Demography: Is It Good For The Jews…Or The Americans?

As a long-time admirer of Israel, I`ve
come to envy especially the freedom of discussion that

Israeli culture permits
on fundamental questions of
demographics.

Consider, for example, the new book


2030: Alternative Futures for the Jewish People
[5
megabyte  PDF], which
makes for eye-opening reading for anyone lulled by the
pabulum of the American press.

This report is written by the staff of the
Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, a thinktank devoted
to maximizing the long-term welfare of
“the Jewish People”
(which, by the way, it always capitalizes in its
publications). An intellectually serious effort,
2030 can serve as
a template for anybody thinking about improving the
demographic prospects of their own peoples or parties.

For example,
GOP
leaders
could read it and consider how its framework of
analysis and its recommendations could be adapted to the
task of

growing more Republicans.

Founded
in 2002, the Jerusalem-based Jewish People Policy Planning
Institute has always been chaired by prominent

Jewish-American

diplomats.
Its 2030 report
was begun under
Dennis
Ross
, chief U.S. negotiator at

Bill Clinton`s failed Camp David 2
peace talks between
the Israelis and the Palestinians in 2000. Ross left JPPPI
in 2009 to run the Obama Administration`s Iran policy. The
new chairman is

Stuart Eizenstat
, who had been Chief Domestic Policy
Advisor to Jimmy Carter and is now Special Adviser on
Holocaust Issues to

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Jewish-American heavyweights who
participated in brainstorming sessions for this book
included: Lawrence Summers (the Obama Administration`s top
economic advisor);

Elliott Abrams
(Bush`s

main man
on the Middle East);

Charles Krauthammer
(Washington
Post
and FoxNews);

Abe Foxman
(Anti-Defamation League); and

Alan Dershowitz
(the

O.J. Simpson Dream Team
).

Despite this American participation, the
JPPPI is an

offshoot
of the Israeli government`s

immigration arm,
the Jewish Agency for Israel. (The 
JPPPI`s

#2 man
is a former boss of

Israeli military intelligence
). It makes an annual
presentation to the Israeli cabinet. And, because the
JPPPI`s publications are not intended for non-Jewish
audiences—this book has not, so far as I know, previously
been reviewed in America outside the Jewish press—it suffers
less from the timidity that emasculates intellectual
discourse in America.

For example, the JPPPI`s
2030 observes:

“World Jewry today
is at a historical zenith of absolute wealth creation. …


“There are no data comparing Jewish and non-Jewish levels of
accumulated wealth. One can base the predictions only on
non-scientific analysis such as the

prominence
of Jews among:
Nobel
laureates
, lists of

rich people
and the `Russian
oligarchs
,` leaders of

financial institutions
,

entertainment
,

hi-tech industries
, and

political representatives
.”

[Links added]

Sounds
like they`re reading my stuff! (See links.)


2030

continues:

“Based on these
observations, one can say that Jewish wealth is higher than
almost any other ethnic group worldwide.”

That`s
not the kind of thing you read in the U.S. press every day…

“Barring a financial
catastrophe that would impoverish large numbers of Jews,
given Jewish professional selection, levels of education and
global mobility these trends are likely to continue in the
next 20 years.”

It`s
also informative to discover that the JPPPI views

anti-Semitism
at present
“as a moral problem
and an irritant, but not having any serious consequences”
.

To its
great credit, the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute
has formally laid out its thinking in a clear fashion. Some
may not agree with it, but everyone can see how they got to
their conclusion:
“Therefore, upgrading and increasing the power of the Jewish
People, including the

net power of Israel,
is an existential necessity”
.

For instance,
2030`s
“project mission”
is to “provide insights into possible futures of the
Jewish People and into the variables shaping them, with
identification of policy instruments that can be used by
Jewish People decision-makers to increase the probability of
a thriving future for the Jewish People …”

It`s
widely believed that it`s almost

impossible to predict the future,
but that`s because the
questions people find most interesting (e.g., Who will win
the tournament?) are precisely those that are most uncertain
(indeed, often the most contrived to be uncertain.)


But much about history is driven by long term factors, such
as demographics. This makes much that is crucially important
(will
Switzerland
be a nicer place to live than
the
Congo
?) seem

too tedious to think about.

The
2030 project strives to identify the middle ground between the
ephemeral and the permanent.

The
JPPPI methodology is to boil the future down to merely A)
internal factors (what it calls “Jewish momentum” —
“quantity, quality, power, structures and leadership”
)
and B) external factors: “the well-worn notion of `good
for the Jews or bad for the Jews`.”

This
generates four alternative futures: “Thriving”,
“Drifting”
, “Defending”, and “Nightmare”.
The thinktank doesn`t try to predict which one will happen,
but it outlines the various mechanisms pushing the global
Jewish People in each direction.


If in 2030, Jews are

self-confidently ethnocentric
(have high Jewish
Momentum) and the rest of the world loves them, then,
according to the JPPPI, the Jewish People will be
“Thriving”
.

The
opposite quadrant is called “Nightmare”—where Jews
are both unpopular with outsiders and

highly assimilated
. Currently, Iran is the best (or
worst) present-day example of this.

The
JPPPI classifies the American Jewish community as currently
“Thriving” due to an extremely positive external
climate for Jews in America and moderately high internal
Jewish Momentum.


It worries, though, that Jews are so popular with other
Americans that Jewish cohesiveness will be sapped over the
next 20 years. A high rate of

intermarriage
could drive the American Jewish community
into the Drifting quadrant, where “Demographic shifts
including accelerated assimilation of the Jewish community
in the US, and its

decline relative to other groups
in the US leads to
decline in its political power”
.

(JPPPI`s new chairman Stuart Eizenstat grumbled in 2009:
“The growing Hispanic and Asian populations are not per se
antagonistic to Israel, but they have little connection to
the Jewish State”
.)

While
intermarriage slowly dilutes Jewish identity in America, the
JPPPI notes a counter-trend: that many American Jews are
becoming more “identified and affiliated”, as
exemplified by the growth of Jewish day schools. This means
that:


“… the
patterns of decline are taking place concurrently with the
increased number of strongly Jewish US senators and members
of the House of Representatives, Jewish studies at colleges
and universities around the US are numerous and highly
visible, and in some places it has become quite `in` to be
Jewish in the US, even a status symbol.”

The
opposite of “Drifting” is “Defending”—where
Jews are besieged by anti-Semites, yet internally strong as
a community. The JPPPI cites France, where

Muslim immigration
has
led to
pogrom-like incidents,
as currently the closest to this
alternative future.


The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute seems to prefer
“Defending” to “Drifting”
:


“While
the Drifting future might be very pleasant and positive for
Jews as individuals, it reflects an overall decline of the
Jewish People as a whole. … a Defending alternative future
demonstrates that even under strenuous external conditions,
the Jewish People could become stronger”
.

President Barack Obama had dinner last Tuesday with Likud
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and, among others, Dennis
Ross, the former JPPPI chairman who is now Obama`s own

special assistant to the President and senior director for
the central (i.e. Middle Eastern) region
. This was part
of Obama`s attempt to mend fences with Israel in time for
Democrats to collect big donations for the 2010 elections.

Perhaps
the President should read
2030. He might
learn something. As Henry Kissinger

noted
in the

1970s
, Israeli foreign policy often has more to do with
Israeli domestic politics than with Israel`s national
interest as the term is normally conceived. (By the way,
Dr. K
was one of the JPPPI`s brainstormers for
2030.)

The
JPPPI makes numerous policy recommendations in
2030. For
instance, it`s important to have a Plan B:


“The
United States will likely continue to be the most powerful
state for at least the first part of the 21st century but
its relative power will diminish. …

“The rise of Asian states, particularly
China and India, may be very significant from a Jewish
perspective since Asian countries do not share the Biblical
religions and traditions, and therefore, have a radically
different view of Judaism and the Jewish People than
Christian and Islamic countries. Also, they do not have
significant Jewish communities. This provides unprecedented
opportunities for a Jewish global grand-strategy, as
proposed in a

JPPPI paper
on upgrading relations between the Jewish
People and China.”

In case
you are

wondering
whom the JPPPI sees as coming out ahead in the
second part of the 21st century, it has

prioritized
its position papers on “Enhancing the
Standing of Jewish People in Emerging Superpowers without
Biblical Traditions”
as China first, then India, and
Japan at
a later date.

Other
2030 policy
suggestions include increasing the number of Jews in the
world, both by getting more people to strongly self-identify
as Jewish, and by making it more

financially feasible
for Jews to have more children.

First
recommendation: “Redefining who is in and who is out and
how one joins so that more `semi-Jews` are considered full
members of the Jewish community”
. The JPPPI, which is
largely secular, is impatient with the traditional
rabbinical definition of who is a Jew used in Israel in
determining who can legally marry.


Still, they don`t want to make purely nominal changes
either. They want people who have, say, a Jewish father and
a gentile mother to actively identify with the Jewish People
and Israel.

The
self-defeating rabbinical situation in Israel is analogous
to that in the U.S., where people of
ambiguous
backgrounds
are

prodded by government racial preferences
to identify as
minority. Thus a huge fraction of immigrants to America come
from cultures, such as
Latin
America
and South Asia, where being viewed as whiter is
traditionally a strong family aspiration. The American
system, however, bribes and browbeats them into claiming the
legal and moral advantages of nonwhiteness.


Not surprisingly, most people who are eligible for
affirmative action wind up favoring the party most
enthusiastic about preserving it: the Democrats.


Another JPPPI recommendation:



“Increasing birth rates: policy instruments can perhaps
affect the statistical equivalent of one-half child per
family, which when multiplied by millions of households over
tens of years equals several millions of people. This
requires developing adequate and affordable infrastructures
for early childhood, a flexible policy towards workingwomen,
housing provisions and tax exemptions for two-income
households.”

In
other words, policies of

affordable family formation
—which I`ve been recommending
to the GOP for half a decade, to little effect.

This
book`s framework for thinking about demographic trends is of
broader usefulness to Americans. Demography matters in
politics.

In the U.S., Democratic analysts are free
to discuss in detail their Party`s progress toward
“electing a new people”. For example, Ruy Teixeira has out a new
paper sponsored by the Center for American Progress Action
Fund called

Demographic Change and the Future of the Parties

[PDF]. It`s an update of the 2002 book by
Teixeira
and John Judis
The Emerging Democratic Majority,
which I
reviewed
here.
The future didn`t arrive on time for the Democrats in the
2002 elections, but 2008 was back on Teixeira`s track.

In
contrast, however, Republicans analysts are never supposed
to consider how to push the demographic tilt back in favor
of the GOP. Any Republican think-tank that did so would be
denounced in the harshest terms. So they don`t.

Thus the
major
Republican strategic initiative
of the last

decade,
the

Bush-Rove Hispander project
, was launched upon—as far as
I can tell after a decade of looking into it—a few
back-of-an-envelope calculations and some
conventional-wisdom talking points.

But even before Bush, Republican
Administrations had a long history of making poorly
thought-through and thus self-destructive decisions about
demographics. For instance, the Nixon Administration
determined in 1973 to,

in effect, extend racial and ethnic preferences,

designed for African Americans with the intention of
remedying the effects of slavery and Jim Crow, to

immigrant groups
that had

never even been in the U.S.
to be discriminated against
in the first place.

How`s
that working out lately?

Or, what
about the Reagan Administration`s 1982 choice to switch
Asian Indian
immigrants from Caucasian to Asian
so they would be

eligible for minority business benefits?

What
could make more sense for the GOP`s future than encouraging
immigrant businessmen to become financially dependent upon
liberal politicians?

Gilbert and Sullivan pointed out with only
modest exaggeration in

Iolanthe
:


That
every boy and every gal


That`s
born into the world alive


Is
either a little Liberal


Or else
a little Conservative!

The problem for Republicans is that public
policies, which they either support or are too stupid/
cowardly to oppose, have the inexorable demographic
consequence of producing relatively fewer Republicans—or, to
put it another way, fewer self-identified members of what
might be termed

“the American people”.

[Steve Sailer (email
him) is


movie critic
for


The American Conservative
.

His website

www.iSteve.blogspot.com

features his daily blog. His new book,

AMERICA`S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA`S
"STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE", is
available


here
.]