Orthodoxy, Political Conservatism, and the Changing Demographics of American Jewry

From its 2013 survey of American Jewry, the Pew Foundation has released newly analyzed data pertaining specifically to the Orthodox population. Pew notes the rapid growth of Orthodox Jewry relative to the overall American Jewish population, and the rapid growth of the ultra-Orthodox relative to the overall Orthodox population. It also finds that American Orthodox Jews are increasingly leaning to the political right. David Bernstein comments on what this means about the way Jews relate to both Israel and America:

[A]mong the non-Orthodox Jewish population, the percentage who don’t practice the religion and don’t meaningfully affiliate with the community is growing. The population of active Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist Jews is shrinking, especially among the young. It is . . . among the former unaffiliated group that lack of interest or hostility to Israel is concentrated. When you hear . . . that young Jews are increasingly disaffected from Israel, it’s not only inaccurate, but refers mainly to [these] secular individuals with overwhelmingly left-wing politics, not raised in the Jewish religion, who still consider themselves at least partially Jewish.

Given the likely demographic future of this group—bluntly, it’s destined to have few Jewish descendants—relative to the broader Jewish community, the upshot is that the American Jewish population, with the exception of the large anti-Zionist Satmar ḥasidic sect, over time will grow increasingly close to, not distant from, Israel. Contrary to conventional wisdom, this is happening already. . . .

[Furthermore], theological, social, and even economic conservatism is going to become an increasingly important element of American Jewish life. . . . For what it’s worth, I almost never saw a kippah at conservative or libertarian political or intellectual events twenty years ago, but I see them all the time today, for example, at Federalist Society events. So not only are Orthodox Jews a growing right-leaning demographic, they appear to be getting more involved in general American political culture.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: American Jewry, Israel and the Diaspora, Jewish conservatism, Orthodoxy, Pew Survey, Religion & Holidays

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship