The Col­ors of Jews: Racial Pol­i­tics and Rad­i­cal Diasporism

Melanie Kaye/​Kantrowitz

  • Review
By – November 14, 2011

This book is a cel­e­bra­tion of Jew­ish racial diver­si­ty and a tirade against Jew­ish Euro-cen­trism, which places Ashke­nazi Jews at the top of the Jew­ish hier­ar­chy while mar­gin­al­iz­ing Jews of color.

Draw­ing on her work as an anti-racism activist as well as a series of inter­views with oth­er activists seek­ing to carve out space for non-Ashke­naz­im in the Jew­ish main­stream, Kaye/​Kantrowitz argues con­vinc­ing­ly that the Jew­ish world would ben­e­fit from a more inclu­sive atti­tude toward Jews of col­or. She calls this ide­ol­o­gy of Jew­ish mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism Dias­porism and advo­cates rad­i­cal Dias­porism — the delib­er­ate cross­ing of racial bor­ders with­in the Jew­ish world — as a potent weapon against racism, includ­ing anti-Semitism.

Through­out the book, the author con­jures a won­der­ful­ly rich and var­ied view of how the Jew­ish world would look if it wel­comed the stranger” in a gen­uine and mean­ing­ful way. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the pic­ture is marred by her treat­ment of Israel — the great­est exam­ple of Jew­ish diver­si­ty in the world. The author com­plete­ly ignores the cul­tur­al con­tri­bu­tions of Israel’s many minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ties, focus­ing entire­ly on their neg­a­tive encoun­ters with Ashke­naz­im. Bib­li­og­ra­phy, notes.

Alex Mar­golin is a free­lance writer liv­ing in Jerusalem. He spends his free time read­ing Jew­ish books and blog­ging about them.

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