Friday, September 22, 2006

Today in Jew

A couple issues of importance to the Jewish community.

Eugene Volokh reports that the NAACP is suing a Jewish-run dental and health clinc because it closes on Saturday. This, apparently, amounts to the imposition of Jewish religion on the clinic's patrons (most of whom are poor minorities). If ever there was a case of Christian normativity screaming for recognition, this was it. And of course, this certainly does not help revive the faltering Jewish/Black relationship.


Also over at the VC, David Bernstein reports on the mechanics of Columbia University's speech invitation to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It fell through, but it is ironic that the prestigious university invited an on-the-record Holocaust denier to speak on Rosh Hashanah.


Via my colleagues at The Moderate Voice, another thinker (Ed Lasky) proposes that it is time for Jews to join the GOP. It follows the usual pattern--cite the Democratic anti-Israel far left for anecdotal evidence, and show that Republicans are generally more reflexively pro-Israel than Democrats are. The problems are multiple. As TDL readers know, I keep a wary eye on said left fringe, and would just as soon see them take their illiberal views to another party. But it is facile to say it is controlling. In a caucus that contains over 200 members, Lasky never cites an anti-Israel vote that broke even 50 Democrats. Democratic foreign policy elites--with a few exceptions--continue to be strong on Israel issues. And the poll data Lasky cites still shows a strong plurality of Democratic voters who support Israel over its enemies. Moreover, Lasky skates over (to say the least) the fact that many of the worst offenders on the Israel issue were defeated in Democratic primaries when Jewish voters raised their ire (Earl Hillard and Cynthia McKinney--twice). More fundamentally, while Jews trend strongly pro-Israel, that does not mean we request blind loyalty or single-minded trumpeting of "do-whatever-it-takes" tactics. Because Jews have a personal stake in this conflict, we are more likely to want to see a stable, lasting, just peace. This does not mean that we are any less pro-Israel, but it does mean that most of us would not object to a provision (called for by minority leader Nancy Pelosi and criticized by Lasky) asking that Israel do its best to limit civilian casualties. In addition to simply being the moral thing to do, every innocent who dies in this conflict adds fuel to the fire and makes it less likely that a moderate consensus will coalesce in the Arab world that respects Israel's sovereignity and security concerns. In other words, being "pro-Israel" doesn't necessarily mean what

But far and away the biggest flaw in Lasky's analysis is that he inexplicably thinks of Jews as single-issue voters. But of course, there are many issues of importance to Jews, of which Israel is but one. The Jewish community has and continues to have a broadly liberal consensus on a variety of issues, which also keeps us firmly Democratic camp. Israel isn't even the only issue that affects Jews qua Jews in America. At least as important to us is issues of Church/State separation, the abandonment of which would rapidly make us second-class citizens in our own country. The Republican record on this issue is, to say the least, abysmal. Indeed, numerical fringes not withstanding (and recall, you can find them among Republicans too--Pat Buchanan rises to mind), Jews right now have the best of both worlds--both parties reflect a broadly pro-Israel consensus, so Jews can comfortably vote on the basis of other issues of concern--like economic justice, church/state separation, civil rights, etc.. On those issues, Democrats remain clearly in command from a Jewish perspective. Republicans will never get our votes unless and until they realize we aren't single-issue Israel zombies.


Phoebe Maltz has a great post on Jewish neo-conservatives (and "neo-conservatives").


Happy Rosh Hashanah!

1 comment:

Mark said...

At my alma mater, U of Chicago, the school year session never begins until after Rosh Hashanah.