For as long as anyone reading this has been alive, Jews in America have been firmly on the Left of American politics. Milton Himmelfarb famously quipped that “Jews earn like Episcopalians, and vote like Puerto Ricans.” It’s not just voting patterns. Jews have been the intellectual engine of the Left since the Second World War. Members of the Frankfurt School took up positions in the American academy, transforming the soft sciences into a cultural force. Jews were front and center in the radical movements of the 60’s and 70’s.
Jews are not a monolith, despite what some may claim. There are divides within American Jewry and some degree of geographic diversity. German Jews that came to America in the middle of the 19th century have different cultural patterns than the Pale of Settlement Jews who arrived in the early 20th century. There are sectarian divides, as well, with Reformed and secular Jews having different cultural patterns than conservative Jews and the Orthodox. Still, the bulk of of Jews fit neatly into the stereotype of cosmopolitan Jew.
For liberal Jews, the world is becoming increasingly complicated as the American Left becomes not just the coalition of non-whites, but the coalition of anti-whites. For a long time, liberal Jews were able to be allies to non-whites, arguing for greater access and participation, while also being viewed as white by heritage Americans. As the American Left becomes anti-white, this is no longer possible. In the world of identity politics, it is impossible to hold two passports. Everyone gets one team and only one team.
Another complication is that Team Brown is not all that fond of Jews. Blacks have always had a bitter relationship with Jews, despite Jewish support for black causes. Hispanics are casually antisemitic at levels most don’t understand. The Left has also always had a complex relationship with Israel. The BDS Movement that flourishes in Progressive bastions further complicates things. Most important though is the fact that the brown hordes see Jews as white and therefore the enemy, regardless of their politics.
This does not mean that Jews are about to be evicted from the Progressive coalition, but the winds are certainly blowing that way. As much as resistance to globalism is viewed as a force on the Right, the Left’s hostility to order, any order, a legacy of the Frankfurt School, means trouble for anyone trying to harness the forces of the Left. Look around the rest of the English speaking world and you see a similar phenomenon. The Left’s anti-Zionism is slowly curdling into a quiet hostility to Jews in the generality.
The neocons are the obvious exception to the stereotype of liberal Jews. In the 60’s and 70’s some disaffected Jewish intellectuals made the journey to the Right, mostly over the issue of the Soviet Union and Israel. Their embrace of cultural conservatism was a matter of necessity, in order to fit into the Republican coalition. Critics have described them as Trotskyites, because of their advocacy for revolutionary democracy around the world and their lust to use military power to “move history in the right direction.”
The situation for neoconservatives is vastly worse than for liberal Jews. The neocons went all in on opposition to Trump’s primary run, launching the NeverTrump movement and then worked to undermine Trump in the general. It was a disastrous miscalculation as it probably helped Trump tap into the deep well of resentment among whites toward the neocon elite that captured the party in the Bush years. Rather than remaining in the coalition debating policy, they have placed themselves at odds with the Trump coalition.
Even though people like Jonah Goldberg could probably waddle back over to the Left, most neocons don’t have that option. Opposition to an aggressive foreign policy has been a plank of the American Left for generations. The hyper-violent neoconservatives and their desire to invade the world is never going to work. Then there is the general opposition to Israel and support for the Palestinians. Add in the explicit identity politics of the modern Left and there’s simply no way to square neoconservative ideas with the modern Left.
Taken together, what’s shaping up for Jews in America is a political arrangement where they have no natural home. Liberal Jews are increasingly at risk in the Left coalition due to looking a bit too pale for Team Brown. The new opposition that is forming up in opposition to Team Brown is explicitly white, as well as nationalist and populist. While it is not explicitly antisemitic, despite what some claim, it will certainly be hostile to the sort of cosmopolitanism Jews have historically preferred. Jews could be left without a home.
Ironically, Jewish exceptionalism is turning out to be their undoing, as they have managed to transform the American Left and the American Right. Domestically, the Left is every bit as radical and disruptive as anything the Bolsheviks imagined. On foreign policy, the Right is as revolutionary as the communist radicals of yesteryear. The result is a political class at war with itself and at war with the majority population. It is beginning to look as if the Jewish century is curdling into a Jewish disaster for Jews in America.
That said, Jews are the most adaptive people in human history. There’s no reason why Jews in America could not simply throw in with the white majority. Just as the neocons broke with the Left over opposition to the Soviets, perhaps liberal Jews will break with the Left over the issue of identity politics. After all, in a balkanized country, the only way for a tiny minority to survive is to attach to the most powerful tribe. Given the options on Team Brown, Team White is going to look like a better option, assuming the option is open.