Twilight of the liberal Jew
Jewish Americans are shifting rightwards
Who are the most politically influential American Jews under the age of 40? There are five in the top tier. Ben Shapiro is an orthodox Jew who is the face and cofounder of what is arguably the leading conservative alt-media company, The Daily Wire. Chaya Raichik is an orthodox Jewish woman who runs the “Libs of TikTok” Twitter/X account, which is the main organising force behind resistance to gender ideology. Stephen Miller, who was senior advisor to President Donald Trump, might be the most important anti-immigration activist. Vox cofounder Ezra Klein is the king of establishment-liberal wonkery. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg seems more concerned with building his metaverse dystopia than influencing politics, though he often follows orders from the Democratic Party.
Compared to a list of prominent boomer Jews, the list of millennials skews heavily conservative and religious. This is not a fluke. The times they are a-changin’, and the era of the liberal Jew is coming to an end. When Elena Kagan was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2010, she was one of three Jewish justices. With Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death and Stephen Breyer’s retirement, Kagan is the only one left. In the 1990s, half of the congressmen from New York City were Jews. 76-year-old Jerry Nadler is now the last one.
The main reason for this shift is demographics. With rare exceptions, the first step to becoming a prominent liberal Jew is to be born to liberal Jewish parents. That is becoming a rare occurrence. According to Pew Research Center, amongst non-orthodox Jews who married in the 2010s, the intermarriage rate was 72 per cent. The generation before, the intermarriage rate was a little lower, but still over 50 per cent. Amongst the offspring of intermarriage, 82 per cent go on to marry non-Jews. Even when liberal Jews do marry each other, their fertility is low. Pew reports that the average non-orthodox Jew has 1.7 children compared with 4.1 children for orthodox Jews. As Covid taught us, exponential growth catches up with you faster than you expect. In 2012, 74 per cent of all Jewish children in New York City were orthodox, and by now the per centage is certainly higher. In a few decades, secular liberals will be swamped. Amongst the five Jews I mentioned above, only the conservatives (Shapiro, Raichik and Miller) have Jewish spouses.
There’s a myth that liberal Jews are highly ethnocentric and committed to Jewish group continuity. They rarely behave this way, however. Liberal versions of Judaism are universalistic and strongly deemphasize the ethnic component of the religion. Reform Judaism aggressively recruits converts — in recent years, its leaders have been especially eager for nonwhite converts — who sometimes have a tenuous commitment to Judaism. It diluted the Jewish tradition into a toothless humanism that is often combined with anti-Israel activism. This virtually destroyed secular Jews’ identity and sense of peoplehood. If liberal Jews wanted to take over America (as certain people on the right have argued is their endgame), they could easily have done so by marrying each other and having four children each. Almost no one did this because almost no one had that goal.
The left wants to hear about microaggressions, not the Holocaust
With their numbers falling sharply, the few Jews who are left face stiff competition from other minority groups. Eric Kaufmann refers to this phenomenon as “trading places”. Jews at universities and other institutions are losing out to high-performing Asians as well as Blacks who are more favoured under the new leftist ideology. In 1925, Jews were 25 per cent of Harvard undergraduates. Today, just six per cent of undergraduates at Harvard — and seven per cent of students at all Ivy League universities — say their religion is Judaism. If you include Jews (or partial Jews) who don’t identify with Judaism, the per centage is a bit higher, but not by much. According to Hillel, Jews comprise 9.8 per cent of Harvard undergraduates. In surveys conducted by Kaufmann, amongst elite academics in the social sciences and the humanities who are over the age of 65, 24 per cent were Jewish and zero per cent were Asian. Amongst those aged 30 and under, six per cent were Jewish and 18 per cent were Asian.
Jacob Savage argues that “the most significant cause of the decline isn’t Jews themselves, but that American liberalism … has turned on us”. Regardless of whether this is in fact the most significant cause, it is certainly important. Contrary to Ron Unz’s false claims about a cratering of Jewish achievement, there is still a sizable (albeit much smaller) population of secular Jews who are as capable as their ancestors. The melanin-focused left no longer celebrates Jewish success, instead viewing Jews as privileged white people. There are many examples of Jews being fired or denied jobs for the sake of “diversity”.
It’s true that there are several Jews occupying high positions in the Biden administration. A Jewish civil rights organisation, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), is also having a moment in the spotlight. This is the last gasp of liberal Jewish influence. Jewish cabinet members are boomers who are cashing in on status that they built up decades ago. When they retire, most of them will not be replaced by Jews. The ADL has become the boogieman of the far right, and largely for this reason the liberal establishment rallied to its defence. There is no long-term future for the ADL as a leader of woke America, however. The social-justice left wants to hear about microaggressions, police shootings and slavery, not Jews and the Holocaust. They certainly don’t want to hear anything from a straight white man like ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
Whatever is distinctive about Jews won’t survive two to three generations of intermarriage. Although there will be millions of gentiles in America with distant Jewish ancestry (as there are in Spain and Germany), the mark of the liberal Jew will fade from American culture. With fewer and fewer liberals in the public eye, Jews will increasingly be stereotyped as religious and right wing.
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