When I wrote Chabad’s Supernal Jew: Racism in Contemporary Western Judaism I had not yet come across Jewish Israeli and Palestinians as distinct ‘racial groups’ within the meaning of the crime of apartheid?. Carola Lingaas notes that “Race is a deeply problematic concept based on an understanding of group hierarchies. The wording of Art. 7(2)(h) of the Rome Statute of ‘regime of systematic oppression and domination’ implicitly refers to this hierarchical idea. Importantly, race is real because thoughts, perceptions and behavior are constructed upon it, but it has no biological foundation.” When I charge Chabad doctrine with fostering a racist set of ideas, I’m referring to Lingaas’ observation that the three hierarchical constructs that make race “real” are foundational in the sect’s doctrine that make the Jewish race and the non-Jewish race—and the domination of the one over the other—“real”.
The Rome Statute is, as it were, the constitution of the International Criminal Court (ICC) whose relevant Article stipulates that the crime against humanity of apartheid “is only punishable if it has been committed ‘by one racial group over any other racial group or groups’.” What is “punishable”, of course, is “conduct”; not the hierarchical regime which is the socio-political and legal racial setting for and promoter of the “conduct,” the “behavior” appropriate to the “thoughts and perceptions” of the dominant “racial group” vis-à-vis the racialized Other.
The phrase “by one racial group over any other racial group” entails mutual group exclusivity. In Ms Lingaas’ words, “The victims [of the crime of apartheid] are targeted for their belonging to another racial group. … (A)partheid cannot be committed against members of the perpetrator’s own group.” While “there are no pre-defined criteria that determine the ‘race’ [of the victims], it is based on the perception of their race” by the dominant group. The oppressed group “is understood as belonging to a hierarchically lower level of mankind, building on the idea of the great chain of being.”
Typically, members of the targeted, dominated group are labeled as being “of a lesser value, with lesser intelligence, worth, dignity, and hence humanness.” Chabad doctrine is unique in that it targets the “lesser” race precisely because it is human. Jews have the racial advantage for having been “thought” into existence before Creation, and subsequently being created with an innate, inheritable, ineradicable “connection” with God, embodying “a literal part of God.” Whence the supernal Jew, the Chabad sect’s “thought and perception” of Jews as being the world’s dominating and oppressing “holy” race.
Here are Carola Lingaas’ two concluding sentences, as they apply to the Chabad sect: “In seeing the Palestinians as one—and arguably a racial one—any other [group] identity markers are erased. Moreover, the characteristics that distinguish Palestinian from Jewish Israeli are determined and defined by the aggressors themselves; if they involve a racialized perception of the Palestinian group membership, the ‘racial group’ element of the crime against humanity of apartheid is likely fulfilled.” (Note: This reference essay, although less than five pages, is much broader and deeper in analysis than my quotations reveal, drawing on more sources than the Rome Statute. Study it.)
The thoughts and opinions expressed in the text are the author’s own.