Israel and the two Americas

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The Northeast, with a large Jewish population, is now into the third generation of the European migration, and like the Irish, Poles, Chinese, Italians and everyone else who has come before to the shores of New York, New Jersey or Massachusetts, the third generation begins to think of itself as “Jewish-American” or “Irish-American” rather than “Jewish” or “Irish.” And like third generation Irish here, it is actually more “American” than “Jewish.”

But beyond generational themes is demographics. Israel has a better friend in Texas than New York, because Israel, like Texas, is new in contemporary governance and democracy. New York is old. Israel, like Texas, is “rising” to the demographics. New York and New Jersey are “receding.” Also, New York and the Northeast, where vast channels of European immigrants landed and remained, is hopelessly Europeanized. 

It was a burden to those born free in the forest, thought Emerson. And it is a burden today to those born free in the desert. Texas is not at all Europeanized. And most interesting, as the new generation rises in Israel, neither is Israel. 

Most important, a new generation rises in Israel, featuring Moshe Feiglin, Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked rising into the Knesset, and possibly for the first time in modern Israel, the secular hipsters of Tel Aviv are beginning to identify with the old soul of Jerusalem and the ancient and timeless rabbinical culture: Israel has found its center, and it is not New York. Israeli columnist Caroline Glick has called this “the Second Zionist Revolution.”

As Feiglin wrote several years ago, “There are now more Jews living in Israel than outside Israel. The exile is over.”

There are a variety of studies indicating the growth and prosperity of the Middle and Western states and the decline of the Eastern states, a most recent contribution is Meredith Whitney’s The Fate of the States: The New Geography of American Prosperity. 

But the most fateful observations come from Gallup’s recent survey of “engaged” and “disengaged” workers. Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island (my home state) lead the country in “actively disengaged.” Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Louisiana is most engaged, and seven of the top 10, including Texas, are in the South. In terms of industrialization and economy, these are “new” states come to large progress, prosperity and full democratization only after WWII.

Progress, like the demographics, has moved south to southwest, leaving the Northeast increasingly “disengaged” and the heartland increasingly “engaged.” It is a prelude to a future of a two-state America today, “engaged” and “disengaged,” but tomorrow potentially, the “quick and the dead.”