On his radio program last week, Rush Limbaugh touted Norman Podhoretz’s excellent new book Why Jews are Liberals. As the title suggests, Podhoretz attempts to answer a question that is often asked of Jewish conservatives. Limbaugh distills his analysis down to its essentials: Liberal Jews are liberals first, last and always, and their political liberalism trumps all their other “isms,” including Judaism.
I would add that liberal Jews, being in the main irreligious, have filled the void left by lack of religious belief with a secular catechism: the belief in man’s ability, through the force of government, to solve the ills of mankind. Many of these Jews are uneducated in normative Judaism and have been taught that “social justice” is the primary avenue for fulfilling the Jewish ideal of tikkun olam – repairing the world.
No one doubts the motives of such Jews, but the result has been, in my view, a self-destructive allegiance to liberalism (and the Democratic Party) that has become synonymous with Judaism since the days of FDR’s New Deal.
At any rate, Limbaugh wondered whether Jews – often self-labeled as “independents” – had been a factor in Scott Brown’s decisive win over Martha Coakley for the “Ted Kennedy” Senate seat in Massachusetts. Independents broke for Brown almost three to one, and Rush opined that if Jewish independents had voted in the same proportion as independents as a whole, that would be an astonishing political sea change.
Limbaugh suggested that Jews – who are well represented in the worlds of finance and banking – might have been antagonized into voting for Brown by Obama’s new War on Wall Street.
Apparently this was a bridge too far for Abe Foxman, the longtime national director of the Anti-Defamation League, one of the nation’s oldest Jewish activist groups. Foxman issued a press release accusing Rush of anti-Semitism, or something close to it. Foxman seems to think Limbaugh was playing to an audience of bigots and Jew-haters who buy into the ancient and persistent stereotypes that Jewish bankers control not just the money but even much of the U.S. and global government.
Foxman demanded an apology from Limbaugh.
Now, anyone who has listened to Limbaugh knows he is a faithful and passionate friend of Israel and the Jewish people. He has often taken on the Left for its growing intolerance of Israel and blind acceptance of the Palestinian anti-Jewish narrative.
As Podhoretz pointed out in a post at Contentions, Commentary magazine’s main blog, Limbaugh was suggesting that Obama, by attacking Wall Street, might be the one playing on the fears of anti-Jewish bigots for whom “banker” is code for “Jewish.”
Foxman, wrote Podhoretz, “has a long history of seeing an anti-Semite under every conservative bed” and has “blinded himself to the fact that anti-Semitism has largely been banished from the Right in the past 40 years, and that it has found a hospitable new home on the Left, especially where Israel is concerned.”
Podhoretz characterized Foxman’s charge of anti-Semitism against so openly loyal a friend of the Jews as Limbaugh as “chutzpah” and declared that it is Foxman who owes Limbaugh an apology.
I must respectfully disagree with Podhoretz. It doesn’t take “chutzpah” for Foxman to ingratiate himself with his supporters and contributors by calling a conservative a Jew-hater. It just takes a willingness to foment scorn and even hatred toward conservatives, something at which the ADL is becoming an old hand.
Late last year the ADL published an outrageous report, titled “Rage Grows in America: Anti-Government Conspiracies,” which essentially cast the Tea Party movement and populist anger at government spending and meddling in the free market as a dangerous lurch into right-wing anti-government extremism and violence akin to the white supremacists of the militia movement.
In the world according to Foxman, blame for the “dangerous” new political environment is to be laid squarely at the feet of talk radio hosts like Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, who broadcast “extreme sentiments, including Nazi imagery, racist imagery, and imagery that implicitly or explicitly promotes violence.”
Foxman’s report reads almost as if it were ghost-written by the George Soros-funded Center for American Progress, which is at the forefront of the campaign to rid the country of the scourge of talk radio under the banner of – wait for it – free speech.