The Vanishing

The Vanishing – Tablet Magazine:

The same pattern holds across America’s elite institutions: a slow-moving downward trend from the 1990s to the mid-2010s—likely due to all sorts of normal sociological factors—and then a purge so sweeping and dramatic you almost wonder who sent out the secret memo.

Museum boards now diversify by getting Jews to resign. A well-respected Jewish curator at the Guggenheim is purged after she puts on a Basquiat show. At the Art Institute of Chicago, even the nice Jewish lady volunteers are terminated for having the wrong ethnic background. There’s an entire cottage industry of summer programs and fellowships and postdocs that are now off-limits to Jews.

In 2014 there were 16-20 Jewish artists featured at the Whitney Biennial. After a very public campaign against a Jewish board member with ties to the Israeli defense establishment, the curators got the message. The 2022 biennial featured just 1-2 Jews.

Comb through the dozens of Jewish names for the 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship (I count 30-40). You’ll have a much harder time finding them 10 years later (14-16). There were 3-4 Jewish Marshall Scholars in 2014. I don’t see any in 2022.

From 2010 through 2019 there were at least three Jews in every MacArthur Fellowship class, sometimes as many as five or six. The Forward would write effusive columns celebrating the year’s Jewish geniuses. Since 2020, just 0-1 Jews a year have been awarded grants. The Forward hasn’t bothered to take note.

Today American Jews watch with Solomonic bemusement as Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard is argued before the Supreme Court. On some level we sympathize with the Asian American plaintiffs, who are suing Harvard for using admissions criteria that discriminate against them on the basis of their race. Maybe they really are the new Jews, facing the same barriers—insidious racism, personality scores, rural geographic preferences—that we once did.

On the other hand, fancying ourselves to be high caste members of a beneficent elite, we pretend not to notice that “diversity, equity, and inclusion” is a cudgel used to exclude certain groups of Americans, including Asians and Jews.

[I have no words.]