1 - Zero Percent
The Jewish People make up just .2% of world population. How does a People that makes up virtually zero percent of humanity have such a huge impact on our world?
Mark Twain wrote, "If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but 1% of the human race. Properly, the Jew ought hardly be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also way out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers."
This 1% is a gross exaggeration. The Jewish people today actually make up way less than a percent. We make up 0.2% of the world's population. Now, math was never my strong point, but if we're going to round 0.2 to the closest number, that's zero. The Jewish people make up just 0% of world population. Now, how does a people who make up just 0% have such a huge impact on the world? As Mark Twain wrote, "The Jew ought hardly be heard of," and yet we cannot escape the fact that the Jewish people have contributed so much to our world. I'm Menachem Lehrfield, and this is Zero Percent, a podcast where we explore the enormous impact a tiny people has made that enhances and affects all of our lives on a daily basis.
We will explore ancient wisdom for modern living. As the second president of the United States, John Adams, said, "I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing nations." Whether you love the Jewish people or you hate them, it is very difficult to deny the impact that the Jewish people have had on the world, that the Jewish people have had on civilizing nations. I believe that we have access to the longest-running case study on success.
Now, as a Jew, I'm so uncomfortable with the topic of Jewish success, and I know many others are as well. Whenever someone begins talking about how successful the Jewish people are, it naturally makes us uncomfortable, but it's hard to deny the numbers. No matter what your definition of success is, the Jew is over-represented. Perhaps the best benchmark of success is the Nobel Prize. It was established by the Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel in 1895. Nobel was most well-known for the discovery of dynamite. And at the end of his life, in his will he bequeathed all of his assets to be used to establish five prizes, which we now know as the Nobel Prize.
And they'd go to individuals in recognition of cultural or scientific advances in six categories, literature, chemistry, economics, physics, world peace, and medicine. Between 1901 and 2020, last year, the Nobel Prize has been awarded to more than 900 individuals and organizations. Now, how many of those recipients would you expect to be Jewish? Being that the Jewish people make up just 0.2% of world population, we would expect 1.8 Nobel Prize laureates to be Jewish. That would be the proportionate number based on population. In fact, 208 Jewish people have won Nobel Prizes. 208 is an over-representation of more than 11,500%.
That's huge, but it's not just in Nobel Prizes that we see such over-representation. Look at practically every arena that can be measured. Can you imagine the scientific world without the contributions of Einstein to modern physics or Freud to psychoanalysis or Asimov to robotics? The scientific world would be a completely different place. And let's say you're going to look at finance and economics as your benchmark of success. It's interesting to note that according to Forbes, Jews make up 22% of the world's top 50 billionaires, 33% of the world's top 15 billionaires, and 28% of the top 25, not to mention finance household names like Goldman Sachs, Rothschild, Warburg, Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts, Wells Fargo.
What would the world of technology look like without Intel's Andrew Grove and Leslie Vadasz, or Google without Sergey Brin and Larry Page, or Oracle's Larry Ellison, or Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, Dell's Michael Dell, Qualcomm's Irwin Jacobs, Facebook without Mark Zuckerberg or Sheryl Sandberg? And what about medicine? There's an old Jewish joke where a Jewish person is finally elected president of the United States, and he calls up his mother and says, "Mom, I'm the president of the United States. Are you going to come to the inauguration?" And she says, "Well, I've got nothing to wear." So he says, "Ma, I'm going to be the president. I'll get you a dressmaker. She'll make you a beautiful dress. Don't worry about that."
And she says, "Well, I only eat kosher." He says, "Ma, I'm the president. I'll get you a kosher meal." She says, "Well, how am I going to get there?" He says, "Mom, I'll send Air Force One to pick you up. Just come to the inauguration." So she comes, and she ends up at the inauguration and she's standing there on the reviewing stand, and on her left are all the Supreme Court justices, and on the right is the president's cabinet. And the ceremony begins, and her son, the new president, raises his hand as he's about to be sworn into office, and his mother nudges the person next to her and says, "You see that guy with his hand up? His brother is a doctor."
You may be familiar with the stereotype of the nice Jewish doctor, but it comes from somewhere. Throughout the world, consistently on lists of top doctors, you will find Jewish names. And that's not to mention the enormous Jewish contributions to medical research and pharmacology, including the invention of Prozac, Valium, the synthetic fertilizer, radiation, chemotherapy, the artificial kidney dialysis machine, the defibrillator, the cardiac pacemaker, laser technology, not to be confused with Jewish space lasers, the invention of blood transfusions and penicillin, the mammogram, the pill, vaccines against the deadly polio and hepatitis B and measles, not to mention the vaccinating needle itself.
And we can't forget about the enormous impact that Dr. Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, has had in developing the world's first safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. And Dr. Bourla is the son of Holocaust survivors. Today, Israel is on the forefront of medical innovation. Israel is the home to Teva, the world's largest generic pharmaceutical company. Israel is number one in the world for medical device patents per capita. The medical technology that's coming out of Israel is the stuff of science fiction. I don't know if you saw the ReWalk, which was featured years ago in the hit show Glee, but it's basically a bionic robotic exoskeleton which allows paraplegics the ability to walk and even run.
Runners in London and Tel Aviv have actually completed marathons with the ReWalk. Here are paraplegics that thought they would never walk again, and they're running marathons thanks to Israeli technology. The PillCam, which allows doctors to see the inside of the digestive track without any invasive procedures or colonoscopies or anything. You just swallow a pill and they can see the inside of your body. Or this thing called Bio Weld, which is used now instead of stitches or glue, which uses cold plasma, and within minutes, it seals the wound and disinfects it with almost no scarring and no recovery time.
And have you seen this thing called Bio-Retina? It's a technology that restores vision to people blinded by retinal disease. It's basically this tiny implantable device that's inserted into the retina in a 30 minute outpatient procedure, and it turns into an artificial retina that melds to the neurons in the eye. And it charges itself with this pair of glasses that it comes with. And if somebody is blind or visually impaired and that's not an option, there's another Israeli technology called OrCam, which is a camera that magnetically attaches to the side of a pair of glasses. You can barely even see it, and it reads text displayed on any surface, and it can also identify objects or specific faces or amounts of currency or anything that somebody who's visually impaired or blind would need to see.
So it has this discreet earpiece which will basically, through audio, tell you everything that you would be seeing with your eyes. So blind people can interact with their world without the need of somebody else. It really gives them a sense of independence. There are so many successful cancer treatments coming out of Israel, and we can spend hours discussing the impact the Jewish people have had in the world of medicine. But let's say you want something a little lighter. Maybe entertainment is your benchmark of success. Well, if it is, six of the eight biggest Hollywood studios were founded by Jews. And still today, the rolling credits of almost every single movie can be confused for a Hebrew school roll call. It's just Jew after Jew after Jew.
What about law? Now, not only are Jewish names listed among the top partners in law firms in every major US city. I mean, just think about it. Just naming three Jewish names in a row sounds like a law firm. But at the time that I'm recording this, in the 117th Congress, there were 27 Jews in the House, which is more than 6%, and 10 Jews in the Senate, which is 10%. Before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of blessed memory passed away, Jews accounted for a third of the Supreme Court justices. So in the world of law also, the Jewish people are so, so over-represented.
Can you even imagine a world without Jewish inventions? Jews invented jeans and lipstick, the ballpoint pen, the weekend, instant coffee, the television remote, traffic lights, Scotchgard, the [Flexishra 00:11:25], which I know is illegal in many places right now, genetic engineering, the nuclear chain reactor, movies with sound, videotape, color television, instant photography, the holograph, discount stores, pawn shops, the shopping cart, the ready to wear clothing industry, the wire transmission, the fax machine, the microphone, the gramophone, the microprocessing chip. Every computer and smartphone in the world is using some sort of microprocessing chip developed and invented by the Jew. The optical fiber cable, laser cellular technology, the video tape recorder, drip irrigation, which is one of the most amazing technologies coming out of Israel that's allowing people throughout the world in the most remote locations to grow produce with very little water.
The scale model electric trains, the pager, the walkie talkie, refrigerated railroad cars, the incandescent lamp, Kodachrome film, the blimp, the adding machine, stainless steel, tapered roll bearings, and the list goes on and on and on. I remember there was a short video that was put out by [Drew Larius 00:12:30] a couple years ago, and it was this group of three college students who were talking about ways they wanted to boycott Israel. And as they're having this conversation, all the things in their apartment, anything that was invented by a Jew, one by one, starts to disappear. And it says, "Well, the computer was developed with Intel chips, which were developed in Israel." And their computer disappears and their cell phone disappears, and the jeans that the guy is wearing disappears.
And all of a sudden the guy gets polio. For those real BDS people out there, those who want to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel, if you really want to boycott Israel and the Jewish people, then stop using all of our technology. You cannot use a computer or a cell phone or any modern technology today without using something that was developed in Israel by the Jewish people. Or as the Jewish comedian, Gary Goldman, puts it, "If you want to hate us, then fine, but then drag your crippled polio legs up to the TV to change the channel on your black and white television, and good luck finding a TV show that wasn't written, directed, starring, and produced by 68 Jews."
You're not going to find it because the Jewish contribution to the world in economics and finance and science and technology and medicine and entertainment and law is just too great to even list, much less live without. So how do we understand this? How do we explain the phenomenon of the Jewish people over-representing in so many different arenas? How do we understand Jewish success? On one end of the spectrum, we have the anti-Semites of the world who believe that the only reason why the Jewish people have been so successful despite so many things stacked against them, the only reason why the Jewish people have excelled with their hands tied behind their backs, is because they have somehow manipulated the system.
This idea became popular through the most successful propaganda campaign of all time, which was known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It was a fabricated anti-Semitic text purporting to describe the minutes of a meeting that happened every hundred years between the elders of Zion, the heads of the Jewish people, which was a Jewish plan for global domination, that Jews would get together and try and decide how they would take over the world. Now, this fabrication was written by Czar Nicholas II, and to date, it is the second most widely published book in history. It's been translated in almost every language in the world, but clearly The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a fabrication.
It's been proven many times that it is obviously not true. Besides, the very fact that Jews can get together in a room and agree on something is completely absurd. On the other end of the spectrum are people who believe that the Jews have been so successful just because they're naturally smarter or brighter than others. This has absolutely no scientific basis to it whatsoever. And I see how either one of these theories would make us feel uncomfortable, but the truth to Jewish success has nothing to do with who we are as a people. Jewish success has more to do with Judaism than it has to do with the Jewish people.
And that is an idea that we shouldn't be uncomfortable about sharing. That is an idea that we should be proud of. It's Jewish wisdom that has transformed the world and Jewish wisdom that has the ability to continue transforming our world in the future. What I want to do with this podcast is explore the black box that is Jewish wisdom, the black box that has produced the remarkable things that we've seen, and the reason why the Jewish people have been so successful. Throughout Jewish history, Jews have always been the first to jump on every ism out there except for Judaism. I really hope that the Jews who are listening can realize that there is so much treasure in your own backyard. There is so much Jewish wisdom that we can learn from. And for those who are not Jewish, I hope that you too can find value in what we talk about.
As Paul Johnson put it In The History of the Jews, "All the great conceptual discoveries of the human intellect seem obvious and inescapable once they've been revealed, but it requires a special genius to formulate them for the first time. The Jews had this gift. To them we owe the idea of equality before the law, both divine and human, of the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person, of the individual conscience and so a personal redemption, of collective conscience and so of social responsibility, of peace as an abstract ideal and love as the foundation of justice, and many other items which constitute the basic moral furniture of the human mind. Without the Jews, it might hae been a much emptier place."
There are so many values and ideals that we take for granted today here in the Western world. There's so much value in learning where these ideals come from, and that's what I hope to share with you here on Zero Percent. Just 18 minutes each week. Don't forget to subscribe so you never miss an episode, and share with your friends. I'll see you back here next time.