Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Jews, Palin, and Liberal Politics

Abraham H. Miller

Prior to his conversion to Judaism, my friend went to see his rabbi, who explained to him the obligations and responsibilities of becoming Jewish. My friend said he could within reason to do what the rabbi asked of him, but then my friend looked very seriously at the rabbi and said, "Rabbi, there is one thing I will never be able to do." The rabbi looked at him with concern and asked, "What's that?" To which my friend responded, "I could never become a Democrat." The affinity between being a Democrat and being Jewish is taken as axiomatic. In the ethnic classic, Beyond the Melting Pot, authors Nathan Glazer and Daniel Patrick Moynihan remind us that American Jews long ago acquired the social status of Episcopalians, but still manage to vote like Puerto Ricans.

But what most Jews don't know is it wasn't always that way. It was the ascendance of Franklin Roosevelt and the historic realigning election of 1932 that brought Jews, and Eastern European ethnics, into the Democratic fold.

The coalition Roosevelt built was reinforced in the Kennedy and Johnson years by a concern for civil rights and the attempts to eliminate poverty. Jews perceived the expansion of civil rights as the expansion of rights for all Americans. For Jews, the obligation to the poor was part of their religious heritage of tzedaka, the duty to give charity, which had been transformed into a cultural and political heritage among secular Jews.

But the homogeneity of Jewish partisanship began to seriously fracture during the Carter administration. Carter clearly had a Jewish problem, one underscored not simply by his zealous commitment to the Palestinian cause, but one unobtrusively and poignantly revealed by his statement that there were too many Jews on the proposed board of the Holocaust Museum.

The rise of Ronald Reagan brought a significant number of Jews and fellow Eastern European ethnics into the Republican camp. This phenomenon is remarkably described by historian Samuel G. Freedman's The Inheritance, a book that could easily have described my own family's generational journey from Roosevelt to Reagan.

The transformation of civil rights from equal opportunity to equal result also forced Jews to confront a new political reality. While the Protestant elite had enforced quotas so as to restrict Jewish enrollment in Ivy League Schools, the liberal elite now did the same thing through a newspeak of quotas masquerading as goals.

If some were underrepresented, then others were overrepresented. And everyone knew who the overrepresented were. The joke on campus quickly became how an affirmative-action officer would have dealt with the Manhattan project by firing the disproportionate representation of Jewish nuclear physicists, replacing them with unqualified minorities, and the consequent results for civilization.

As the far-left supported Middle East regimes that oppressed women, that had no idea of the meaning of civil liberties, and that encouraged the martyrdom of those who blew themselves up along with innocents; Jewish leftists, like so many lemmings, also embraced these sentiments. Their liberal co-religionists were incapable of going that far, but given the dissonance caused by the leftist model of the Middle East, liberal Jews often became super critical of Israel. Congregations refused to sponsor pro-Israel movies, arguing they were one-sided, while bending over backwards to invite speakers with ties to the far left who were little more than Palestinian propagandists.

Liberal Jewish congregations followed the far-left by developing a moral equivalence between those who fired rockets into civilian crowds and those who used military force to prevent that firing. "Violence is violence," became the mantra of liberal rabbis. "Oh, there has been violence and tragedy on both sides," a local rabbi dismissively said to a colleague of mine during an interview.

In Northern California where I now live, I am told that after 9/11 some of the rabbis gave sermons during the high holidays criticizing fundamentalist Christians, as if it were they, and not the followers of radical Islam, who boarded those ill-fated airplanes. Jews of my acquaintance speak mindlessly of their fear of "Christian Jihadists," an appellation that is not simply offensive, but one that betrays both a pathetic and palpable stupidity. Have you ever seen a Christian blow up himself and others in the name of Jesus and then be anointed as a martyr by prominent ministers, priests and theologians?

The left's embrace of mass murderers in the name of self-determination caused leftist Jews to also embrace these murderers, even though the people being killed were also Jews. And as Christian Zionists became strong supporters of Israel, leftist Jews found an even stronger reason to sever their ties with Israel. The term, "Christian Jihadists." evolved, courtesy of journalist Thomas Friedman, into an equally stupid term, "American Hizbullah." This was bandied about not only in leftist Jewish circles, but also among liberal Jews, as if it were a mark of erudition rather than one of ugly stupidity.

The left has now created a prismatic world where all politics is merely a variation of the same phenomenon, just at slightly different points along the same continuum. Moral equivalence is now the Left's new objective reality. Christian fundamentalists and Islamic fundamentalists are consequently morally equivalent, however nonsensical and illogical such juxtaposition turns out to be.

It is not surprising to see leftist Jews at the forefront of the radical Palestinian movement. These Jews need to demonstrate their leftist purity, because their psychological identities as well as their social networks are based on a rigid adherence to the leftist creed. This embrace of ideology in the absence of self interest is what Hannah Arendt so brilliantly described in The Origins of Totalitarianism as the mindset that is the vital foundation for totalitarian mass movements.

Leftist Jews have a new target for their outrage; Sarah Palin, another fundamentalist Christian who supports Israel. Among Sarah Palin's sins are that she shoots wolves and protects the unborn, to which Israeli literary figure Naomi Ragen has responded, would leftist Jews like her better if she shot children and nurtured wolf cubs?

It is also not surprising that in response to the pressure of leftist Jews, the pusillanimous leaders of Jewish organizations, whose sympathies incline toward the left, disinvited Palin from speaking at a Jewish organization rally, held outside the United Nations (September 23, 2008), protesting Iran's quixotic, genocidal President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

As Caroline Glick notes in the Jerusalem Post of September 23, 2008, these leaders decided that it is more important to put Barack Obama in the White House than to stand up to the man who promises the world a Second Holocaust.

And if one looks at the backgrounds of some of these leaders, they reveal a m駭age of self-loathing Jews who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Arabs and against Israel at critical moments that threatened Israel's very survival.

While the Palin controversy rages in the Jewish community, I have received numerous anti-Palin emails from liberal Jewish women: several even asked me to contribute money to Planned Parenthood in Sarah Palin's name, as a slap in the face to Palin's pro-life politics.

As Iran pursues its nuclear program touted as the new Final Solution, the most critical issue on the minds of these liberal Jewish women is one that puts the deaths of the unborn ahead of the lives of six million Israeli Jews already delivered from the womb.

With attitudes like these, Jews need not fear the Islamic Jihadists and the Ahmadinejads of the world; Jews only need to fear the real enemy of the Jewish people葉heir co-religionists who are incapable of seeing the world from any vantage point other than one that is permanently and mindlessly anchored at the left end of the political spectrum.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, and a former counter-terrorist consultant to the National Institute of Justice.

1 comment:

Maya said...

All of the Jewish democrats I know--whom this blog may or may lump lump together with the sort of "liberals" you here describe--are horrified at Palin not for her avowed love of Israel, but for her complete incompetence, her anti-woman politics, and her utter disregard for the separation of Church and State.