Jewish Journal

Israel isn’t the Wedge For Greying U.S. Jews Fast Polarizing to White

by Pini Herman

November 10, 2012 | 7:24 pm

Demography may be destiny

American circumstances rather than Israel seem to be what a motivates the Jewish vote.

Ronald Brownstein credits demographer William Frey with the phrase “brown vs. grey”, describing the growing competition and conflict between the two giant generations reshaping American life. The brown is centered on the 95-million-member millennial generation, born from 1982 to 2002 and now moving into the workforce and the electorate. The gray revolves around the 85-million-member baby boom generation born from 1946 to 1964, which is steadily moving out of the workforce into retirement but remains a huge voting presence.  

Israel as a wedge issue is passé according to Shmuel Rosner:

Many of the voters that were convinced that the Republican Party is better on Israel probably were in that camp way before Obama came along. 

The relatively precipitous drop in Jewish votes for Obama has been put in the context of the overall decline in total white vote for Obama.  While still firmly Democratic, according to Pew Research the Jewish decline was nine percent, the highest decline from 2008 measured for any studied religious group and over twice that of U.S. Whites overall, four percent.  Earlier I have described the as the "Jewish slide to white."

This may be indicative of a fast-growing minority of Jews abandoning social justice values and minority self-identification and in turn choosing the white and greying side in the grey vs. brown racial polarization generally evident in last Tuesday’s election.

This is a graphic illustration by the Pew Hispanic Center of the 2010 census finding showing the age composition differentials which are where the voting populace is heading:

Note that the age structure of the LA Jewish community in 1997 was characteristic of the current white population and if current studies were done would be shown to be even more elderly.

LA Jewish Population 1997

Pini Herman, PhD. has served as Asst. Research Professor at the University of Southern California Dept. of Geography,  Adjunct Lecturer at the USC School of Social Work,  Research Director at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles following Bruce Phillips, PhD. in that position (and author of the “most recent” 15 year old study of the LA Jewish population which was the third most downloaded study from Berman Jewish Policy Archives in 2011) and is a past President of the Movable Minyan a lay-lead independent congregation in the 3rd Street area. Currently he is a principal of Phillips and Herman Demographic Research. To email Pini: pini00003@gmail.com To follow Pini on Twitter:

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Bruce Phillips is Professor of Sociology and Jewish Communal Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles. He has conducted Jewish population...

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