Why Jews Are Not Leading an Antiwar Movement This Time Round

Lefty Jew Jeffrey Blankfort offers the same diagnosis as I have for the tepidness of the antiwar movement, the absence of Jews from the vanguard this time round.

Historically, [Jews] have funded the Left… They were the major funders of the Civil Rights Movement. They were the funders of the anti-war movement during the Viet Nam War. If people were arrested, and they needed bail, progressive Jews provided the bail, and the lawyers were mostly Jewish… Going back into the thirties, you have Jews active in the unions, active in every radical movement. That’s the tradition I grew up in. It no longer exists. As a matter of fact, it’s been erased from Jewish history. Young Jews growing up in America today have no idea of the Jewish radical past in this country.

Blankfort points to the same problem I have pointed to, the Israel lobby, which saw crushing Iraq as in Israel’s interest. But I’d like to throw in another factor: class. Since Vietnam, Jews have risen dramatically in American society. My people are now implicated in the power structure in ways we never imagined in the ’60s. Back then Jews who joined the antiwar movement thought of themselves as outsiders in American life. Most of the white Columbia U. radicals, for instance Mark Rudd, the late Ted Gold, the imprisoned David Gilbert, Bob Feldman—were Jewish kids from middle class backgrounds who felt alienated from a warmaking establishment.

Rudd, born Rudnitsky (his dad changed the name to advance in the military), writes in an essay on the Jewishness of the radicals:

What outraged me and my comrades so much about Columbia, along with its hypocrisy, was the air of genteel civility. Or should I say gentile? Despite the presence of so many Jews in the faculty and among the students.. the place was dripping with goyishness… We were peasant children right out of the shtetls of New Jersey and Queens screaming, “You want to know the truth about Columbia University, they’re a bunch of liberal imperialists! ” Morally and emotionally we could not fit into the civilized world of the racist, defense-oriented modern university. Such was our ordeal of civility.

Today’s Jewish world is not the shtetl. We have assimilated, we are the American success story. Morally and emotionally, Jewish kids tend to identify with blue-state powers-that-be. There are exceptions, but they are exceptions that prove the rule: as a body we have little class interest in challenging the assumptions of the (corrupt!) ruling class that got us into this disastrous war.