For Jews, Right is Wrong

The Forward reports,

The White House is nurturing a cadre of Generation X Republican Jewish activists, many of them Orthodox, as part of a concerted strategy to boost Republican strength among Jewish voters — and Jewish political donors — in the run-up to the 2004 election.

Oy, gevalt. My stomach is turning.

I, myself, have just returned from a week-long retreat at Elat Chayyim, the Jewish spiritual retreat ceneter in the catskills, studying with Rabbi Arthur Waskow, famed Jewish Renewal rabbi and founder of the Shalom Center, a social action network that informs its activist stance with Jewish scripture and theological values.

During my classes with Rabbi Waskow, which focused to some extent on the large Jewish influence and involvement in the development of Socialist radical politics, I raised the issue of the ever-growing movement of affluent and particularly Orthodox Jews towards right-wing conservativsm. Where, I wondered, is this coming from? How can these Jews ally themselves with a party that advances such unjust policies that do so much harm to the world, and further, that contradict so many of the traditional Jewish values that evolved from Torah mitzvahs?

As it’s written in Isaiah,

Is this the fast I desire,
A day for men to starve their bodies?
…No, this is the fast i desire:
To unlock the fetters of wickedness,
and untie the cords of the yoke
to let the oppressed go free;
to break off every yoke.
It is to share you bread with the hungry
and to take the wretched poor into your home;
when you see the naked,
to clothe them,
and not to ignore your own kin.

One can not even rightly begin to suggest that this call is heeded by the Republican party nor the Bush administration, for as we all know, their policies have had quite the opposite intent. Thus, the only conclusions I could come to were that, for one, the level of comfort and wealth that these Jews are experiencing here in America is obviously making them delusional and leading them to forget where they come from, and also, that their unquestioning support of Israel is making for some very strange bedfellows: In particular, George W. Bush, a grandson of Nazi financiers, as well as other right-wing Christian wingnuts like Jerry Falwell, a man well-known for his antisemitic rhetoric. Not that that’s any better than the far left’s flirtations with antisemitism. However, the extremes to which such relationships can extend is best illustrated in a recent report from Wired News, stating that “French neo-nazis [have] formed an alliance with extremist Jewish groups on the internet to publish a torrent of hate messages directed against arabs and Muslims.” This, for all Jews, should be a terrifying revelation. Is this where our struggle for self-determination has led us?

When will right-leaning Jews snap out of it and realize that, just because it’s good for Israel, doesn’t mean it’s good for the Jews? (Ie., American aid to Israel doesn’t help the overall impression of Jews when the world community thinks Israel is guilty of war crimes. As a result, we’re now awash in Jewish-Neocon cabal theories reminiscent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.) And furthermore, how can you ally yourselves with people who pretty much want you dead? “The enemy of my enemy is my friend, even if he’s my enemy too” is not a sound logical argument, sorry. I think an outreach campaign really needs to be created which extends to right-leaning Jews and that expresses these issues, because, as far as I can see, trying to save a couple thousand dollars in taxes and blindly supporting the U.S.’s fuelling of Israel’s military campaigns seems to be leading these people, as well as general public opinion of Jewish people, down a very dark road.

Hence why, once again, I will tout the claim (which I’m sure the crew at Protocols will rip me a new asshole for) that I can see where people get their antisemitic ideas from. While most Jews still sway towards a more Democratic and/or Socialist political stance, when the Jews with the most wealth and power in the country—and therefore, those with the highest visibility—begin swaying towards the right, they seem to be complicit in the injustices commited by right-wing and Neoconservative idealogues, and therefore it creates a general impression that all Jews support such policies.

Thus, while Jewish organizations are getting all up-in-arms about Jews’ dwindling numbers, I must also contend, that an equally, if not more important criticism of assimilation should be one not based on intermarriage or secularization, but one based on the assimiliation of the values of the cultural elite. Just as the modern Chosid’s dress with the streimel and the knickers is the dress of 18th and 19th century polish artistocrats who, in their own ghetto-ass poverty, they so strongly envied, the Orthodox again seem to covet the “dress” of America’s aristocracy. And I think, in pre-war Europe particularly, this mindset was more likely what got us in trouble, than our intermarrying and secularizing. Being that I didn’t live through the era, however, it would be hard for me to say.

Anyhow… some food for thought. As the saying goes, “Kol Yisrael aravim zeh leh zeh”—each Jew is responsible for all Jews—which I take to mean additionally, that each Jew is a representative of all Jews. And in this case, it’s fair to say that such behavior is irresponsible and further, a gross misrepresentation of Jewish people and true Jewish values. I just hope people start to see this before we wind up in a pickle which parallels those barrels we’ve wound up in before under similar circumstances.

I mean, honestly, what hell is Alan Keye’s doing sermonizing on Israel at Shabbos services at an Upper East Side synagogue?

(some links c/o Aphid)

9 thoughts on “For Jews, Right is Wrong

  1. Mobius,
    Your comments echo Bradford Filcher’s recent article in Jewsweek criticizing Jews who stray off the reservation, to which I responded with my own article.
    You are certainly correct that there is strong Jewish involvement with socialist radical politics. At the same time, as your friend Julian Sanchez can tell you, there is strong Jewish involvement with radical capitalist politics as well. Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, Robert Nozick, Ludwig von Mises, Randy Barnett, David Friedman, Milton Friedman – heck, its difficult to think of many libertarian intellectual goyim.
    With all due respect, I think its a bit close-minded of you to resort to the old Marxist excuse of “false consiousness” in order to explain why so many Jews disagree with you politically. Conservative and libertarian Jews are not evil, do not believe that they are doing harm to the world, do not believe that they are abondoning Jewish values, and are not dupes of some vast right-wing conspiracy of wealthy elitists. Some of us simply find non-left-wing politics more attractive and more in line with our conception of Jewish values.
    You may disagree, and that is fine, but I don’t think it is helpful to demonize the opposition. Judaism is a large enough tent to house conservative, libertarian, leftist, and socialist ideologies, among others. Revel in that diversity.

  2. would this be the article in question? and this your response?
    i’ll certainly take the time to read both pieces later.
    but i’m curious as to which jewish values you, or any other conservatives in our midsts, feel coincide with the republican platform. i’d like some real world examples.

  3. Actually, this is Bradford’s article, but you have the correct link for my response.
    And in the article I mention a number of specific Jewish values that coincide with the Republican platform

  4. I really enjoy reading your blog; it’s always filled with a lot of great links, articles, and for the most part great commentary… But this post upset me on many different levels… I realize that I will not agree with everyone on everything, especially another Jewish person, and I realize that everyone is entitled to their own opinion however wrong it may be. But I just can’t understand how you or anyone else could feel this way. You asked “how can you ally yourselves with people who pretty much want you dead?” Well, what do you think you are doing by aligning yourself with the left? A group of people that wants nothing else but to destroy Israel and the US for that matter.
    PS. People get their anti-Semitic ideas regardless of what we do or where we stand on different issues. I guarantee that they hate me as much as they hate you…

  5. So, let’ see. As a Jew you are siding with people who are promoting pacifism? Same philosophy that led to WW2? As a Jew you are siding with the party that wants to abolish the 2nd amendment?

  6. Todays left is the most organized (1 million plus at rallies), Powerful (Deans candidacy), and vociferously antisemitic movement since the Nazis. The Democrats are bound to them 100 times more than the Republicans to the far-right (Notice that Pat Buchanan is now an outsider). Go visit Indymedia, Democraticunderground, and other left leaning Democrat sites to see what I mean. Anyone who votes Democrat needs his or her head examined.
    Besides for this, the general moral priciples of Judaism regarding religion, G-d, prayer, sexual morality, sanctity of human life, traditional family values, etc…etc.. are all echoed in the Republican party and not in the Democratic party. Sure there are those who gutted Judaism of all that, but that does not make it true to say that the Republicans are out of step with Judaism. It only means that they are out of step with the new revised secularized version…
    There is far more to say on this matter, but the fact that so many Jews would ally themselves with the most vociferously antisemitic movement in recent history out of nostalgia is horrifying.

  7. I’d like to add another voice requesting re-examination of the groups aligned with the Democrats. Break away from group-think that equates Democrats with all things good.
    Look at the groups already suggested, Indymedia and DemocraticUnderground. The anti-Semitism on these boards is disgusting. These are the people who want the Republicans out. They have redefined the word Liberal to mean the stifling of dissent and seem to blame Israel and the US for all the ills of the world.
    The Democrats of today are not the Democrats we used to know. Read and research before giving such people your loyalty. They certainly have no loyalty towards the Jews.

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