web analytics
April 19, 2015 / 30 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Republicans Should Consider Goldwater’s Libertarianism


The late liberal activist Allard Lowenstein was fond of recalling the time he bucked a boycott of French President Georges Pompidou’s address to a joint session of Congress in March 1970.

Before his murder in 1980 at the hands of a former aide, I heard Lowenstein speak of the incident when pro-Israel members of Congress stayed away from Pompidou’s appearance to protest France’s sale of warplanes to countries pledged to Israel’s destruction.

But Lowenstein, a left-wing gadfly serving in his only two-year term as a member of the House of Representatives from New York and far from uncritical of Israel, decided to show up.

Entering the chamber filling up with members of the Senate and House, he found himself next to his ideological opposite number: Sen. Barry Goldwater, the conservative icon and one-time Republican presidential candidate from Arizona.

“Well, Barry,” Lowenstein said, “looks like we’re going to be the only Jews in here today.”

The two shared a laugh over that, if nothing else.

I was reminded of Goldwater’s status as the grandson of a Jew (his father converted and married a non-Jew, and the future senator was raised as a Christian) by the latest discovery of a Jewish skeleton in the closet of a leading Washington figure.

In this case, the new crypto-Jew was Sen. George Allen of Virginia, heretofore better known for being the son of a famous football coach, whose service as governor of Virginia and then as a member of the U.S. Senate had made him a contender for the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2008.

In the course of a faltering battle for reelection to the Senate, Allen’s outsized ambitions have come a cropper due to a an epithet he slung at a Democratic campaign worker, and talk of his alleged fondness for Confederate flags and use of racial slurs.

Wedged in among those setbacks was a more bizarre revelation: The conservative politician’s mother turns out to be Jewish. The fact that Mrs. Allen is a Jewish immigrant from Tunisia whose father was interned in a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust got on the national press’s radar when a media panelist asked the senator about his mother’s identity during a campaign debate. Allen’s umbrage at the question, whether justified or not, struck many observers as odd.

Like the explanations of former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright – who claimed to know nothing of the fact that her parents were born Jewish – Allen’s story of a parent eager to disassociate herself from the embattled existence of her people may not sit well with many Jews.

But those of us who were raised to take fierce pride in our heritage have to accept that some of those who suffered abuse at the hands of anti-Semites were overcome by their fears and embraced not just assimilation but tried to erase their backgrounds altogether. It is a free country, and anyone, even the son of a North African Jew, can masquerade as a son of the old Confederacy (as Allen did in a cameo in a recent awful Hollywood film about the Civil War called “Gods and Generals”) if they so choose.

Yet Goldwater, whose peddler grandfather founded a department store in Phoenix and lived to see his descendants fade into the Christian world of Arizona, had no problems talking about his Jewish forefathers.

In “Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater,” a new HBO documentary film about the senator created by his granddaughter C.C., journalist Robert MacNeil spoke of Goldwater’s attitude toward his status as a “half Jew.”

“He often told the story about being born of a Jewish father and an Episcopalian mother,” MacNeil relates in the film. “He would say things like, ‘I went to a golf club where they wouldn’t let Jews play, and I said, ‘I’m only half-Jewish. Can I play nine holes?'”

That sort of comfort with the contradictions of American life – in which a quintessential Western conservative was unashamed to also be branded a “Jew” – is what is lacking in the reactions of Allen and Albright.

While incidents such as Sen. Hillary Clinton’s discovery of a Jewish stepgrandfather during her run for the Senate in New York (Clinton also appears in the HBO film, speaking of her days as a “Goldwater Girl” conservative campaign worker during high school) are more silly than anything else, the awkward scrambles of Allen and Albright seem to reveal the dark underside of fear that once dominated relations between Jews and non-Jews even in this country.

About the Author: Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com, where this first appeared. He can be reached via e-mail at jtobin@commentarymagazine.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Republicans Should Consider Goldwater’s Libertarianism”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Said Arikat, al-Quds Washington, D.C. reporter. Jan. 29, 2015
More PA Lobbying from the State Dept Briefing Room
Latest Indepth Stories
Temple Israel Of Boston

“The resentment towards us (Jews/Israelis) was really intense. They clearly hate Zionism & Zionists”

US has no problem with Egypt's bombing hundreds of homes of Gaza civilians but can't stand to see Israel destroy a terrorist's home.

Egypt has been more effective against Gazan smuggling tunnels than Israel’s military operations

Mrs. Golda Katz a"h

She had many names and was many things to many people, but to me she was just Babineni.

ISIS terrorist carries the group's black flag.

Is ISIS in Gaza? “No, but there are ISIS loyalists here..we pray to God they unite under ISIS’ flag”

Rabbi Portal was that great “inspirer,” changing people for the better, enriching the lives of all

Iran knows Obama, Putin, and the Europeans don’t have a Red Line beyond which they will go to war

There is no way to explain the Holocaust. I know survivors who are not on speaking terms with G-d. I know many who are the opposite. I have no right to go there…

When a whole side of your family perishes, friends become the extended family you do not have.

“We stand with Israel because of its values and its greatness and because its such a wonderful ally”

Mr. Obama himself inelegantly cautioned members of the Senate to be careful not to “screw up” the negotiations by seeking to have input into the future of the sanctions regime that has been imposed on Iran.

For our community, Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy record will doubtless attract the most attention. And it is a most interesting one.

Mitchell Bard is nothing if not prolific. He has written and edited 23 books, including “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Middle East” and “The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East.” Bard, who has a Ph.D. in political science from UCLA, is also the executive director of both the […]

Understanding the process described in Dayenu reveals deep relevance for us today.

For Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, the tanks, planes, and uniforms of the IDF were implements of mitzvot

More Articles from Jonathan S. Tobin
Tobin-012315

The abuse following publication proved a cautionary tale: no one followed in Peters’s footsteps

German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Jerusalem at the President's Residence, February 2014 (archive)

Anti-Semitism has returned to the mainstream of European society and Israel has become its focus.

One of the key talking points by apologists for Hamas in the current conflict is that it isn’t fair that Israelis under fire have bomb shelters while Palestinians in Gaza don’t have any. Among other factors, the lack of shelters accounts in part for the differences in casualty figures between the two peoples. But somehow […]

How will all this end? Hamas seems to think it will be Netanyahu who will blink first.

Nothing short of a stroke that will decapitate the leadership of this group will convince the Arabs that Hamas has made a mistake.

Z STREET will have the ability to compel IRS officials to testify as to their practices and produce all records.

“Death of Klinghoffer” opera frames the issue as Israel’s existence being the real crime.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/republicans-should-consider-goldwaters-libertarianism/2006/10/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: