Noted in the Jerusalem Post

In an article in Vanity Fair about the world’s “most powerful people” over 50 of the 100 listed were Jews.

Such recognition is a mixed blessing among the Jews concerned about ancient libelous canards of insidious Jewish power and conspiracy.

Thousands of books try to account for this influence. In her most recent book, Jews and Power, (Ruth) Wisse accounts “for the achievement of Jews through the centuries,” describing it, she says, “as a consequence of their having to develop their powers of adaptation to an extraordinary degree.”

Yuri Slezkine in “The Jewish Century” noted, ” Modernization is about everyone becoming urban, mobile, literate, articulate, intellectually intricate, physically fastidious, and occupationally flexible. It is about learning how to cultivate people and symbols, not fields or herds. It is about pursuing wealth for the sake of learning, learning for the sake of wealth, and both wealth and learning for their own sake. It is about transforming peasants and princes into merchants and priests, replacing inherited priviledge with acquired prestige, and dismantling social estates for the benefit of individual, nuclear families, and book-reading tribes.”

Yuri pens the reason for Jewish success in America and the modern world clearly and profoundly.

I have two other related theories. The Jewish religion worships the “word” of God, they worship a book. The religious services wrap the “Torah” in rituals and respect. They have thus placed a high respect on reading and learning. Jewish women were learning to read long before most women in other western ethnic and religious groups. This makes the Jews a natural fit for the information age.

Secondly, and this is somewhat related to Wisse’s point, two thousand years of violent persecution and genocide have somewhat ‘naturally selected’ the surviving Jews to adapt to an inhospitable world. It is a little sad and ironic to think that our worst enemies may have had some impact on our success in the modern world.