The Vanishing: The erasure of Jews from American life

The Vanishing: The erasure of Jews from American life. By Jacob Savage.

The most significant cause of the decline isn’t Jews themselves, but that American liberalism, our civic religion, has turned on us. Where Jewish success was once upheld as a sign of America’s strength and progress over its prejudices, Jewish “overrepresentation” is again something to be solved, not celebrated.

A tenure-track humanities professor at a prestigious public university tells of the finalists for her department’s next graduate school cohort. Of the 20 or so candidates, four to five are Jews. One is a working-class yeshivish applicant with an incredible backstory and even better recommendations. He is passed over for not being “diverse” enough. Of course our professor doesn’t complain— her own tenure is at risk. In the end, not a single Jew is offered admission.

Another Jewish professor applies to work in the UC system. In his mandatory diversity statement, which he describes as “the most shameful piece of writing I’ve ever done,” his sole aim is to convey the impression that he hopes to be the last Jewish man they ever hire. He still doesn’t get the job.

And why would he? Using YouGov data, Eric Kaufmann finds that just 4% of elite American academics under 30 are Jewish (compared to 21% of boomers). …

The same pattern holds across America’s elite institutions: a slow-moving downward trend from the 1990s to the mid-2010s — likely due to all sorts of normal sociological factors — and then a purge so sweeping and dramatic you almost wonder who sent out the secret memo.

Museum boards now diversify by getting Jews to resign. A well-respected Jewish curator at the Guggenheim is purged after she puts on a Basquiat show. At the Art Institute of Chicago, even the nice Jewish lady volunteers are terminated for having the wrong ethnic background. There’s an entire cottage industry of summer programs and fellowships and postdocs that are now off-limits to Jews.

In 2014 there were 16-20 Jewish artists featured at the Whitney Biennial. After a very public campaign against a Jewish board member with ties to the Israeli defense establishment, the curators got the message. The 2022 biennial featured just 1-2 Jews.

The meritocracy is dying. Long live incompetence.

For decades unofficial quotas at most Ivy League universities limited Jews to around 10% of the student body, despite evermore qualified Jewish applicants. Jewish organizations made it their mission to break this invisible barrier and by the end of the 1950s the quotas were a dead letter. The long summer of American Jewish success had begun.

But the seasons always change. A FIRE/Yougov survey found that self-identified Jews now number just 7% of Ivy League students, compared to 10% during the height of the antisemitic quotas. …

Harvard has gone from being 25% Jewish in the 1990s and 2000s to under 10% today. … To even suggest that a 15%-20% Jewish undergraduate student body might be acceptable in a country in which Jews make up 2.4% of the total population is anathema in today’s liberal society. …

Liberal organizations are leading the charge:

Younger Jews are being excluded from the liberal organizations their parents and grandparents helped create. Identitarian meltdowns roil the progressive world. The Women’s March, the ACLU, and the SPLC all get rid of Jewish leadership.

Thanks to the odious new Hollywood house style that requires a detailed ethnic and racial classification at the top of all capsule biographies, we can see just how many self-identified Jews are in the Sundance writers and directors labs, or the NBC, Paramount, and Disney writers and apprenticeship programs — it is zero. It seems not being Jewish is actually a primary qualification. So much for Jewish control of Hollywood. …

Not even Hollywood’s Jewish history belongs to Jews anymore. The new Academy Museum, dedicated to “radical inclusivity” and paid for with Haim Saban’s Jewish money, couldn’t bring itself to include Hollywood’s Jewish founders. In Babylon, Damian Chazelle’s epic flop about Hollywood’s golden age, the director follows an ahistorical Mexican studio executive and an Asian American lesbian rather than any of the very real Jewish moguls or screenwriters or directors of the era. What’s telling isn’t that Chazelle ignored Jews (anyone can do that) but that not a single reviewer bothered to notice this “erasure.” The culture has moved on. …

Has this happened before? Yes! In the USSR.

In the 1950s, after Stalin’s death, after the purges, the Politburo turned to another pressing issue: the overrepresentation of Jews in Soviet life. Proportional representation (3% Tajik! 2% Uzbek! 12% Ukrainian!) became official policy, and the next decade saw the quick erosion of the Jewish nomenklatura. Soviet Jews — who had disproportionately contributed to and benefited from the building of the communist state — had outlived their usefulness. …

In the 1960s and ’70s, facing hard barriers to their professional advancement, Soviet Jews lost the faith. The children and the grandchildren of the revolution tried to emigrate. …

What is framed as a backlash against America’s “white” centers of power is in many cases a clever sleight of hand. Jews are being disproportionately purged from liberal institutions because Jews disproportionately exist within those institutions.

When activists and journalists and executives talk about how Broadway or NPR or publishing is “too white,” what they really mean is “too Jewish.” When The New York Times says it wants to make its internal demographics look more like New York City’s (excepting the Hasidim, of course), what this means is “fewer Jews.”

Twenty years ago, if Pat Robertson spoke along these lines — making the same complaints about the same people and industries and institutions — there would have been a rush to condemn it as antisemitic. Today it passes for social justice.

If Putin or Orban reduced their universities’ Jewish populations by 50%, the ADL would be howling. But Harvard and Yale can magically lose nearly half their Jewish students in less than a decade and we’ll take it on the chin. That this is occurring with the full acquiescence of a terrified liberal Jewish establishment should tell you just how much power Jews in America still have.

Much of the reason for the recent historic prejudice against Jews has been to reduce economic competition. Jews were seen as too successful by the rest of the population, so suppressing Jews meant more opportunity for everyone else. European Jews have an average IQ of 115, so they have outsize representation in all intellectual areas and in the economic achievements where smarts matter most. Cutting down tall poppies is an old economic game (aka nobble the competition).

In the past decade, with CRT and the “equity” movement (not to be mistaken for its mortal enemy, “equality of opportunity”), anti-Jewish prejudice has widened into anti-white prejudice. Increasingly, back and brown people are leading a successful push to discriminate against whites and takes their jobs. Jews are just one of the most successful — and prominent — of the white sub-populations.

Today the prejudice works not so much by being directly anti-white or anti-Jewish, but by being pro, or actively affirming, everyone else.

The irony is that the anti-white prejudices were partly driven by liberal Jews. Watch Jews flip over to the right now. Bright Asians are taking note.