Sometimes I get so disgusted by the things that a small number of Jews are doing (the pro-amnesty Southern Poverty Law Center and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the ADL, the Democratic party, the Republican establishment, etc) that I wonder if we, the Jewish people, are a blessing to the world? God and Torah command us to be a blessing to the world, but are we really? Is it possible that at any given point in time, we’re doing more harm than good?
I’ve been talking to my Jewish friends about this and most of us have agreed that the Jews are definitely a blessing to the world. I agree with this. Just look at Israel, the biggest concentration of Jews. It’s such a moral improvement on its neighbors. All of my Orthodox friends have no doubt that Jews are a blessing to the world because they look at secular Jews as not real Jews. My secular Jewish friends are more likely to question whether Jews are a blessing to the world.
My secular friend Joey Kurtzman told me: “Jewry is an expression of the world rather than an agent acting on the world. So absent the Jews, the world would find other channels to express same impulses.”
“Put like this, I can give an answer: ‘If all the Jews in the world suddenly moved to another planet, do I think the world would become a better or worse place?’The answer is that I think it would be a wash, history would proceed differently but I doubt better or worse. However I don’t think Jews as a collective, as a people, have any responsibility to make the world a better place for others, so I’m not troubled by the question.”
“I’ve discussed with Orthodox Jews before the fact that in a certain sense secular Jews like me are not just astray from Israel, we’re actually so mongrelized that I don’t think we’re Jewish by their standards. But for me I think the Jewish people have to own the secularists Even Jews who are generations removed from any kind of Judaism carry some kind of Jewish essence, the means of transmission I have no clue.”
Jack the Secular Jew* emails:
It is hard to read your posts without concluding that the influence of Jews on financial affairs and public policy, even if often well intended, has been on the whole, a bad thing.
It is especially difficult to assess Jewish influence with any degree of objectivity. Modern Zionism is barely one hundred years old and World War II ended less than 70 years ago. As you know it is difficult to pigeonhole Jews. You want to separate the religious ones from the secular ones, and attribute any negative impact on Western societies in general and the U.S. specifically in the hands of the secular Jews.
It is very tough for Jews to be honest about the history and importance of Judaism. Considering that Judaism has something less than 25 million (and possibly less than 15 million) adherents in a world with more than 7 billion non-Jews, its contemporary (as opposed to its historical) value as a religion is negligible. It has been supplanted by Christianity and Islam, monotheistic religions that are at least in part outgrowths of Judaism. (Let’s leave it alone that there is credibly historic evidence that Judaism itself is an outgrowth of Abraham’s exposure to Zoroastrianism, the first monotheistic religion.) No non Jew considers any opinion or ruling by any Rabbi, no matter how exalted, in the same league as non-Catholics consider the pronouncements of the Pope or non Moslems consider various Ayatollahs or Imams. Learned Jews like to hash out the arcane teachings of the Talmud, but no one in Western Culture looks to the Talmud as a guide to governance or ethics, the way they do the teachings of the Old and New Testament, the teachings of the Greek and Roman philosophers and the early Christian philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas. So this is all delusional on the part of Jews or in the case of second raters like Dennis Prager, propaganda to promote the historical fiction that America is a “Judeo-Christian Nation.” The founders may have drawn on the Old and New Testaments, but they didn’t rely on any Talmudic sages or rabbinical teachings, while they were quite open in crediting the Greeks and Romans.
Progressive liberals, Jews and non-Jews suffer from the same myopia. They identify a specific problem and seek to alleviate it (even when it may not be a problem at all) without really thinking through all the possible adverse consequences. For instance the attempts of Jews from Julius Rosenwald funding schools for Southern blacks, to the founding of the NAACP, to the freedom riders and actual work integrating businesses and registering voters in the South, (often led by red diaper babies) was based on the perception that there were no fundamental differences between Blacks living in a Jim Crow South, and Jews living in Nazi Germany under the Nuremburg laws. Absent the cruel yoke of Southern racist repression, Blacks would become like their white neighbors, socially, economically, professionally and politically. The difference between being smart and being wise, is the ability to foresee possible adverse consequences. That doesn’t mean one doesn’t necessarily proceed with what one think’s is right, but it does mean one is prepared for the consequences and has taken steps to ameliorate them.
This was the great insight of Garrett Hardin, truly a revolutionary environmental thinker, although if he lived to today, he would be attacked for being a racist. He said that we have to learn when we attack a problem, that “we can never do one thing.” There are always other side effects or consequences to the action. This philosophy has been echoed more recently by Thomas Sowell who after people make proposals to do something, asks them “and then what,” because there is a follow up which may not be pretty.
I am not saying one can never take any action, but our governance would be better if legislators would ask themselves these questions before proposing new laws, have these issues thoroughly discussed at hearings before voting, and then thinking them through before voting. But it is a quandary how to make someone who wants to please his constituents We have to elect persons who are not politicians first and foremost, but willing to face uncomfortable truths and sometimes say no to their most important voters.
I realize this is far afield from the issues about Jews. But when you look at the litany of places where David Duke sees Jewish influence, he is right that many of the things that have happened is because of the influence of Jews in these fields. But it is hard to see this as some vast conspiracy by Jews to spread a particular message. As an example, its undisputed when one looks at the prevalence of Jews (and non Jews with some Jewish heritage, and non Jews with Jewish spouses) in the ranks of the Bolsheviks, that it was not without justification that Adolph Hitler rose to power railing about the Judeo-Bolsheviks. In fact, in his speeches throughout his career, it is exceedingly rare that he ever attacked Jews without linking them to Communists. If one looks at where the Communist Party was successful within the United States, it is clear that Jews were overrepresented within its ranks.
Yet the Soviet Communists ruthlessly suppressed Judaism (although Stalin wanted the Jews to have their own independent Republic within the Soviet Union) and within the United States, the Jews who were Communist or Communist sympathizers were never more than a large minority. So even if Jews were a major influence in Soviet Communism, that influence did not extend to helping practicing Jews, it only liberated non-practicing Jews who sympathized with Communism. Is this then a conspiracy.
Within the arts, the Jewish contribution is hard to Judge. Jews have been instrumental in modern art history and in development of the commercial art market. But there are no Jewish artists through most of the 20th century anywhere near the quality or importance as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Vermeer, Velasquez etc up. It is hard to see that Chagall or Mark Rothko will be treated by history like them or even the more recent impressionists.
Music, is the same story. Yes, American popular music in the 20th century is dominated by Jews from Irving Berlin, to George Gershwin, to Neil Diamond and Carole King, and Jews are very influential in all aspects of Broadway Musicals but considering more serious music, does anyone think that Steve Reich, Aaron Copeland, Leonard Bernstein, or Arnold Schoenberg will ever be thought of in the same league as Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Rossini and Wagner? (Wagner gets a a bad rap because of his anti Semitism, but any serious musicologist will tell you how important and revolutionary his music was.) The only Jewish composer of note before the mid 19th century was Felix Mendelsohn who was convert to Christianity who wrote Hark the Herald Angels sing (among other great works)
Jewish novelists have been prominent since World War II with Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, Bernard Malamud and Philip Roth, and J.D. Salinger (half Jewish) dominating the field. (William Styron, though a southern wasp was married to a Jew). Unfortunately, the novel has been supplanted by film (and considering theater, David Mamet, much as I admire him, will never be another William Shakespeare (who I greatly admire) won’t be performed in a hundred years .
Is there a Jewish sensibility that conflicts with that of the dominant culture? I think so. Joseph Sobran, who was shunned by the conservative community because of his anti Israel and anti Jewish columns, even though they made up but a miniscule percentage of what he wrote, said that Jews were like garlic. A little sprinkled here and there brings out the flavor but two many and they dominate the flavor.
Jews have never been more welcomed in any land than in the United States. They have gained unprecedented power and influence. What made America, what it was, was a combination of things. As Steve Sailer has pointed out, it had a lot of land. When most Jews emigrated, it needed a lot of labor. (Again, it is a common Jewish myth that Eastern European Jews emigrated here to escape anti-semitism. No center of learning relocated to the United States from Central and Eastern Europe, the supposed hotbed of anti Semitism until after the second world war. The Jews had a tremendous population explosion within the Pale of the Settlement and economic conditions are what prompted emigration. Even though there were pogroms, such as the Kishniev progrom, and the ritual murder trial of Mendel Beiliss (who was not convicted) these were relatively insignificant in the population of Jews in Tsarist Russia and Poland.
What happened is that some Jews looked at the country that provided them so much opportunity and ostensibly wanted to change it in ways that they thought would help it, but perhaps unconsciously served the purpose of helping the Jews. For instance, if Jews are the only distinct successful minority, an envious majority population such as what happened in Germany under Hitler, might turn against them, even if Jews had a lot of influence. (and German Jews at the time the Nazis rose to power, were influential writers and publishers, were very powerful in finance, department stores and certain segments of manufacturing, and dominated law as well) But if there were other minority groups then the wrath and envy of the white Protestants and Catholics wouldn’t be turned on the Jews.
In fact, mass third world immigration has destroyed the traditional American nation to the point that within a few years, the majority of babies will be non white, meaning with 30 years , whites may still be the plurality, but not the majority. I do not think that most Jews wanted to destroy what made America great, but I think it was hubris that allowed so many of the leading pundits and public policy mavens to think that you could (again as Steve Sailer has written) elect a new people, without fundamentally altering the culture. Sociologists such as Robert Putnam had pointed out how multiculturalism fragments communities and erodes trust, something that was taken for granted in most of America thoughout most of the 19th and 20th centuries.
You seem to think that if Jews just stayed in ghettos and remained religious there would be no conflict with the greater American nation (whatever that term means now) but as long as people exercise political power, even if only to advance their own ghetto existence, as it happens in New York, that religious community also corrupts the politicians.
Jews should not be second class citizens, in the United States or elsewhere, but they should subordinate their religious beliefs, where in conflict with American values (whatever they are) to those values. If their religious beliefs conflict, then they should emigrate someplace where there is no conflict, most likely Israel. But more important than the religious beliefs is the social, cultural and societal values. I am sure that few Jews consciously feel like outsiders in America anymore as the Jews who influence broader mass media have seen their vision accepted throughout the United States as a result of television, films and music. But they do not seem to understand how important the values that have been undermined whether consciously are not, constitute the glue that holds America together. The loss of Christian religious faith, which most Jews are not unhappy about, is at least part of the reason for fewer marriages and more children being born out of wedlock. The idea of a government safety net, at least above a certain level, prevents the community from influencing “bad” decisions that young people might make. Jews who are in a position to influence the culture first must understand what has been the dominant culture and values and determine whether those values and culture have benefited people including Jews more than decimating those values and replacing them with new values would. This is an almost impossible level of empathy, understanding and historical analysis to ask from people who work in mass media, whether they be Jews or non-Jews.
No assessment of Jewish impact would be complete without considering the Jews who have been prominent in science. Advances in science and technology separate us from previous generations. It’s a truism that the amount of computing power in your smart phone vastly exceeds the computing power that was used to get men to the moon.
Jews have in modern times, been the leading theoretical thinkers in physics. Not just Einstein, but also Nils Bohr (who was half Jewish) Wolfgang Pauli, Richard Feynman and many others. But Rutherford, Fermi, Heisenberg, Dirac were not Jewish.
In medicine Pasteur and Fleming were not Jews, but Erlich, Salk and Sabin were
Jews have been less well represented in the ranks of those who revolutionized electronics through the invention of the transistor (Bardeen and Shockley) or in the studies on DNA ( Crick and Watson) Jews were not involved in the initial development of Apple (Wozniak and Jobs) or Microsoft (Gates) although Kurzweil and Ellison are Jewish. But still a disproportionate share of the cutting edge research in Physics and Astrophysics, Mathematics, Computer Sciences and Biochemistry is being done by Jews, although it seems that more and more of the brilliant minds are being hired out of MIT and Cal Tech to work as quants on Wall Street, rather than by research labs or Universities.
I think it is fair to say that at least some level of our technological advancement is due to the influence and research of Jews, but I don’t know how crucial it is. For instance in the construction of our Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb, many of the physicists were non Jews although both Oppenheimer and Teller were brilliant physicists. Would the bomb have been designed and built as quickly as it was without Jewish physicists working on it?
However, the Russian design of the hydrogen bomb, which differed from ours and was equally brilliant if not more so was by Sakharov who was not Jewish (although the head of the Soviet nuclear weapons program Landau was Jewish) Would our computer systems be as good as they are without Jewish engineers and scientists? Probably. What about communication systems? Probably. What about research on the cancer? Probably not. What about exploration of space? Considering that NASA was basically run by Hitler’s rocket scientists, probably yes.
The point is that scientific advances happen with and without Jews. The actual application of electricity was done by Edison, Steinmetz and Tesla, none of whom were Jews. Was Simon Ramo really important in defense and aerospace and really a brilliant scientist. Yes, he was, but did he so revolutionize things that the aerospace industry wouldn’t have developed as it did without him? That’s hard to say.
Michael Dell is Jewish, but the advances in computer science and software were not by him. His genius was in marketing and sales of computers. The first big computer company was IBM. Tom Watson was as waspish as they come.
Where Jews have really been important is in shaping the modern culture, through the mass media in all its forms, in dominating academia and in influencing law. Ever since Brandeis there was one Jewish seat on the Supreme Court. Now one third of the U.S. Supreme Court Justices are Jews.
Again, this doesn’t deal with Jewish influence in the world. Jewish influence outside of Europe, Israel and North America is almost nil. Its irrelevant to the powers in East Asia: Japan, China and Korea. Its irrelevant to the countries of Southeast Asia, Vietnam, Thailand, Phillipines, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Its irrelevant to India. Its irrelevant to all of sub Saharan Africa, except for South Africa and irrelevant to North Africa except for Morocco and Egypt. And of course Bernard Henri-Levi’s war against Libya which left that country in ruins. Its irrelevant to South America. But since the U.S. is the most culturally influential country in the world and the most powerful militarily (in the sense that we can destroy a country) what happens here cannot be divorced from the rest of the world and to the extent that the policies of the United States (and this relates not only to governmental foreign policy, but also to economic and social influences) are influenced or promoted by Jews, even though I doubt there is a coordinated Jewish view on these things, then Jews do have an impact on the rest of the world.
The Sochi games are a pretty good example of this. The United States has recently become obsessed, since President Obama’s evolution on same sex marriage in the summer of 2012, with wiping out anything remotely construed as anti gay anywhere within our sphere of influence. Although I haven’t touched on it in this email, much of the impetus for same sex marriage comes from either Jewish homosexuals, or secular Jewish liberals. The U.S. wants to punish Russia for passing legislation which forbids the promoting homosexuality to children. If one accepts that any part of homosexual behavior is environmental rather than purely genetic, then the question one has to ask oneself is what sort of society do we want. The Russians have concluded that they do not want to encourage homosexuality among its population. That is not the sort of society that they desire. Yet President Obama who less than two years ago publicly opposed same sex marriage, wants the Russians to embrace not just same sex marriage, but to allow gay activists to promote homosexuality as an appropriate lifestyle, and this attempt to internally influence Russian attitudes is duly echoed by many Jewish public policy intellectuals.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? It depends entirely on your view of homosexuality.
A New York sage who had a Jewess steal a dreidel from him and ever since that trauma, he’s been on Craigslist looking for a shiksa to marry, says:
What’s the old Joke, what do you call a world without Jews in it? “Heaven”
BH, the white goyim always worship a Jew: Jesus, Marx, Freud, Ayn Rand, Woody Allen. But what of the Brown ones taking their place? What then, yidden, when the goy has brown skin?
OK, so first it was the colored, then the women, then the People of Color who bring us our diversity and now it is the gays. So who comes after them? I hope it is Muslims. The kind who take the teachings of the Holy Quran seriously.