One column in this series has already dealt with the question of why Jews are secular. Before answering the question of why Jews tend toward the Left -- and before proceeding with any of our analysis of Jews -- it is necessary to understand the various groups that comprise the Jewish people.
In the most general sense, Jews fall into two categories: those who identify as Jews and those who do not (or do so only when forced to do so by outsiders). The latter may be called "non-Jewish Jews," a term coined by an early 20th-century Jewish radical, Isaac Deutscher, to describe himself.
The non-Jewish Jew is someone who is born to a Jewish parent but who chooses not to identify with either the Jewish community or Judaism. Such a person is not necessarily hostile to Jews; but these Jews often play an important role in society. Examples are the many college professors who have Jewish family names but who do not identify in any way with the Jewish community or religion. As we shall see when attempting to explain Jewish liberalism and leftism, their lack of identity -- often complemented by an antipathy to American national identity -- helps explain most of their social and political views.
I do not include among non-Jewish Jews those people who are born Jewish and convert to another religion, such as Christianity. These are Christians who happen to be born Jews, not non-Jewish Jews.
The second category of Jews consists of Jews who do identify as Jews -- meaning that they identify with the Jewish community or with Judaism or with both.
Among identifying Jews are secular Jews and religious Jews.
An identifying Jew can be a secular, even an atheistic, Jew. Indeed the founders of the modern state of Israel were secular Jews, men and women whose entire being was suffused with Jewish identity, but who were completely irreligious. They strongly believed, as did the founder of modern Zionism -- the completely secular Theodore Herzl -- that the Jewish people needed to live in their homeland just as the French or English needed to live in their countries.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”
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