If one begins typing into Google Is George Zimmerman… the first suggestion that pops up is Jewish. The question of the Jewishness of the man who shot to death Trayvon Martin in Florida seems to be a quite popular inquiry. Indeed, news outlets from The Washington Post to Tablet Magazine have considered the question. This, however, is by far missing the point. In fact, it is as far from the point as is possible.
There are many debates to be had about this constantly evolving case. One could discuss the ethical dilemmas of a “Stand Your Ground” law or the applicability of that law to this situation. Yet, the religious, ethnic or racial backgrounds of Mr. Zimmerman or Mr. Martin should not be the focus of the conversation. It is very tempting to turn the entire situation into a battleground for racial, religious, socio-economic or ethnic tensions. Perhaps, a productive conversation could be had later, once this case has been resolved in our legal system, on stereotyping and assumptions we make about others upon observing their behavior, clothing or surname. This, however, is not the appropriate time for that.
The only truly salient points to consider at this juncture are the facts of the case and the applicability of the law to the facts. Is George Zimmerman Jewish? It’s possible but it is also entirely irrelevant.