I am writing this today in response to the irritation I’ve had reading numerous pieces on the same topic including on this very platform that are promoting an ethnic identity agenda that is based on fantastic delusions rather than a realistic appreciation of the needs and realities of Jews worldwide. This whole controversy was sparked on June 1 in anticipation of the release of Wonder Woman, a film starring perhaps the most famous bombshell Jewish woman since . . . well, Natalie Portman and Bar Refaeli. An article for Comicbook.com by Matthew Mueller made the ridiculous assertion that Gal Gadot is as an Ashkenazi Jew a “person of colour” (POC). This was in response to a slew of nitpicking articles on the movie and particularly Gadot regarding her race, breasts, and even her armpits. What is not surprising is that much of this pointless griping comes from the progressive activist community, in particular intersectional feminists. I have to admit that I was laughing in disbelief at every volley back and forth between the two sides, when it could easily have been avoided by acknowledging that the argument is guided either way by a “me-too” attitude that glamorizes oppression and suffering. This is no less evident among the opponents of the ridiculous Gadot-POC camp as it is in the proponents. Noah Berlatsky, who disputes the idea stated the following:
The whiteness of “Wonder Woman” doesn’t seem up for debate. And yet, some have decided to debate it.
Let’s quit mucking around, like every other piece of new media or performance art in this day and age, Wonder Woman has been torn by a sector of the public that has a whole regimen of litmus tests in order to determine whether someone’s credentials are sufficiently enlightened . . . sorry, are they still saying “woke”? The assertion that Gal Gadot is a “POC” is a pathetic defensive gesture by people that are more insecure about THEIR standing than they are about HERS. And who can blame them? The progressives on college campuses have already established that race is a “social construct”, and then they try to use DNA findings (which are biological) to establish that Jews are “people of color”. Unfortunately for them, there is also an authoritative genetic study from 2013 that reveals plenty of European ancestry for Ashkenazi Jews.
It doesn’t matter however to the social justice crowd, who are content to adopt the “1 drop rule” favoured by traditional white racists that invalidates the whiteness of a given purpose based on having just one non-white ancestor. Why? Because in their social circles the very fact of being not white or otherwise disadvantaged is in and of itself advantageous. The next best thing would be to live with or marry a non-white, as was satirized like many things years ago in an episode of the show Seinfeld in the episode “The Wizard”. In this segment Elaine dates a man named Darryl who appears to be a light-skinned black man. Meanwhile he thinks that she must be Hispanic. Spoiler alert: when both discover the truth the interest in the relationship quickly dissipates. I used to think that this was a complete joke until I actually met people that have this type of attitude towards relationships.
Why is it that there’s this upsurge in fashionable voices talking about the Ashkenaz-as-POC question? The answer is just below the surface of their rhetoric. These people are fearful, cowed denizens of the same public that condemns gender-specific toys and bathrooms, is hostile to Christianity and police, and are so tolerant of others that they have forgotten who they themselves are. The progressive Jewish faction of the blogging community has reached a fork in the road. Either they:
- Recognize that the broader progressive community has long become hostile and disdainful of the Jews and have taken to attributing them to the existing power structure
- Continue to crawl along as stooges of the nihilistic, identity worshiping social justice sector that they have been a part of due to their own personal tastes and desires.
I remember hearing from someone last year who was coming to grips with this conflict before Wonder Woman became a factor in it. Despite a raft of personal and professional issues that kept her from having a stable job and family life, it was most disturbing to her that many of her friends considered Jews to be part of the oppressive ruling class. But the truth is that below the surface what she was saying was this: “How is it that I’ve tried to both live and express myself according progressive tenets, and yet I am still rejected by my peers?”
I can somewhat relate to this, although not as deeply because truth be told my awakening to this came much earlier and therefore the adjustment has been easier to process. But last year I consciously realized that I’ve made a deep departure from the standard attitudes of conventional Jewish Americans. This had nothing to do with finding a new religion, or disowning my identity, but rather I saw that there was a concerted effort on the part of so-called “community organizations” to promote a consensus that clashes with the viewpoints of a growing segment of America, yes that includes a lot of Jewish Americans, that are embracing independent media creators. We are from a cross-section of classes, races, and religions, and we believe in the freedom of speech and expression, the idea that our success is at least partially dependent on the amount of effort we put into our ambitions (if not also divine providence), and that instead of recoiling in fear from every gesture of hatred we should endeavour to win people’s trust and confidence through the merit of our arguments.
It has now also become clear that these mainstream organizations are also catering to an evaporating center among American Jews. The Anti-Defamation League, once a useful resource for identifying hate groups, has evidently come to believe that cartoon frogs and other memes are the real tangible threat to Jewish Americans and not the threat of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. The same goes for smaller groups like HIAS, J Street and Jewish Voice for Peace. There is even a nominally Jewish group called the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect that spends the majority of its time parroting the viewpoints of Black Lives Matter and other groups that basically agree with the progressive belief that Jews are part of the oppressive power class. This is a losing strategy as those Jews on the left are constantly drifting away from the traditions and beliefs of the Jewish religion; they can find these same values expressed by the ADL outside of the Jewish organizations, so what purpose do they serve for them?
By contrast, Jews that are right of center or further simply don’t agree with the ADL’s trajectory, and are beginning to wake up to the fact that a group of professional elites are usurping their voice. Under Abe Foxman the ADL may have been somewhat abrasive, but at least it maintained its independence on the political spectrum. By maintaining political independence Foxman was consistent in promoting the safety and integrity of the Jewish community as opposed to the political agenda of any one party or group. The new head of the organization, Jonathan Greenblatt, has practically thrown that strategy in the dumpster. He prefers to pursue a universalist, politically correct policy that is typical of someone that served in the Obama Administration, as he did before 2012. It’s this type of attitude that has made me realize that we as Jews cannot let our opinions be amalgamated by identity organizations like they ADL; on the contrary, we have to declare our independence as individuals because they have relinquished theirs.
So to all of those, youth included, struggling with this imaginary Gal Gadot controversy, I suggest a better use of your time. Maybe explore the deeper roots of the Jewish heritage immortalized in the holy books or if you’re too resistant to that through Wikipedia. You can construct as many identities you want, after all you are reading this on the internet, but it won’t bring you acceptance by those determined to hate anybody them deem insufficiently committed.