Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What Do Jews Actually Believe?

Three interesting links on that front:

(1) Adam Serwer, digressing from a post on a different topic, observes that "Jewish perspectives aren't really all that common on television despite the number of Jewish reporters -- instead, you have a reverse Al Sharpton problem, where the "Jewish perspective," is almost entirely represented by a minority of public intellectuals who are actually conservative, despite the fact that most Jews are liberals."

(2) Jeffrey Goldberg likewise takes aim at the AIPAC conference for not having a sufficiently large tent. Though most Jews, including most pro-Israel Jews, are liberal, the conference attendees lean definitively to the right. There are some exceptions, including the ATFP's Ghaith al-Omari.
But the dearth of speakers who approach the most contentious issues of the Middle East from a left-Zionist perspective is noticeable. Most American Jews voted for Obama; most American Jews are liberal; and most American Jews understand the difference between the legitimate security needs of the State of Israel and the theological, political and economic needs of the small minority of Israelis who have settled the West Bank. So would it hurt to bring in speakers from the Meretz Party, from the kibbutz movement, from the New Israel Fund, from the Reform Movement, so that the AIPAC attendees could hear for themselves the views of Zionists who disagree with the policies of Israel's right-wing parties?

J Street, by contrast, Goldberg gives strong credit to for welcoming diverse perspectives (even if the organization "sometimes makes me crazy").

(3) And finally, speaking of J Street, they've got their latest poll out measuring the attitudes of American Jews on various issues. Obviously, J Street is an advocacy organization, so take their data with a grain of salt. But for information not easily gained (like standard favorable/unfavorable questions for political candidates), it's probably pretty solid. And it's interesting across the board.


N. Friedman said...

The poll does not read like a normal poll. It reads like a poll that creates false, either/or choices which J Street then spins to assert current attitudes.

For example, J Street asserts that American Jews favor putting pressure on both sides to settle the dispute. Of course, that is not what Obama is doing so, in fact, so the poll registers nothing regarding views of Obama's actual course of action. So, we learn nothing on that point.

I might add that there has been substantial slippage in support of Jews for Obama and this last week has to have taken a big toll of those Jews including the minority - which is a pretty substantial group - who actually know something about the Arab Israeli dispute, not just think that it would be good if it were resolved peacefully, as if the dispute were a business deal that needs to be worked out.

I might add: most AIPAC people are Democrats. Its current director, if I recall, is a Democrat.

In other words, what a load of bull.

joe said...

Why do I get the sense the minority "who actually know something" about the dispute is interchangeable with people who wholeheartedly agree with N. Friedman on policy?

N. Friedman said...


By know, I mean that they have actually read something about the dispute other than what is in the papers.

If that makes people be people like me, that is life.

joe said...

I suppose that depends on exactly what they're reading other than what's in the papers.