Sunday, March 08, 2015

// // 5 comments

What’s With U.S. Liberal Jews?

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

A wonderful non-Jewish executive co-worker from my time living in the U.S. wrote me…

Just wondering, I like to be informed on current events but it's increasing getting difficult to rely on the mainstream US media outlets since they're mostly agenda based.

That’s an interesting insight… US news media have become “agenda based”.  Indeed.

For Israeli Prime Minster Netanyahu’s address to the U.S. Congress, do you have reliable news sites, blogs, etc that you can point me to that really addresses the reason why he came and what people in Israel think about his visit and Obama?

I admit I favor him coming here and am really concerned about U.S. President Obama's Middle East policy. However, I want to make sure my views are fact based and not based on my biases.

I responded:

Here's some Israeli news sites in English...

Brief overview of what's going on daily in Israel: Israel HaYom (Israel Today)
More extensive and wide ranging articles on Israel: The Times of Israel
And here's one of the local papers in English: The Jerusalem Post

Personally I thought the speech was excellent, and I agree Obama's foreign policy is a disaster for the U.S. and all it's allies.

He replied:

Thanks for the information! Very informative!  There's an interesting dynamic with liberal Jewish friends of mine being against what Netanyahu said. Granted they have only lived here in the US so maybe that's part of the problem. I'm going to point them to some of the articles that you gave me. If you have a particular article that you think they should read, please let me know.

And my analysis of this phenomenon:

There's a whole history here to bring some perspective. Let's see if I can give it very briefly...

Discrimination against the Jews of Europe from 150 years ago and before limited them to mostly tradesmen / merchant roles, which mostly limited them to urban areas. Jews were literally prohibited from owning land or major agriculture. This meant the vast majority of Jews in any area were the tailors, jewelers, architects, engineers, book binders & printers, shoe makers, money lenders / bankers, store owners, and traders of area goods (forestry products, alcohol products, cloth, etc). And as the merchants and bankers, often became advisors to government officials.

(This article disagrees with my premise, and says the Jews became involved in the trades not because of discrimination, which was real, but rather because of communal literacy due to our religion - where communal literacy education of the children is part of religious practice, as the children must be literate to learn the religious texts.)

So when the Jews began immigrating to America, they concentrated in the major East Coast cities, in line with the marketplace needs of their skills and the need to build sufficient communal majorities to provide religious and communal services.  Since the East Coast cities were and remain Democrat political strongholds, the way to political influence was creating communal voting blocs supporting particular politicians within the Democrats. And so Jews became life long and generational Democrats.

Furthering this connection is a religious alignment of Jewish ideals with Democratic party ideals. Jewish practice requires giving charity to and helping the poor. Orthodox religious Jewish communities have tens of charity organizations to help needy community members with all types of assistance... food, clothing, housing, medical, contacts to help with various issues, schooling (religious schooling), etc. So Democrat party ideals to create government programs to help the poor - welfare, Medicaid, etc, seem to align or even fulfill this religious obligation.

Another factor may be the historical feeling that the GOP is discriminatory, and Jews have a history of being subject to discrimination. (My mother was just barely allowed into university in Pennsylvania, having got in within the "Jew-quota".)

And regarding Israel and Netanyahu, historically politicians from both parties have been very supporting of Israel (about 70%), which plays well considering that while Jews are only about 3% of voters they may provide up to 25% of campaign funding US nationwide. Also most Christian communities are supporters of Israel, for biblical alignment reasons (the Presbyterians are a notable exception, having recently become anti-Israel).

If you asked me how were presidential relationships with Israel, I would answer:

Carter - good but pushy regarding a peace treaty with Egypt, which hurt Israel in the long run.

Reagan - iffy, increased military support but prevented Israel from taking defensive measures which would have strengthened Israel's position in the region.

Bush 1 - bad, decreased intelligence cooperation and pressured Israel to make peace steps which since costs thousands of lives.

Clinton - good, increased intelligence cooperation and military cooperation, but continued to push peace steps and cost more lives.

Bush 2 - very good, but only after 9/11 created a war against the common enemy of terrorism.

Obama - bad, belligerent relationship.

BUT, these same answers have to be put in context of what the president did to the international and Middle East regional situation...

Carter - no reaction to Iran revolution and US hostage situation, which strengthened regional dictators to build up and challenge for regional hegemony. This increased the existential risk to Israel, forcing increased defense spending and research (which may have been a long term positive but was a major economic drag).

Reagan - strong international positions tamped down regional dictator actions, which gave Israel room to directly attack cross-border terror organizations and stabilize it's borders.

Bush 1 - strengthened regional Arab countries, giving Israel some existential worries as modern competitive US arms flooded Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The Iraq 1 war, however, eliminated an existential threat to Israel while creating a concern for missile war, which spurred the future development of anti-missile systems. An economic drag but long term survival benefit.

Clinton - Wishy washy international efforts allowed strengthening of dictator regimes and the grown of international terrorism organizations, unrecognized as such at the time.

Bush 2 - the 9/11 wars eliminated Iraq and weakened international terror organizations, but created a power vacuum in their place.

Obama - Al Qaeda is back, ISIS is here, Boko Haram in Africa, he almost turned Egypt into a failed state, did turn Libya into a failed state, and did nothing to challenge Iran as it grew into a regional hegemon and at the nuclear precipice. Any positives? Well yes, as long as none of those things directly attack America, I guess not spending U.S. blood or treasure is a positive (at the cost of giving up US influence). But a world of chaos and regional clashes will be the result.

I have no idea how even life long Democrats can continue to support Obama. It requires ignoring of many facts on the ground.

Is Obama’s position the Democrat position?  Certainly as president he sets the approaches for US foreign relationships and strategic positioning.  And as president he’s technically leader of the Democrat party.  But in many ways I think his positions have been significantly out of alignment with normative or majority Democrat party positions.  His positions have been more niche, extremist, and narrow partisan positions.  He’s certainly been working to change the party to align with this positions, but with his time in office coming to an end will the extreme positions have moved to the party’s center?  You’d have to ask that question to Democrat party pundits.

Regardless, with the positions the U.S. has taken, the future is much scarier than it was 10 years ago!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have a differing opinion of the reason for liberal US Jewry. We came fleeing Pogroms and intense religious persecution. We arrived and assimilation and passing seemed the cure to the fear. In doihg so we embraced the Hashkalah movement which the previous wave of German Jews had established. Judaism became a form of universalist secular humanism Tikkun Olam with nice stories of our ancestors. FDR was adored by the Jews of his generation and the Democrats' help the poor shpiel appealed to the Tikun Olam and watered down socialism brought over from eastern europe. It went exactly as the Alter Rebbe foresaw when he backed the tyranny of the Czar over the secular humanism ("Liberty, Egalite, Fraternity")of Napoleon as the lesser evil for the survival of the Jewish People.

Anonymous said...

Ben Shapiro explains it quite succinctly-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5IqH7oJ9h4

Anonymous said...

All our problems have always been that the unlearned Jew has always put his faith in others (nations) instead of H' and being downtrodden under the heels of the antisemites, had weakened their faith even more. The State of Israel from its outset has avoided using the Torah as its basis for its rebirth and instead used the 'Holocaust' for the reason for coming home. The American Jew has been the most assimilated from the beginning and has no idea why or who they are and why they should have any affiliation with Israel,r'l. It is only due, thankfully, to the Rebbes & great Rabbis who came to America who brought Torah for the first time to the U.S. and is thus now considered the second Torah center after Israel, but the Torah Jew is still the minority. Ignorance of Judaism for the Jew is poisonous to the soul of our nation. This is why the typical Jew thinks, votes, etc. they way they do. He has been indoctrinated with the 'Reformed' Jew mindset.

Josh said...

Ben Shapiro's analysis is amazing.

Another good news resource is www.imra.org.il. While it does not generate content, the operator of the site pulls great information from a wide variety of sites.

Mr. Cohen said...
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