Hello everyone. I’m a college student and was looking to make new friends. One of the people I met is a colleague who is of Mizrahi (Syrian) Jewish descent. I’m Jewish myself, but of Ashkenazi (Polish) descent. There aren’t a lot of Jews where I study and I got along pretty well with him, which was cool. However, I started following him on Twitter and Facebook and noticed he has some odd opinions I had never come across before.
First of all, he’s staunchly anti-Zionist. Keep in mind this is not a political post nor a discussion about Zionism, and I know some Jews oppose it for religious political reasons. However, in his case, anti-Zionism is part of a strange set of hotile beliefs concerning Ashkenazi Jews.
As a Mizrahi Jew, he identifies as Asian and as a person of color. Here’s where the things start to get freaky: he thinks “true” Jews are Middle Eastern people of color, and that Ashkenazi Jews are some sort of impostors who weren’t originally Jewish, but “White Europeans who assimilated into Judaism, and contributed to the racial erasure and whitewashing of the Jewish people”. He posted on Twitter that Ashkenazi aren’t “racially Jewish”, but White people who appropriated Jewish culture, which originally belonged to an Asian people of color. He considers Israel illegitimate because it was founded not by the “real Jews”, but by White Europeans who justified it with a religion that didn’t belong to them.
This is a really bizarre belief, and wrong on many levels. The only similar idea I had heard about in the past was the Khazar hypothesis, according to which Ashkenazi Jews originated not from the Middle East, but from a Turkic people that converted to Judaism. There’s no evidence supporting this hypothesis, because we don’t know how many of the Khazars really converted, and genetic studies on Ashkenazi Jews point to some Middle East origin. Moreover, even though there’s discrimination, most Jews living in Israel nowadays are Mizrahi or Sephardic, so his critique of Zionism doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
I also find it very offensive to claim Ashkenazi Jews aren’t “racially Jewish”, but White appropriators. Ashkenazi Jews always had a distinct identity than other peoples in Europe. He complained about erasure, but it seems he’s also erasing centuries of Yiddish culture. Even though Ashkenazi Jews in America and in my country are considered White nowadays, 70 years ago they suffered a genocide pricesely because they weren’t seen as White, but as an inferior race. Is he saying most Shoah victims weren’t really Jewish? This would be a very disrespectful to the memory of millions of people who were killed because they were Jewish.
I am sure this guy is actually Jewish and not part of some cult, he has a very traditional Jewish surname. I really don’t know why he believes in this kind of stuff, considering my country has a similar Ashkenazi and Mizrahi/Sephardic population. Has anyone else ever come across people who have these opinions?