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Read more at Tablet

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

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship