Re: A Response to Cofnas' The Anti-Jewish Narrative
I would like to thank the reviewers for taking the time to read and comment on my short letter. As I am simply trying to make two points (1) the studies I cite are relevant to the question of Jewish ethnocentrism and, therefore, (2) Cofnas should have cited the studies when asking the question about Jewish ethnocentrism; I attempt to address each comment while keeping the letter concise (e.g., not open-up discussion of Israel). Below are my responses to the reviewer comments.
1. I think Cofnas refers to ethnic groups here, whereas American White liberals are not an ethnic group. As far as I know, that group is the only major group of persons to show a net negative opinion of their own ethnic group. Still, overall, American Whites are not net negative taken as a whole, so the counterexample fails -- for now at least.
Response: I read it a little differently. Cofnas writes, “ This should not be misinterpreted as a claim that Jews are exactly the same as white gentiles, or that they’re just like high-IQ urban white gentiles. All groups differ from each other in interesting ways, reflecting their evolutionary and cultural histories.”
The use of “high-IQ urban white gentiles” as a comparison group suggests to me that he is not strictly referring to ethnic groups.
2. He also mentions views on Israel at length, there is a section on it. It is odd that if American Jews are so ethnocentric as part of an evolutionary strategy, that so many of them are opposed to Israel, an actual Jewish ethnostate. And these are the same people advocating for anti-gentile policies in USA, as well as in Israel, so it's not a double-tongue movement. But in any case, the reason why Cofnas mentions the intermarriage rate is that McD has stated this in his book.
Response: In the article Cofnas possess three questions: (1) Are Jews particularly ethnocentric?; (2) Do liberal Jew hypocritically advocate multiculturalism for gentiles/gentile countries but racial purity and separation for Jews? Israel?; (3) Are Jews responsible for liberalism and mass immigration? He then has separate sections in the article that appear to correspond to each question. These sections are labeled “Jewish Ethnocentrism”, “Israel”, and “Liberalism and Immigration”.
I am specifically interested in the first question concerning ethnocentrism and so I focused on the section labeled “Jewish Ethnocentrism”. In this section Cofnas criticizes others for ignoring counterevidence. And as stated I believe that Cofnas is doing the very thing he is criticizing others for doing. Subsequently, he details the evidence concerning intermarriage. Lastly, he begins to describe attitudes toward multiculturalism and Israel, which bleed into the next section called “Israel”.
Thus after reading the section again, I can see that the reviewer is correct that Cofnas does broach the multicultural/Israel topic in this section as well as the next, where it is the focus. I don’t wish to delve into the messy topic of Israel. I think, for example, the existence of an ethno state with the remarkable support from the world’s foremost superpower (Mearsheimer & Walt, 2007) far outweighs the fact that a subgroup of the ethnic group is critical of the state. However, broaching this topic would be a distraction from the two points I wish to make.
That said I did make changes to the letter based on the reviewers points.
In his article Cofnas (2021) poses the question “Are Jews particularly ethnocentric?”, and then answers it by stating, “…the evidence suggests Jews are not particularly ethnocentric… (p. 1332)” To support his answer Cofnas (2021) relies
solely primarily on the percentage of Jews that marry outside of the group. If counter evidence is not available or out-group marriage is the sine qua non of ethnocentrism, then fair enough. However, it seems reasonable to examine other possible elements of ethnocentrism besides out-group marriage and, indeed, there is evidence that runs counter to position and he simply choses to ignore it. Note that he does this while admonishing those who “… misrepresent or ignore all the counternarrative [sic]evidence… (p. 1333)”.
Mearsheimer, J. J., & Walt, S. M. (2007). The Israel lobby and U.S. foreign policy. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
3. It would be helpful to provide the context of these findings. E.g., the first is from MIDUS-2, so the mid 1990s USA, while the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study is quite old (1960s? I don't know which wave this question was asked) and somewhat specific in sampling, being one northern state with a small Jewish presence.
One worry with these findings is that White Americans is not as fine-grained an ethnic group as American Jews are. The latter are almost entirely Askhenazi, while American Whites (gentiles) are some mixture of various European ethnic groups, say, mainly Germans, British and Scandinavians in that state. Since they are less homogenous, it makes sense they show less ethnocentrism. This could also be explained by them being fairly recent migrants that were perhaps specifically selected for being adventourous and un-ethnocentric. There is some evidence about this based on Scandinavian name data. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3321790
I don't doubt the general finding that in America, European descent gentiles are lower in ethnocentrism than everybody else. My thinking is that this is not so much Jews being special, but gentiles being special.
Response: I agree that there are clear limitations to the two studies I cite. But that is true of every study. Are the studies so flawed that they should be completely ignored? Isn’t it Cofnas’ responsibility to tell the reader why recently published articles on the very topic he is writing about should be discounted? If he would have at least acknowledged the articles and then instructed the reader to ignore them because of their flaws I would be okay with that. However, simply picking and choosing what to cite and ignoring counter evidence is bad practice.
I agree with the reviewer that the underlying reason for Jewish ethnocentrism > European gentile ethnocentrism could be the low ethnocentrism among Europeans. However, that still leaves us with Jewish ethnocentrism > European gentile ethnocentrism which Cofnas’ disagrees with.
4. Not generally a good idea to cite sources this way, especially not tweets. I suggest making these formal APA format. The tweet you can archive, so it doesn't get lost. In this case, there are already archives of it at https://archive.fo/https://twitter.com/ZachG932/status/1074524252638982144.
Response: I changed the citation to the website describing the poll.
“…primarily by the genocide(Pew Research Center, 2020) to respond with …”
Pew Research Center (2020). Jewish Americans in 2020. Retrieved from https://www.pewforum.org/2021/05/11/jewish-americans-in-2020/
1. Inclusion of [sic] for counternarrative
Response: I removed the [sic].
2. I misrepresent Cofnas’s argument by excluding the promotion of multiculturalism for Israel by Jews.
Response: Reviewer #1 makes the same point. It is a good and accurate point. My response can be seen in my responses to reviewer #1.
3. I left out the finding that Baptists obtained the same ethnocentrism scores as Jews.
Response: I wrote:
“Dunkel and Dutton (2016) found that Jews, despite being less religious, exhibited higher levels of agreement with statements of in-group favoritism (e.g., How much do you prefer to be with other people who are the same religion as you?) than individuals of various Christian denominations. “
I believe this is an accurate statement. However, to be clearer (yet less concise) I made changes/additions to the paragraph. These changes are italicized below:
“Dunkel and Dutton (2016) found that Jews, despite being less religious, exhibited higher levels of agreement with statements of in-group favoritism (e.g., How much do you prefer to be with other people who are the same religion as you?) than Catholics and Methodists. Note that in Dunkel and Dutton (2016) Baptists exhibited the equivalent degree of in-group favoritism as Jews, but were much more religious. These findings were recently replicated and extended. Dunkel (2019) once again found that while Jews were less religious they were more likely to endorse statements reflecting in-group preference than Catholics and Lutherans.”
4. I don’t mention the Cofnas (2019) article.
Response: My letter is not in response to the 2019 article. My response is to the Cofnas (2021) The anti-Jewish narrative.
1. The author suggests that high intermarriage rates do not equal low ethnocentrism, and points to his own studies of self-reported beliefs instead. I think that Cofnas has a point in criticizing self-reported data, and that high intermarriage is indeed a sure sign of - albeit not synonymous with - low ethnocentrism. People's mating preferences are surely a more valid indicator of their beliefs than what they claim in a self-report form. Intermarriage might not be a sufficient, but it is a necessary condition for a people to be judged as non-ethnocentric.
Response: I disagree with the reviewer that Cofnas had a point criticizing self-report data. The reason I disagree with the reviewer is because Cofnas doesn’t criticize self-report data because he doesn’t mention the data in his article. It is the omission of the data that I am criticizing.
I also am not arguing against the marriage data as being relevant or even more important than self-report data (that is a different issue). My point is that if one is to ask the question, “Are Jews particularly egocentric?” then I believe they should at least refer to, in a footnote or a single sentence, other recent relevant data that they are aware of in order to inform the reader.