Jews and the Left

The Ilya Somin Conspiracy

Ilya Somin’s blog at the Volokh Conspiracy, “Confusing Overrepresentation with Domination” raises some interesting issues that are at the heart of my work. His purpose is to claim that Jews may be overrepresented in various movements, such as neoconservatism, without Jews dominating these movements. He also claims that Jews involved in various movements do not differ from non-Jews involved in these movements, so that the idea that Jews involved in these movements are pursuing Jewish interests is a non-starter. For example:

In the 1920s, Jews were indeed overrepresented (relative to their percentage of the general population) among both Bolshevik leaders and international capitalists [in Weimar Germany]. At the same time, non-Jews still greatly outnumbered Jews in both groups. A closely related fallacy was the assumption that overrepresentation in a field proved that the Jews involved in it were using it to promote some specifically Jewish interest. In reality, Jewish capitalists tended to behave much like gentile ones, focusing primarily on maximizing their profits. Jewish communists such as Leon Trotsky were brutal totalitarians. But their gentile counterparts, such as Lenin and Stalin, were much the same. There was no real evidence that either Jewish capitalists or Jewish communists were promoting specifically Jewish interests in any systematic way. Indeed, Jewish communists in the USSR actually supported the regime’s suppression of Jewish culture and religion.

I don’t dispute this argument when it comes to capitalists, although there is good evidence that the political attitudes of Jewish capitalists were not interchangeable with non-Jewish capitalists — the  latter more inclined to liberal internationalism than their non-Jewish counterparts. But when it comes to leftist politics, one must deal with the data in Chapter 3 of The Culture of Critique — that Jewish Bolsheviks retained a Jewish identity and saw Communism as good for Jews — as indeed it was. As Yuri Slezkine exhaustively describes, Jews became an elite in the USSR, their influence declining only after WWII. As I concluded in CofC, “Clearly, Jews perceived communism as good for Jews: It was a movement that did not threaten Jewish group continuity, and it held the promise of power and influence for Jews and the end of state-sponsored anti-Semitism.”

Responding to Somin’s point about the suppression of Jewish culture and religion, I also show that Jewish communist activists produced a secular Jewish culture within the communist system, concluding:

Despite their complete lack of identification with Judaism as a religion and despite their battles against some of the more salient signs of Jewish group separatism, membership in the Soviet Communist Party by these Jewish activists was not incompatible with developing mechanisms designed to ensure Jewish group continuity as a secular entity. In the event, apart from the offspring of interethnic marriages, very few Jews lost their Jewish identity during the entire Soviet era (Gitelman 1991, 5), and the post–World War II years saw a powerful strengthening of Jewish culture and Zionism in the Soviet Union.

Somin goes on to dispute the importance of Jewish identity in the neoconservative movement (Mearsheimer and Walt to the contrary) and the recent financial crisis. Again, I don’t  want to dispute this with respect to the financial crisis because I have not seen a good article showing differences between Jews and non-Jews in the financial industry. (On the other hand, there is evidence, soon to be presented in TOO, that Bernie Madoff’s scheme likely could not have happened apart from his Jewish connections.)

But in the case of neocons, it’s simply not enough to claim “that the views of Jewish neoconservatives differ little from those of gentile ones, that neocon hawkishness on the Arab-Israeli conflict is just one facet of their hawkishness on other foreign policy issues unrelated to Israel (and therefore not likely to be a specifically Jewish agenda), and that the overrepresentation of Jews among neocons is similar to that in many other intellectual movements (including plenty that were opposed to neoconservatism on most issues).”

I agree that non-Jewish neocons typically hold the same views as Jewish neocons (otherwise they wouldn’t be neocons!). The question is whether Jewish and non-Jewish neocons have different motivations, and there is overwhelming evidence that they do. In my article on neocons, it quite clear that Jewish neocons typically have close family connections to Israel (e.g., Douglas Feith’s father was a member of a Jabotinskyist terrorist group), are involved with Israeli think tanks, and are on personal terms with Israeli political and military leaders. Many have ties with Jewish activist organizations such as the Zionist Organization of America. Several have been credibly charged with spying on behalf of Israel (Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Stephen Bryen, Douglas Feith, and Michael Ledeen). When not working in the government, they often work for overtly pro-Israel organizations such as the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. It’s simply not credible that their Jewish identity is not a critical factor in explaining their behavior.

I also try to fathom the motives of non-Jews involved in neoconservatism, noting “Because neoconservative Jews constitute a tiny percentage of the electorate, they need to make alliances with non-Jews whose perceived interests dovetail with theirs. Non-Jews have a variety of reasons for being associated with Jewish interests, including career advancement, close personal relationships or admiration for individual Jews, and deeply held personal convictions.” But whatever these motives are, they are not the same as the motives of the Jewish neocons.

It’s also true that Jewish neocons are generally hawkish, but this certainly doesn’t imply that their attitudes about anything affecting Israel are not affected by their Jewish identifications. Again, neocons have to make alliances with non-Jews; one  way to do this is to adopt a generally aggressive foreign policy stance that appeals to non-Jewish foreign policy hawks. Further, hawkish Jewish interests extend beyond directly aiding Israel. For example, the role of neocon Jews in the Cold War fit well not only Jewish interests in weaking an ally of the Arabs, but also with improving the status of Jews in the USSR.

And finally, it doesn’t follow from the fact that Jewish neocons are motivated by their attachment to Israel that Jews who are opposed to neoconservatism are not motivated by their own conception of Jewish interests. In the same way, before the establishment of Israel there was real debate within the Jewish community over whether Zionism was a good idea. The point is that both factions in the debate viewed their perspective as better for Jews. Right now we have the conflict between AIPAC and J Street. (Granted, the conflict may be more apparent than real). But in any case, both sides see their perspective as good for Jews.  Even Mearsheimer and Walt argue that their approach to Israel policy is good for the Jews. But M&W are surely correct in seeing Jewish neocons as motivated by their perception of Jewish interests.

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Nora Ephron makes an obvious choice

I finally got around to watching Julie & Julia, directed by Nora Ephron who also wrote the screenplay. She is Jewish and a typical Hollywood liberal. She donated to Al Franken and Obama. Here’s an example of her prose (titled “White Men” from the liberal (and very mainstream) website Huffington Post, written just before the Pennsylvania primary in 2008:

This is an election about whether the people of Pennsylvania hate blacks more than they hate women. And when I say people, I don’t mean people, I mean white men. How ironic is this? After all this time, after all these stupid articles about how powerless white men are and how they can’t even get into college because of overachieving women and affirmative action and mean lady teachers who expected them to sit still in the third grade even though they were all suffering from terminal attention deficit disorder — after all this, they turn out (surprise!) to have all the power. (As they always did, by the way; I hope you didn’t believe any of those articles.)

White men are nothing more than haters. Not even Bill Kristol is liberal enough for her.

Julie & Julia is basically about two women becoming famous cooks 50 years apart. But Ephron can’t resist an opportunity for a little propagandizing. The movie has a brief cameo appearance of Julia’s father, John McWilliams. The following is from a biography of Child:

Pasadena, where she was born in 1912, was a handsome city, known for its wealth and civic accomplishments; John McWilliams was a living symbol of the city’s prosperity. A Princeton graduate and devout Republican, he managed the Western landholdings and investments amassed by his own father and later became vice president of J. G. Boswell, one of California’s major landowners and developers. His personal and professional mission was to keep California booming, and he put a great deal of time into Pasadena community life. Julia was raised to admire his discipline and public spirit, which she did, but he also nurtured a set of rabidly right-wing convictions that she would come to abhor. The two of them split sharply during the 1950s, when John McWilliams became a strong supporter of Senator Joseph McCarthy whom Julia found despicable. Her father was also outspoken about his contempt for Jews, artists, intellectuals, and foreigners; and for most of her adult life Julia viewed him with enormous dismay, though she managed to keep loving him.

In fact, McWilliams’ anti-Jewish views were well enough known that he was mentioned, along with well-known figures such as Gerald L. K. Smith and Methodist preacher Wesley Swift, as anti-Jewish supporters of McCarthy in Aviva Weingarten’s Jewish Organizations’ Response to Communism and Senator McCarthy (see my review here).

In Julie & Julia, McWilliams is presented as a cranky supporter of McCarthy who dislikes Julia’s husband Paul, a political liberal who had lived in Paris as a poet and artist — everything that McWilliams detested. In the movie, Paul is working as a librarian in the Foreign Service when he is called to Washington where he is grilled about possible communist associations and on his sexual orientation. Julia states that she knows many people who have been persecuted by McCarthy even though they have done nothing wrong. Paul returns to France dispirited by his experience.

The movie seems to be a reasonably accurate portrayal of McWilliams — a portrayal tailor made to hammer home one of Hollywood’s favority moral lessons about the evil 1950s.

However, Ephron could have taken another tack altogether. Although Julia renounced her father’s views on McCarthy, her views on homosexuality would certainly exclude her from the culture of the mainstream media today.

Homophobia was a socially acceptable form of bigotry in midcentury America, and Julia and Paul participated without shame for many years. She often used the term pedal or pedalo — French slang for a homosexual — draping it with condescension, pity, and disapproval. “I had my hair permanented at E. Arden’s, using the same pedalo I had before (I wish all the men in OUR profession in the USA were not pedals!),” she wrote to Simca. Fashion designers were “that little bunch of Pansies,” a cooking school was “a nest of homovipers,” a Boston dinner party was “peopled by 3 fags in an expensive house…. We felt hopelessly square and left when decently possible,” and San Francisco was beautiful but full of pedals—“It appears that SF is their favorite city! I’m tired of them, talented though they are.”

So Ephron had a choice if she wanted to bring up politically volatile issues. She could have played up the angle of Julia’s father as a cranky right-wing supporter of Sen. McCarthy, or she could have played up the angle of the Childs as homophobes.

But this was a feel-good movie, so it was a no-brainer. For Ephron, part of the feel-good message is to portray Julia’s character as an enlightened liberal, just like herself — and at the same time get in yet another dig at the retrogrades who supported McCarthy while avoiding any mention of McWilliams’ civic contributions or Julia’s homophobia.

Despite the fact that McCarthy was basically right about the people he hauled before his committee (see M. Stanton Evans, Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies), the cause of anti-McCarthyism remains a rallying cry for the Nora Ephrons of the world — at least partly because, as Weingarten shows, so many of them were Jews.

My only surprise is that we weren’t treated to a caricature of McWilliams’s anti-Jewish attitudes.

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Tom Sunic: Reply to Stern

Editorial note: Frequent TOO contributor Tom Sunic replies to Joel Stern’s letter to several writers associated with TOO and TOQ. (For Stern’s letter, see Alex Kurtagic’s “Narcissism” blog which also comments on Stern.)

Dear Mr. Stern:

Thank you for your comments. I appreciate  your concern for the future of  the Jewish people, and I’d also like to extend  my condolences  regarding the loss of your family . 

Of course, I speak in my own name, not on behalf of my TOO colleagues, all of them being outstanding intellectuals and tolerant people. I hope you have read Prof. MacDonald’s work — in which you won’t find any Jew baiting, but rather serious analyses of this most important issue of our times. 

Any lumping together of Christian identitarians and National Alliance hotheads with TOO is groundless.  

I respect your concerns for the real or hypothetical attacks on your victimhood. But I also expect from you some respect for my own, including respect for the historical memory of my people and my race —  wherever they may reside. It would be commendable on your part to extend sympathies to many of my relatives who perished anonymously in communist terror after 1945. While many Jews in America take for granted that non-Jews will constantly reminisce about Jewish victimology and hypothetical threats to the Jewry, few Jews seem to be concerned with the plight of non-Jews under communism in East Europe. 

The fact that Jewish intellectuals played a formidable role on the eve and during the Bolshevik seizure of power — however good or bad their intentions may have been — remains a topic that needs to be addressed in detail. This might help us avoid future mass killings and pogroms and secure, more or less, some semblance of cohabitation.

Yet, something tells me that neither myself nor yourself seriously believe in this static scenario.

One of the reasons anti-Semitism occurs is due to the lack of open debate about mutual perceptions and self-perceptions of Jews vs. non-Jews.  Hatred of Jews is prevalent among  those who mimic Semitism, people who subconsciously try to be more Jewish than Jews themselves. This is part and parcel of ‘genealogical proximity’, between Christians and Jews, and which has historically resulted in mutual hatred. This is a neurotic dilemma of a person wishing to replace his Sameness by someone else’s, i.e. Jewish/Christian Otherness. The classic example of this neurotic mindset are Christian Zionists. 

Your concerns reflect standard self-induced fears and self-fulfilling prophecies about anti-Semitic demons — who, as a rule, must sooner or later materialize.  The demon architects are not those you suspect of anti-Semitism, but those who claim to be your friends now. 

Sincerely,

 

Dr. Tom Sunic

www.tomsunic.info

Croatia

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Jews are the financial engine of the left

In his book Why Are Jews Liberals?, Norman Podhoretz states that Jews fund the left in America. He states it as a rather obvious truth — so obvious that it doesn’t really require a great deal of research.

And he is not writing simply about explicitly Jewish activist organizations like the ADL, but also to organizations like the ACLU and the $PLC. In fact, in his 1996 book Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment, J. J. Goldberg pointed out that “within the world of liberal organizations like the ACLU and People for the American Way, Jewish influence is so profound that non-Jews sometimes blur the distinction between them and the formal Jewish community.”

For example, SUSPS, an environmentalist activist group attempting to influence  the Sierra Club  to oppose immigration, recounts the notorious donations north of $100 million by David Gelbaum to the Sierra Club on condition that they not oppose immigration. As Gelbaum famously said to the president of the Sierra Club, “”I did tell [Sierra Club President] Carl Pope in 1994 or 1995 that if they ever came out anti-immigration, they would never get a dollar from me.”

It turns out that Gelbaum is also a major donor to the ACLU — more than $20 million annually. The New York Times reports that Gelbaum will not be making his donation this year. But the gap will be at least partially filled: “Donors like the Leon Levy Foundation, the Open Society Institute [funded by George Soros], Peter B. Lewis and John Sperling had stepped up with pledges totaling $23 million spread over the next three years.”

The only thing these sources have in common is Jewishness. Sperling, Soros, and Lewis are on an authoritative list of the 139 Jews on the 2009 Forbes 400 list of wealthiest  Americans;  Leon Levy was also Jewish, not making the list only because he died in his 70s with a net worth of around a billion dollars (which would qualify him for the list today). The Times report also notes that donations had been hurt because some foundations had been harmed by the Bernie Madoff fiasco — also presumably Jewish money.

Several implications:

Lists of wealthiest Americans underestimate Jewish wealth because people like Levy don’t appear on lists of wealthy people even though their money is still being used to advance Jewish causes.

Secondly, Jews are very good at using their financial power to advance their ethnic interests. One of the biggest problems for European-Americans is that wealthy non-Jews seem far more interested in funding the opera or getting their name on a building at the local university than in helping their people. A good example is the Chandler family who formerly owned the L. A. Times. They had no interest in the media, and the company is now controlled by Sam Zell, who is Jewish. The family remains wealthy but in general seems to be involved in finding fun and interesting ways to spend their time (one of them flies around the world to attend the opera; another is into building outsize model trains) rather than influencing the world.

Finally, in researching this, I couldn’t help but notice that Lewis, Soros, and Sperling have gotten together previously. The Wikipedia entry for Sperling notes, “Together with George Soros, and Peter Lewis of Progressive Insurance, Sperling raised considerable amounts of money for drug [legalization] and other related causes, especially during the 2004 presidential campaign.” Sperling also exhibits the Jewish tendency for disdain of the traditional culture of America. The Wikipedia entry includes a comment on his book The Great Divide: Retro vs. Metro America: “One America, to judge from the book’s illustrations, … lives in ‘vibrant’ cities with ballet troupes, super-creative Frank Gehry buildings and quiet, tasteful religious ritual; the other relies on contemptible extraction industries (oil, gas and coal) and inhabits a world of white supremacy and monster truck shows and religious ceremonies in which beefy men in cheap clothes scream incomprehensibly at one another.”

Not much doubt what side of the culture wars Sperling (and Lewis and Soros) are on.

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