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Who Y’gonna Marry? The Line Between Racism and Tribalism

Misha was reading an Israeli article on-line about what a problem racism is in Israel. I happened to have much first-hand experience on this issue and have no intention of contesting this statement. What I found interesting about it was that apparently, it was making a similar point to what I was making earlier, but taking it a step further: Insisting that someone “marrying Jewish” is racist if that Jew is raised secular and living secular and has no intention of “being” Jewish anyway. I agree.

Unless you have a specific reason for wanting to marry Jewish, to insist that the other person “be Jewish” (technically or otherwise) is racist. Grandparents’ wish? Well, maybe you need to sit down and have a talk with them to let them know that being Jewish is really not so important to you and besides, you know nothing about it. If you think that being Jewish might become important to you later, than you should have that talk with your spouse or spouse-to-be.

I remember back in the days when I was on internet dating sites. I had accounts at few of them to find friends, not so much dates. One of the things that I noticed was that many of the men who identified their religion as “Jewish” and identified as “liberal” on the political spectrum would say that they preferred meeting someone “white.” This seemed weird at first and was a big turn-off for me: You are giving a race preference to who you want to date? Then I realized that a lot of them probably were looking for someone Jewish (or was I being over-generous in my assumptions)? You couldn’t choose wanting to date “Jewish” so the next best bet was to say that you wanted to date someone “white” (because most Jews in the US are “white”)?

I know that when Misha was living in Asia, Misha’s mother told him that she didn’t want him bringing back an Asian girl. That was a statement that was stemming from assuming that Asians couldn’t be Jews. Obviously, this assumption was wrong, and she didn’t have a problem with me being “Asian” (from her perspective) because I was Jewish.

The insistence on marrying Jewish is kind of silly if you ask me. I’ve had a lot of Jewish parents lament to me about how their kids married non-Jews and marvel at my identification as a Jew, especially since I don’t “look” Jewish to them.

They would say to me, “why do you think my kid went off and married a non-Jew? How did you grow up identifying as Jewish when you have a non-Jewish parent?”—I don’t know. Perhaps because I wasn’t surrounded by stupid people like you who assumed that Jewishness was passed down through blood?—was what I thought, but usually never had the guts to say it, so I would only smile. I mean, really, what kind of an answer are people expecting when they say things like that to a stranger? Most of the people who insisted that they raised their kids Jewish sounded like they were not so committed to Judaism. They were simply “culturally” Jewish.

What makes me Jewish is not that I have a Jewish parent. That would have only made me have “Jewish lineage”. And if that’s all it was about, I would have been thoroughly uninterested in “marrying Jewish.” I would have felt it racist, which it would have been. By the same token, for someone to insist on marrying Jewish, even if they couldn’t care less about having Jewish wedding, is racist.

Tell me: if you are not going to celebrate any of the Jewish holidays, if you are not interested in passing down Jewish traditions, if being Jewish is simply a cultural heritage, then why care whether the person you marry is Jewish or not?

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2 thoughts on “Who Y’gonna Marry? The Line Between Racism and Tribalism

  1. Perhaps uncomfortably broadening your perspective, the racism and tribalism you have observed among some Jews is the seldom admitted mysterious source of antisemitism.

    Jewish racial tribalism is rooted in the ideology of the Torah:

    Then an Israelite man brought into the camp a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting.

    When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear into both of them, right through the Israelite man and into the woman’s stomach. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped;

    The god of the Torah is so ferocious towards the non-Jewish tribes, their culture and their gods, his Jihadist followers would ram a spear through your mother and father for daring to have a child.

    According to those genocidal tribal doctrines, you are a godless abomination who may inspire a plague (in reality you are a beautiful soul whom God loves).

    Could such an ideology inspire anything but hatred towards itself, especially when obstinately preserving itself in the midst of sometimes equally narrow minded forms of tribalism and ethnic nationalism?

  2. Edward,

    Your argument is a thinly disguised effort to legitimize antisemitism. I don’t engage with such bigotry in such a limited forum like this.

    You want to truly engage in dialogue about whether Jews “deserve” to be hated? Go seek out a few real-life Jews who know their stuff about being a Jew, get to know them, see for yourself whether they live according to *your* understanding of what you call “The Old Testament,” learn a bit about rabbinic Judaism (which is the form Judaism against which all mainstream Judaism is defined), and then think about your comment here again.

    Respectfully, Kaguya

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