Why Jewish Ethnic Identity Is Split and Why It Matters for Others

Shimmer Analysis
21 min readApr 21, 2024


Contemporary Jewish culture shows a marked contrast. Jews in the English-speaking world have to a large extent redefined their ethnic identity as a purely religious one, while Jews from the former Soviet Union tend to preserve the ethnic perspective. Yet in spite of this confusion, there is much to be learned from the Jewish tradition about ethnic and national identity.

The Anglosphere

In the Anglophone world, Jewishness is defined overwhelmingly as a religious affiliation. Often, the religious aspect is tacitly treated as the only component to Jewish identity. A prime example of this tendency occurred last year, when Congresswoman Elise Stefanik questioned Harvard’s President Claudine Gay about her policies concerning Jews. Asked how many undergraduate students at Harvard were Jewish, Gay responded: “We do not collect [data on] religious affiliation as part of the admissions process.” The notion that there was nothing but “religious affiliation” to being a Jew went unchallenged during the questioning — though subsequently, Senator Ted Cruz would rightly fulminate that Gay’s answer was a cop-out since Harvard did obsessively collect data on ethnicity.

Even when some non-religious form of Jewishness is acknowledged, it is usually presented as somehow a watered-down derivative of the religious form. One article by Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Romain is representative: although the author writes in appreciation of Jewish atheists, he takes it for granted that these people “still belong to synagogues.”

Back in 2010, the late Rabbi Mark Golub, creator of the Jewish Broadcasting Service, set out to answer the question “What is a Jew?” In his account, being a Jew was a function neither of “faith or belief” nor of “race.” Rather, Jews were “a family” and “a people.” Someone who was “born Jewish,” he said, belonged to the family forever, even if he was not observant. This vision of Jewish identity might almost be taken as classically ethnic, except that Rabbi Golub described the rule of inalienable membership as applying to converts and natal Jews equally. Thus, a convert to Judaism who then left the community would still be considered a Jew. That the rabbi did not quite come out in favour of an ethnic vision of Jewishness was unsurprising. After all, he still described Jews as defined by “Judaism,” though members might adhere to it in vastly varying degrees.

In short, ethnic visions of Jewishness are in short supply in the Anglophone West.

It was not always this way. In his seminal 1963 study Beyond The Melting Pot (co-authored with Daniel Patrick Moynihan), Nathan Glazer writes: “More than a third of the Jewish children in [New York City] and rather more in the suburbs are enrolled in part-time Jewish schools.” Yet while the staff at said institutions were motivated by a fondness of Judaism, Glazer believed that the parents mainly saw such education as a means “to make [their children] immune to marriage with non-Jews.”[1] This prioritisation points to a chiefly ethnic conception of what it meant to be Jewish.

Likewise, Paul Johnson’s A History of the Jews attests to a general view of Jews as an ethnic group, and of Judaism as merely a secondary expression of said group’s identity:

The world tended to see the Jews as a race which had ruled itself in antiquity and set down its records in the Bible; had then gone underground for many centuries; had emerged at last only to be slaughtered by the Nazis; and, finally, had created a state of its own, controversial and beleaguered.

The context makes apparent that Johnson is talking about the early to mid-’70s, a decade or so after Glazer’s observations.[2]

So what has changed in the years since then? One plausible explanation is that Jews have simply not been exempt from the general, politically correct aversion to ethnic identity which has gripped Western societies. In Why Marry Jewish?, Doron Kornbluth laments that out-marriage is normalised among Jews to the point that “anyone who suggests that it may not be such a good idea may easily be considered backwards or racist.”[3] Alan Dershowitz has reported the same stigma against endogamy in the Jewish community.[4] Kornbluth also cites a survey in which half of American Jews agreed that “it is in fact racist to oppose intermarriages.”[5] In a sign of how the politically correct mindset operates, Kornbluth himself chooses to defend Jewish endogamy by comparing it to the preference of a black man who “only wants to date other African-Americans” and is “criticized by some liberal colleagues for being anti-white.”[6]

We can further cite historian Jonathan Sarna, who has sought to explain the trend towards more liberal and less ethnic definitions of Jewishness since the 1970s. He stresses that American Jews find themselves “within a strikingly different context than was true even a generation ago.” Sarna highlights the general devaluation of ethnic identity in the United States, “the normalization of intermarriage” (across religious as well as ethnic lines) and a country-wide increase in cultural diversity as especially significant.[7]

The above factors may not be the only cause of the anti-ethnic shift in American Jewish identification, but they appear to explain it sufficiently.

Soviet and Post-Soviet Jews

Among Jews from the former Soviet Union and their descendants, being Jewish means something much different. As a policy paper by Jonathan Sarna, Dov Maimon and Shmuel Rosner puts it, “most” Russian-speaking Jews in America “display little interest in the Jewish religion.” Russian-speaking Jews also tend to say things like: “The type of blood in my veins is my Jewishness.” There is, naturally, a prehistory to this phenomenon.

In the Soviet Union, being Jewish was primarily a matter of ethnicity. Olga Gershenson and David Shneer provide a helpful overview of this Soviet variety of Jewishness. “Even today,” the authors write, “Russian Jews are seen by others and see themselves as ethnically, even biologically, different.” The ethnic understanding of Jewishness was even enshrined in Soviet citizens’ identity documents. As Yefim Kogan details, each bearer’s ethnicity (natsionalnost’) was recorded in his passport, and over two million people were classified as Jewish in theirs.

Gershenson and Shneer paint a many-faceted picture of Jewish identity, extending across dimensions such as involvement in media (common among Jews), music, theatre, food, humour, and typical habits of speech (wordiness, phrasing answers as questions, using Yiddish terms, and so forth). Needless to say, it is striking how such verbal quirks as verbosity and the heavy use of rhetorical questions are associated with Jewishness across countries and languages. Take the latter point. David Kraemer argues that the “compulsive questioning” typical of Jewish speech can be traced back to the Talmud, where rhetorical questions are frequently employed. It has even been asserted that rhetorical questions are common in the Hebrew of the Bible.

Some of the traits that Gershenson and Schneer describe are broad, yet still distinctive. For instance, many Jews had a strong connection to literature, though not Jewish literature specifically. This affinity could have been more particularistically Jewish, but it must still have set them apart from the rest of society. One surprisingly specific element they mention was familiar to me, though I had never noticed it before: Jews in the USSR ate matzo, but not as a “ritual food.” To them, it was a secular, but Jewish, comestible — an “identity food.” This was a practice I knew from personal experience.

Clearly, Jewish culture took on some novel forms through the Soviet experience. However, it is impressive how much continuity it has shown despite supericial changes. Thus, Russian has joined the sequence of Hebrew and Yiddish as another “Jewish” language. “Is Russian the new Yiddish?” asks a 2017 article in The Times of Israel. “[A] key feature of the Russian-speaking Jewish community,” Dr. Anna Shternshis is quoted as saying, “is the idea that Jews can stay Jewish without being religious. But for them the Russian language is the language of Russian-Jewish culture.”

This overview only scratches the surface, but should suffice to show that relative secularism has not prevented (post-)Soviet Jews from maintaining a rich and varied culture. “Russian-speaking Jews comprise about 10% of American Jewry,” scholar Daniel Etienne Altman has noted. Regrettably, one would hardly know it from perusing the popular English-language discourse on Jewish identity, where religion continues to enjoy unjustified centrality.

One linguistic point is worth making. Unlike English, Russian and Ukrainian have completely different words for “ethnic Jew” (yevrey) and “religious Jew” (yudey). The former word is used far more often. When many speakers of Russian or Ukrainian say “Jew” in English, they are likely using the term as a translation of “yevrey.”

How Viable Is Jewish Ethnic Identity?

Is a mainly or purely ethnic form of Jewish identity even viable in the long term? There are those who have their doubts. Playwright and frequent political commentator David Mamet, for instance, casually equates Jewish secularists with assimilationists.

Despite what some may suppose, ethnic Jewish identity is often far from weak or superficial. Irina Nevzlin, herself a Jewish native of the USSR, comments that group membership of other kinds, including religion, can be altered, but “the one thing that you can’t change is your ethnic identity.” This stability, she notes, is invaluable in our fast-evolving world. Nevzlin’s own recollection of a life-changing moment of Jewish solidarity shows how potent this bond of peoplehood can be. And though he was not Soviet, the eminent novelist Jakob Wassermann had a very powerful Jewish identity despite his irreligion. In his memoir, Wassermann wrote of his membership in the Jewish people: “True responsibility is like a contract signed with one’s heart’s blood.”

Indeed, Glazer’s portrait of New York Jewry suggests that ethnicity can sometimes be more powerful than religion. If his assessment is correct, it was mostly ethnic fellow feeling which drove New York Jews of the early 1960s to have their youth schooled in Judaism. Additionally, Sarna, Maimon and Rosner record that young, Russian-speaking, New York Jews are likelier than young American Jews overall to agree with certain statements indicative of a strong Jewish identity. Indeed, they are likelier to do so by a factor of more than 2.5.

We have already touched on some of the linguistic quirks associated with Jewishness. It has also been argued that American Jews, specifically in and around New York, have special ways of speaking.[8] This is one indication that American Jews possess a deep cultural distinctiveness which one would usually associate with an ethnic rather than a religious group. The prevailing religious reductionism is simply out of touch with this reality.

It also has the disadvantage that many Jews do not strongly identify with Judaism. There is clearly some demand for non-religious ways to be Jewish. At the same time, the blueprints which various English-speaking authors have proposed for secular versions of Jewish culture tend to be little more than codifications of progressive attitudes,[9] and a Jewish identity wholly grounded in ideology is too one-dimensional to be healthy. Fortunately, a truly workable form of secular Jewishness already exists. It is the form shared by many post-Soviet Jews.

Speaking of politics, another concern which some have is that secularism leads to leftism. Ben Shapiro, himself a prime example of American Jews who reduce Jewishness to religion, tends to conflate irreligiosity with left-wing politics. It is typical of his outlook to complain that numerous US Jews “are secular leftists.” What such narratives ignore is that post-Soviet American Jews tend to be secular rightists. “As a group,” note Sarna, Maimon and Rosner, “Russian-speaking Jews are more politically conservative and more likely to vote Republican than the majority of American Jews.” This accords with the observation that “Czechia and Estonia are among the least religious countries in Europe, yet they have […] relatively anti-immigration attitudes as measured in surveys.” As a whole, irreligiosity may be correlated with leftism in the Western world, but that need not hold true for any specific group.

Jewish ethnic identity seems perfectly sustainable, at least in pronciple. One may doubt whether it can be made to work while the aforementioned politically correct attitudes persist — but that is a problem for the whole of Western society, not just Jews, to address.

A section of Rembrandt’s “Moses with the Ten Commandments,” taken from Mosaic Magazine.

The Case of Intermarriage: Why the Ethnic Viewpoint Is Helpful

Intermarriage has been somewhat of a hot-button issue among Jews in recent decades. Using this example, we can show that the ethnic vision of Judaism has greater utility than the religious one.

Citing several studies, anthropologist Peter Frost has argued that “[t]he sweet spot for having healthy children seems to be marriage between third or fourth cousins.” “Outbreeding,” meaning procreation between more distantly related couples, produces fewer children, who produce fewer children of their own. In Frost’s estimation, this effect arises because the more genetically different a child’s parents are from each other, the greter their tendency to be genetically incompatible in some way. (Naturally, Frost affirms that inbreeding is harmful, too.)

Geneticist Razib Khan has denied that outbreeding produces such deleterious genetic effects, and Frost has responded to Khan’s rebuttal. For practical purposes, it is of secondary importance which of the disputants is right. Khan does not deny that couples are most fruitful when the partners are related at the level of third or fourth cousins. “The result,” he confirms, “is certainly real and repeated.” He differs from Frost in chalking the phenomenon up to “cultural, social and interpersonal dynamics.”

The degree of kinship proposed as optimal is noticeably close to that found in various Jewish populations. To quote a study by Harry Ostrer and Karl Skorecki, “the general degree of sharing within populations,” meaning the Jewish diasporas in different regions, “was similar to what one might observe for fourth to fifth cousins. This included the Yemenite as well as the Middle Eastern, European and North African Jews.” In light of Frost’s argument, it would seem almost irresponsible for a Jew not to take advantage of this built-in boon by marrying another Jew.

Doron Kornbluth raises another germane point. Certain secular Jews intermarry on the assumption that their irreligiosity makes their Jewish identity irrelevant to their future family lives. Yet they often still harbour half-conscious notions about Jewish history, culture and religion which threaten to destabilise their marriages.[10] And even young people who feel little attachment to their cultural heritage often lose that indifference later in life.[11]

What Jews Can Impart to the Rest of Us

Despite recent developments in the West, Jews have a long history of strongly felt peoplehood. It should surprise no-one that one of the foremost academic defenders of primordialism — the view that national identity is a natural human phenomenon rather than a chance product of modernity — has been Steven Grosby. Grosby’s main monograph on nationalism is Biblical Ideas of Nationality: Ancient and Modern, which locates familiar concepts of nationhood among the inhabitants of ancient Israel.[12]

The battle between primordialism and its opponent, modernism, is no merely academic conflict. Thus, political scientist Eric Kaufmann writes: “Against anti-Zionist contemporaries (and co-ethnics) such as Ernest Gellner or Eric Hobsbawm, [Anthony] Smith and Grosby defended the existence of Israel.” Modernism, propounded by scholars like Gellner and Hobsbawm, maintains that the idea of nationhood emerged only during the modern period. Anthony Smith, like Steven Grosby, was a leading academic opponent of modernism. It seems that among Jewish scholars, there is some relationship between modernism and anti-Zionism.

In line with this division between Gellner and Hobsbawm on one hand and Smith and Grosby on the other, I believe we can distinguish more generally between two categories of Jewish intellectuals. There are those who embrace Jewish peoplehood and tend to gravitate towards a broader sympathy to national and ethnic identity, and those who reject Jewish peoplehood and tend to be hostile to all forms of national and ethnic identity. In other words, Jews’ attitudes to Jewish identity tend to be extended to all comparable identities. A few examples shall substantiate this division.

Some Jews’ experience of the value of Jewish nationhood leads them to a broader endorsement of nationalism, as Kaufmann has illustrated in the case of Yoram Hazony. Hazony has written books defending both Zionism in particular and nationalism in general. Kaufmann identifies him as the “founder” of national conservatism.

Sociologist Daniel Chernilo opines that the father of “nationalism studies” as well as of the primordialist school within that field was historian Hans Kohn. “For a Jewish émigré who was living in the US at the time of World War II,” writes Chernilo, “Kohn upheld a surprisingly benign view of the role of nationalism in recent history.” Yet a cursory reading of Kohn’s magnum opus The Idea of Nationalism leaves little doubt that it was precisely Kohn’s Jewish background which endowed him with such respect for nationalism. Palpable pride rings in the opening paragraph of the volume’s second chapter:

Modern European civilization has its roots[…] in ancient Judea and Hellas. […] With them the natural group-sentiment of tribalism […] became a guiding factor of spiritual life, a new consciousness which gave every member of the group the knowledge of a special mission entrusted to it and distinguishing it from all other peoples. This consciousness, shared by every individual, raised him to a new personal dignity, and prepared the spiritual foundations of democracy.[13]

Hazony’s and Kohn’s work pertains more to national than to ethnic identity. Kohn even came to decry ethnic nationalism and argue for a civic form of Zionism. However, the notion that ethnic identity is important was pioneered in an American context by Jewish philosopher Horace Kallen. In Samuel Huntington’s Who Are We?, Kallen emerges as the chief proponent of the “salad image of America” — that is, a view of the country as an agglomeration of fundamentally distinct groups.[14] “For him,” writes Huntington, “groups were based on ancestry not culture.”[15] That is Huntington’s uncharitable summary of a position he clearly dislikes, but it makes Kallen’s way of thinking apparent enough. “Men change their clothes, their politics, their wives, their religions, their philosophies to a greater or lesser extent,” Kallen representatively stated, but “they cannot change their grandfathers. An Irishman is always an Irishman, a Jew always a Jew” and so forth.[16] So what is Huntington’s takeaway from his reading of the philosopher? It is that Kallen’s thesis is “racist” and “reflects the racial concepts of national identity pervasive in American thinking in his time.”[17] Seeing Huntington of all scholars play that card is a tad disappointing.

This is not to endorse Kallen’s vision completely, especially in its normative aspects. Huntington is perfectly right to uphold his own “tomato soup” model, wherein immigrant cultures are added to the dominant Anglo-Saxon way of life like spices to a soup whose main ingredient remains, nonetheless, tomatoes.[18] Yet the basic notion that ethnicity is significant is something Kallen surely got right, and Huntington’s objection that “[o]ne can[…] change one’s culture”[19] sounds almost naïve.

Being Jewish has a way of making apparent the falsity of modernism. The fact that the Jewish people has existed for so long, and has talked about itself in clearly nationalist terms for so long, refutes the modernist idea that nations only emerged during the modern period, the eighteenth century or later. Accordingly, one of modernism’s most compelling critics has been historian Aviel Roshwald, whose monograph The Endurance of Nationalism offers striking examples of nationalism in pre-modern times. Perhaps the best such example is the first one he cites, that of the Jews in antiquity and especially the Bar Kokhba revolt.[20] It is not mere speculation to say that Roshwald’s work on nationalism stems from his Jewish background, as he has made that connection himself.

The other half of our divide is exemplified by the aforementioned historian Eric Hobsbawm, who was one of modernism’s three big names alongside Ernest Gellner and the non-Jew Benedict Anderson. Hobsbawm was, thus, firmly in the camp which held that the very concept “nation” was a modern invention. Notably, he was not shy about applying this specious paradigm to Jews. In late 2009, Hobsbawm was asked by the Guardian to recommend a book he had read that year. Of all the works he could have chosen, he opted for Shlomo Sand’s The Invention of the Jewish People, a book with a self-explanatory title which views Jewish history through the modernist lens Hobsbawm himself had done so much to popularise. (For a scathing rebuttal to Sand, see Anita Shapira’s “The Jewish People Deniers.”)

Now, we could join journalist Aris Roussinos in simply attributing Hobsbawm’s (and Gellner’s) anti-nationalism to his early experience in multiethnic Austria-Hungary. Yet it is hard to avoid the impression that it was partly loathing of his own Jewish heritage which led Hobsbawm to despise ethnic and national identity as such. After all, in David Pryce-Jones’s recollection, Hobsbawm once suggested nuking Israel.

For Hobsbawm, his Jewish heritage had become inverted into its own opposite. Upon Hobsbawm’s passing, his friend Donald Sassoon remarked to journalist Anshel Pfeffer: “For him being Jewish meant cosmopolitanism and anti-nationalism. He hated any kind of nationalism, including Jewish nationalism. He was a Communist because he always thought that Communism was an international movement.” That last sentence is especially noteworthy, as it implies that Hobsbawm’s whole ideological project — he spent his career as a diehard communist — was born of rebellion against his own Jewishness. The same could be said of his anti-Israelism. As Pfeffer puts it, Hobsbawm viewed “Theodor Herzl as a traitor to the cause of Jewish cultural assimilation.”

(The strong word “traitor” may seem risible here, but Werner Sombart commented in 1912 that to the Jewish assimilationists of his time, “representatives of a national Jewish movement” were “worse than the worst antisemites.”)

Just as with Hobsbawm, it almost seems as though Karl Marx’s ideological career began as a rejection of his own Jewishness. For Paul Johnson, Marx’s infamous “On the Jewish Question” represents the socialist’s “first serious writings.”[21] In the end, the struggle against capitalism became the centre of his life’s work, but as Robert Wistrich states, Marx “equate[d]” the “‘universal dominion’ of money with the ‘Jewish spirit’.”[22] Relatedly, Jerry Z. Muller contends that Marxism was developed by extending the traditional condemnation of usury to all forms of business — the concept of usury, of course, being traditionally associated with Jews.[23] Johnson likewise notes that Marx once quoted an antisemitic polemic by Martin Luther when discussing usury, and opines that “his entire theory of class is rooted in anti-Semitism.”[24]

If the above view is correct, turning against his Jewish identity drove Marx to crusade against all forms of ethnic or national identity (as well as other traditional social bonds). “The Communists are further reproached with desiring to abolish countries and nationality,” he acknowledged in The Communist Manifesto, and did not reject the charge. “National differences,” he wrote, “are daily vanishing.” “The supremacy of the proletariat will cause them to vanish still faster.”[25]

Why have so many Jews throughout history turned against their own people so viciously? Well, being educated and urban certainly doesn’t seem to strengthen ethnic attachments, but that cannot explain outright enmity towards one’s own group. Wistrich seems to have the answer. For him, it comes down to “self-hatred” of a kind often found among members of minority groups who could climb the ranks of wider society but feel that their intention to do so is threatened by prejudice. This dynamic has driven many to wish for the dissolution of their own group. “The classic form of this ethnic death-wish,” he asserts, is found in statements by Marxian Jews to the effect “that the Jewish collectivity should disappear.”[26] More recently, Paul Bogdanor and Edward Alexander have argued that the fanatical anti-Israelism of many Jewish intellectuals stems from “embarrassment endured at cocktail parties or faculty lounges.” Again, uneasiness over negative perceptions of Jews — in this case, by association with Israel — leads to overcompensation in the form of advocacy for downright anti-Jewish positions.

Marx likely fit this model of Jewish antisemitism. His father had converted to Christianity — and arranged for his children, including Marx, to be baptised — specifically to gain acceptance into certain upper-class circles.[27] Marx himself was obsessed with his social standing and with projecting a well-bred, upper-class image.[28] As for Hobsbawm, historian Richard Evans observes that, even in Britain, being “Jewish by origin” constituted a “black mark against his reputation.” And this was certainly a man who cared about his status. Tony Judt once wrote that Hobsbawm was “a very senior and rather proud ‘member of the official British cultural establishment’ (his words).”

To summarise, some Jewish intellectuals have waged war on the very concepts of ethnicity and nationality. However, this has been due to a rejection of their own Jewish identity, as exemplified by Marx and Hobsbawm. Those who embrace their own Jewish heritage have tended to promote ideas more broadly friendly to ethnic and/or national identity, as exemplified by Kohn, Grosby, Smith, Hazony, Kallen and Roshwald. In what follows, we will see that the Jewish people has great potential to act as an example of the importance of peoplehood.

Just as the Jewish experience popularised the term “diaspora” and defined much of its history, the Jews have often been used as a model of ethnic or national identity by other groups. Several examples of this can be found throughout Kohn’s The Idea of Nationalism. Thus, Cromwellian England modelled its patriotic pride on the “Hebrew nationalism” it found in the Bible.[29] Similarly, the notion of being a “Chosen People” helped greatly to foster Americans’ love of their country.[30]

Moreover, the basic idea that ethnicity is a legitimate factor to be considered in cultural and immigration policies seems to be defended most explicitly when it comes to Israel, perhaps because it is both most consequential and most harshly attacked in Israel’s case. Thus, David Horowitz and Peter Collier’s brilliant and much-needed anthology The Anti-Chomsky Reader features a chapter by Paul Bogdanor which discusses Noam Chomsky’s longstanding hostility to Israel. Bogdanor notes that Chomsky deems it unacceptable and “discriminatory” for Israel to define itself legally as a homeland for the Jewish people. Yet Chomsky does not condemn Armenia for fostering Armenian culture abroad and facilitating immigration for foreigners of Armenian descent. Nor does he attack Lithuania for granting the right of immigration to those who are “ethnically Lithuanian,” or Poland for its policy of welcoming any ethnic Pole. “Clearly,” the author concludes, “Chomsky’s abhorrence of the modern nation-state is less than universal.”[31]

Now, Bogdanor is doubtless right, and Chomsky is a disingenuous bad actor.[32] But the more important point for our purposes is this: when else is it ever asserted, in a mainstream publication, that looking out for a particular ethnic group is a natural feature of “the modern nation-state”? Clearly the idea enjoys some tacit acceptance, since it is never challenged with regards to Armenia, Lithuania, and so forth. Yet because it is challenged when it comes to Israel, discussions around the Jewish state have prompted some welcome reaffirmations of the principles of nationality.

When Jews find the rectitude to affirm their own identity, this approbation is easily transferred to other ethnic or national groups. For example, in his preface to Nathan Ausubel’s A Treasury of Jewish Folklore, Alan Mintz appreciatively writes that Ausubel’s work “is based on the belief that there is a discoverable underlying unity to the historical experience not just of the Jews but of every great people.”[33] Interviewed about her book The Impact of Identity, Irina Nevzlin concurs with the host that the value of getting in touch with one’s ethnic heritage is “a universal truth” not exclusive to Jews. Discussing Israel’s unusually high birthrates in the conservative Jewish magazine Mosaic, Sarah Rindner endeavours to explain “What Others Can Learn from Israel about Having Children.” And so on.

In A History of the Jews, Johnson remarks that Jewish culture has a long history of proposing to know whither human history ought to be directed, and of asserting that the Jewish people should model this direction for the rest of mankind. “The Jewish vision,” he adds, has inspired numerous other “grand designs for humanity.” Hopefully, the merit of peoplehood will be in the future, as it has been in the past, among the insights the Jewish people can share with the rest of the world.

One hopes this all the more because of the sordid history we have glimpsed above — one of Jews driven by their own insecurities to attack the very concept of Jewish peoplehood and, by extension, all ethnic or national identities. Some of them have been sadly influential. But then, it’s never too late to change. We have taken a swipe at Ben Shapiro above, and he has in the past been almost contemptuously dismissive of Jewish ethnic identity. But then, recently, he linked the high degree of public order in countries like Japan and Norway to their relative ethnic homogeneity. It’s not much, but it’s a start.

[1] Glazer, Nathan, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. 1964 (second printing). Beyond the Melting Pot: The Negroes, Puerto Ricans, Jews, Italians, and Irish of New York City. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The M.I.T. Press and Harvard University Press. Pp.163–164.

[2] Johnson situates this popular consensus during the time “[w]hen I was working on my History of Christianity,” a book first published in 1976.

[3] Kornbluth, Doron. 2003. Why Marry Jewish? Surprising Reasons for Jews to Marry Jews. Southfield, MI: Targum Press. P.11.

[4] Ibid., p.108.

[5] Ibid., p.109.

[6] Ibid..

[7] Sarna, Jonathan D.. 2011. “Ethnicity and Beyond.” In Ethnicity and Beyond: Theories and Dilemmas of Jewish Group Demarcation, edited by Eli Lederhendler. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.108–112. Pp.109–110.

[8] Though the article linked adds that these traits mark “especially those of Eastern European origin.”

[9] See, e.g., Silver, Mitchell. 1998. Respecting the Wicked Child: A Philosophy of Secular Jewish Identity and Education. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

[10] Kornbluth, Why Marry Jewish?, pp.17–22.

[11] Ibid., pp.22–33.

[12] Grosby, Steven. 2002. Biblical Ideas of Nationality: Ancient and Modern. University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press.

[13] Kohn, Hans. 1946 [1944]. The Idea of Nationalism: A Study in Its Origins and Background. New York: Macmillan. P.27.

[14] Huntington, Samuel P.. 2004. Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity. New York: Simon and Schuster. Pp.129–130.

[15] Ibid., p.130.

[16] Quoted ibid..

[17] Ibid..

[18] See, e.g., ibid., p.129.

[19] Ibid., p.31.

[20] Roshwald, Aviel. 2006. The Endurance of Nationalism: Ancient Roots and Modern Dilemmas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp.14–22.

[21] Johnson, Paul. [1988]. Intellectuals: From Marx and Tolstoy to Sartre and Chomsky. HarperCollins e-books. P.57.

[22] Wistrich, Robert S.. 1976. Revolutionary Jews from Marx to Trotsky. London: Harrap. P.6.

[23] Muller, Jerry Z.. 2010. Capitalism and the Jews. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Pp.15–18.

[24] Johnson, Intellectuals, p.73.

[25] The quotes here are from Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels (translated by Samuel Moore). 1970 (9th printing). The Communist Manifesto. New York: Washington Square Press. P.90.

[26] Wistrich, Revolutionary Jews, P.7.

[27] Johnson, Intellectuals, p.53.

[28] Sowell, Thomas. 1985. Marxism: Philosophy and Economics. New York: William Morrow. Pp.181–182.

[29] Kohn, Idea of Nationalism, p.168.

[30] Ibid., p.270.

[31] All references here are to Bogdanor, Paul. 2004. “Chomsky’s War against Israel.” In The Anti-Chomsky Reader, edited by Peter Collier and David Horowitz. New York: Encounter Books, pp.87–116. P.88.

[32] As demonstrated more amply in Bogdanor’s document “The Top 250 Chomsky Lies”: http://www.paulbogdanor.com/250chomskylies.pdf.

[33] Mintz, Alan. 1980. “Preface to the Bantam Edition.” In Ausubel, Nathan. A Treasury of Jewish Folklore. New York: Bantam Books, pp.xvii-xxi. P.xvii.