Jews as An Elite

Leonard Bernstein and the Jewish Cultural Ascendency — PART 1

Introduction

2018 marks the centenary of the birth of Jewish-American conductor, pianist, composer and teacher Leonard Bernstein. This milestone has seen a global bonanza of 2,500 concerts, programs, exhibitions and theatrical productions. Bernstein features prominently in the pantheon of “Jewish geniuses” as designated by the West’s Jewish-dominated cultural and intellectual establishment. Bernstein’s centenary year inevitably yielded hagiography: for his Jewish biographer Allen Shawn, he was not just a “genius” but “a powerful cultural and political voice and symbol, transcending all categories.”[1] Mark Horowitz, curator of an exhibition at Philadelphia’s Jewish museum celebrating Bernstein’s “pride of tribe,” fully endorses this view, while for the Jewish music writer for the New Yorker, Alex Ross, Bernstein remains “American music’s dominant figure.”

Bernstein lived during the heyday of the recording industry, at the dawn of the television era and of video recording. He left behind what is possibly the most extensive documentation in recordings, films, and on paper of any musician in history. His archive at the Library of Congress already lists some 400,000 items.[2] During the 1950s and 1960s Bernstein was not only the best known of all American classical musicians; his fame rivalled that of Elvis Presley or Marilyn Monroe. Attitudes to Bernstein varied dramatically during his lifetime, and many responded negatively to the fact he was so visible, so outspoken, so dramatic, and so politically active on the left.

Famous for his flamboyantly extroverted temperament, Bernstein was a “personality on such a big scale that he would naturally manage to offend many people along the way. … His self-regard and need for attention were also, to be sure, extreme.”[3] Bernstein’s brash self-confidence and monstrous ego incurred the enmity of many of those he encountered. He “loved to be the center of attention, even if it meant being obnoxious” observed a fellow student at the Curtis School of Music who noted that his “extroversion was extreme.”[4] John Rockwell, writing for the New York Times in 1986, observed that “It is quite a remarkable personality, for better and for worse, the defines every aspect of his near-manic existence. There are those who still find him inherently annoying — when he shoots off what he likes to call his ‘big Jewish mouth,’ when he prances and gyrates on the podium, when he seems to squander his compositional gifts in flashy trivia or overwrought excess.”[5] Bernstein’s own children pointed out his unsurpassed ability to become emotional on his own behalf, to “move himself.”[6]

Bernstein’s unusual, extremely emotional, visual presentation was his trademark as a conductor. He conducted with his entire body in a style that led to much criticism and derision over the years. German composer Gunther Schuller, for example, observed that Bernstein was “one of the world’s most histrionic and exhibitionistic conductors.” Schuller saw Bernstein as a musician with “very little discipline and no shame,” whose interpretation of Brahms’ First Symphony contained “too much of an ‘oy-vey’ Weltschmerz to be bearable.”[7] Read more

Joe McCarthy and the Jews: Comments on Jewish Organizations’ Response to Communism and Senator McCarthy, by Aviva Weingarten (2008).

Beginning in the 19th century, liberal/leftist politics has been a hallmark of the Jewish community in America and elsewhere. The attraction of Jews to the success of the Bolshevik Revolution was an entirely mainstream movement among large numbers of Jews in America and led to one of several anti-Jewish stereotypes during the 1920s and 1930s — stereotypes that were aided and abetted by people like Henry Ford and Father Charles Coughlin. Into the 1930s the American Communist Party (CPUSA) had a Yiddish-speaking Jewish section. and Jews around the world had positive attitudes toward the USSR, at least partly because Jews had achieved elite status there.

After World War II, however, anti-Semitism declined precipitously in the US, and Jewish organizations were poised to spearhead the transformations in civil rights and immigration legislation that would come to fruition in the 1960s. By 1950 the Jewish community was part of the establishment — well connected to the power centers in the media, politics, the academic world and the construction of culture generally.

But there was a major problem that the organized Jewish community was forced to confront—a problem stemming from the long involvement of the mainstream Jewish community in communism and the far left, at least until the end of World War II, and among a substantial number of Jews even after this period. In Jewish Organizations’ Response to Communism and Senator McCarthy, Aviva Weingarten points to a “hard core of Jews” (p. 6) who continued to support the Communist Party into the 1950s and continued to have a “decisive role” in shaping the policies of the American Communist Party (CPUSA) (p. 9).

Weingarten notes that unlike other communists, Jewish communists continued to have an ethnic  identity (p. 10) and often participated in the wider Jewish community. This is a refreshing change from a long history of Jewish apologetics over this issue. The standard line, not only among Jewish activist organizations but by academic authors such as Yuri Slezkine, has been that Jews ceased being Jews when they joined the Communist Party or participated in other far left causes. As a result, the focus of Chapter 3 of The Culture of Critique is to demonstrate that Jewish radicals retained a strong Jewish identity and a sense of pursuing specifically Jewish interests. Most egregiously, the American Jewish Congress — by far the largest Jewish organization in terms of membership — continued to be associated with the far left and was formally affiliated with organizations listed as subversive by the US Attorney General. The CPUSA viewed members of the American Jewish Congress as “democratic forces”  in their attempt to create “democratic and anti-fascist” policies in the World Jewish Congress (p. 25).

This history of Jewish involvement in communism and sympathy toward communism was now combined with the new situation of the Cold War in which the Soviet Union had become the mortal enemy of the United States. Read more

In Praise of James Petras

I’m thrilled to see that retired scholar James Petras is still punching above his weight. Last month he published yet another powerful essay on his website, this one explicitly bringing to our attention the whopping over-representation of one particular ethnic group at the top of America’s power structure. He begins: “Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court marks a continuation and deepening of the lopsided ethno-religious representation in the US judicial system. If Garland is appointed, Jewish justices will comprise 45% of the Court, even though they represent less than 2% of the overall population.”

PowerPetras, retired Bartle Professor of sociology at Binghamton University whose views are generally on the left, came to my attention nearly a decade ago when he released three books that were extremely critical of not just Israel but Jewry as a whole. First was the 2006 book The Power of Israel in the United States, followed a year later by Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire: Bankers, Zionists and Militants. Then, in 2008, came Zionism, Militarism, and the Decline of US Power. (For those interested, my forty-two-page review of The Power of Israel and Rulers and Ruled appeared in the Winter 2007–2008 issue of The Occidental Quarterly.)

Obviously, it’s rare to see such critical prose from an academic. Despite his stature and wide exposure, Petras has continued to this day his principled criticism of Jews and Zionism — and has not been silenced by the usual tactics. I’m impressed. Read more

“As Happy as God in France”: The state of French Jewish elites, Part 2

Part 1

Raymond Aron on Jewish ethnocentrism

It is effectively illegal in France to suggest that over-represented Jewish elites are ethnocentric, have dual-loyalty problems with regard to Israel, and that this has an influence on the way power is wielded in the country. Two men who do so, the nationalist essayist Alain Soral and the Franco-Cameroonian comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, have paid a hefty price for it, although their struggle has earned them a certain notoriety and place in history in compensation.

I will therefore not say anything of the community, but quote Raymond Aron, a universally-respected liberal-conservative French patriot of Jewish origin, who died in 1983. Towards the end of his life he increasingly, in his ever-diplomatic, reasoned and understated way, criticized the rise of Western Jewish elites’ ethnocentrism and uncritical support for Israel, worrying that these would contribute to anti-Semitism.

In a text sent to the 28 January 1980 World Jewish Congress, Aron said:

In the United States, the American Jewish Community, almost always if not always, supports the diplomatic positions adopted by the Israeli government. The French Jews who publish Jewish reviews and are active in Jewish organizations do the same. Whatever is the Israeli party (or coalition) in power, the official representatives of the community support the arguments of the Israeli government. This situation does not strike me as healthy.[1]

These elites have typically paired their uncritical support for Israeli nationalism with hysterical opposition to any flicker of French nationalism. Read more

“As Happy as God in France”: The state of French Jewish elites, Part 1

Valls BHL

Then-interior minister and current Prime Minister, Manuel Valls tells a Jewish audience (including the Jewish Defense League) on 19 March 2014: “The Jews of France are more than ever at the vanguard of the Republic!” Bernard-Henri Lévy watches over him.

The Jewish community in France, as in most Western countries at least since the Second World War, has been remarkably successful. This very success however has brought on backlash as other groups — Whites, Blacks and Arabs — feel their interests and honor are not as well-respected by the French politico-media system.

There are an estimated 600,000 Jews in France, or just under 1% of the population. Almost half are Ashkenazim (a mix of people living in France for centuries, especially from the eastern parts of the country, and immigrants from Germany, Poland, etc.), while the rest are Sephardim, most of whom came to France from North Africa in the wake of decolonization in the 1960s.

According to the francophone Jewish-Israeli nationalist website “Terre Promise,” Jews are massively over-represented among the 500 richest Frenchmen: three out of the top 20 (15%), nine of the top 50 (18%), 23 out of the top 50 (18%), 23 of the top 200 (11.5%) and 44 out of the top 500 (8.8%). This is the same order of magnitude of over-representation (1000–2000%) that one finds in the United States. Ashkenazim and Sephardim are equally-well represented among this elite, showing the remarkable social mobility of the new arrivals from North Africa.[1] Read more

Tom Perkins’ faux pas

There’s a bit of civic tension in San Francisco these days, pitting mostly young, relatively rich employees of tech companies against the older residents. Rents and housing prices are skyrocketing, forcing some of the previous residents to flee. The most visible results of this upheaval are the tech company buses that roam the streets, picking up and dropping off techies. Lately there have been protests of the buses, including threats of violence. A NY Times report:

Demonstrators regularly block the shuttles. Last week, a group of activists stalked a Google engineer at his East Bay house, urging the masses to “Fight evil. Join the revolution.” A prominent venture capitalist struck back, comparing the tech elite with persecuted Jews in Nazi Germany.

Nazi Germany?? This stems from what Tom Perkins, the “prominent venture capitalist,”  wrote to the Wall Street Journal:

Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its “one percent,” namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the “rich.”

From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent. There is outraged public reaction to the Google buses carrying technology workers from the city to the peninsula high-tech companies which employ them. We have outrage over the rising real-estate prices which these “techno geeks” can pay. …

This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendant “progressive” radicalism unthinkable now? Read more

Philip Weiss on Jewish Success

Philip Weiss, ever (self-)conscious of the power of Jews in American society, has another meditation on the topic (“Jewish success– is it ever a story?). Once again, the larger point is that Jewish power is off limits for public discussion—a theme that goes back at least as far as Wilmot Robertson’s Dispossessed Majority in the early 1970s.

This morning National Public Radio aired a story on the rivalry between Lawrence Summers and Janet Yellen to be the next Fed chairperson, succeeding Ben Bernanke. All three of these economists are Jewish. It is plain evidence of the fact that Jews make up a large segment of the new Establishment, if not the leading segment.

What other identifiable group could possibly be considered to make up the “leading segment” of the new Establishment? The WASPs are long gone, without even one representative on the Supreme Court (compared to three Jews). Joe Biden, among others, thinks that Jews have “immense” influence, so who are we to argue?

The result will be that Jews will have held the most important economic post in the U.S. for thirty years, since Alan Greenspan’s tenure began in 1987. But not a word in the MSM about the fact that Fed Chairman has become a Jewish fief, that the three leading candidates are Jews (the short list, according to Obama, now includes Donald L. Kohn), or that the person in charge of the search, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, is Jewish. Read more