As Purim approaches, thousands of Israeli children and families grapple with poverty
In other words, one cannot conscript biblical ethics and morality on behalf of a political cause – even if doing so makes one feel righteous and moral ? until one can at least show credibly that the cause would indeed resolve or alleviate real-world problems.
The PC biblical poseurs are too lazy to go out and actually acquire the analytic tools needed for assessing policy proposals. Learning economics, statistics, cost/benefits accounting, etc., requires effort and investment. The PC posturers prefer to practice effortless recreational compassion and armchair peacemaking.
Besides, the very first thing one learns in social science and in policy analysis is that all things have tradeoffs. That is the one truth with which leftist biblical poseurs and other PC preachers simply cannot cope. If a policy proposal has both costs and benefits (and which does not?) there is no way that selective scriptural quotation and appeals to ‘Prophetic Ethics’ can resolve the dilemma.
If a proposal to improve the quality of the environment also produces higher food prices or higher energy or transportation prices and so impacts living standards (especially for the poor), what is one to do?
Should the proposal be adopted or rejected in the name of justice and ethics? Social science has a tool for answering such dilemmas (namely, cost/benefits evaluation). Those who issue vague and highly generalized appeals to biblical ethics do not.
Similarly, one cannot rationalize any policy in the name of the Prophetic love of peace unless it can first be shown to produce peace. The Oslo ‘peace formula’ cannot be rationalized by an appeal to the biblical yearning for peace – unless it can be shown analytically to lead truly to peace. Those who think the Oslo process does not lead to peace are not only justified – they are obligated – to oppose it, precisely because of their yearning for peace and their ethical concerns.
Opponents of the Oslo process are no less fond of peace than its politically correct supporters, just more skeptical or analytically dissident. (For the sake of argument, I am intentionally ignoring those sections of scripture that seem to rule out territorial compromise in the Land of Israel altogether, even for peace.)
In some cases the PC Bible thumpers take positions in such clear contradiction to the scriptural ethics they claim to uphold that one does not know whether to laugh or cry. For example, not only is there no biblical case for ‘animal rights’ (although the humane treatment of animals is indeed mandated), but one of the most clear-cut messages of the Bible is that human interests always take priority over those of animals.
It?s true that the Bible does not explicitly prohibit vegetarianism, but there is absolutely nothing therein that mandates it, and much rabbinic commentary is concerned with the rules of kosher slaughter and diet.
Another example: While there is a clear biblical basis for charity, it is equally clear that the emphasis is on individual charitable acts over which the giver exercises control, choice and personal responsibility.
There is nothing that can be interpreted as mandating a massive welfare state that deprives individuals of control over their property; indeed, a good deal of biblical and rabbinic law concerns the protection and preservation of private property rights. The main rules of mandatory income-distribution regard funding Levites and priests.
Finally, it should be abundantly clear to anyone reading the Bible, even superficially, that ‘Prophetic Ethics’ are premised upon and augment – and in many cases are thought to be a means for achieving, protecting and developing – Jewish national existence and national self-interest. (Contrast this with the recent fatwa by Tikkun’s ‘Rabbi’ Lerner that the jubilee laws mean Israel has to give ‘back’ its lands to the Palestinians.)
The very same Jewish politically correct Bible thumpers who argue that ‘Prophetic Ethics’ mandate the Left’s political agenda are generally the first to distance themselves from (if not outright denounce) all acts and ideas designed to promote and protect Jewish national existence and national interests.
The hypocritical enthusiasm for ‘Prophetic Ethics’ on the part of the PC Bible thumpers is best understood as part of the overall trend of Jewish assimilation in North America. Liberalism has been the main avenue of assimilation for North American Jews. In effect, assimilationist Jews long ago substituted the liberal/left political agenda for Judaism as their religion. They are as zealously attached to this pseudo-religion as most Jews in the past were to authentic Judaism.
Like all religious beliefs, this devotion to liberalism is by definition non-rational. Assimilated Jews adhere to this religion of liberalism even when it is clearly harmful to their own self- interests, as in the case of the racial preference policy euphemistically known as affirmative action. They ignore violent anti-Semitism when it contradicts their new religion, as in the case of black anti-Semitism and Afro-fascism.
About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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