Jewish star and Torah

The case in question involves a football coach who was turned down for a job at Louisiana College because of his “Jewish blood.”

Are Jews members of a racial group, a religious group, or both? It’s a popular debate among experts in academic fields such as sociology and anthropology. On the one hand, Jews share a common ancestry and often have distinct characteristics. But Judaism is also a widely practiced religion, and one doesn’t have to claim Jewish ancestry in order to join the faith.

You might ask: why does this matter? Can’t we just treat each other equally?

Well, until now the courts had never offered a definitive legal answer as to whether Jews are a race or a religious group. That changed last Friday, when a federal judge in Louisiana ruled that Jewish citizens should be classified as a racial or ethnic group and are thus protected from employment discrimination under the Civil Rights Act.

Josh Bonadona was discriminated against due to Jewish ancestry

Josh Bonadona

Turned Away for Being Jewish

The case in question involved Joshua Bonadona, a football coach who applied for a job at Louisiana College. Bonadona sued the school, claiming the college’s president refused to hire him because of his “Jewish blood.”

The college fought the lawsuit, arguing that being Jewish doesn’t qualify as a “race,” and therefore isn’t subject to federal anti-discriminations laws. The judge disagreed, writing:

“America is no stranger to anti-Semitism, which is often rooted in prejudice against a person based on his heritage/ethnicity without regard to the person’s particular religious beliefs. Jewish citizens have been excluded from certain clubs or neighborhoods, and they have been denied jobs and other opportunities based on the fact that they were Jewish, with no particular concern as to a given individual’s religious leanings.”

By all accounts, it was the first time a court has ruled that Jews are a racially protected group. “This is precedent-setting,” said Bonadona’s attorney.

A Sensitive Issue

This would seemingly be a victory for Jewish rights, but some advocates are not so sure. David Barkey, who represents the Anti-Defamation League, points out that the lawsuit touches on a sensitive aspect of Jewish history and identity. Persecuted by the Nazis for being an “inferior race,” Jews have spent decades trying to overcome that dark period of their history.

Amid the current political environment – and given that just last summer white nationalists marched in Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us” – this recent ruling brings with it renewed fears of Jewish persecution.

“I think we have to remember this is a legal decision, not a scientific or sociological decision,” Barkey explains. “The only concern that I would have is if it was being taken out of context to legitimize extremist views.”

Hate Continues

The sinister history of Jewish persecution is obviously well documented, but many people are unaware that Jews continue to be victims of discrimination and violence, even in 2018. In fact, FBI hate crime statistics show that anti-Jewish sentiment is on the rise, and Jews are the victims of the majority of religious hate crimes (though maybe we should now say racial?).

In any event, the battle to root out hate is far from over. Perhaps protecting Jews as a racial group will prove wholly beneficial, but as experts like David Barkey point out, dividing up society along racial and ethnic lines can bring with it unintended – and dark – consequences.

What do you think of the judge’s decision?

 

50 comments

  1. Dr. F350 says:

    *buckles in for the ride*

  2. Elder Freddie Bell says:

    I thought of it as a religion, a friend who is a non practicing Jew thinks of it as a race

    1. Lin Amendt says:

      Judaism is a RELIGION, albeit with its own culture like any religion. There are thousands of Chinese Jews in one area of China. Would we say they are NOT Asian, but a Jewish race?
      You can be a Norwegian, Irish, South African, Argentian, etc Jew. Its not a race. Please tell your friend.

      1. gee says:

        i agree Lin, its not a race it’s a religious title, those from Germany,Rosen and Klein are not Hebrew names there German and that’s who you are your Europeans who converted into a man made sect, you can not find the the word jew nowhere in the Tanakh (torah ) and the word semetic was made up, from noah’s son Shem, and the word Jew is yiddish if anything you are decendents from the cannanites
        who the hebrews were told by their god not to mix in with, someone is lying or covering up be cause jesus said i know the blasphemy of those who call themselves jews and are not their from the synagogue of satan, so some ones lying or their covering the truth about something or some one.

  3. James says:

    Due to the isolation of the religion and its people It had because a separate people. So,yes.!

  4. Lori Mongillo says:

    Someday we will all rise above the BS and just get on with life without hating each other.

    1. Steve Oder says:

      Yes. The fact that we are even still talking about it is a sad comment on the “progress” we’ve made.

  5. Gilbert Mason says:

    You can be Jewish but not be from a predominately Jewish country. You can be from a predominately Jewish country but not be Jewish. Judaism is an ideology, not a genetic complexion. Many Jewish people can have similar genetic traits, but that is because of the region where the religion is commonly practiced and people of similar beliefs tend to marry and reproduce. The same phenomenon applies for Muslims, Mormons, and many others.

    Religious discrimination is not the same as racial discrimination. That being said, you can dislike a religion and not be racist. This is often misunderstood. Now, if a person, business, or other entity chooses to discriminate based on religion, depending on the country or state, the laws likely prohibit this. Furthermore, that entity will receive loads of backlash for their intolerance. Since this is an educational institute, it is most likely a human rights violation.

    1. Rushdi 'Udayl Masih says:

      Was Hitler not racist?

      1. Gilbert Mason says:

        He was racists because he targeted people specifically for their genetic traits. It started with eliminating Jewish people, but his goal was to end with blue eyed, blond haired people. So that means he wanted to eliminate all other types of people.

        The reason why he targeted the Jews is because in Germany at the time, the Jews were typically in the top economic status. Hitler wanted equality of outcome, which basically means steal from the successful and redistribute wealth to the unsuccessful. This is the logic of Marxism, Communism, and Socialism.

        1. Steve Oder says:

          Oh really, “…steal from the successful…”? So for instance, someone like Jeff Bezos, making six months of his average employee’s income every second while those same employees pee in bottles to not get penalized for a restroom break is success? Really?

          1. John Owens says:

            Yes. Really.

  6. Stephanie Willey says:

    There are genetic markers linked to some specific old Jewish populations, the ancient Ashkenazi Jewish population comes to mind, but Jewdaism ss a religion is practiced all around the world by individuals of every recognized race. That alone, in my opinion has to make Jewdaism a religion, not a race.

    1. Mary Benoit says:

      I take it you are not Jewish. My “Jewish” friend says it is a race.
      It is both. There are Jews everywhere and what country except Israel is predominately Jewish?

      1. Marilyn says:

        Scientific DNA analysis has found that Jews from Ethiopia and India have no admixture in their DNA whereas Ashkenazi, Sephardic and other groups of Jews have DNA of Flemish people combined with DNA from the Middle East or Arab influences.

        1. Mr Avitar says:

          the DNA proves all hebrews(as there is no scientific definition for th ename jew its just what they call themsleves as a group but they are hebrew from ethiopia and they wont tell you that) are ethiopian and all inbred and easy to study genetically as anything inbred and restricted is. This is yet another reason Jesus stated “DESTROY THE SYNOGOGUE oF SATAN”!! and follow Gods only son Christ, but they wouldnt listen ! God made Christ and the God gene prevails in all of us who are true Children of God and Christ the rest God asked to come to Christ likely they wont and likely God will continue to punish them its a pure scientific reality mankind let alone Christians or hebrews or islamics dont want to repent! So we let God do his work and we continue to try and convert the devils of satan!! THATS LIFE!! BLACK AND WHITE no grey no interpretation.

          1. John Owens says:

            Jews only represent three of the tribes of Israel.

  7. William Waugh says:

    Clearly, it must be both. I am not christain in the common sense, but I believe I have a decent grasp of history. Folks that don’t appreciate the rights of Jews and the Jewish state to exist are and always have been on the wrong side of history. I did not vote for Donald Trump and mostly I think he’s an idiot. But, he’s right about Isreal.

  8. Reverend Krystina S. says:

    Judaism is/can be both/all 3 of the following. Genetic markers identify some groups of people who have been Jewish through the ages. Some Jewish people do not have those markers, or are converts (recently or in their geneology.) Additionally, Judaism is indeed a world view, a faith for many. And an important cultural identifier, even if not the faith or geneology, of others. Because Judaism is complicated. Bigotry, whether race-based, religion-based, or culture-based, is WRONG. There ought to be a law…….!!

  9. Frank Villari says:

    In what Nazi addled brain did anyone, in any way, think this blatant attempt at discrimination was going to fly? The League of the Perpetually Offended will grasp at any straw in order to look moronic.

    1. Frank Villari says:

      And, what difference does race or religion make? It is discriminatory either way!

  10. Francisco Miguel says:

    en mi modesta opinon pienso que fue acertada ya que si estudiamos nuestra historia veremos que la primera doctrina o religion como se le dese llamar es de origen judio y que por un puesto laboral no se puede descriminnar a nadie y tambien pienso que los que son fanaticos en las distintas religiones eso si deberian de ser mas controlados pero hay que recodar/pensar que son hombre y mujeres que tiene a su cargo familias y que hay que alimentar

  11. Jeff says:

    Religion or race, it makes no difference, they are Gods chosen people. They are one of the few races that is also a religion.

  12. Dave says:

    Rev 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

    Rev 3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

  13. Mitchell Halper says:

    Hi, I’m Jewish by birth and by culture. Bagels, potato knishes, bar mitzvahs etc.,and I speak some yiddish. At the same time I have been a meditation teacher for 40 years in an eastern tradition known as advaita or non dualism. I have not been in a synagogue in decades, speak no Hebrew and am not a Zionist although I firmly believe in the need for Jews to have a safe place due to more than 2000 years of persecution. Even though I am not a Jew religiously I have been discriminated against on a number of occasions and have been called some pretty offensive names by bigots. The bottom line is that Hitler wouldn’t have cared if I practiced or not, nor have any of the other bigoted idiots who have persecuted Jews for millennia. Ironically hatred is rooted in ignorance and ignorance is not very discriminating!

  14. Herb Kleinfeld says:

    It really doesn’t matter. We shouldn’t be discriminating against anyone, period.

  15. DR Phlerman says:

    Jews are a religion and not a race, if by “race” we mean a group with similar genetic markers. As an example, you can become Jewish through conversion regardless of your genetic make-up. Jews can convert to other faiths or no faith. You cannot “convert” and become, say, Asian or African-American.

  16. John Owens says:

    It is simple. Judaism is a religion, in earlier times practiced by the RACE known as Jews, which were comprised of the Southern Kingdom of the Israelites, specifically the tribes of Benjamin, Judah, and Levi, known as the Kingdom of Judah. Abraham was not a Jew. Moses, technically was not a Jew. Even though he was a Levite, there was no Kingdom of Judah and no such thing as a Jew in his time. Any man can hire a moyel to clip him and don a yarmulke, and become a Judaist, but he cannot be a Jew, unless he already is one.

  17. Bill Fox says:

    Jews are Hebrews, a sect (tribe) of Israel. The religion is a separate issue. You can be a Jew by birth and not religious. Non-Jews can become religious Jews through training and taking certain oaths. All Christians are religious Jews. Jesus Christ is King of the Jews.

    1. DR Phlerman says:

      To you, perhaps.

    2. rparish says:

      And this is why a non-Jew should never define who is and who is not a Jew.

  18. Dan Velez says:

    We are all human beings with one creator! Unfortunately because of free choice some choose to ignore the golden rule. I choose Love and for me God is Love. If I choose God then all are my brothers and sisters and I choose to Love everyone! Whenever I’m faced with hard questions, I ask “Where’s the Love?” If it’s not clear, then something is wrong. In this case, Jew by blood or by religion is irrelevant. He should have been hired by his merits only. Anything else is discrimination. There is no Love in discrimination.

    1. Warren Wall says:

      You assume that we are all from one creator because of your religious teachings not because of scientific fact. As to the discrimination aspect of this article the ruling is a moot point. Constitutionally, Jews are a protected group by race and religion.
      Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e and following) prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants and employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin (including membership in a Native American tribe). It also prohibits employers from retaliating against an applicant or employee who asserts his or her rights under the law. 

  19. Frater Sims says:

    As I understand, Judaism is both a race and a religion, because they have the unique factor of being God’s chosen people. You can be born a Jew, but if you convert to Judaism, you become Jewish.

    1. Marilyn says:

      The question now becomes who is the real Jew? Is it the Ashkenazi or Sephardic that their DNA origin is Flemish or is it the Ethiopian and East Indian (Malabar ) Hebrew Israelites that show NO admixture in their DNA and possess the oldest Talmud of Judaism?

    2. minister says:

      that don’t make any sense

  20. Warren Wall says:

    I would imagine that if you wanted to establish “Jew” as a race (scientifically) genetic markers would have to be established and traced. I believe that genetic markers of “Jews” will be very similar to the markers for all middle eastern peoples. I would be very interested to see the genetic comparison of “Jews” to the other people of the middle east. Especially those of the Muslim/Islamic faith (faith, not a racial designation). I don’t practice any Judaic religion but I am a student of religion. It would be quite interesting to see.

    1. Marilyn says:

      Genetic markers of Middle Eastern people show Greek, East Indian and African ancestry

    2. Marilyn says:

      Ethiopian and East Indian Hebrew Israelites possess NO genetic markers of Middle Eastern people

  21. Charles says:

    Keep government out of religious matters. Separation of church and state

  22. skipNclair says:

    Many have converted to it, so it cannot be a race, how can a german, become a jew if it is a race? As for it being a religion that also can be debated.

    1. DR Phlerman says:

      “As for it being a religion that also can be debated.” I’m curious. Why would Judaism not be a religion?

  23. Dan Velez says:

    Warren, I don’t assume that there is a creator because of religious beliefs. In my opinion it’s quite obvious to me by observing nature that this universe had to come into existence by some sort of superior being. The intricacies of human anatomy, the air we breathe and the gravity that keeps us grounded amongst many other items that simply can’t scientifically be explained is why I believe in a creator.

  24. Karl Bergman says:

    I guess I am a bit confused by this story. Why would the judge rule on the case due to race when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88–352, 78 Stat. 241, enacted July 2, 1964) is a landmark civil rights and US labor law in the United States that outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Whether based on race or religion the action taken by Louisiana College violated the act.

    1. Helen Sohne says:

      I agree Karl. This gets to the heart of the matter; the actual law which was meant to protect everyone. The goal needs to be hiring someone based on being best for the job, whatever and wherever that job may be. As a nation we are far from that goal. Discrimination is flourishing especially under our current administration. This ruling should be completely unnecessary.

  25. Amber L Fry says:

    I would say both. I know people born part Jew who do not follow the religion and I know people without the bloodline who follow the religious side. Why would there be religious training available if it wasn’t a religion? How would a bloodline show up in genetic blood testing if it wasn’t also racially trackable?

  26. TJ says:

    I have not read the comments so please forgive me if this has already been talked about. It’s both a religion and a race.

    I’ve always thought it would be helpful if we had one name or title for those born of the Jewish race, say Hebrew, and another for religious Jews, say Jew. This way, a Chinese Jewish person is telling you that their religiously a Jew but that they may not be a Jew by race. If someone were to say they were a Jewish Hebrew you would know that they were born into the race and that they are religious.

  27. Tom says:

    At least they aren’t playing the victim card like some other races.

  28. Marilyn says:

    The filing of a civil rights action automatically classifies the plaintiff as a VICTIM

  29. Ralph says:

    Light sometimes behaves like a wave, and sometimes like particles. Sometimes Jewish is a race and sometimes it’s a religion.

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