Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A small meditation for the Jewish New Year

Although I am an atheist, I am acutely aware of the vast influence that the New Testament has had on my thinking. And I regret not one jot or tittle of that. Whenever I follow the teachings of Christ (alas far too seldom) I get a blessing -- sometimes very rapidly.

I also however have great respect for the Old Testament and often read it with pleasure. One book however stands out for its difficulty: The book of Job. However you explain it, the fact of the matter is that the God of Israel placed great burdens and afflictions on a good and holy man.

If I were a Rabbi, I would see that as a metaphor for the relationship between the God of Israel and his people as a whole. The God of the Jews has given his chosen people enormous gifts but in his wisdom he has also given them one enormous handicap: political stupidity. Israel and the Jews have only ONE powerful friend in the world: American evangelical Christians. And yet Jews generally despise them. Through the despicable Abraham Foxman, they do all they can to thwart evangelical Christians and they vote in droves for the antisemitic Democratic Party, the party that also despises evangelical Christians.

Now that seems to me to be a curse from on high but I speak from a particular perspective. What Jews do politically is virtually inexplicable from an Anglo-Saxon viewpoint but to the rest of the world it may not be so at all.

This is not the time or place to spell it out in historical detail, but a large element in Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism is the way they value alliances. When Anglo-Saxons go to war they generally do so as "Allies". They in fact refer to their side of a conflict as "the Allies" or "Allied forces". They have an instinctive appreciation of the importance of friends, banal though that may seem. There is much egotism in the world that causes both people and nations to "go it alone" at times but that is something that seems to be missing in Anglo-Saxon thinking.

And that seeking of alliances even overcomes old wounds. There is only one country that has burnt Washington to the ground and that is Britain -- in 1812. But, despite that bad start, the commonality of attitudes and values has prevailed and the USA and Britain have fought alongside one-another repeatedly since then.

Why cannot Jews do the same? Christians were once a plague upon Jewry but they are not so now. Both fundamentalist Christians and Jews want to see Jews in Zion but very few Jews will grasp the hand of friendship that is held out to them by the Christians. That blindspot does seem to me very much like a curse from on high.

There are of course some Jews who fight the good fight: Charles Krauthammer, Jonah Goldberg, Jeff Jacoby, Dennis Prager etc. But on some accounts 88% of Jews voted for the Islam-loving Democratic party at the 2006 mid-terms -- so the curse is pervasive despite that.

There has always been antisemitism on both sides of politics but at least since Karl Marx it has always had its principal home on the Left. Jews can remember conservative businessmen keeping them out of country clubs but forget that Hitler was a socialist. One should be able to expect better than that from a generally clever people. In the late 19th century, the British Conservative party made a Jew (Disraeli) their Prime Minister. About 50 years later the socialist Hitler incinerated 6 million Jews. Can anybody see a difference there?

In 1939 Germany went to war with a powerful ally on its side: Soviet Russia. The German Panzern that stormed through France were powered by Soviet fuel. Germany later however turned on its ally, with disastrous results for itself. One hopes that Jews will not similarly antagonize THEIR best ally. Abe Foxman, take note.


Jewish Left Wins, Jews and Israel Lose

by Dennis Prager

For decades most of the organized left has fought against Republicans and conservatives more than against the world's greatest evils. During the Cold War, starting in the late 1960s, one heard little if anything from the left about the evils of Communism or of Communist societies such as the Soviet Union or Communist China. But one heard a great deal about the evils of American anti-Communists; Ronald Reagan was vilified much more than Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.

But last week, a new line seems to have been crossed. The organized Jewish left -- i.e., left-wing Jewish organizations that claim to be committed to the welfare of Jews -- made it clear that even in the fight against the greatest enemy of the Jewish people, the Jewish left prefers to fight what it considers an even greater enemy -- conservatives and Republicans.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who has repeatedly called for the annihilation of Israel and who denies the Holocaust, came to speak at the United Nations. The day before he was scheduled to speak, Jewish organizations across the religious and political spectrum had organized a "Stop Iran" rally at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza across from the UN. They had invited Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and then invited Republican vice-presidential nominee Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The intent was to maximize publicity for the anti-Iran cause, the most important Jewish concern (and arguably the most important world concern) today. With Clinton and Palin present, the world press would cover the anti-Iran rally, and the Jewish community could show the world and America that this was one cause that knew no politics -- the most prominent female Democrat and the most prominent female Republican would both lend their names and prestige to this rally.

However, the moment that Clinton learned that the organizers had invited Palin, she withdrew. For Clinton, giving the other most popular woman politician in America publicity was unacceptable -- even among New York Jews, one of the steadfast liberal and Democratic groups in America. The near collapse of the Stop Iran rally was of less consequence to Clinton than denying Palin a public platform.

Not many were surprised by Clinton's action. What was alarming was the realization that for much of the Jewish left -- not leftists who happen to be Jews and for whom the welfare of the Jewish people is not particularly significant, but left-wing Jews who claim to care deeply about Jewish survival -- fighting Palin is of greater importance than fighting Ahmadinejad.

Left-wing Jews and Jewish organizations put intense pressure on the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to cancel the invitation to Palin. And the pressure worked. As the liberal editorial page of New York's major Jewish newspaper The Jewish Week put it: "But somehow, a big-tent cause like Iran as a terrorist power seeking nuclear arms has become so politicized within our community that Monday's rally was more about the non-presence of Gov. Sarah Palin than about the very real presence at the UN of a Holocaust denier whose goal is to destroy our way of life."

Yet, in a rare move, publishing an entire speech that was never given, Ha'aretz, Israel's equivalent to The New York Times in its prestige and in its liberal politics, published the speech that Palin would have given. In Israel, liberal and even many left-wing Jews know that Iran is a greater threat to Israel than American conservatives.

The Palin speech was so good it should be read by every American concerned with Israel's survival. And it was so nonpartisan that it praised Clinton for being at the rally. To say that Palin -- who has the American, Alaskan and Israeli flags in her Juneau office -- is a better friend of the Jews and Israel than much of the American Jewish left sounds odd only to Jewish leftists.

But the Jewish left acts as if it fears and hates her more than it fears and hates Ahmadinejad. That is why within days of her nomination Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., announced that "John McCain's decision to select a vice presidential running mate that endorsed Pat Buchanan for president in 2000 is a direct affront to all Jewish Americans. Pat Buchanan is a Nazi sympathizer with a uniquely atrocious record on Israel. . It is frightening that John McCain would select someone one heartbeat away from the presidency who supported a man who embodies vitriolic anti-Israel sentiments."

Wexler's statement was false: Palin supported Steve Forbes, not Buchanan. And associating Palin with Nazi or anti-Israel sympathies is morally loathsome, not to mention weakens the struggle against real anti-Semites.

For left-wing Jewish organizations and their supporters -- as opposed to many rank and file liberal Jews -- the real fight is against Republicans and especially Christian conservatives (as a community, the Jews' best friends) more than against a nuclear Iran.

After the cancellation of Palin, a left-wing Jewish organization that was influential in opposing Palin's appearance, an organization called J Street, on whose Board of Advisors sits the executive director of, headlined on its website: "We Won!" That is indeed the case. The Jewish left did win. Which is why the Jews and Israel lost.



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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


1 comment:

Michael said...

Please tell me your opinion on The Uses of the Word "Jew" by the prominent Marxist philosopher Alain Badiou. I need a good laugh.