A year later, as the Yom Kippur War raged, Nixon went against the State and Defense Department bureaucracies and directed the massive military airlift that saved Israel from impending catastrophe. Had two-thirds of American Jewish voters gotten their way, the man sitting in the Oval Office during Israel’s time of unprecedented peril would have been President George McGovern.
Posts Tagged ‘liberalism’
An old saying has it that “liberalism is always being surprised.” That is the only possible explanation of Jewish expressions of “surprise” and “shock” that Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu in late October urged the South African Opera troupe to cancel its engagement to perform “Porgy and Bess” in Israel.
Turning a blind eye to Tutu’s disparagement of Israel and indeed of Jews generally is, to be sure, not exclusively a Jewish failing. Just a few months ago, on the occasion of the Anglican clergyman’s 79th birthday, President Obama lauded him as “a moral titan – a voice of principle, an unrelenting champion of justice, and a dedicated peacemaker.”
In this year alone Tutu has demonstrated his dedication to peace, justice, and principle in the Middle East in particular by speaking up for Hamas and supporting the “Freedom Flotilla” of Islamist jihadists and “internationalist” do-gooders (people who confuse doing good with feeling good about what they are doing) who last spring tried to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
He has also repeatedly endorsed the activities of the BDS (Boycott/Divest/Sanction) movement. This reincarnation of the Nazis’ “Kauf nicht beim Juden” campaign of the 1930s constantly invokes Tutu’s “authoritative” condemnation of Israel (where Arabs and Jews use the same buses, beaches, clinics, cafes, and soccer fields, and attend the same universities) as an “apartheid” state. Advertisement
But his fulminations against Jews have a long history, so well-documented that one wonders how the “surprised” Jewish leaders or President Obama can possibly be ignorant of it, especially now that the latter has a “director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism” named Hannah Rosenthal, who has shown herself adept even at spotting that evanescent phenomenon called “Islamophobia” at a distance of ten miles.
Here are just a few examples of the “moral titan” Tutu on the Jewish question:
On the day after Christmas 1989, Tutu, standing before the memorial at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem to the millions of Jews murdered by the Nazis, prayed for the murderers and scolded the descendants of their victims. “We pray for those who made it happen, help us to forgive them and help us so that we in our turn will not make others suffer.” This, he said, was his “message” to the Israeli children and grandchildren of the dead.
Moral obtuseness, mean spite, and monstrous arrogance do not make for sound ethics and theology. Neither Tutu nor the Israelis he lectured can “forgive” the Nazi murderers. Representatives of an injured group are not licensed (even by the most sanctimonious of preachers) to forgive on behalf of the whole group; in fact, forgiveness issues from God alone. The forgiveness Tutu offers the Nazis is truly pitiless because it forgets the victims, blurs over suffering, and obliterates the past.
Tutu is always far less moved by the actuality of what the Nazis did (“the gas chambers,” he once said, “made for a neater death” than apartheid resettlement policies) than by the hypothetical potentiality of what, in his jaundiced view, Israelis might do. His speeches against apartheid returned obsessively to gross, licentious equations between the former South African system and Jewish practices, biblical and modern.
“The Jews,” Tutu declared in 1984, “thought they had a monopoly on God” and “Jesus was angry that they could shut out other human beings.” Tutu has been an avid supporter of the Goebbels-like equation of Zionism with racism. He has alleged that “Jews think they have cornered the market on suffering” and that Jews are “quick to yell ‘anti-Semitism’ ” because of “an arrogance of power – because Jews have such a strong lobby in the United States.”
Jewish power in America is, in fact, a favorite Tutu theme. In late April 2002 he praised his own courage in resisting it. “People are scared in [America] to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful, very powerful. Well, so what? Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.”
Tutu has repeatedly declared that (as he once told a Jewish Theological Seminary audience) “whether Jews like it or not, they are a peculiar people. They can’t ever hope to be judged by the same standards which are used for other people.” Certainly Tutu has never judged Jews by the standards he uses for other people. Although South African and American Jews were more, not less, critical of apartheid than the majority of their countrymen, Tutu in 1987 threatened that “in the future, South African Jews will be punished if Israel continues dealing with South Africa.”
Most American Jews are orthodox. No, that's not a misprint, nor is it a sign that I've taken leave of my senses. In fact, the bulk of American Jewry is very orthodox. The problem is, they're very orthodox in their liberalism, not their Judaism — and therein lies the answer to all the costly studies, surveys and polls commissioned by Jewish organizations in their never-ending quest to understand why Jews are assimilating themselves out of existence.
Diaspora Jews have long suffered from serious psychopathologies, most notably a virulent strain of assimilationist self-hatred. Western Jewry in particular has been dominated by a form of assimilationism that emerged long before World War II, with precedents and elements found in both the German Jewish enlightenment and German Reform Judaism.
The innovation of German (and later American) Reform Judaism was that the Jews should ''define themselves away'' as a national entity. Instead, Jews would define themselves as just another ethnic group in their various countries of residence, but with their own religion — i.e. Germans of the Mosaic faith, Hungarians practicing Judaism, Russians of the Hebrew tradition.
The de-emphasizing of the national aspects of Jewishness was accompanied by religious adaptation and reformation. In order to make Jewish religious observance more palatable to the Protestant majorities around them, Western non-Orthodox Jews subjected their Judaism to substantial dilution, in the process co-opting a number of Protestant practices such as organs in synagogues and ''confirmation'' ceremonies.
In the aftermath of the Holocaust and the destruction of Europe's Jewish communities, America became the indisputable intellectual center for non-Orthodox Judaism. In an acceleration of a trend that had already begun before the war, a new form of Jewish assimilationism, the ''Liberalism as Judaism'' form of pseudo-Judaism, took firm hold in the U.S. This school of thought held that Judaism constituted nothing more or less than the American liberal political agenda.
The ''Liberalism as Judaism'' School argued that all of Judaism and Jewish tradition could be boiled down to a search for civil ''justice'' and secular ''freedom.'' Since it was axiomatic, in the eyes of Jewish liberals, that the liberal political agenda was synonymous with justice, freedom, and righteousness — and that the opponents of liberalism were evil and unjust — ''Judaism'' itself could be conscripted in the cause of promoting liberal partisanship.
In the era when liberalism meant civil rights, anti-poverty legislation and basic social welfare programs — that is from the mid-1930's through the mid-1960's — such a set of axioms seemed plausible to a great many. By aligning themselves with the forces of progress and enlightenment, Jews would promote their own acceptance and reputation, at least among thinking, ''progressive'' Americans.
Jews, so the thinking went, were well-served by joining these good Americans in their struggle for a better society — a society in which Jews would be appreciated and honored as comrades-in-arms in the battle for tolerance and freedom.
In short order the face of institutional Jewry was transformed:
* Numerous institutions devoted to the new ''Liberalism as Judaism'' orthodoxy arose in the American Jewish community. The mission of these organizations, sometimes stated and sometimes not, was the promotion of the liberal political agenda.
* The community ''federations'' also pursued liberal causes, and often operated as the Jewish analogue to Christian charity groups, funding general community hospitals and social services.
* Because the Jewish weeklies that formed the main communications network of American Jewry were generally owned and published by the federations, they invariably pushed a liberal editorial line.
* The ''defense organizations'' — Bnai Brith, the American Jewish Congress and the American Jewish Committee — which originally were founded in large part to battle anti-Semitism, joined the struggle for liberalism and often devoted the bulk of their resources and energies to the promotion of liberal causes.
* Large parts of the Reform and Conservative synagogue movements jumped aboard the ''Liberalism as Judaism'' bandwagon. Many Reform and Conservative rabbis devoted their weekly synagogue sermons to the advocacy of liberal causes. ''Social action'' committees abounded in synagogues and other Jewish community institutions, where ''social action'' meant only one thing — the liberal political agenda.
Liberalism Comes Home To Roost
From the start, though, there were problems with the formula of ''Liberalism as Judaism'' — that is, with the assertion that the essence of Judaism is nothing other than moral sentiments that may be conscripted in support of liberal ideological fads.
The chief problem was that if one accepted the equating of Judaism with liberalism, there really was no reason to remain Jewish. Surely Jewish tradition speaks nobly and highly of the search for justice and peace, but so does virtually every other religious or non-religious humanist tradition. After all, to paraphrase that famous old ad for Levy's rye bread, you don't have to be Jewish to be a liberal. And there were far easier ways to express and advocate liberalism and social justice.