Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
Imagine if the majority of Jews had voted for President Trump while only 13% had voted for Hillary.
You don’t have to imagine too hard. Those are the actual numbers among Orthodox Jews. And Orthodox Jews are on track to become the majority among Jews, first in New York, and then nationwide.
Trump’s favorables among Orthodox Jews clock in at 71% positive to 27% negative.
These numbers come from the 2017 American Jewish Committee’s Survey of American Jewish Opinion. And the AJC’s director of publications glumly wrote them up as, “We have seen the future, and it looks Orthodox”. What does the future look like? Only 3% of Orthodox Jews describe themselves as liberal.
69% of Orthodox Jews identity as politically conservative.
The extinction of the Jewish lefty is now a matter of generational demographics. Orthodox Jews have far higher marriage rates (83%), far higher birth rates (4.1) and higher identification rates (99%).
60% of Jewish children in New York City are Orthodox. Another analysis found that over a quarter of Jews under 18 are Orthodox.
Don’t look for these numbers to swing too many presidential elections. Yet.
Jews are heavily concentrated in Blue States. I have lived in New York and California. The only consistent thing about my vote is that it never mattered. Romney scored over 90% in some Orthodox Jewish areas in New York. And it had absolutely no impact on the election. But many of my Orthodox Jewish peers are moving to escape the blue bubble of rising taxes, declining quality of life and tottering governments.
The real impact won’t be electoral. At least not for a generation. It will be cultural and political.
The left appropriates Jewish identity even as it grows more militantly anti-Semitic. This comic opera Jewface consisting of mock exclamations of “Oy” and attributing anti-Semitism to anyone on the right, including actual Jews, makes the sombrero and fake mustache Halloween costumes bewailed by the intersectional left on college campuses seem appropriate and dignified.
The political plantation at the heart of leftist identity politics has erratic success rates. Some, like African-Americans, move in and don’t go. Others, Hispanic Evangelicals or white gay men, show less interest in taking up permanent residence in Hotel California where you can check out, but never leave.
Jews have been living on the plantation for generations since the days of FDR. And the AJC’s survey suggests that instead of parting ways with the Democrats over Israel, most are realigning their positions. A majority oppose moving the embassy to Jerusalem now and support an Islamic terror state inside Israel. Except Orthodox Jews who oppose the “Palestinian” terror state by a whopping 78%.
Disappointing? Yes. Surprising? No.
FDR and Truman became political icons to generations of Jews despite being among the most anti-Semitic figures to sit in the White House. Even before his government actively obstructed the escape of Jews from Nazi Germany, FDR was building his New Deal around attacks on Jewish businesses.
Truman warned that no Jew had been inside his house. Eddie Jacobson, his old friend, on whom so much of the Jewish legend of Truman as the man who made Israel possible is built, was the “Jew clerk.”
Presidential anti-Semitism has never dissuaded liberal Jews. Just ask Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama.
Contrary to popular myth, Jews don’t vote based on the tribal instinct of, “What’s good for the Jews.” Like most Americans, they vote along cultural lines. If you’re a New Yorker binging on a season of Orange is the New Black and looking for hip new Thai places, Obama’s support for Iran’s nuclear program was not likely to change your vote whether you have a Jewish last name or not.
The last election hammered home just how culturally divided Americans are. Politics has become an expression of cultural differences. Deplorables vs. nasty women. Red caps vs. pink hats. Big city vs. country. Intersectionality vs. free speech. The coasts vs. flyover country. Votes shift based on issues when those issues crystalize cultural differences. That’s what the immigration debate is really about.
There are independent thinkers who can vote across cultural lines. But mostly culture determines political allegiance. And that is just as true among Jews as among any other group.
Only a Jewish cultural break with the dominant leftist culture could make a political break possible.
For most Jews who lean to the left, pop culture is identity. 99% of Orthodox Jews say that being Jewish is very important in their lives. As opposed to only 30% among those who identify as “Just Jewish”.
Everyone votes their culture. The dominant culture in New York, Los Angeles and so many elite urban centers is the hip trendy trail mix of leftist politics, transgressive sexuality and narcissistic pop culture. Escaping its pull takes either an extremely strong sense of self or an alternative culture.
Orthodox Judaism is an alternative culture. It’s traditional, religious and conservative.
The middle ground in Jewish life, as in American life in general, is swiftly collapsing. The Jewish institutional infrastructure that once represented the middle ground is being colonized by the left. Formerly respectable Jewish organizations are making alliances with Islamists. The Center for Jewish History picked David N. Myers, a virulent BDS-friendly anti-Israel activist, to head its organization.
Meanwhile the demographics of the base that this infrastructure was built to serve are swiftly vanishing.
When institutional anti-Israel advocates like Myers insist that anti-Israel hate groups like If Not Now or J Street U represent the Jewish youth of tomorrow, ask them if they’ve looked at the numbers.
The left is winning institutional battles and losing the demographic war. Its vast fortunes and its insider networks have allowed it to seize control of Jewish institutions with the backing of media allies at the JTA and the Forward. But these institutions are becoming hollow charades with no one to represent.
The outcome has implications beyond the Jews.
The left has utilized the same strategies nationally and internationally that it did in the Jewish community. The lessons of how the left won and lost in the Jewish community apply equally well.
The left can’t be defeated politically in any enduring way without also being defeated culturally.
The same religion that enabled the Jews to survive slavery, exile and oppression for thousands of years also held the secret to defeating the left. Even when totalitarian systems command your body, only you can give them control of your mind. The left seeks physical power as a means of controlling your mind. What it most wants is for you to become complicit in your own corruption at their hands. If it fails to control your mind, it will lose. That is the lesson to be taken away from the fall of the Soviet Union. If the left is defeated in America, that is how it will fall.
And even as the left wages its culture war, one community is showing how it can and will be defeated.