This question of course depends on how one defines "white". If one considers "white" synonymous with "Caucasoid", then Jews are white. However, if one accepts the traditional definition of whites as people of European descent, Jews are clearly non-white.
Jews are genetically distinct from EuropeansStudies of the Y-chromosome, mtDNA, and autosomal markers have demonstrated that Ashkenazic Jews derive most of their ancestry from the Middle East and have little in common genetically with the Europeans among whom they live.
- Y DNA
Hammer et al. (2000) estimated that Ashkenazi male lineages are about 77% Jewish / Middle Eastern. A 23% European male admixture amounts to an accretion of less than 0.5% per generation. A newer study estimates an even lower European male contribution:
admixture analysis . . . suggests that 5%–8% of the Ashkenazi gene pool is . . . comprised of Y chromosomes that may have introgressed from non-Jewish European populations (Behar et al. Contrasting patterns of Y chromosome variation in Ashkenazi Jewish and host non-Jewish European populations. Hum Genet. 2004 Mar;114(4):354-65. Epub 2004 Jan 22.)
Recent research shows that the Ashkenazic maternal gene pool is also predominantly Near Eastern in origin, with minor European admixture.
While several Ashkenazi Jewish mtDNA Hgs appear to derive from the Near East, there is also evidence for a low level of introgression from host European non-Jewish populations. . . . diversity patterns provide evidence for a prolonged period of low effective size in the history of the Ashkenazi population. The data best fit a model of an early bottleneck (~100 generations ago), perhaps corresponding to initial migrations of ancestral Ashkenazim in the Near East or to Europe. . . . The observed mutational frequency peak for the Ashkenazi and Near Eastern non-Jewish populations is similar and consistent with the age of the Pleistocene expansion, which is older than that inferred from the mutational frequency peak for European non- Jews. This is consistent with a Near East origin for a major portion of the Ashkenazi Jewish mtDNA pool. (Behar et al. MtDNA evidence for a genetic bottleneck in the early history of the Ashkenazi Jewish population. Eur J Hum Genet. 2004 Jan 14 [Epub ahead of print]. )
- Autosomal markers
More than two decades ago, using a small number of 'classical' markers, Carmelli and Cavalli-Sforza (1979) found that Jews cluster genetically with Near Easterners.
A wide scatter of the Jews was observed among clusters of non-Jews, probably due to drift [Note: Ashkenazis fall squarely within the Near Eastern cluster, with various Jewish isolates being the outliers]. However, the centroid of the Jewish populations mapped in the Middle East cluster. . . . We can conclude by using Rh and Hp frequencies that the Jewish populations show a greater similarity to their ancestral origin. According to Mourant et al. (1976), "Jews from Europe, almost indistinguishable from their European non-Jewish neighbors by their ABO and MN groups, show by their Rh groups that physically they are more nearly related to their Mediterranean ancestors."
Carmelli and Cavalli-Sforza did conclude that Ashkenazi have "significant" European admixture, but it should be understood that half the markers in this study involved the ABO and MN blood groups. The ABO system in particular is thought to respond selectively to epidemic disease. The authors even mention that "it should also be noted that if genetic similarity between a Jewish group and non-Jewish groups living in the same geographic area is restricted to one or a few loci, it is not observed at most other loci; the more likely interpretation calls for convergent selection at that locus rather than for admixture. Thus, single locus studes are potentially misleading. Unfortunately, the number of loci studied here is not large."
Motulsky (1980), using a larger number of markers, estimated that Ashkenazi have only 12.5% European admixture; and, since it's also likely that some of the loci used here were subject to selection, even this lower estimate may overstate the actual level of European admixture.
Jews are phenotypically distinct from Europeans
Coon acknowledges that Jews "have their 'look,' a part of their cultural heritage that both preserves and expresses their cultural solidarity . . . they have developed a special racial sub-type and a special pattern of facial and bodily expression" (The Races of Europe, 442).
The following studies confirm that Jews differ morphologically from their host populations.
Ann Hum Biol 1985 May-Jun;12(3):203-12
A morphological approach to the problem of the biological similarity of Jewish and non-Jewish populations.
Kobyliansky E, Livshits G.
The genetic kinship between various Jewish and non-Jewish groups, from the biochemical standpoint, has been much investigated, frequently with very contradictory conclusions. The present paper reports the results of two comparative analyses of several Jewish and non-Jewish populations as based on morphological measurements of adult males. The first analysis employed data on Jewish and non-Jewish communities from five geographic regions of the world. The dendrogram resulting from the cluster analysis clearly indicates that Jewish populations are much closer to one another than to non-Jewish neighbour groups. In the second analysis, 25 ethnoterritorial groups of the USSR (one Jewish and the rest non-Jewish) were evaluated on the basis of 27 anthropometric characters. The latter Jewish group was markedly separate from the other 24 ethnic groups, and especially distinct when only traits with high coefficients of heritability were employed.
PMID: 4015030 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Am J Phys Anthropol 1986 Jun;70(2):265-75
Affinities between contemporary and skeletal Jewish and non-Jewish groups based on tooth morphology.
Sofaer JA, Smith P, Kaye E.
Samples from five Jewish and six non-Jewish populations were compared in terms of the frequencies of 19 dental morphological variables. All but one of the samples came from Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East. Nine were from contemporary populations, and two were skeletal. Of the skeletal groups, one was Jewish, excavated on Mount Zion, Jerusalem, and dated at around 3,000 years old; and the other non-Jewish, excavated on the east coast of Australia, and dated at between 1,000 and 200 years old. Assessment of affinity between the different groups was based on smallest space analysis and cluster analysis. The results demonstrated relative proximity of the Jewish groups (with one exception), despite the fact that they came from a wide geographical area. In particular, the sample from Mount Zion showed greater affinity with three of the four living Jewish populations than with most non-Jewish groups. The skeletal Australian sample formed a cluster of its own, distinct from all the other groups. For six of the groups, the relationships based on tooth morphology showed good correspondence with known relationships based on single locus polymorphisms. The similarity of the Jewish groups to each other in terms of both tooth morphology and single locus polymorphisms was of special interest, since differences in other morphological and anthropometric characteristics, thought to be the result of selection, are known to exist between the Jewish populations.
PMID: 3740251 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
RM implies that Jews are physically indistinguishable from Europeans, and clearly he is wrong.
Above: Typical American Jews
Above: More Ashkenazi Jews
Other differences between Jews and Europeans
Aside from physical differences, important differences in other areas seperate Jews and Europeans. Jews have an evolutionary history that has made them distinct from Europeans in the realms of culture and evolutionary psychology.
Below is a summary of some of the evolutionary and cultural differences between Jews and Europeans according to Kevin MacDonald (2000). Professor MacDonald has written extensively on Judaism from an evoutionary perspective.
Table 1: Contrasts between European and Jewish Cultural Forms.
RM's photographic 'evidence'
In an attempt to show how "white" Jews are, RM presents photos of various Jewish celebrities. Even with historical European admixture, several of these celebrities are distinctly Jewish (e.g., Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Gene Wilder, Paul Reiser). Others have obviously modified their appearance through plastic surgery (e.g., Cindy Margolis, Joan Rivers). And yet others aren't fully Jewish by ancestry (e.g., Alicia Silverstone).
Lisa Kudrow, featured on RM's site, has admitted she underwent cosmetic surgery: "I had a hook nose, and now it's certainly smaller". Jewish women are notorious for getting nose jobs. This wouldn't make much sense if Jews were phenotypically the same as Europeans.
"It was the thing to do," said Dr. H. George Brenna, who practices in Southern California. "You had your bat mitzvah and you got your nose done." ...[parents] wanted their own children spared discrimination. And to them, that meant fitting inconspicuously into the Protestant mainstream. "Jewish parents at that time didn't want their children to look Jewish," said Dr. James L. Baker Jr., who practices outside Orlando, Fla.
...The physical characteristic that most set Jews apart was their noses, and so legions of teen-agers, usually girls, had them fixed. The technology was primitive compared to today's and so the results, through the 1970s, had a cookie-cutter similarity -- littl ski-jump noses with the bony bridge scooped away.
But that was O.K. with the patients. "Everybody wanted to look like a shiksa," said Dr. Thomas D. Rees, a retired plastic surgeon who trained many of the high-priced doctors at work today along Park Ave.
Certainly, there are some Jews who look fully European (and, for that matter, there are some Pakistanis who look fully European; I question whether even RM would call Pakistanis "white"). On the other hand, some Jews (perhaps 50% of Ashkenazim) look distinctly and unavoidably non-European. The vast majority of Jews are easily recognizable as such, whether through phenotypic traits or cultural characteristics such as facial expression. Even the Jews that are phenotypically indistinguishable from Europeans will be genetically distinct. It is probable that selective pressure during the 1000+ years they lived among Europeans caused Jews to tend towards European-type features (to a greater degree than would be accounted for by admixture), even as Jews retained their genetic distinctiveness. Moreover, Jewish celebrities are hardly a representative sample of Jews, since the tastes of the non-Jewish public select against heavily "Jewish-looking" actors.
Behar et al. Contrasting patterns of Y chromosome variation in Ashkenazi Jewish and host non-Jewish European populations. Hum Genet. 2004 Mar;114(4):354-65. Epub 2004 Jan 22.
Behar et al. MtDNA evidence for a genetic bottleneck in the early history of the Ashkenazi Jewish population. Eur J Hum Genet. 2004 Jan 14 [Epub ahead of print].
Carmelli, D. & Cavalli-Sforza, L.L. The Genetic Origin of the Jews: A Multivariate Approach. Human Biology 1979 Feb; 51(1):41-61.
Hammer et. al. Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2000 Jun 6;97(12):6769-74
MacDonald, Kevin. What Makes Western Culture Unique?. The Occidental Quarterly 2002 Summer.
Motulsky, A. G. (1980) in Population Structure and Disorders, eds. Eriksson, A. W., Forsius, H. R., Nezanlinna, H. R., Workman, P. L. & Norio, R. K. (Academic, New York), pp. 353-365.
Nebel et al. The Y chromosome pool of Jews as part of the genetic landscape of the Middle East. Am J Hum Genet 2001 Nov;69(5):1095-112.
Thomas et. al. Founding mothers of Jewish communities: geographically separated Jewish groups were independently founded by very few female ancestors. Am J Hum Genet 2002 Jun;70(6):1411-20.
Wade, Nicholas. Y Chromosome Bears Witness to Story of the Jewish Diaspora. The New York Times 2000 May 9.
Wade, Nicholas. In DNA, New Clues to Jewish Roots. The New York Times 2002 May 14.
Disclaimer which should be unnecessary: linking does not necessarily imply I endorse linked sites.
Russian Jewish genetics: A collection of abstracts and reviews of books, articles, and genetic studies
Glayde Whitney on Jewish genetic distinctiveness
Reply to "Racial Myths" on Jews and Europeans (Note: some of the information on this page is incorrect, especially the suggestion that Ashkenazim are descended from Khazars. Ashkenazim may well have some Khazar ancestry, but they are predominantly of Middle Eastern descent in the male line. Still, the basic argument holds true: Europeans cluster tightly genetically; non-European Caucasoids are outside the European genetic cluster; Jews are largely descended from non-European Caucasoids.)What is a Jew?