A Jewish critique of Bushism

Check out Jewsweek’s “A Jewish critique of Bushism” – part one and part two:

Bush is the dumb Ahasuerus who allows Haman to connive…Bushism denies public discourse, denies that books should be opened and read, and denies even the possibility of transparent, articulate justice.

Both written by Zeek‘s Jay Michaelson. Check back to Jewsweek’s for future installments…

20 thoughts on “A Jewish critique of Bushism

  1. at last antibushies cite a well written article…wrong headed, but articulate. the author critiques bush’s vagueness and lack of statements that really say anything, but thanks to his masters in religious studies, he is able to channnel into bush’s mind by observing the use of certain code words, and concludes that bush plans an evil takeover of america by the christian far right. ya know what, ive lived under bush for almost 4 years now, in that time ive seen the most pro israeli president in my lifetime, and a tiger in defending the us against muslim terrorists. on the two most important issues to most of us, national security and israel, bush is an A. we should only have 4 more years of the same.

  2. I agree with Avi. Although there are some valid complaints against Bush, some of which I agree with, I think the author misrepresented Judaism. He essentially equates Judaism with his world-view, even though Judaism is anti-gay, anti-abortion and the Talmud is a masterpiece of using religious codewords to further its rabbi’s politics.
    Most of the things that outrage Michaelson are fixtures of the political game and apply equally to the Democrats. I didn’t vote for him, but Bush won me over with his pro-democracy and pro-Israel policies.

  3. Several of his complaints on bush are valid, however, these problems hold true on all ends of the political spectrum (catering to special interest groups etc.). And “part one” was nothing more than michaelson parroting Fahrenheit 9/11. At least when Michael moore did it was original.
    The article ends up being nothing more than the typical anti conservative fear tactics we are constantly seeing, “if bush wins, we will lose all our rights.” Conservatives do this as well when they say “if the liberals win we will be taxed 95 cents on the dollar.” Both statements are equally ridiculous, and serve only to confuse the weak minded.
    Here, the author takes it a step further and warns us of the possibility that bush will restrict our religious freedoms that we jews hold so dear. I find it ironic that michaelson, who uses such fear tactics, criticizes bush for using fear as a tool in influencing the American people. Shame shame.
    I also find it ironic that michaelson, who champions the rights of the avg American does not want the American public to be the ones deciding social issues. I dont understand why he so fears the avg American joe. What michaelson fails to mention is that even if Roe were to be reversed, abortion would not become illegal, but rather, the American public gets to decide what the law should be regarding abortion. Why would michaelson rather have an unelected group of individuals from the most elite segment of society decide our laws? I dont know. It sounds kind of undemocratic to me. The truth is that michaelson doesn’t really care who is deciding our laws. As long as he agrees with the end result, he’ll be happy.

  4. I don’t think Bush is an A on Israel. Actually, I’d give him an F. All he has done is let Sharon run amok and not interfered at all. Giving him an A only works if you think Sharon’s policies have all been great ideas. I don’t think any of them have been great ideas. Therefore, I give Bush an F on Israel.
    The same thing goes for national security. I don’t think we’re safer now than before 9/11. If we were, there wouldn’t be an “elevated” terror threat, as Fox News (the only trustworthy news channel, right? right?) constantly reminds us. Invading Iraq, as everyone pretty much now understands, had nothing to do with our security. So I give Bush an F for security two.
    Oh, and then there are those tiny other issues, like the environment (F), the economy (F), trade (F)…

  5. Sam-
    I would too give bush an F on israel if I didnt value the lives of my fellow jews.
    Before sharon took any major actions, the terror in israel was unrelenting and was destroying not only lives, but also the countries economy and many of its industries. There was over a bombing a week and many other smaller attacks during this time.
    It is a irrefutable fact that since sharon implemented his major military incursions and began construction of the wall, the number of successful attacks and the amount of Israelis killed decreased dramatically, all while terror attempts did not decline.
    Without bush’s approval these constant military incursions and operations would not be possible. If you remember correctly, under Clinton, twice Sharon ordered tanks to enter areas under the control of the PA, and both times sharon immediately pulled them back after clinton “requested” that sharon immediately pull back.
    There is little doubt that if someone other than bush was in office during these times, many many more jews would be injured and dead.
    In fact, there was an article last week in the washington post (i think, as well as in other papers), that while terror will never cease completely, there is no denying israel has won the intafada.
    Now, the only way I can perceive Bush as an F on israel, is if I were rooting for the side that lost.

  6. I can see how your logic is irrefutable (to you). 2002 = many suicide bombings, 2004 = fewer. But to me your vision is tragically shortsighted. There is something called winning the battle and losing the war, and this is what Sharon is engaged in on a grand scale. He has provided short-term fixes for the problem of terror, but the idea that the conflict can be “managed” over the long term without providing a real solution is an illusion that will in the long term cost many more Jewish lives than were saved over the past year.

  7. Sam-
    It looks like even you are conceding that bush/sharon have saved many jewish lives in the short run. This alone should merit bush a better grade than an F. But to you, some idealistic, uncertain and impractical goal, which we dont even know how to achieve, is more important than saving jews in the short run.
    How little do you value jewish lives that you are willing to have them die needlessly for the sake of some crapshoot deal that may work in the long term?
    –“I can see how your logic is irrefutable”
    I didnt use the term “irrefutable” with respect to any logical argument. I used it when citing stats that show the how successful attacks have gone down. Care to refute these stats? Have they gone up?
    Sharons plan may not work long term (or it may, we dont know), but you have to be practical. Jews were being killed left and right, and its not as if you are I have some kind of immediate plan to solve things once and for all, so something had to be done to stop the killing of jews.
    You may be willing to have countless jews die unnecessarily in order achieve the idealistic goal of ending hostility from the arabs in the long term. I would not.

  8. My point remains that you frame the problem too narrowly. “Jews dying” is not the *essence* of the problem. If it were, then the problem would be solved right now. One has to look at why these deaths are taking place, and the advocates of military “solutions” tend to offer reasons that require military “solutions.” The problem is a totality: Israelis are dying and living in fear, Palestinians are dying and living under an oppressive occupation system. A network of other problems stems from this fundamental set of problems, and this totality constitutes the situation we should be trying to deal with.
    It is not a matter of “being willing to have countless jews die” — it is a matter of wanting to solve the problem. Your logic, as tends to be the case with people who support Sharon (and Bush as well, I’ve noticed), implies that the options to follow were Sharon’s actions or inaction. But these were not the only choices. There is a whole range of other possibilities that the Revisionist government of Israel and its apologists consistently refused to consider, writing them off as “idealistic” or “unrealistic” in order to cut off debate.

  9. Sam, when people are being blown to pieces left and right, like they were in May 2002, that is the essence of the problem. Everyone wants to solve “the problem” and disagree on which solution will bring true peace. In the meantime, I’d rather not die than die. Course I’d love to hear your solution.

  10. The problem with saying that sharon should be negotiating instead of using military tactics is that it completely ignores that in the mean time, israelis are dying. The people of israel voted for sharon to protect them right now. It may be easy for you to sit there and tell the israeli people to be patient until a lasting peace can be achieved, but they want to live their lives and be safe. Who are you to tell them to wait patiently? Sharon has already been elected, and reelected by the israeli people, with them fully understanding his plans.
    The fact that bush doesnt interfere with sharon carrying out the will of the israeli people, leads me to believe he has been good to israel. If youre against the actions of sharon, a democratically elected official, youre problem is with the israeli public, and sharon, not bush. Do you really want an american president who interferes with israels democracy, and goes against the wishes of israelis? Would you give that president an A?

  11. There is a whole range of other possibilities that the Revisionist government of Israel and its apologists consistently refused to consider, writing them off as “idealistic” or “unrealistic” in order to cut off debate.
    What do you mean by “Revisionist”? And why do you insist that short-term fixes and long-term solutions are an either/or proposition?

  12. By Revisionist I mean descended ideologically from the Revisionist stream of the Zionist movement, which isn’t such a stretch considering the brief nature of Israeli history. Jabotinsky —–> Begin ——> Sharon. And I do not insist, in some philosophical fashion, that short-term fixes and long-term solutions are always an either/or proposition. I insist that Sharon has chosen one without the other.
    When people are scared, they tend to support leaders who promise protection. My contention is that by pursuing military solutions without taking steps to address Palestinian grievances against Israel, Sharon has ensured many future deaths of Israelis. I’m not “telling” anyone how to react, but I’m not going to be surprised at the third intifada, or the fourth, as long as the occupation continues and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza continue to have no rights.

  13. Helps? It might “help” if I subscribed to your worldview or held your assumptions. But yes, let’s talk about the terrorism that existed before occupation. Before the state, even. Now, are we talking about the Irgun blowing up markets full of innocent people, or about Palestinian mobs attacking Jews? Oh, you’re trying to tell me the conflict predates the occupation? DUH.

  14. By Revisionist I mean descended ideologically from the Revisionist stream of the Zionist movement, which isn’t such a stretch considering the brief nature of Israeli history. Jabotinsky —–> Begin ——> Sharon.
    Sigh. Okay. A long arc of ideological sameness to you, then; I prefer to see differences. Whatever.
    And I do not insist, in some philosophical fashion, that short-term fixes and long-term solutions are always an either/or proposition. I insist that Sharon has chosen one without the other.
    Er, yes, it was the Israeli government I was talking about, not philosophy; I suppose that’s meant as a put-down. As to Sharon not thinking long-term: I’m a bit dubious; what do you think he should have done that he didn’t in terms of a long term solution? Because there’s something to be said for simply withdrawal: withdrawal from Gaza, withdrawal from the West Bank and, yes, some sort of separation barrier — on internationally recognised borders, mind you — while the Palestinians get their shit together.
    But that’s pretty different than what you sound like you’re talking about. What is it?

  15. I dont get your logic.
    You: A is caused by B
    Me: But A has been around way before B started.
    You: So?
    (“Oh, you’re trying to tell me the conflict predates the occupation? DUH.”)
    Ok, now that youve admitted that this conflict has been going on way before occupation, it must be clear to you that is isnt the occupation that is causing the conflict. So why would you insist that ending the occupation would resolve anything?

  16. okay folks i know we want to turn like every conversation into something about the occupation, but i’d like so say a few words about the original message of this post.
    yes, i admit this post was one sided; clearly when i posted it you could tell i am a “jew for kerry” – so i expected that some of you would jump to the chance to tell me why you don’t agree – that is fair.
    what most impressed me about the article was that michaelson addressed jewish issues, such as ethics and morality that just haven’t been present in other Jewish anti-bush articles.
    most of what i’ve seen so far is “kerry voted to give israel $$” or “kerry has visited israel before” or “kerry is for the secruity fence.” well that’s great – and i bet those things make a lot of jews very happy – they may even make these jews vote for him – but let’s look at some real issues here and stop basing every decision about our american politics on israel.
    as michaelson wrote, bush is a liar who doesn’t know better – which is the worst kind of liar! michaelson is taking a critical stand against bush beyond just the israel issue –
    The project of this new column in Jewsweek is to look closely at the psychological, spiritual, and ethical underpinnings of our current political moment. I want to take a very Jewish reading of politics, which means, to me, not focusing on “Jewish issues” such as Israel or church and state but rather applying Jewish hermeneutical reasoning to the political issues of the day.
    i mean, you have to start to get it in part 2 when Michaelson brings in the idea: Contrary to St. Paul, who shares with George W. Bush an aversion to detailed law and a preference for gut instinct and ‘common sense’ – thus, whether it’s fuzzy numbers or fuzzy religious doctrines, a president who ignores the details is inherently anti-Jewish.
    …when political ideology collides with prejudice, prejudice wins.>
    michaelson’s point about “activist” judges is crucial. his political views aside, we must recognize, both as Jews and as a minority, that this is
    a. not good for the jews
    b. contrary to Judaism where a judge should use their skill to weigh the law objectively
    Michaelson’s article 2 ends with:
    …the theocrats who control our government’s social policy possess the certain conviction that they cannot possibly be wrong. I could not agree more.

  17. “michaelson’s point about “activist” judges is crucial. his political views aside, we must recognize, both as Jews and as a minority, that this is
    a. not good for the jews…”
    Um, Michaelson’s article was in favor of activist judges. It is the conservatives who are against this activism.

  18. 1. I don’t think Sharon plans to withdraw from the West Bank, or at least not in a fashion that would enable a viable, contiguous and independent Palestinian state to emerge. See article above.
    2. People’s positions change over extended periods of time. The fact that the conflict pre-dated the occupation does *NOT* mean that ending the occupation won’t be a hop, skip, and a mile-long jump towards ending it. You can find those on both the far right and the far left who will argue that it does (crude summaries — the left: it started with the refugees, the conflict won’t be over until they return/are compensated! the right: it started with the arabs being evil, it won’t end until they realize we’re not crusaders and stop being evil!), but I disagree with them. The two-state solution is the only thing that can hold off mutual bloodshed long enough for the conflict to be turned down to the lowest possible flame…

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