Lit Crit

Enumerating Jews

May 02, 2018

Multiple Pages
Enumerating Jews

Jonathan Weisman, a mid-level New York Times staffer and author of the short but repetitious new book (((Semitism))): Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump, is not a particularly acute thinker. But his unoriginality makes his (((Semitism))) a revealing distillation of the conventional wisdom of 2018.

Weisman first ran into Jewish trouble in the summer of 2015 when, as a supporter of President Obama’s Iran deal (now back in the news), he coauthored a New York Times article noticing which kinds of Democrats in Congress were most likely to break ranks with Obama. According to a table Weisman had a graphic artist draw up, many of the Democrats opposing Obama on Iran were, unsurprisingly, Jewish, such as Chuck Schumer (D-Wall Street), and many of the rest represented heavily Jewish districts, such as Ted Lieu (D-Beverly Hills).

For publishing this act of pattern recognition in a mainstream rather than an ethnic publication, Weisman was scorched by more powerful Jews than himself. The Simon Wiesenthal Center called his count “grotesque,” complaining that Weisman’s infographic validated stereotypes about “Jewish money” and “Jewish pressure” having disproportionate influence over American foreign policy.

Jonathan Greenblatt, boss of the Anti-Defamation League, labeled Weisman’s chart “offensive” and said that it “reinforces stereotypes about American Jews and dual loyalty.”

Jeffrey Goldberg, who has since been promoted to editor in chief of The Atlantic, scoffed that it “would be helpful if the Times would also tell us just how Jewish each Jewish member of Congress is.”

Goldberg’s Atlantic, of course, runs countless articles attempting to quantify the horrors of White Privilege with little of this kind of obscurantist quibbling over how white whites are (although Goldberg’s main man Ta-Nehisi Coates sneers that whites are “people who believe they are white,” while the rest of his staffers pretend not to notice Coates’ embarrassing fixation).

But counting Jews is not acceptable.

“America’s main problem today is that there is too much hate in the hearts of white people…hatred of other white people.”

The New York Times crumbled under the Jewish assault and deleted from its archives the column in the table mentioning whether the anti–Iran Deal Democrats were Jewish, apologizing:

Many readers and commenters on social media found that aspect of the chart insensitive. ‘Times’ editors agreed and decided to revise it to remove the column specifying which opponents were Jewish.


To be precise, enumerating Jews is not allowed in a critical or neutral context, such as Weisman’s 2015 Iran Deal article. It’s fine to celebrate Jewish contributions, but don’t mention the Jewish role in an objective manner.

One reason is that in an era obsessed with rooting out “systemic racism” via white-counting, Jews tend to be numerically overrepresented in most of the better sorts of jobs (as the Weinstein #MeToo scandals have demonstrated).

On the other hand, the percentage of Jews in Congress has been falling in recent years. With Al Franken getting #MeToo’d on rather tenuous charges, the Senate is down to eight Jewish members (only four times their share of the national population). In politics, diversity is beginning to take a toll on Jewish numbers, with, for instance, my old Representative Howard Berman being forced out of office after thirty years by the belated creation of a Mexican district.

In Weisman’s book, he doesn’t get around to mentioning this precipitating brouhaha over his Iran Deal table until after 68 pages of the usual stuff about the anti-Semitic dangers posed by David Duke, Richard Spencer, and Pepe the Frog.

While Jews tend to pride themselves on being intellectually fractious—“Ask two Jews, get three opinions”—their survival as a nation for thousands of years is a testament to their impressive penchant for defusing internal disputes by picking fights with external enemies.

For example, Henry Kissinger observed with understated exasperation in the 1970s that Israeli foreign policy is largely a by-product of Israeli domestic politics. But 45 years later, the success of this tendency cannot be denied. You’ll note that while Israel’s neighbors Syria and Lebanon have suffered unbelievably horrible civil wars of all against all, Israel has remained relatively united at home and, not coincidentally, antagonistic abroad.

In the U.S., intra-Jewish hostilities tend to get transmuted into critiques of society as a whole. In the post-War era, for instance, many high-IQ young Jewish women chafed under their parents investing more lavishly in the education of their brothers. A Jewish comedienne joked that at gatherings of aging Jewish mothers, the second-favorite boast, after “My son the doctor,” was “My daughter drove me.”

Not surprisingly, bright Jewish women such as Betty Friedan, Shulamith Firestone, Rosalyn Baxandall, Susan Brownmiller, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Bella Abzug, and Andrea Dworkin tended to be the leaders in the feminist revolution of a half century ago. Also not surprisingly, however, their intra-Jewish resentments of their parents’ Jewish patriarchalism have largely been hushed up, with men or society in general being blamed instead.

Likewise, many 21st-century American Jews nurture resentments of how an ancestor was turned down for membership at a ritzy country club for being an unrefined Jew from Eastern Europe, but have conveniently forgotten that great-grandpa wasn’t trying to join a WASP golf club, he was instead blackballed by a German Jewish golf club.

Similarly, Weisman, three years after being put through the wringer by his fellow Jews over his Iran chart, has now published a book calling on American Jews to stop squabbling over Iran and instead unite again the real enemy: Donald Trump.

Weisman begins his book not with his 2015 lambasting by other Jews, but with him tweeting in 2016 a Robert Kagan op-ed about the dangers of Trumpian fascism. (Weisman doesn’t mention the irony that Kagan’s wife, diplomat Victoria Nuland, played a sizable role in the 2014 violent overthrow of Ukraine’s elected government, with far-right ultras leading the putsch.)

He was shocked to receive replies putting his name and Kagan’s name in triple parentheses to point out their Jewishness. While endless clickbait articles are churned out on topics like #OscarsSoWhite theorizing that white overrepresentation in good jobs can only be explained by a vast racist conspiracy among white people, the similar overrepresentation of Jews relative to gentiles is simply not discussed in polite society. White Privilege is currently an American mania, but the analogous concept of Jewish Privilege barely exists.

Yet, journalists made a tactical mistake by getting themselves invested in Twitter, which then turned out to have a fairly level playing field where insults could be exchanged without the institutional advantages provided by more traditional media. The Twitter methodology encouraged users to point out publicly the apparent disparate impact discrimination that led to Jews being extremely overrepresented in opinion media (especially in articles denouncing whites for disparate impact discrimination).

For example, in 2009, The Atlantic published its list of the fifty most important “columnists and bloggers and broadcast pundits who shape the national debates.” (Paul Krugman was ranked No. 1, with Rush Limbaugh second.) I was able to look up the demographics of virtually all of them and found that just under 50 percent were ethnically Jewish, compared with 2.2 percent of the population. (Similarly, Jews appear to make up about one-third of the Forbes 400.)

Back in the 1970s, neoconservative Jewish intellectuals such as Nathan Glazer used to worry that antiwhite quotas would be bad for the Jews. For example, in 1968 New York mayor John Lindsay gave control of one public school district in Brooklyn to black activists, who soon began firing Jewish and Irish teachers. This threat to Jewish jobs was a galvanizing event in the rise of neoconservatism, which a half century ago was less wholly obsessed with Israel than it is today.

But over time, Jews found that affirmative action for blacks didn’t really threaten their chances in the better sort of jobs that they were rapidly moving up to: The IQ gap between Jews and blacks is simply too large for many blacks to be competitive with Jews even with affirmative action. Perhaps only the top 5 percent of African-Americans are as smart as the median Jewish person.

The 1970s neoconservatives were still worried that the principle of discriminating in the name of diversity and inclusion against higher-achieving groups like whites in general might someday be re-extended to discriminating against Jews specifically, as had happened in the American Ivy League in the middle of the 20th century and in the Soviet Union after the creation of Israel.

But liberal Jews had an effective strategy to sidestep this: simply silence mainstream discussion of Jewish overrepresentation in anything other than adulatory contexts, while demoralizing whites in general by playing on their white guilt. The 1970s neoconservatives, with their love of analyzing ethnic differences, were seen as fools for talking intelligently about matters that were best not talked about at all, at least not anywhere that gentiles could overhear.

This proved a clever, successful strategy. But recently it has begun backfiring because it has not only dumbed down gentiles, but it is making mainstream liberal Jews such as Weisman less and less self-aware, much less self-critical, and therefore more extremist as their complacency and self-righteousness grow.

Hence, a recurrent theme in Weisman’s book is how national borders must go because they are bad for the Jews. Weisman appears to have never thought about how some of his passages sound like anti-Semitic propaganda:

The Jew flourishes when borders come down, when boundaries blur, when walls are destroyed, not erected…. Again, we see, national borders and walls, wherever they rise, tend to trap Jews, not liberate them.

Perhaps this is true, although the Israelis sure don’t agree. But you might think it would lead to some reflections from Weisman on how borders benefit many non-Jews, and thus there is a need for dialogue and compromise with fellow American citizens.

But no, Weisman’s only standard of judgment is: Is it good for the Jews?

He follows that up with the now traditional salute to how great Jews had it after the Muslims grabbed Spain away from the Christians. Whether that ominous cliché is reassuring to Christian Europeans today is not something Weisman sees the need to worry about.

In turn, Weisman portrays the Obama Era as a sort of neo-Al-Andalus golden age for Jews:

The borders were still blurred. Nationalism and chauvinism were in check. Undocumented immigrants marched in the streets of Washington and Los Angeles demanding rights. The polyglot nation recovered…. The Jew thrived.

Weisman’s knowledge of history largely consists of Jewish self-congratulation:

Educated, affluent Jews were the intellectual shock troops of the Enlightenment.

Uh, no. The Jewish Enlightenment lagged the Enlightenment by two or three generations. It’s usually dated to the 1770s (about 85 years after Newton’s Principia), when a handful of Jews finally began to notice with dismay that, after centuries of being richer and more sophisticated than the gentiles, they had fallen behind them.

Nor is Weisman good at foreseeing the future. Speaking to a Jewish audience in late October 2016, the ace newshound declaimed:

In ten days, the United States will have elected its first woman President. The question at the moment will be whether the hate and division during the 2016 campaign will be remembered as a last gasp of a defeated populace, clinging desperately to the old order they once ruled as it was swept away, or the beginning of a recalcitrant movement against American democratic pluralism.

“Defeated populace”? This is basically hate speech.

America’s main problem today is that there is too much hate in the hearts of white people…hatred of other white people.

We can do better than this.


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