Task Force Report Most U.S. Jews Will Stay Liberal Despite Current Ethnic Pressures

A task force of scholars and community relations experts studying inter-group relations in America has predicted that a majority of American Jews probably would continue their involvement in the liberal coalition during the 1970s despite a serious erosion of the traditionally liberal position of Jews in the decade recently ended.

The 111-page study titled “Group Life in America” was prepared for the American Jewish Committee and published by its Institute of Human Relations. The task force was headed by Morris B. Abrams, honorary president of the AJCommittee and former president of Brandeis University. He and Prof. Seymour M. Lipset, professor of government at Harvard who authored the report based on the task force study, explained at a press conference this morning why they believed a majority of Jews will remain in the liberal camp.

Prof. Lipset conceded that Jews are torn between Jewish values which breed a liberal orientation and Jewish interests which sometimes tug toward the conservative camp. He said it was his opinion and that of the task force that values will ultimately prevail over self-interest. He said one basis for that prognostication was the fact that better educated, more affluent Jews tended to be more liberal. Since Jews are the best educated ethnic group in America, it followed that a majority of Jews are better educated and hence, liberal, he said.

Another basis for predicting Jewish loyalty to liberalism in the long run he said was the Jews’ long historic memory from the Egyptians, through the Romans to Hitler which warns them instinctively against anti-liberal political movements. Prof. Lipset said that even though he felt the Nixon administration may have done more for Israel than previous administrations, many Jews cannot believe that a conservative, Republican Wasp would be better for the Jews in the long run. Lipset recalled that Nixon got only 15 percent of the Jewish vote in 1968 and predicted that he would get no more than 30 percent in 1972. Abrams described American Jews as more issue-oriented than other groups. He said that while Jewish ties with liberalism had been “strained” they were far from breaking.

The task force study covered the major issues that have divided Americans generally and the Jewish community in particular. These included racial equality and Black militancy; demands for group rights; white ethnicity; anti-war and other protests; economic inequities; education and upward mobility and meritocracy versus quotas.

The task force predicted that divisions on these issues would persist during the 1970s though the intensity of the differences would depend on the success society has in solving such problems. Nevertheless the task force added, “Jewish predominant involvement in the liberal coalition will probably continue, given the logic of Jews’ self-identification as a historic have-not group in a non-Jewish world. The experts agreed that the Jewish community was threatened with a revival of anti-Semitism and that Jews therefore must continue to be concerned with problems of defense and the elimination of prejudice. For this reason. Jewish groups constantly strive to build coalitions with other ethnic groups, including Catholic ethnics, Black, Puerto Ricans, Mexican-Americans and Protestants, the study said.

NEXT STORY