Why is the number of Jews in elite America plummeting?
This article by Jacob Savage documents the sharp diminution of the Jewish presence at Ivy League colleges and in other elite settings. For example:
Using YouGov data, Eric Kaufmann finds that just 4% of elite American academics under 30 are Jewish, whereas Jews comprise 21% of elite academics in the “boomer” age category.
The number of Jewish editors of the Harvard Law Review has declined by roughly 50% in less than 10 years.
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.
Comb through the dozens of Jewish names for the 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship (I count 30-40). You’ll have a much harder time finding them 10 years later (14-16).
There were 3-4 Jewish Marshall Scholars in 2014. I don’t see any in 2022.
From 2010 through 2019 there were at least three Jews in every MacArthur Fellowship class, sometimes as many as five or six. Since 2020, just 0-1 Jews a year have been awarded grants.
Of the 114 federal judges appointed by Joe Biden (as of this writing), just 8-9 appear to be Jewish—in a field that’s historically been at least 20% Jewish.
There are no self-identified Jews in the Sundance writers and directors labs, or the NBC, Paramount, and Disney writers and apprenticeship programs. (It seems not being Jewish is actually a primary qualification. So much for Jewish control of Hollywood.)
Harvard has gone from being 25% Jewish in the 1990s and 2000s to under 10% today. Penn’s Jewish population declined from 26% in 2015 to 17% in 2021; NYU’s dropped from 24% to 13%. Princeton, Columbia, and Cornell have seen smaller but significant declines. At Yale, the Jewish undergrad population declined from 19.9% in the 2000s to 16.4% in the 2010s. By 2020, it was down to 11%.
What happened? The war on merit happened. DEI happened. The drive for “equity” happened. And Jews, who have traditionally aligned with the leftists who made these things happen, did not push back.
Let’s start with college admissions. Thanks to the war on merit and the DEI movement, top Ivy League schools now have entering classes that, by small margins, are majority non-white.
Naturally, Jewish enrollment suffers from this sea-change, but that’s not the entire explanation for its decline. If Jewish representation at top Ivy League schools has fallen from, say, 20 percent to 10 percent, this outstrips the decline in white representation. Whites weren’t 100 percent of Ivy League student bodies 30 years ago.
What else is going on? Here’s one thing. Jewish applicants tend to be clustered in large metropolitan areas and these areas are prime territory for reducing white admissions. As Savage notes, elite colleges aren’t shrinking the number of athletes they admit and they still strive for geographic diversity. Thus, it’s not surprising — and not evidence of anti-Jewish animus — that Jews tend to lose out more than other whites when top colleges slash the number of whites they admit.
However, I very much doubt that these considerations — the declining number of white admissions plus geographic and other non-race based preferences — fully explain the sharp drop in Jews at Ivy League schools. A conscious desire to admit fewer Jews is probably also at work.
This sort of raw discrimination is manifest in some of the other statistics cited at the beginning of this post — e.g., the stunning decline in Jewish academics at top colleges and the near disappearance of Jews from the ranks of McArthur Fellows and Marshall Scholars.
I don’t see how these numbers can be explained other than by a conscious desire among the elites who grant such positions and awards to withhold them from Jews. Or, as Savage describes it,“ 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.
No secret memo exists, of course. Rather, there’s a shared belief among leftist elites that Jews are too dominant — too “privileged.” Their success is deemed an affront to “equity” which, in a perversion of the language, has come to mean proportional representation at all levels of society.
After all, Jews make up less than three percent of the U.S. population. If you’re a DEI/equity adherent, why shouldn’t their representation among Marshall Scholars, etc. be negligible?
Is old-fashioned anti-Semitism part of the equation? I’m sure it is. We see anti-whiteness within the DEI movement. It would be fanciful to imagine that anti-Jewish resentment — an age-old phenomenon— isn’t also present.
We also know that a substantial chunk of the contemporary left hates Israel. I don’t equate hostility to Israel with hostility to Jews, but one can lead to the other.
Finally, in trying to explain why Jews are losing out in elite circles, we shouldn’t overlook this reality — we aren’t fighting back. After Asian students sued Harvard for discrimination in undergraduate admissions, Asian representation in Harvard’s incoming freshmen classes began creeping up — albeit to nowhere near the level that would exist absent discrimination against Asians.
But Jews take the steep decline in Ivy League admissions lying down. Worse, they tend to support the policies that are causing the decline, and wholeheartedly back the political party that pushes such policies.
The Anti-Defamation League filed a brief in support of Harvard’s discrimination in favor of blacks and hispanics, even though that practice has led to discrimination against Jews. As Savage says:
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.
Savage cites other examples of Jewish complicity in their own “vanishing,” including this sorry one:
A 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.
Why do we take it on the chin? My guess is that Jews are so wedded to left-liberalism and to “social justice” that they can’t break away — even though left-liberals have turned sharply against their interests and “social justice” has come to mean injustice, including against Jews.
To whom would Jews turn, in any case. We have been conditioned to distrust, if not despise, conservatives, and many Jews have been brainwashed into believing that Republicans — those great friends of Israel — are tainted by anti-Semitism. And don’t even mention Donald Trump — also a great friend of Israel — to most non-Orthodox Jews.
More than a decade ago, Norman Podhoretz argued, persuasively, that liberalism has become the real religion of most non-Orthodox American Jews. I think this insight explains why we Jews are willing to take it on the chin from left-liberals.
I found this article and Paul's comments fascinating.
As a Jew and the father of two high achieving Jewish sons (one a physician and one completing his second year of law school), I have two stories.
The first son, now an MD, had perfect everything coming out of high school. In addition, he was in his high school's International Baccalaureate Program and was a National Merit Scholar. He is a good writer and had perfect high school grades. Applied at two Ivy's and was turned down. It worked out just fine, because he had always wanted to go to UCLA and gained admission as a Regents Scholar. He graduated with honors and went to and graduated from medical school at UCI where he excelled. He got his first choice of residency and is doing fine.
Son #2 had a 175 on the LSAT (99.9%), perfect grades out of UC Santa Barbara (graduated with Highest Honors), a good resume of extracurricular activities and wasn't accepted at a single Ivy for law school. Bill Otis is familiar with him. Again, no matter. He is completing his second year at UC Berkeley at the very top of his class and has secured a summer associate position with a large New York firm and a clerkship with a well-known judge on a US Circuit Cour of Appeals right after graduation. He, too, will be fine.
So, the answer to the question is, as noted, the war on merit and objective indicia of achievement. The only thing my sonss lacked is obvious.
To quote form The Untouchables, "there ended the lesson."
On a recent trip to Jerusalem I quite accidentally walked past the U.S. Embassy--moved to Jerusalem by Trump. An unexpected delight!!!!!