Jews Cannot Afford to Be Divided Over Israel

Jews, like elephants, tend to have long memories. We see in the past warnings of the future. As Israel marks its 76th birthday on 14 May, perhaps the most relevant and terrifying precedent comes from the days of the Roman Empire.

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California Is the Homeland of Progressive Anti-Semitism

One 19th century Gentile described California as “the Jews’ earthly paradise”. It is paradise no longer. Reports of attacks on Jewish businesses, homes and institutions are becoming ever more commonplace, while university campuses – hardly considered to be bastions of hate – have allowed acts of flagrant anti-Semitism to go unpunished.

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As Antisemitism Surges on the Left Jews are Pushed to the Right

In the ever-shrinking world of the Jewish diaspora, Canada, along with Australia and the United States, hosts a most vital and comparatively healthy community. Yet in the midst of the current Israel-Hamas war, that community as well as those elsewhere, are under a siege that, at very least, will change their social and political orientation.

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The Jewish Civil War Over Israel

While Jews often seem clannish to outsiders, the reality is somewhat different: we have always suffered from a divisive streak of self-destructiveness. As far back as the levelling of the Temple and the expulsion from the homeland, Jewish unity has been undermined by both class divisions and theological disagreements. Two thousand years later, though General Titus’s legions may be forgotten, fissures and infighting remain.

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Will Jews Return to the Ghetto?

It is a warm Monday morning in Rome, and the city’s ancient ghetto resembles an armed camp. As carabinieri line the streets, a cloud of melancholy hangs in the air: not only had more than 1,400 Jews recently been slaughtered in Israel, but the date — October 16 — marks the anniversary of its residents forced evacuation to the concentration camps. History, it seems, is repeating itself.

Despite the unconscionable parallels, however, and regardless of the prevalence of Kosher restaurants and carciofi alla giudia, little in the ghetto is as it was. Few Jews, amid Italy’s population of less than 50,000, live there. The same can be said of almost every European city. After the Holocaust, most Jews, as historian Paul Johnson observed, “accepted oppression and second-class status” outside of the ghetto in return for being left alone.

To some extent, life in America was more welcoming; as far back as 1790, George Washington, writing to the Touro Synagogue in Rhode Island, went beyond upholding tolerance to embracing full citizenship as part of “their inherent natural rights”. Today, however, that credo is being called into question. Here, as in Europe, the great period of Jewish influence and efflorescence that started a century ago may be peaking. The result, once dismissed as inconceivable, is that the allure of a more separate existence, a ghetto of the spirit, may start to grow.

For now, the golden era of Jewish achievement still twinkles, but only just. Jews remain inordinately celebrated in the arts and sciences; both the Tony Award in 2023 and the Pulitzer for fiction the year before went to writers covering, somewhat obsessively, Jewish themes. The list of Jewish Nobel prize winners has also expanded since the War, constituting well over 20% of the total.

Yet such achievements cannot mask the fact that the Jewish Century is rapidly fading. On the surface, Jewish life, both inside and outside the diaspora, may seem unassailable. But just as terrorists were able to breach Israel’s supposedly impenetrable defences, the forces of antisemitism have penetrated Western society, as young, educated progressives, including a few Jews, make common cause with Hamas and its allies.

Continuing demographic retreat isn’t helping. After the war’s end, 3.8 million European Jews remained; today, there are barely 1.5 million. Even the last great redoubts of Jewish life are threatened by assimilation and the pernicious new hybrid that joins Leftist and Islamist hatred. Nearly 50,000 Jews have left France since 2000, mostly for Israel, the United States and Canada. With no likely source of new immigration, it’s difficult to envision how the country’s Jewish population will ever grow again. Likewise Eastern Europe, once the centre of the Jewish world with its 8 million Jews, is home to fewer than 400,000 today. Indeed, the only place there seems to be growth is among the orthodox — a community that may not live in official ghettos, but is still in inwardly focused and defensively minded areas.

Read the rest of this piece at UnHerd.

Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Photo: by Jorge Láscar. The Jewish Quarter in Prague, known as Josefov, is located between the Old Town Square and the Vltava River. Its torrid history dates back to the 13th century, when the Jewish community in Prague were ordered to vacate their disparate homes and settle in one area. Flickr under CC 2.0 License.


Many of Hollywood and Silicon Valley Jews Are Silent on Israel

Back in the early days of California’s ascendancy, the state was described as “the Jews’ early paradise”, a place where the lack of social norms, and enormous opportunities, were ideal for enterprising people unmoored from conventional business ties. In the years ahead, Jews spearheaded much of California’s banking, garment and later entertainment businesses.

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Samuel Huntington was Right: Cultural and Religious Clashes are Driving War Today

History is rearing its ugly head, and it would best not to look away. Time to put away our foolish utopian dreams and face the harsher, more divided world, predicted in Samuel Huntington’s 2011 book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.

In the heady days following the collapse of the Soviet Union, many public intellectuals, as well as presidents like George W. Bush and Barack Obama, embraced the notion of an ever expanding, liberal and democratic world order. Some, like political scientist Francis Fukuyama, even preached the “end of history,” prophesizing “the good news” of democracy’s inevitable spread and insisting that tech growth favours “a universal evolution in the direction of capitalism.”

Recent events, notably the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, suggest it’s time to bury these notions. In Clash, Huntington predicted the Ukrainian conflict as well the resurgence, at the expense of the West, of many cultures, including Indian, Chinese, Arab and Turkish. He noted all seek recompense for steep declines during the period of European predominance. Rather than a world shaped by the logic of markets and the rule of law, this is engendering the ascendency of autocrats and intensifying tribalization and primitivist religious movements.

Our two concurrent wars demonstrate Huntington’s thesis. The assault on Ukraine, which he foresaw, reflects not neo-Soviet ideology but a deeply Russian Orthodox racial world view. After all, Vladimir Putin’s fears about NATO expansion into the former U.S.S.R., notes historian Robert Service, parallel traditional nationalist concerns that claim Ukraine is an essential part of their state, with roots to the earliest civilization that was long based in Kyiv reaching back to the ninth century.

China’s emergence similarly speaks of revanchist notions more reflective of Han nationalism and Imperial tradition than Communist ideology. The red mandarins may spout Marxist credos but their appeal to the masses lies largely in nationalist desires to achieve the stated aim of becoming the leading global superpower by 2050.

The ties between the two revanchist states are a fundamental fact. Russia already is China’s largest source of oil, followed by Iran, and China has just signed a 30-year deal on massive new gas pipelines from Russia, while also purchasing other commodities like coal, barley and wheat from it. China accounts for 18.6 per cent of Russia’s exports. Both benefit from the general hostility — nurtured by the media and academics — against the West and Israel, among Africans, Latin Americans and Islamic peoples. This, along with economic self-interest, has meant that the support for Ukraine is largely restricted to the West. This even includes such nominal democracies as South Africa, India and Indonesia.

The dangerous conflict in the Middle East further reinforces the “clash of civilizations.” The takeover of the Palestinian movement by Hamas wipes away even the smallest fig leaf of liberal intent for a two-nation solution. Hamas’s goal is simple: eradicate Israel and its Jewish inhabitants. Longer term, the goals of the Islamists also include imposing their faith on even those Christians full of sympathy for the beleaguered Palestinians. The imbecilic Obama-Biden pandering to Iran demonstrates the foolishness of ignoring the fundamental realities of “clash of civilizations”; you can’t make a partnership with someone who wants you dead.

Given the clear threat to the West and its values, how can we resist these forces? The bad news is that Hamas has the support not only of the duopoly, but also of many other revanchist powers. The good news is that, unlike old Communists, who shared a theoretically universal world view, the various forces uncorked by the current wars often have competing visions. After all, Russia may want Chinese money and technology, but it may not be so keen on seeing Beijing’s sphere of influence spill into Siberia and the “near abroad” of Central Asia.

Similarly, despite common membership in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) movement, these countries are also competing with each other. China and India, soon to be the only real challengers to North America economically, have been at loggerheads for decades. Many companies that are contemplating leaving China see India, as well as Vietnam, as alternative locations. There’s more competition than co-operation in their future.

The Middle Eastern conflict also has some nuances. The key player behind the Hamas pogrom, Iran, is deeply feared by Sunni-majority states like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The Iranians and Saudis are already in a sectarian proxy war in Yemen. The easily manipulated Arab “street” can be counted on for hysteria and hyperbole, but the actual views of the leaders of these countries may be more pro-U.S. and even more pro-Israel than they let on. At the same time, China and Russia are secular states that persecute their Muslim minorities, an awkward reality for supposed allies.

Given the enormous technical and natural resources of the West, we should be able to navigate the “clash,” making allies, for example, with other tribes like the Indians, Japanese and Koreans, all countries that have experienced rapid growth based on engagement with the capitalist world. The major obstacle may be self-inflicted — a lack of belief among large segments of the western population that disdains our own heritage and prefers to embrace groups seen as victims of neo-colonial oppression, however brutal and hate-filled.

Antisemitism, that reliable indicator of Western rot, is on the rise in Europe, the U.S. and, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admits, even in Canada. But hatred being bred largely on campuses seeks not just to destroy Israel and the Jewish people, but is in conflict with the very logic of openness that has allowed our countries to morph from racist to distinctly multicultural societies.

Sadly, it’s hard to find anyone in the West who resembles Churchill, Roosevelt, Truman or even Nixon or Reagan. The EU bureaucracy is no substitute for De Gaulle; it predictably started calling for a ceasefire shortly after Hamas’s atrocities and restored aid to Palestinian groups pushing the conflict.

Nor can we be too confident in a western defence establishment and intelligence services that have been focused elsewhere on green absolutism or gay rights, as the head of MI6 recently opined. The obsession of NATO and the U.S. military in fighting climate change and white nationalism is borderline insane at a time when they should be more concerned about their dubious war-fighting ability and our industrial prowess to meet the new challenge.

Ultimately the West cannot win, or even stay relevant, in the “clash” if it does not believe in itself and is willing to employ all possible means to protect its interests. With a debilitated sense of self-belief, the West, for all its manifold technical and cultural progress, may be ill-suited to battle the pernicious forces shaping our present clash of civilizations.

This piece first appeared at National Post.

Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Photo: Wafa via Wikimedia under CC 3.0 License.


There Are Dark Days Ahead for the Jewish Diaspora

Jews around the world, particularly outside the fortress of Israel, are threatened in a way not seen since the 1940s. A fundamentally unstable world, with rising class and racial animus, creates a perilous environment for history’s favourite target, as seen previously in such periods as the fall of Rome, the Crusades, the Black Death and the Great Depression of the 1930s.

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Between the Stupid and the Evil

‘We have two parties here, and only two. One is the evil party, and the other is the stupid party… I’m very proud to be a member of the stupid party… Occasionally, the two parties get together to do something that’s both evil and stupid. That’s called bipartisanship.’

So said the late conservative journalist M Stanton Evans. Read more

It’s Not Just the Taliban: We in the West are Embracing Medievalism, Too

Many of us have spent the last week glued to our televisions watching the fall of Kabul to the Taliban. A marauding and medieval religious cult, the Taliban are famous for banning education for women, forcing young girls into marriage and vicious corporal punishment or worse for those who fail to adhere to the strictures of their religious fanaticism.

But while we in the West look at the Taliban with horror, a similar kind of fanaticism is taking hold here at home. And while we don’t use whips and American-appropriated weapons to enforce our new Medievalism, the social costs of allowing it to metastasize are enormous.

For years progressives, neo-conservatives, libertarians and business “visionaries” embraced the notion of inexorable progress leading humanity to more enlightened times. Optimistic notions about an “arc of history” bending toward greater prosperity and social justice were embraced by both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. But these days, the arc of progress seems to have done an about face and become something of a circle, bending all the way back to autocracy and intolerance, while the optimism of the Bush or Obama years appears more naïve in retrospect with every passing day.

The Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan is just one illustration of a seventh-century ideology overcoming the power of the neo-liberal world. Autocracies have arisen in countries which once seemed candidates for liberal democracy from Russia and Turkey to Iran. Arguably the most powerful person in the world is now China’s all-but Emperor, Xi Jinping, who has presided over the mass detention and forced sterilization of a Muslim minority, the silencing of Hong Kong’s free press and the arrest and prosecution of protestors and dissidents.

But the West, too, has fallen prey to encroaching illiberalism. America’s intellectual, political, and corporate establishment may not share the ideology of ill-educated Central Asian religious fanatics, but they echo the Taliban by embracing an increasingly medieval dogmatism and—crucial—an ideology that similarly scorns reason and debate. As historian J. B. Bury put it in 1913, the Middle Ages were a time when “a large field was covered by beliefs which authority claimed to impose as true, and reason was warned off the ground.”

Where does our own medieval lurch come from? Developments akin to what followed the fall of classical civilization: growing concentrations of political and economic power, a shrinking middle class, increasing intellectual dogmatism and a global pattern of pessimism about humanity’s prospects. We are also living through a relentless effort to supplant any remaining reverence for the ideals that historically have held our civilization together, and this, too, parallels the experience of the Middle Ages, a period in which, as Belgian historian Henri Pirenne noted, “the very mind of man was going through degeneration.”

Specifically, the West—like Afghanistan—is falling prey to a new form of clericalism. In Middle Ages, the clerical class—what the French called the First Estate— enforced the orthodoxy of the day from the Pope and the Bishops. Today, this discipline is undertaken by university faculties, media outlets, and, most egregiously, social media oligarchs. Once celebrated as forums for debate and open inquiry, our universities function today largely as defenders of orthodoxy.

In this, they are like their medieval and Communist counterparts. In medieval universities, dissenters, like Jews and Muslims, were rare, and barely tolerated. Similar conformity haunts our elite schools, where according to one study the proportion of liberals to conservatives ran as high as 70 to one, and at elite liberal arts schools like Wellesley, Swarthmore, and Williams, the proportion reached 120 to one.

But the similarities don’t end there. In addition to living with droughts, famines, ever-colder weather and political unrest, the masses and even the elites in the Middle Ages lived in terror of eternal damnation. More or less everyone believed that the Final Judgement, brought on by human sin, was not only real but imminent; the period saw a surge of millennialist movements that took it upon themselves to enforce this orthodoxy against dissenters and religious minorities like Jews.

It’s hard not to see that fear mirrored in today’s liberal hysterias, whether over racism, climate change or pestilence. Hysteria has become “the business model of the neoliberal age” as one writer aptly put it. In this environment, even supposed devotees of “science” often adopt attitudes which resemble Inquisitors more than empiricists, marginalizing dissenters and even threatening them with jail, dispossession, humiliation, or just public obliteration.

Read the rest of this piece at Newsweek.

Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Photo credit: Minneapolis Institute of Art, via Wikimedia in Public Domain.