My Jewish Problem: Jewish Superiority, Jewish Elite

I went to a friend’s son’s bar mitzvah on Saturday and in some part because of my blog, and its discussion of Jewish politics, felt a little alienated. I forgot to get a yarmulke, then I ran to get one. I wondered who if anyone there had seen my ideas. Later, at the reception, I got into a discussion about these issues with an old friend, who was joined by a friend of his.

My friend said he was a secular Jew and asked me how I define myself. An assimilating Jew, I said. Shortly after that, his friend said, I don’t know what an assimilating Jew is, and walked away.

My friend is more intellectual. He said, What do you think will be lost if Jews assimilate into America? He answered his own question: the excellence that Jews have brought to any number of endeavors, science, the arts, finance, education, and so forth.

I said, But what if these qualities are more widely shared with assimilation? Will our excellence pull up others’ mediocrity?

He said, I think those qualities will be diluted. I.e., lost.

I said I wondered if the process wasn’t inevitable. Jews are successful and prominent, and the more successful people get, the more sociological pressure there is on them to melt in, including pressure on their children to marry out. That is what happened to me. I went to the Ivy League because my family pushed me to excel and I met people who weren’t anti-Semitic. I liked the water.

I had to admit to my friend my indifference as to whether the institutional element of my tribe persists. Religion may well be necessary to social structure and order, but we need some new ones. Pedophilia seems to be inherent to the Catholic church; and its hierarchy is covering it up. Islam has all kinds of problems, with free speech, patriarchalism, and the tolerance of violence. Indifference or disdain for Palestinian suffering seems inherent to the Jewish church. I don’t see why I should revere these institutions.

Still it is interesting that my friend and I shared a premise: Jews are superior; for whatever reason Jewish culture is superior in areas of modern civilized achievement.

In discussing My Jewish Problem on this blog, that’s a core Jewish value I would point to: Jewish exceptionalism. Belief in that idea underlies so much of Jewish social attitudes and achievement. (Maugham extols it in The Alien Corn; Hemingway throws it in Robert Cohn’s face in The Sun Also Rises). Larry Summers sought to broach the issue of Jewish innate intelligence in his notorious women-and-science speechof January 2005:

…Catholics are substantially underrepresented in investment banking, which is an enormously high-paying profession in our society;… white men are very substantially underrepresented in the National Basketball Association; and… Jews are very substantially underrepresented in farming and in agriculture. These are all phenomena in which one observes underrepresentation, and I think it’s important to try to think systematically and clinically about the reasons for underrepresentation.

Summers was bumping backwards into the fact of Jews as an elite. And, sociologically, Jewish achievement in the last generation is stunning. We entered the Establishment. A Jewish hedge fund guy who owns oil tankers chairs the American Enterprise Institute, the harbor to Mr. and Mrs. Cheney, and fount of bad ideas.

That’s why this is a public issue: this elite has conducted itself at times in Jewish ways that deserve discussion. Specifically, the neoconservative promotion of a deluded disastrous war out of some degree of love for Israel, and the degree to which their agenda has been afforded political cover by the larger, liberal Jewish community—that is the heart of my interest. When you consider the overall failure of the Jewish intelligentsia and of Democratic politicians to even look at the way religious zealots on the West Bank are affecting American foreign policy, you have to ask, What does secular Judaism mean? Does it also have its faith-based ideologies?

But outside of private conversations like the one I had at the bar mitzvah, these things are not discussed. Of course there is a reason for that. The last time Jews had such prominence in the life of societies, Europe in the first third of the last century, we know what happened. The Nazis pointed to the Jewish elite as a cause for extermination. So the Holocaust has acted as a ban on our even broaching the issue. Myself I don’t have any choice, it’s mine. It’s knit into the fabric of my life, from my tribal beginnings to my achievement phase as a youth, to my involvement in progressive ideas post 9/11.

Comments

  1. The late Joe Sobran had this to say:”Jewish control of the major media in the media age makes the enforced silence both paradoxical and paralyzing. Survival in public life requires that you know all about it, but never refer to it. A hypocritical etiquette forces us to pretend that the Jews are powerless victims; and if you don’t respect their victimhood, they’ll destroy you. It’s a phenomenal display not of wickedness, really, but of fierce ethnocentrism, a sort of furtive racial superpatriotism.”A recent example that illustrates exactly this is the firing of Rick Sanchez from CNN for saying the following about Jews as victims:”Very powerless people… [snickers] He’s such a minority, I mean, you know [sarcastically]… Please, what are you kidding? … I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they — the people in this country who are Jewish — are an oppressed minority? Yeah.” [sarcastically]Michael Medved, Orthodox Jew and author of Hollywood vs. America: “It makes no sense at all to try to deny the reality of Jewish power and prominence in popular culture . . . Any Martian monitoring American television . . . would view Seinfeld, Friends, The Nanny, Northern Exposure, Mad about You, and other shows and be surprised to learn that fewer than 1 in 40 Americans is Jewish.”Brandies Professor Stephen J. Whitfield: “From its origins, Hollywood has been stamped with a Jewish identity, but nobody else was supposed to know about it. But somehow, no matter how thorough the attempt to suppress or disguise it, Jewishness is going to bob to the surface anyway.”Author Stephen Schiff: “The way Steven Spielberg sees the world has become the way the world is communicated back to us every day.”Neal Gabler, author of An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, wrote that “The American Dream—is a Jewish invention.” As he documented: “The storefront theaters of the late teens were transformed into the movie palaces of the twenties by Jewish exhibitors. And when sound movies commandeered the industry, Hollywood was invaded by a battalion of Jewish writers, mostly from the East. The most powerful talent agencies were run by Jews. Jewish lawyers transacted most of the industry’s business and Jewish doctors ministered to the industry’s sick. Above all, Jews produced the movies.”Most of us are mentally trapped to think Jewish. Actually, it is safe to say that virtually every mainstream publication or or other type of media organ is “nothing more than a screen to present chosen views.” The great battle over the last century has been a battle for the mind of the Western peoples, i.e., non-Jewish Euros. The chosen won it by acquiring control over essentially the complete mainstream news, information, education and entertainment media of every type, and using that control to infuse and disseminate their message, agenda and worldview, their way of thinking, or rather the way they want us to think. Since at least the 1960s this campaign has been effectively complete. Since then they have shaped and controlled the minds of all but a seeming few of us in varying degree with almost no opposition or competition from any alternative worldview. So now most of us are mentally trapped in the box the chosen have made for us, which we have lived in all our lives. Only a few have managed to avoid it or escape it, or to even sometimes see outside of it, and so actually “think outside of the (Jewish) box.” –Michael SantomauroPeace.
    Michael SantomauroNew York City
    ReporterNotebook@gmail.com