Supporting Those who Love Us Least

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Conservative Americans love Israel — and are even philo-Semitic — to a surprising extent. The examples are legion; what struck me today was discovering that David Yeagley, a Comanche Indian and creator of “the sole voice of conservative thought among American Indian intellectuals” is also “a friend of Israel” with a “deep love for Jewish people.” Many defenders of Israel have said that Israel giving land “back” to the Palestinian Arabs makes about as much sense as the United States giving land back to the American Indian/Native American tribes; he offers a unique rejection of any parallel between Palestinians and American Indians that only an American Indian could write.

Whatever may have been true 50 years ago, today it is clear that in almost every area of uniquely Jewish interest, conservatives are far more likely to favor that interest than are liberals. This has given rise to another uniquely American phenomenon: a Jewish community which steadfastly supports those candidates least supportive of Israel and Jewish interests.

To some extent, this is the result of mindless worship of Democrats which has persisted for generations; my wife’s grandfather was fired from his position when he had the temerity to point out from the pulpit that FDR was hardly a great friend of the Jews. But there is something still more sinister at work: not only have liberal Jewish groups persisted in supporting extremist positions on issues like education vouchers and tax credits which have proven themselves inimical to a continued Jewish presence in this country, but what even liberal Israelis regard as anti-Israel positions are becoming more and more accepted. It may be true that J Street is collapsing in the wake of revelations about its funding and true nature, but meanwhile the Reform movement has anointed Richard Jacobs to be its new head, which means support for BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) against those who live in Judea and Samaria could become a Reform position. Making the Jewish state a pariah even among Jews just gives American Jews one less reason to retain any attachment to the Jewish people.

It is not merely the case that the liberal Jewish community is failing to act with the necessary dedication and determination to halt its decline; by working against Jewish interests, it is actively hastening its own demise.

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16 Responses

  1. Chaim Fisher says:

    Arrogant articles like this exaggerating–and exacerbating–the Democrat’s alleged weakness on supporting Israel hurt Israel directly and irreparably.

    If the Democrats ever get cast by Israel supporters as the ‘demand too much compromise by Israel’ party, then the Republicans automatically become the ‘not one inch of the promised land’ party, and you can kiss all American support for Israel goodbye.

    This is complicated. Here’s how it works: So long as both parties at least nominally support Israel, then American support for Israel is guaranteed. But once one party starts to feel that Israeli supporters are out to get them, you get immediate polarization.

    Now.

    If there is polarization, then you will not even be able to rely on the Republicans. They will not want to play with fire. The so-called Republican supporters of Israel themselves will have to weigh the political cost of taking sides on a polarizing issue. And choosing sides in a polarizing issue costs big political capital. So even the supporters of Israel will weaken in their actual support for the State.

    Therefore anything that polarizes is a threat. This polarizing, generalizing, and quite poorly thought out article hurts Israel support right in its soft underbelly.

    Undermine the ‘apple pie’ support for Israel by casting aspersions on one side, and you pulled the rug out from under it completely. This concept is well known and understood by people like the government of Israel who have, shall we say, more experience, insight and throw weight in these matters. For concrete evidence of this see this article: http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/focus-u-s-a/u-s-presidential-candidates-still-working-out-positions-on-israel-1.367544.

  2. L. Oberstein says:

    I think your point is that the liberal community is hastening its demise by working against Israel. You also seem to say that mainstream Reform Judaism will soon adopt a boycott Israel position.I think you may be overstating your point to the extent that it is unreal. First of all, support for Israel as evidenced by the ovations given to Netanyahu in Congress is bi-partisan. Secondly,Israel has a very mutually beneficial military and intelligence relationship with the United States. Support for Israel is not the same as support for a specific political party’s platform in Israel.

    I think that some orthodox Jews have confused politics with truth. Some are too trusting of politicians and believe the propaganda as if these people would actually do what they campaign on.

    Right now, we have a horrible political situation in the Congess, deadlock that is driving down the stock market, and harming our economy. Israel is not a blip on the radar screen right now, it is the economy and the election will be fought on that issue.

    Get away from the ad hominem insults that some of your commenters seem to enjoy equating Democrats with idiots, subversives and anti semites. Such foolishness does not win any converts to your cause.

  3. Adam says:

    Lacosta: “failed State/ideology”.

    By whose standards do you make such a statement? Your own, presumably. Obviously Israel is far from perfect but Israel – the failed state – is a world leader in medicine and many other scientific fields. It has avoided the economic turmoil affecting nearly the entire western world, has a higher growth rate than Europe and the US for example. This is all the while facing existential threats and absorbing a higher number (in percentage terms) of immingrants than any other country in the world. The infrastructure of cities, transport etc. has, in only sixty years evolved exponentially.

    In religious terms no-one can pretend that Israel is anything approaching a torah state we would wish for but the dati / charedi institutions receive a higher level of support than in any other time in Jewish history. The numbers learning in Yeshivot is similarly higher than at any other time. The religious authorities have much more power than they would if a purely democratic model were to be employed. It is maybe a tiny bit possible that if the religious authorities had played a more active role in the 19th and early 20th centuries and were a bit more ‘people-friendly’ today then much of the character of the State you dislike would be improved.

  4. D.F. Paul says:

    I suppose if you live in America and study the American Indians history, there are many parallels to the Jews.
    An American religious sect, commonly called the Mormons, tell in their “Book of Mormon”, the story of how a Jewish prophet named Lehi was taken with his family, and a few friends, out of Jerusalem before it was destroyed and brought to the Americas. If this is true, and now there is quite a lot of evidence to support it (including DNA, and artifacts) then it would certainly make sense that these descendants of the Jews would have an infinity to the Jews and an inborn desire to understand the Jewish culture.

    Also, there is an old saying: “If you are 18 and not a liberal you don’t have a heart, but if you are 30 and not
    a conservative you don’t have a brain.” In times past Jews could afford to be liberal because generally speaking
    most Jews have generous and good hearts, but in these times some very hard core fascists/marxists/communists have infiltrated the governments of most countries, – especially in America (in the liberal arm of government) , and their policies are diametrically opposed to their Constitution – To them its all about power and money, not
    the individual freedoms people need to worship as they please; and they certainly do not have the Jews’ best interests at heart – even though they appear to put forth a hand of friendship. They are undermining the basic principles and precepts which help to keep men moral and in touch with God. We can’t support ideologies which
    run counter to God’s laws, and pretend they are acceptable because If the Jews don’t wake up, they will find they
    have been supporting the very same type of governments that ushered in Hitler. Anti-Semitic Propaganda is starting to pop up in America – but it has begun with an assault of this government upon the so-called “rich” –
    just as it did with the propaganda on the Jews. When economic times were bad Hitler said: Let’s build Germany back up economically on the backs of the Jews, and then after they robbed the Jews of all they had, they had to murder as many of them as they could so that there was no one left to remind them of their crimes to sear their
    consciences. Well, it appears there will be economic disaster coming which will affect the entire world –
    which will set up the circumstances for evil to once more rear its ugly head. The right wing in America is striving to hold on to the Constitution, to religious and moral ideals, which will help to protect all men’s individual rights and all religions – the left, under the influence of the Marxists/Fascists/Communists are doing the exact opposite. A review of the men and women now in the Obama Administration should cause us to
    shutter. We must be on the right side of history, or history will repeat itself.

  5. Bob Miller says:

    Some liberals so revered FDR and so feared to stand out as Jewish that they did not push him to do anything to help the Jews overseas.

  6. cvmay says:

    “It is the liberal Jewish community, both here and in Palestine, that built the Jewish state”.

    Sounds more like fiction than FACT.

    In the late 1940’s American Jews (religious, survivors, conservative & republicans, etc.) were raising money for armaments, early settlements, and the dire needs of the fledgling State of Israel. I know this well, since I am a child of those supporters. Additionally these American Jews were active physically, financially and passionately in Bnei Akiva, Mizrachi Party, Young Israel and the Day School movement of Torah Umesorah.

  7. Bob Miller says:

    Regarding the comment by Bruce Epstein, June 2, 2011 at 1:18 am: The title of the link suggests that we have “young rabbis” in these movements that are impostors.

  8. lacosta says:

    it is interesting that as time has transpired, the haredi community [with the exception of its right wing virulently antizionist wing] have had to take the mantle of defending the jewish state, but one need recall that though the MO/DL [dti leumi] communities will likewise, the motivation is different— the latter leshitatam–they buy into the zionist model, reshit geulateinu etc; the haredi community will support due to pikuach nefesh : failed State/Ideology, but millions of jews lives at risk….in the end mostly Orthodox elements will be left holding the fort….

  9. Raymond says:

    My understanding of all this, is that typically 75% of American Jews overall, vote for the Democrats, while roughly 75% of traditional, Orthodox Jews vote Republican. In other words, the more any given Jew knows about his or her own Jewish heritage, the more likely they are to vote Republican, as they realize it is in their own best Jewish interests to do so. Moral of the story: we need to somehow find a way to educate secular Jews about their own Jewish heritage. It is really as simple as that, although admittedly a difficult plan to implement.

  10. cohen y says:

    Neither Reb Yid’s comments nor Vanity’s last paragraph are accurate.OTOH,there is a common misconception(primarily in the US),to confuse capitalism with conservatism.

  11. Bruce Epstein says:

    I recommend reading the article by Daniel Gordis in Commentary, http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/are-young-rabbis-turning-on-israel/
    on the anti-Israel attitudes of the soon-to-be spiritual leaders of the liberal Jewish denominations.

  12. Reb Yid says:

    It is the liberal Jewish community, both here and in Palestine, that built the Jewish state.

    The conservative Jewish community for the most part (with exceptions), at best, wanted little or nothing to do with it, and at worse actively worked against its creation.

    But that liberal support was and is based upon a democratic Israel that treats its non-Jewish and Arab neighbors with respect and dignity.

    It is ironic to hear today the ZOA in America and some reactionary members of the Knesset decide for everyone who is considered to be a true “Zionist”. By their criteria, virtually every leading Zionist figure, including David Ben-Gurion, would miserably fail this test today.

    The parallels to the reactionary right wing in America in deciding who is “patriotic”, “American”, birth certificate and all, are quite striking.

  13. Ori says:

    Vanity, I suspect that by now most Israelis gave up on the idea of peace – it would be nice, but isn’t going to happen anyway. That being the case, it is a good idea for Israel to in the best possible position to win.

  14. Bob Miller says:

    Today’s problem with liberal Jews is that
    1. For most of them, liberalism is their primary religion and our traditional religion is their bogeyman
    2. Liberalism has taken a radical left turn, making it actively hostile toward Israel

    Who knows how many of the politically conservative non-Jewish Americans voicing support of Israel really love us? In our predicament today, it’s still great that, at the very least, most of them don’t want to demonize, defund and destroy the Jewish state, or to ban shechitah or bris milah, or to let radical Muslims go after Jews around the world.

  15. Aaron says:

    The Reform adopting BDS means that the Conservative Movement will, too, within a generation… if not sooner.

  16. Vanity says:

    Let me preface my remark by saying that just because I disagree with you, *does not* mean that I support, say, the Reform position you mentioned.

    First, the conservative community (by and large) — I mean the evangelical community — does *not* in any way love us. Unless by love you mean something different than what we Jews mean by love and what ordinary folk do so also. They do not have Israel’s best interests at heart, nor do they have our domestic interests at heart. On the former, they want what the majority of Israelis *don’t* want: that Israel continue to have strife with its neighbors. There are complex theological reasons for this, of which I suspect you are familiar. On the domestic front, they rabidly oppose anything like the republican democracy that this country was founded on, and thereby oppose basic values which all Jews should be committed to in the USA (such, e.g., helping the widow, the orphan, and the poor, not to mention fostering democracy and free speech).

    I think it’s a bit naive (or disingenuous) to urge Jews to support conservative candidates, when in point of fact, those very same candidates have consistently opposed the very advances that Jews have helped usher in in this country (you know like women’s suffrage, religious tolerance, and civil rights for all).