The Election & The Widening Chasm Among American Jews
by Norman Berdichevsky (Oct. - Nov. 2008)
Many sleepless nights and a growing dismay at the prospect of an Obama victory at the polls in less than a few days have been multiplied by the grotesque role played by many self styled liberal Jews who have widened the chasm in the already deeply divided Jewish community. Their self induced hypnosis is leading them to ignore the score of warnings and already damning evidence of Obama’s opportunism and close connections with both campaign advisers and prospective cabinet appointees who bear a strong and consistent anti-Israel agenda.
What is ultimately both galling and an affront to generations of Jewish values, traditions, piety, tolerance as well as dangerous, is the self confidence that their political choice somehow is dictated by what they regard as their Jewish identity, one forged out of their own ignorance and detachment from everything outside their own orbit of social standing among celebrities, media personalities and Hollywood stars.
They picture themselves as enlightened and the true inheritors of the mantle of Jewish concerns for “social justice” and will follow the Pide Piper of Chicago wherever he leads oblivious to all the evidence amassed and catalogued and shouted from the roof tops by the growing band of Jewish intellectuals, writers and politicians such as Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer, former White House Press secretary Arie Fleischer, Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Joshua Muravchik, columnist and editor of the Weekly Standard Bill Kristol, political analyst and former campaign advisor to President Bill Clinton, Dick Morris, Editor of Frontpage Magazine, David Horowitz, National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg, Senator Joe Lieberman, author and columnist Dennis Prager, writer Monah Charen, editor of Commentary Norman Podhoretz, author Hillel Halkin who now resides in Israel, writer Bernie Goldberg, film producer David Zucker and comedian Jackie Mason among many others.
Nevertheless, the most prestigious organization representing organized Jewish life in this country, The “Conference of Presidents” was cowed into withdrawing their invitation to Governor Sarah Palin after being threatened by Hillary Clinton and her supporters that they would not participate in the demonstration against Iranian President Ahmadinejad in September if Palin were involved.
Their decision to disinvite governor Palin is the most atrocious act of Jewish self-debasement in my lifetime. These worthy gentlemen (is there a woman among the many Presidents?) in their website make the following statement to describe “Who we are”…..
“For half a century, the Conference of Presidents has played a key role in American and world Jewish history. From mass public events to private diplomacy, the Conference has been in the forefront of mobilizing support for Israel and educating the public in times of war and conflict, and in the pursuit of peace. Today, the Conference of Presidents remains American Jewry’s recognized address for consensus policy, collective action, and maximizing the resources of the American Jewish community. When events in the U.S., Israel and elsewhere affect the American Jewish community, the Conference of Presidents takes the lead to explain and analyze issues, provide a link between American Jewry and the U.S. government, and marshal a coordinated community response.“
It matters not a fig to the distinguished “Presidents” as the spokesmen for American Jewry, that 94% of Muslim Americans and probably 95% of Afro-Americans enthusiastically plan to support Senator Obama in his candidacy. The paragons of Liberal Thought among American Jewish liberals can rely on several willfully ignorant Reform Rabbis who have appeared on the History Channel and other documentary programs, proclaiming in all their feeble and feigned piety, innocence and assumed mantle of linguistic scholarship, that ISLAM (meaning SUBJUGATION) really means PEACE. A hint from Hillary was enough for the organizers of the anti-Ahmadinejad rally to cancel Governor Palin’s invitation. The fear that someone might suspect Jews would demonstrate against Ahmadinejad either at Columbia University or the U.N. without the prior approval and blessing of the Democratic Party, is immediately to be stamped as NOT KOSHER.
The Presidents can no longer claim with any shred of credibility or decency that they are…………… “American Jewry’s recognized address for consensus policy, collective action, and maximizing the resources of the American Jewish community.”
For them it is simply inadmissible and beyond the pale for American Jews to express concerns that their interests may at times differ from other “minorities,” especially Blacks and that self-interest demands the same recognition from them as from other communities.
Sarah Silverman who is in her late 30s has already matched all previous acts of Jewish self debasement by recently releasing in close back to back order, a supposedly “humorous,” threatening video expressing the fear that if Barack Obama loses the election, it will be the fault of The JEWS (she is nuanced enough to point out that these will most likely be the elderly retired Jews in Florida like me) and her own production of the new hit song “I’m F**king Matt Damon”). Her description of 3,500 years of Jewish history is that they have produced the most “liberal, scrappy, civil-rightsey people there are” yet by her own admission in the hallowed New York Times,,,,,,“I have no religion. But culturally I can’t escape it. I’m very Jewish.”
There are many adults of her age in the United States who call upon what they perceive as their Jewish heritage only to present their Liberal credentials in the SECULAR public arena and would not dream of entering a synagogue or church for any purpose except to endorse a Democratic candidate.
Many Jews in the United States whose parents and grandparents rejoiced at the rebirth of Israel in 1948 and regarded it mystically as partial compensation for the Holocaust have been psychologically intimidated by the constant anti-Israel line of the media and of the torrent of bloody confrontations picturing enraged Muslim mobs ready for constant mayhem to avenge what they regard as the worst injustice in human history (i.e. the creation of the Jewish State rather than the failure to establish an Arab Palestinian state).
Some prominent Diaspora Jews, particularly among those who cannot escape the narcotic-like trance they have inherited as “progressives” and are essentially aggressively secular and ultra-critical of capitalism and American society with its underlying Christian values, have developed a new kind of psychological self-hatred to exhibit a disassociation from the State of Israel and their religious heritage. They are upset over the close Israeli-American friendship and compete among themselves in mindless and slanderous attacks on President Bush.
They have now found a new way to assuage their consciences for the sins nearer to home of racism they imagine they are also responsible for as whites. They easily see Israel’s many flaws (both real and imagined) among which, the worst is that Israel, like America is a “privileged” society enjoying wealth amidst a world of misery. They flatter themselves that they are the modern day prophets who see “the writing on the subway walls” (as Paul Simon sung). They have earned for themselves the justifiable contempt of most Israeli Jews (both religious and secular) for their moral duplicity.
As long ago as 1958, this trend of a major split among American Jews was clearly seen in the interviews given by Leon Uris, the author of the best selling novel “Exodus” in explaining why he wrote the book. He had in mind successful Jewish authors such as Philip Roth, Saul Bellow and Bernard Melamud whom he called “professional apologists” (for being Jews). Uris set out to tell the story of Israel’s rebirth as the story of Jewish heroes rather than the psychological analyses of individuals who grew up damning their fathers and hating their mothers and wondering why they were born.
Uris unapologetically made a pro-Israel film only a decade after every Jewish movie producer had turned down making the film “Gentleman’s Agreement” (1947; starring Gregory Peck) about polite anti-Semitism. The Jewish film producers (“moguls”) did not want to appear as espousing a specifically Jewish cause. It was made into a film by the great Greek-American producer, Elia Kazan who was later turned on with vengeance for cooperating with the House un-American Activities Committee revealing communist influence in Hollywood. Uris himself has been in the front lines in Guadalcanal and Tarawa island and felt an immense respect for the Israelis who had defeated the invading Arab armies and defied the legion of pro-Arab diplomats in the British Foreign Office and the leadership of the Labor Party (a sin the British Left has never forgiven).
Today’s crowd of “progressive” Jewish actors and entertainers so active in the campaign to elect Obama outdo even the writers Uris attacked fifty years ago. Woody Allen, Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman and Richard Dreyfus are among the most visible and acidic critics of American policy in Iraq and have called for the impeachment of President Bush. They are sarcastically referred to in Israel as “beautiful souls” by those who reject their elitism of supposed high moral values so out of place in the Arab Middle East and as remote from the real world as were the great majority of the victims of the Holocaust whose Jewish values prevented them from attributing such evil to the Germans. Most of the victims were as deaf and blind to the fate that awaited them as surely today’s Hollywood “stars“ are with regard to their calls for a selective “hands-off policy” or the future consequences of a return to Baathist rule in Iraq, one likely outcome of their incessant calls for a precipitous American withdrawal.
Two of these “stars,” Streisand and Hoffman recently played the lead roles in self-mocking doubly ironic roles of a liberated Jewish couple in the comedy “Meet the Fockers.” This is a grotesque example of art imitating reality (or is it the other way round?). The couple in the film have nothing but disdain for traditional American manly heroic virtues of military valor or achievement in sports, nor do they demonstrate any respect whatsoever for what were classical Jewish virtues of learning and piety. They exhibit the most crass, offensive loud and vulgar behavior constantly embarrassing their son. For them and much of the Left, the very concept of civility is regarded with contempt.
Whatever the differences between secular and religious Israelis, they pale before the monumental differences that separate life in the State of Israel with all its inherent promises, risks and dangers from the Diaspora’s ultra idealized concerns and sensibilities. American Jews residing in Israel voted 70% for President Bush in the 2004 presidential election whereas American Jews gave more than a 75% majority to the Democratic contender, Senator John Kerry. Even the most optimistic forecasts of a growing Republican vote among Jews do not reach more than 35% this year.
What Sarah Silverman must be wrong about is that it will be her contemporaries and younger age set who will convince their tottering, senile grandparents suffering from Parkinson’s disease in Florida that they must vote for Obama. The evidence anecdotal though it may be in my own family, is that among my friends’ children, if they have any identification at all as Jews, plan to vote Republican to the dismay of their own parents who have grown up on the Woody Allen interpretation of Jewish history that pictures the Jews, Blacks and all Liberals as an oppressed minority in America.
The Woody Allen version of history is accepted lock, stock and bagel by many American Jews without a shred of evidence. For them, it seems entirely appropriate that a man should be worthy of adulation for a screen career that involves mocking Jewish tradition, abandoning his name and ridiculing his parents. They have entirely swallowed hook, line and sinker the distorted totally unbalanced vilification of Senator Joseph McCarthy is part of the Hollywoodized rewriting of events that cast their shadow down to our generation. For them, there is only a “Religious Right” (today identified as Evangelical Christians who are Israel’s most constant friends and supporters among American voters) with hostile intentions towards Jews. They do not recognize or even piece together the role of the Religious Left and its wholesale identification with Obama and latent anti-Semitism (The Reverend Wright, Father Pfleger and the Reverend Jesse Jackson who just promised his friends in Europe an end to 'Zionist influence' on American Middle East policy under an Obama administration).
A brief detour into the increasingly leftward tilt of the Religious Left among Mainline Protestant denominations (see The Death of Protestant America by Joseph Botturn in FIRST THINGS, August/September, 2008), and the career of Senator Joe McCarthy are necessary as is a brief look at the campaign of Barry Goldwater in 1964 if one is to really understand the irrational behavior of so many Jews who court their enemies and spurn their friends and has passed on from one generation to the next since 1932.
Contrary to almost universal opinion among the so called “enlightened” supporters of the American Jewish Left, Senator McCarthy evinced no anti-Semitism whatsoever throughout his career. Their vilification of him is a classic example of “guilt by association”, the same charge liberals continually hurl at detractors of Obama. Among Irish-American Catholics who were profoundly anti-Communist and therefore supporters of McCarthy and his role in the Army hearings, there were undoubtedly some anti-Semites incensed at what seemed to them as the preponderant presence of many Jews among Democrats and those who espoused a militant anti-anti-Communism. The American Jewish liberal establishment fell prey to this guilt by association and in 1954 the Conference of American Jewish Rabbis condemned McCarthy and “unanimously” called for him to be stripped of his committee chairmanship.
McCarthy’s close associates and advisers were Jewish – Roy Cohn, G. David Schine, Alfred Kohlberg and columnist George Sokolsky. McCarthy’s investigation aimed toward exposing communists and their sympathizers did not single out Jews. No anti-Semitic statement or act has ever been alleged to have been committed by Senator McCarthy. Much of the anti-McCarthy sentiment that resulted in his being censored by the Senate and President Eisenhower had to do with his revelation that among the most prominent subversives his research correctly uncovered, were a high percentage of major figures who were appointees of the Roosevelt and Truman administration and were arch WASPS – with Ivy League educations and representing some of the most elite families at the top end of American society including several notable Protestant clergy of the Mainline churches.
Jews were not involved at all in this controversy but many had been upset at the sight of Jewish writers, film producers and directors who had also appeared before the House un-American Activities Committee and easily believed that McCarthy’s anti-Communism had run amuck and defamed American Jews as a group as well as the Protestant clergy. It is simply impossible for many liberal Jews today to accept that there was more than a grain of truth in McCarthy’s attack on Leftwing activists (in the same vein as the Reverend Wright and Father Pfleger today) who hid behind their clerical collars, nor can many of these same Jews (who always cast themselves as the victims) believe that there was considerable prejudice against McCarthy by refined and polished Ivy League types in Congress and the White House for his Catholicism, Irish-Midwestern background, boorish behavior and hard drinking.
International Research Associates, a respected research body, measured the extent of anti-Semitism in 1954 among McCarthy’s supporters. Only non-Jews were questioned. The poll certified that 38% of ANTI-McCarthy people would be likely to “vote against a Jew” compared to only 12% of pro McCarthy supporters. Additional research confirmed that much more hostility existed against Jews by anti-McCarthyites than among his supporters. This too so violently upsets the Woody Allen view of the world among many Liberal Jews, it is rejected out of hand. They prefer to ”know” what they believe rather than subject their biases to any re-evaluation.
When Jews actually organized successful PHYSICAL resistance to anti-Semitism on a major scale in the riots against the pro-Nazi Friends of the New Germany and the German-American Bund in Newark, New Jersey, (see Nazis in Newark by Warren Grover, 2003, Transaction Publishers), the initiative was wholly on the part of conservative leaning Jewish war veterans with battle experience, prizefighters, gangsters and craftsmen -plumbers, machinists, glaziers and upholsterers with muscle power and not by activists on the Left or pious statements by "progressive" Rabbis and liberal leaning commentators or “activists.” The same was true in Great Britain where the 1943 Group took to the streets of East London to forcefully evict the remnants of Mosley’s British Union of Fascists after World War II in defiance of the requests by the establishment British Board of Deputies not to “rock the boat” and their appeal that Jews should not act as vigilantes but leave their protection to the police (see The 43 Group by Morris Beckman, 1992; A Centerprise Publication, London).
For Jewish liberals, Senator Barry Goldwater’s statements during the 1964 presidential campaign that he was proud of his Polish-Jewish ancestry as a descendent of the Goldwasser family from Prussia and that anti-Semites would not vote for him no matter what his views, nothing registered to disturb their view of American politics as a stage on which the Jews can only act on one side of the stage (The Left). Had Goldwater been a Liberal Democrat, there would have been euphoria even if only for the reason of his family’s former Jewish ethnic identity when they arrived in the U.S.
FAST FORWARD to now a few days before the election today. No matter what the outcome of the election, the reality of today is that there is no longer a single American Jewish Community bound together by feelings of solidarity. There is a boastful arrogant majority who hurl contempt at Jews not intending to vote for Obama as “scared of his name,” latent racists or worse and vilify Governor Palin as an ignoramus or illiterate. Against them, is a minority (but I hope a growing one – only time will tell), who know what happened in the past has been distorted and embellished by the liberal mass media.
Voters including Republicans and Jewish Republicans have every legitimate right to vote for a Democratic candidate as a way to punish the Bush administration for mismanagement of the war in Iraq and an atrocious overspending that has resulted in the enormous deficits that set the stage for the present economic crisis. What is both objectionable and wholly irrational is to vote for a Barack Obama whose career history is full of evasions, rank opportunism, multiple flip-flops designed to follow the blowing wind and full of evil (rather than just “questionable”) alliances (and not just random associations like ships passing in the night). Farrakhan (who recently hailed Obama as a “messiah”), Wright, Ayers, Pfleger, Jesse Jackson (of "Hymie-Town" fame)and Rashid Khalidi – not to mention Tony Rezko, and ACORN. These are all of one cloth and bode ill – for all of us. For a Jew, to deny this, is to court disaster.
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