A while back Laya posted the following claim:


It’s no secret, and no coincidence that Jews have historically been at the forefront many important movements of proactive social change. We know that in such movements as socialism, the women’s movement, civil rights and environmentalism…

Muffti at first took issue with the truth of the claim, at least stated as broadly as it was. Muffti, however, thought that he would complement Laya’s claim by honouring some Jews who have been involved in other interesting movements, in particular, porn, similar to what you’d see at websites like teeni xxx.

1st award: Reuben Sturman (the ‘Walt Disney of Porn’). Sturman started as a comic book dealer but realized that porn outsold comics at a 10 to 1 rate. By the late 1960s he was the single largest distributor of pornographic magazines. Unfortunately, Sturman’s general shady reputation and refusal to pay tax landed him in jail where he died in 1997. The new Sturman is another Jew by the name of Steven Hirsch, who runs the Vivid Enterainment Group, one of the largest producers of porn dvds in the world.

2nd award: Al Goldstein, founder of the infamous Screw magazine. Goldstein is a bit of rags to riches to rags story as far as the porn industry. He was a Jewish Shadowy version of Larry Flynt: all the outrageous, boundary pushing porn with none of the screw-over-republicans-and-fight-for-free-speech of Flynt.

3rd award: Jewish Playmates. While it’s hard to tell for sure, there have been several Jewish playmates. While Playboy is hardly at the vanguard of envelope pushing porn, it’s still good to know that Jewish girls are just that hot that they can once in a while grace the pages of a magazine known for its fine (though very particularly typed) taste in beautiful women. The ones we know of are (according to wikipedia!): Cindy Fuller (May 1959), convert Nikki Ziering (September 1997) and most recently, Lindsey Vuoulo (November 2001). And these are just the ones we know about.

4th award: Jewish Hardcore Porn stars. Lindsey Vuouo claimed that what she did with Playboy wasn’t really ‘porn’ because the word conjures up:

penetration, urination, and things like that.

(Note: Dictionary.com defines porn as: “Sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal.” Take one look at Lindsey’s pictures and ask yourself what else there primary purpose could possibly be?)
In any case, the oiled up shiney playmates have couterparts in the hard core industry, including such stars as Nora Louise Kuzman (Traci Lords), Ellen Steinberg (Annie Sprinkle), Nina Hartley, Natasha Zimmerman (Courtney/Natasha/Eden), Bobby Astyr, Herschel Savage, Seymore Butts (Adam Glasser) and loveable old schmo, Ron Jeremy all of who have starred in adult movies that are watched by millions on sites like videos hd xxx to name just one of the more popular ones.


(Cute anecdote from Herschel Savage, in an interview with Screw magazine:

[While at a casting meeting] This guy looked at the girl and said, ‘Take your top off.’ She did. He then puts up his hands and says, ‘Your tits are too small. I can’t use you.’
“I got so angry. I said, ‘That’s not the way you talk to a person. If you don’t like the way she looks, just say you can’t use her right now.
“We’re in his basement and he’s standing behind the bar. All of a sudden he puts his hand behind the bar as if he’s going to get a gun. I keep talking, telling him how to behave with people. I know I lost the job, but I couldn’t let him get away with that. The girl was crushed.

What a mensch!)

What’s interesting about all this, to get back to Laya’s original comment, is that Jewish involvement in everything from social change to pornography doesn’t tend to highlight the particular characters jewishness. If anything, many of them are quite hostile to religion. Trotsky never advertised being a jew (for obvious reasons), Betty Friedan never connected Judaism and feminism per se, Chomsky (!) certainly isn’t one to go about connecting his Judaism to any of the various social action movement he is a part of, and Traci Lords never billed herself as a Jewish porn star (Lidsey Voulu seems to be an exception, as she mentions being a jew frequently in articles and even debated Shmuely Boteach!). Members of the Kibbutz movement were anything but religious. This makes one wonder if the religious aspects of Judaism have anything to do with alleged Jewish over-representation in these various groups and industries. Muffti’s guess, as none of you who know him will be surprised to find out, is ‘no’, and the attempt to tie the religious aspects (as opposed to the cultural perhaps) of Judaism to such involvement is a gross oversimplification. (To forestall objection, Muffti is NOT sayign that there are no religious jews interested in social change, etc. Its just that there is no reliable connection bewteen the level of religious involvement and the tendency towards participation in the movements Laya mentioned.)

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28 Comments

  • I agree with you. I would accredit Jews’ status in all situation as minorities and their high level of education as a more reliable source for their overrepresentation (two rs?) in liberal social movements. My only question to you (since I have yet to find a good answer myself) is why are Jews persistently overrepresented in colleges and in academic fields in general (think nobel prizes) especially when Israel itself is not a country of academic geniuses?

  • There are many factors that explain Jewish achievement. We are a diasporic minority that stresses education. We were banned from many of the more prosaic occupations, like farming, and instead wound up in mercantile professions that, in modern times, would prove to be steppingstones to middle- and upper-middle-class achievement (and perhaps porn). Similar factors influenced groups like Armenians, Chinese, Lebanese, and Indians in their respective diasporas.

    That said, I don’t think these are sufficient to explain Jewish involvement in activist movements or, for that matter, the influence of Jews on the course of human history. That the Jews posited the existence of a universal God (and therefore the existence of a universal morality) and then proclaimed themselves His chosen people is remarkable. Even more remarkable is that a majority of the world’s population (Christians and Muslims) bought into both of these propositions. (Even as Christians believe in a new covenant that has either superseded or expanded upon God’s original covenant with the Jews and Muslims believe that other prophets, culminating with Muhammad, expanded upon the revelations of the Hebrew prophets, both religions still believe that God had a unique relationship with our forefathers.)

    Now I can’t say whether God actually chose the Jews as His people or whether the Jews simply chose to see themselves in such terms (if my soul was at Sinai, my memory fails me), but either way this notion is bound to have a pretty dramatic effect on the history of a people. And when its results haven’t been awful (i.e. a history of persecution in which we’ve been the No. 1 target of every evil movement that comes along), its effect on human history has been pretty impressive (Jesus, Spinoza, Marx — Groucho — Freud, Einstein, the usual suspects). Perhaps I’d even call it Divine.

    It’s true that many of the Jews who’ve had the greatest impact on the larger world have been either heretics or far-removed from Judaism. And, at least in modern times, traditionally observant Jews haven’t left as much of a mark on the world as their more secular kin. In part though that’s because traditional Jews have been more inwardly focused, channeling their energies into Judaism or specifically Jewish endeavors. In contrast, secular/liberal Jews are more likely to engage with the larger world. While they may not realize it, I think it’s safe to say that the spiritual traditions and ideas of their ancestors (even a few generations removed from them) have shaped them, providing them with an inheritance that (sometimes subtly) influences the way they approach the world. (It’s no coincidence that so many activists happen to descend from the tribe that invented the very notion of a universal moral order.) Where porn fits into all this, I’m not so sure…

  • I’m going to get shit for mentioning this, but… Jews have the highest mean IQ of any ethnic group in America. We’re talking close to a full standard deviation above the American average; far too high to be a coincidence. Considering the intense and numerous selection factors the Jewish people have undergone for the last 2000 years in the Diaspora, overrepresentation in academia, politics, etc., is probably partially genetic. Or that’s the consensus, anyway.

  • Orthodox Jews don’t feel they have to do anything to effect “social change” – other than living according to the Torah. A community conducting itself according to Torah principles is (supposed to be) a “light to the nations”.

    Jews who exit Judaism are perhaps left with that residual notion of mission – but because they have rejected the, uh, Jewish way of being a light unto the nations, they must consciously create movements for social change.

    And some – like most of our porn contingent – are just clever outsiders who see angles and opportunities that others do not.

  • Would you say that the cultural aspects of Judaism, or of any other ism for that matter, are unique or universal? If they’re unique, wouldn’t it be reasonable to conclude that there’s a correlation between patterns of behavior amongst people of a given persuasion and the ism? Granted, the correlation to one aspect of it might be easier substantiated but by doesn’t follow that there’s a correlation to the ism itself?

  • uh Daniel, I get all that you are saying but it doesn’t account for Israel’s normal performance in academic realms. If Jews individually are so great then why is a whole country fo them not even better? Shouldn’t factors like stress on education and exlusion to mercantilism also effect Israelis? I really don’t think that these are the true causative factors. And if you attribute Jewish succes to God then I really don’t see why more secular Jews would have a larger effect than religious ones. Even though religious Jews are more inwardly focused they should have a great effect on the world if they are truly a Chosen People. (Your example of universal morality is also an untenable one because most Jews turned away from Orthodoxy during the Haskalah because of their own sense of a more important universal as opposed to religious morality – a morality which they had found in philosophers from the Christian world.)

  • Regarding Daniel’s comment #2, paragraph 4 (damn thing’s so long, it needs a concordance), I don’t believe I’ve ever heard the term “heretic” used to describe a Jew. A medieval secret Jew, yes, (not that I’ve actually heard it — I’m not a time traveller), but the term was used by the powers that were (was?), not by the persecuted. However, since it certainly does appear that the 21st century bears more that a passing resemblance in some aspects to the 15th century, when can we expect the Jewish Inquisition? (Proper response: No one expects the Jewish Inquisition!) And how do you say “auto de fe” in Hebrew?

  • Pornography isn’t a movement, it’s a business

    I see the involvement of Jews in pornography as something quite different from the Jewish involvement in social justice movements like the socialist labor movement of the early 20th century, feminism, civil rights etc. I’m not going to address the factors I believe caused jews to overpopulate these movements. But I do believe that when it came to social justice, idealism, not money, was the controlling factor.

    In contrast, jews are overrepresented in porn in the same way that they were/are overrepresented in the music industry. Entreprenuerial jews with an interest in the subject matter, and little class status at stake, saw business opportunities and took them.

    We tend to think of the ascendency of Jews into the middle class as being paved with doctors, lawyers, engineers and accountants. (And yes, my dad is an engineer, my mom was an accountant and I am a lawyer). But what this hegemony of the american jewish professional leaves out are the many other avenues that Jews took to reach that middle class- avenues often adjacent to, or running through the middle of, the shady part of town. Occupations like running a small record label (and there are too many examples to even begin to list them), not only didn’t have the respectability of being a doctor or lawyer, but the record business, as well as the porn business, often had mafia and other organized crime connections. So, when the history of modern Jewish america is written, the less savory aspects of our middle class aspirations tend to be seen as anomolous, or ignored altogether. (BTW, see Tony Michel’s new book Fire in the Their Hearts: Jewish Socialism in New York City for a better formulation of this idea)

  • Rel: I wouldn’t go so far as to attribute Jewish achievement to God. And I do think it varies and fluctuates with historical conditions. All I’m saying is that I think the NOTION of Chosen-ness has had an enormous impact on Jewish history. I do think that this notion has contributed to creating a powerful religious tradition, a tradition whose influence is even manifested in people who are a few generations removed from religious belief.
    Barbara: I wasn’t using the term “heretic” to make a value judgment. I should have chosen a better term. I heart heretics. (Also, sorry my prose was so prolix.)

  • I have discovered the origin of Oy Vey! It is vayehi–vy hi, “woe is it.”

    ======================

    Whenever the Torah uses the word vayehi (“and it came to pass”), this connotes a woeful event. What woe was there in the Mishkan’s completion? This is comparable to a king who had a contentious wife. So he said to her: “Make me a purple cloak.” As long as she was preoccupied with it, she did not quarrel. When her work was completed, she brought it to the king. The king saw it and was pleased with it, and began to cry out, “Woe! Woe!” Said his wife: “What is this, my lord? I have labored to do your will, and you cry, ‘woe, woe’?” Said he to her: “The work is beautiful and favorable in my eye. But as long as you were preoccupied with it, you did not anger or provoke me; now that you are free of it, I fear that you will again anger me.”

    So, too, said G-d: “As long as my children were occupied with the Mishkan, they did not grumble against Me. Now they will again begin to provoke Me.” Therefore it says vayehi–vy hi, “woe is it.”

    (Midrash Tanchuma)

    That is why it is perfectly ok to fuss about the drapes matching the ottoman. It keeps us out of trouble.

    GM will be so impressed.

  • so like in the very first part where it says “vayehi or,” that’s a woeful event? but the boss man said that it was good!

  • Rel, unless “culture” is supposed to be a euphemism for “intelligence”, your argument is pretty ridiculous. Even your link doesn’t go that far (speaking of which, all your link (not peer-reviewed) really does is attack the citations in Rushton et al. 2005 (a peer-reviewed study by professionals, based on 30 years of data), which are widely accepted sources). Contrary to popular (i.e., PC) belief, European Americans are not some kind of homogeneous “white” monolith with a common culture, which is why IQ disparities almost identical to the ones found in America are found in every multi-racial society. Besides, the cultural bias argument doesn’t work when East Asians are scoring higher than whites.

    That aside, there is too much evidence suggesting that Ashkenazim have undergone intense sexual/natural selection (Cochran et al. ’05), thus increasing IQ/intelligence, for me to believe it’s totally cultural. You’re not going to convince me of that.

    BTW, Israel is only half-Ashkenazi with a large population of Arabs and Ethiopians. But the Israeli average is STILL relatively high for the region. I think Sephardim and Mizrahim probably have higher-than-average IQs, too, but there isn’t very much data about them available.

  • the reason for jewish success (if you call it that) is for 2 reasons:

    1) they think they are an enlightened group, here on earth to tell the rest of us what they have *discovered. in short, the vision of the anointed (yawn)from the “chosen people.” this is the same reason, i think, for black intellectual failure. jews were raised from mothers who always told them, time immemorial, how special, how smarter they were than othres. blacks, on the other hand, had it reinforced time and again how dumb they were, how they were “natural athletes.” this gave the jews probably a 5% edge, cause as you know, thinking makes it so.

    2. diaspora–many diaspora groups are utter failures in socities, but the key you are missing here, is unadulterated access to quality information. in short, jews share better information better than anyone else, and monopolize that information for the betterment of their community. can anyone say networking?

    in sum, the jewish people think that they are smarter and brighter than other ethnic groups, but this is decisively false, as the IQ test is only a reflection of culture, and not much else. jews have been at the forefront of social movements for one reason–thye have a passion for social justice, and they think that they are an enlightened group who has to get out the message to us unenlightened folk.
    oh and i forgot to add, their “H”olocaust makes them bind together more tightly than any other group. which is why you dont see any such thing as “white” nationalism on a large scale. common miseries certainly help.

    just imagine, mothers nurturing you day in and day out, telling you how special, how important, and how you are God’s chosen people, what that does to your thinking. Now imagine the way other cultures raise their children, and yo ucan suddenly account for the gap in performance.

  • I’ve just re-read Rokhl’s comment #10 and it is right on target.

    Charles Paver, I know what you mean. My mom never told me I was smart or special and look how I turned out.

  • YEa JObber, I was mildly entertained by his Mommy coddling theory, although I feel the mommy neurotcism theory to be more applicable. Jewish Networking and unity?? Ummm, where does that exist? I think Ben Baruch is right on the money too

  • i wasn’t trying to offend anyone at all, just trying to help you understand the reason for your success.
    after i typed that in the other day, i also thought of another reason: lack of recreational activities. think about it: how many jews do you know have tattoos? or tongue piercings? or freaked out hair?
    every single one of them thta i know do not get involved with, what i properly think, the decadence of our society. how many are non-conformists? virtually all, it seems.

    if you want to try something interesting, if you have the time, do this. do a search under the web, for new jersey property tax records. ok? then choose passiac county (there is an orthodox ocmmunity out there) and put in very jewish sounding last names? like cohen, weinstein, etc.

    you cannot believe how many of the residents there own multiple properties or businesses–it literally blew me away, considering passaic city is a dump and passiac park is beautiful. they resided in passaic park and had investments in passaic city. coincidence? a whole community full?

    im not saying that jewish people or bad, etc. i think they have a very successful, and admirable to a fault, model that we gentiles ought to follow.

    and regarding point #31, the mommy-coddling theory, is probably more suited as to why jews are more liberal as a group than others.

    hey, im not perfect, but only offering goyim insights as to what accounts for jewish success.

  • one more thing–i didnt mean recreational activities such as track and field, bowling, etc.

    i meant counter-culture, if you will. or trendy culture. just think real long and hard how many jewish people get tattoos, or join the military, etc. they certainly are an exclusive community–but i would argue, no different than indians here.

  • Charles, dude, you’re all over the place. Think hard and focus. What are you really trying to say here? Let me help you, since you’re gentile. We control everything. If there are people getting tattoos, it’s because we have put out movies with people wearing tattoos. If musicians have spiky hair or pierced tongues, it’s because the head office sent a message to the music producers to make it a fad. You are nothing but a puppet in our hands.

    Excuse me now, I have to go to call my mommy because she hasn’t told me she loves me in at least three hours.

  • i agree somewhat about the comparison to Indian communities in the United States. There are successful, tight-knit and active Indian communities with smart, hard working professionals who do well and help each other out and socialize amongst themselves. However, Charles, lots of Jews (and I’m sure lots of Indians in the United States) are not well to do, don’t own multiple properties, and some aren’t even that smart, believe it or not. There are large communities that foster education and hard work and yes, they do things for others in the group, if that’s what you mean by networking. That’s our prerogative. There are literally hundreds of Jews in the relatively small city where I live who are in no way active in any Jewish community, much less a religious one. Anyway my point is, Charles, that you think that all Jews are successful because those are the only ones you notice. Do you even know any Jews? To say that Jews don’t get tattoos is completely absurd. I know plenty who do. Maybe fewer Jews get tattoos because there is a Jewish law against them? That doesn’t stop all of us, though. Anyway it doesn’t sound like you know as much as you like to think you do about the Jewish people. Also comments like Charles’s are a good reason, in my opinion, to abstain from obsessing over how great we Jews are and why.

  • no ofri–trading opinions in the free marketplace of ideas is a good exercise, if you will, to air out the dirty laundry, and to bring some of your ilk back down to earth.

    the original question proposed was why are the jews so successful in the academics? and the reason, i still believe, and will continue to believe until proven otherwise, are the reasons stated as above: refusal to assimilate, sharing of precious information (or monopolizing that information), extremely tight networking, and the idea of being special. you people are so funny–implying a genetic factor! as if mecantile skills acquired over 5k years or whatever is going to ring a genetic component, when most secular compatriots claim racial and genetic equality for the rest of us! think of the ARROGANCE.

    want to watch something funny? watch pinker’s lecture on jews and IQ–seems that the OP watched it in earnest, and was inspired from it. self-congratulations always works well amongst ones own.

    and ofri–if you think you have the reason for the pre-dominance, please, by all means, share it. if not, just keep it quiet then. i offered an outsider perspective, not based on self-emulation, but on true reflection.

    you guys miss the main point of assimilation + nurturing. can you imagine the influence on anyone, raised from birth, being told repeatedly how special they were, how they are god’s people, how they are the chosen ones, how they have a social obligation to essentially excel in whatever endeavor they enter?! on top of that, can u imagine how much societal pressures influence people with relatively high IQ’s into deviant or misplaced activities?! PUT 2 and 2 TOGETHER, OFRI!!!

    and i agree, to a certain extent, that there are numerous jews who haven’t been able to reach the bars their other kin have set. but i do urge you, if you have time, to go to jewwatch.com and though i do think it is a hate-site, just to click on the link for jewish power. un-freaking-believable. and us SHEEP let it happen. can anyone say, grassroots?

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