Someone contacted me the other day saying they were starting a site called Alt-Jew and he wanted to know if I knew any right-wing Jews that would be interested. You never know about these things. It could have been a terrorist organization trying to get some names of people they could terrorize. Anyone can register a website. Well, not anyone, thanks to terrorist groups like the SPLC and ADL. Still, you never can be sure about these things. The Reagan Battalion was an elaborate Soros fraud.
Regardless, it provides a reason to write about a subject that gets zero attention. That is the schism among American Jews, one that is looking a little bit like the divide within the white world. There are a growing number of right-wing Jews, who are wondering if liberal Jews are bad for Jews. It’s not just politically, but culturally and racially. They look around at the demographics in America and see greater out-marriage, lower birth rates and the telltale signs of assimilation and secularization.
Anyone who has engaged with Orthodox Jews knows they regard Liberal Jews with a high degree of hostility. They are not as bad as the Hasidim, but they view Reformed Jews as fakers, getting the benefits of being Jewish without the commitment. Their relatively small numbers have made them easy to ignore, but demographics are changing quickly. Orthodox are 10% of American Jews and a full decade younger than the median age of Reformed Jews. They also have many more children per female.
Now, the Orthodox are famously ethnocentric. They also vote for conservative white candidates in elections. When it comes to identity politics, the Orthodox favor it over consensus. They may not be talking about ethno-states and separatism, but their revealed preferences run strongly in that direction. Like the Amish though, their numbers will only grow the old fashioned way. They don’t recruit so they don’t attract a lot of converts. Talk to anyone who has converted and they will tell you it is a long and challenging process.
There’s another division, somewhat related to the Orthodox movement, and that is the Chabad movement. Here’s a Globe story from two years ago and a Forward story from last year for some background. One of the unique things about Chabad is they recruit and do so aggressively. They even recruit gentiles. I’ve had them put the arm on me more than once, even though they know I’m not a Jew. President Trump’s son-in-law and daughter are Chabad. Joel Pollak, the Breitbart big shot, is Chabad. This is not an accident.
As that Globe story makes clear, the Chabad movement is a curious thing. On the one hand, they are Orthodox, which puts them culturally to the right of most people and way to the Right of most Jews. On the other hand, they seem to be following the model of the early Christian church by letting converts ease into the life. Jared Kushner is not growing a beard and wearing all black anytime soon. It’s hard not to think that they are first concerned with growing the movement. They’ll worry about discipline later.
There’s another piece to the puzzle. There are Conservative Jews who make up about 20% of American Jewry. These are the folks you will not only see filtering into the Chabad movement, but also on the fringes of the alt-right. They may or may not consider themselves white, but either way, they are fine with white identity politics. They think multiculturalism is madness. It’s not just madness for Jews, but for everyone. Diversity is a cancer to be avoided. These are folks who would be called Alt-Jew.
The number of Conservative Jews sympathetic to the alt-right is debatable, depending upon how you define the terms. There are quite a few Jews supporting Jared Taylor’s work at American Renaissance. I correspond with maybe half a dozen Conservative Jews who share my politics. They think their numbers are growing as Jews in America come to terms with the failings of liberalism and reformed Judaism. To use a phrase I picked up at AmRen, these are Jews who are religious, if not spiritual.
None of this means that Jews are suddenly going to lift Richard Spencer up and carry him to the throne of the ethno-state. It just means that demographics and shifting politics spare no one. Liberal Jews are old and not particularly fertile. Orthodox Jews are young and extremely fertile. Conservative Jews fall somewhere in between, but probably represent a much more practical alternative for American Jews who wish to remain American and Jewish. In a majority-minority world, everyone is going to have to pick sides.
For a distinct minority, it will also mean a return to strict ethnic solidarity. That means policing stuff like this that only serves to encourage the worst response from other groups in the population. Whether or not that happens or how it plays out is a mystery, but what is certain is that in the future, everyone will be voting their skin. That’s how multiculturalism works. There’s no place for modern liberalism, much less liberal Judaism, in a world of identity politics. Alt-Jew may be the only way forward for Jews in America.