Following up on why the silence from Jews instead of anger when Louis Farrakhan’s best buddy Michael Pfleger was given an archdiocesan award Wednesday…the best way to understand it is from conservative Norman Podhoretz’s best-seller Why Are Jews Liberals? Notice the title is not Why Are Jews Liberal? (singular)...because all Jews are not.Some are conservatives and generally call themselves neo-conservatives: including Podhoretz who started the classification.
Yesterday we pointed out that lefty anti-Semitic demagogues are shrugged off by liberal Jews and the trendy media. Podhoretz explains… not defends it…this way in an interview about the book in the evangelical magazine World:
“In Europe, most of the time [in western history] the enemy of civil rights tended to be somewhere on the right (what they called the alliance of altar and throne, the monarchies and the churches).
“Those who favored according Jews rights as citizens tended to be on the left. There were exceptions, of course. Voltaire, the great Enlightenment hero, was a vicious anti-Semite. Nevertheless he was the leader of a movement that eventuated in granting civil rights and liberties to Jews. So it made sense Up to a certain point nobody would have asked the question `Why are Jews liberals?’ because it would have seemed self-evident.
“Once Jews got involved in secular politics, which didn’t really happen until 1848, there was nowhere for them to go but one of the parties on the left. And even if they had wanted to join one of the parties on the right, they would have been unwelcome. That carried over into the United States where the closest counterparts of the hostile forces of Europe seemed to be the Republicans and the friendly counterparts seemed to be Democrats, the Socialists and at one point even the Communists. Nobody up to a certain point would have wondered by Jews were liberals. What else would they be?
“But in the 1960s, everything changed…The real problem arose, as I date it, after 1967. For various reasons related to the culture of the 1960s, there was a very dramatic reversal of roles between right and left, not just in the United States but everywhere in the world. This had to do with the State of Israel but spilled over into Jews in general.
“ Whereas the right had always been unfriendly, enemy territory, it was suddenly becoming friendly. Whereas the left had been friendly territory, it was suddenly becoming hostile. This reversal has developed further and further until today you could say without equivocation that the most passionate supporters of the State of Israel in the United States are the evangelical Protestants—probably even more than the Jewish community itself by now.”
Lesson to conservative Republican candidates in high density Jewish districts: Don’t think pandering to Israel is going to get you Jewish votes necessarily—whether your neo-or not.
Now let me supply some background as I’ve studied these matters and talked to believing Jews and evangelicals for some years—since the founding of Israel which occurred when I was 20 years old.
- While only 36% of all Americans believe the Bible is God’s literal word, a surprising 59% believe events described in Revelation will happen. More than 1/3rd of that number believe the Bible teaches Jews must reclaim their own country in the Holy Land before Jesus can return. They’re called Dispensationalists. For a long time, pre-Israel’s founding in 1948, it was an interesting but not wholly exciting evangelical theory.
- But with Israel founded, Dispensationalist evangelicals began to believe, in the words of Dr. Timothy Weber, president of the Memphis Theological seminary, that “it was necessary to leave the bleachers and get onto the playing field to make sure the game ended according to the divine script”—meaning that God will see that Israel is safeguarded. This will lead to the End Times where Christ will divide the world into the sheep and the goats…and evangelicals and loyal Jews will be with the sheep.
- It really took hold during the Six-Day War (June 5-10, 1967) when Israel was attacked by Egypt, Jordan and Syria (with troops supplied by Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Tunesia, Morocco and Algeria). Israel cleaned the Arabs’ clock by taking the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Now that Jews not only has defended their home and had expanded beyond its 1948 borders, evangelical dispensationalists were committed to keeping them there. Catholics are largely uninvolved in the Dispensationalist philosophy. They seem to have no dog in the Jewish-Palestinian fight since some…not many…of the Palestinians are Christian.
- A fundamental misunderstanding exists where many Jews believe evangelicals are trying to convert them. Not at all! They’re trying to get themselves on the right side of Revelation, that’s all! But many Jews are wary. Very wary.
- Neo-conservative Podhoretz makes no bones about the fact that an increasing number of American Jews are becoming secularized and have, in fact, adopted liberal secularism as an adjunct if not substitute religion. Example: “Dramatic-Jewish law prohibits abortion except where the life of the mother is at stake. That’s Jewish law and it’s unambiguous. But should Jewish women be so much more heavily committed to abortion than non-Jewish women?...” He says although the population of believing Jews is going down here and in Israel Jewish women “respond by wanting to have fewer” children.
- Regarding the rest of the agenda: “Jews remain heavily committed, whether it’s the old liberal agenda of government spending, welfare programs and support for organized labor or the newer issues that make up the liberal agenda, like abortion, gay rights, gun control, assisted suicide. Many Jewish liberals”…who, he adds, live like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans… will “praise themselves for this. They say `We vote against our economic interests because we are noble idealists and the liberal agenda is something that we’re committed to because it stems basically from the Jewish tradition.’ Most of these people haven’t read the prophetic books but they know verses plucked from here and there.”
- A key point to me comes where Podhoretz says: “What I try to explain is that liberalism has become much more than a set of political opinions for political Jews: It has become a religion in its own right with its own Torah of liberalism and its own set of commandments. To the point where whenever they will conflict, the New Torah will always trump the old. The devotion of three-quarters of my fellow Jews in America to liberalism and the Democratic party is as passionate and as scrupulous as the devotion their great-grandparents had to the Torah of Jerusalem.”
- Podhoretz summarizes: “They are very loyal to it (the New Torah of liberalism) and they regard any move from liberalism to conservatism with the same horror that their grandparents and great-grandparents felt about conversion to Christianity. They would actually go into mourning if a child converted. Many of my friends on the left went into their form of mourning when I became an apostate [as a conservative].”
- I’ll say that in recent years I have worried about the hawkishness of the neo-cons—the group Podhoretz founded. It seems they want to go to war over every major imbroglio in the world… including bombing Iran. I am more Taft-like than are they. Yet I’d rather have them on my side than not. And, too, I reject what the Left including the Jewish Left says about neo-cons (echoing the Ron Paul-Buchanan-Sobran people).. They say neo-cons are Israel-firsters…and maintains that our closeness to Israel is a bone in the throat to the Muslims…which is the source of our troubles in the Middle East…and that if we either ditched Israel or…as the saying goes…apply an “even-handed” treatment of Israel and the Palestinians…things would be peaceful. “Even-handed” is what Obama is trying to do—but he doesn’t follow the policy of the even-hand. It is definitely slanted to favor the Palestinians with the domestic Jewish Left and other Lefties in this country applauding. His middle name ain’t Hussein for nothing.
- Militant jihadist groups come in many categories: there’s the Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda. Each holds forth on its own version of Islamism pertinent to its own region: independence for Chechna, dominance in the Sudan, power over Kashmir. But the single unifying factor is violent holy war on America and the West, the destruction of Israel and the Jews (assuredly)—but more: the recapture of all lands once held by the Muslims, the killing of “infidel” leaders in Muslim nations such as Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia…and ultimately the defeat of all non-Muslim nations. Thus to say that it is Israel and our support of it that precipitates this Muslim anger is wrong. Our culture…debased as it is admittedly…is a huge reason. I hate our culture, too! That’s why jihadist Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil has said: “Due to the blessing of jihad, America’s countdown has begun. It will declare defeat soon.”
Liberal passivity and ignorance of this passion…Obama’s willingness to weaken our defenses in order to assure Muslims he wants peace…is shared by liberals of all stripes including the media and largely non-observant Jews. And that’s why no Jewish anger over Farrakhan…or from liberal media either…over Obama’s war with Israeli leaders. A bewildering contradiction…not logical…but that’s the way it is and Podhoretz more than most knows what he’s talking about.
Ergo: Don’t expect a flood-rush of Jews to Republican and conservative causes because of dangers to Israel or economic malaise here… even though this would be in their interest. The worst enemies of Judaic principles and philosophy is in the left both here and around the world but Jews will be the last to recognize it—or care. Aside from lip-service to the old Torah (which many haven’t read since they were children) , most “modern” U. S. Jews have embraced the religion of secular liberalism…even to the extent of many fashionably, taking the side of the Palestinians (witness The New York Times—which Obama supports. You want logic and support of self-interest? You won’t find it with liberal Jews in the U. S.
And except for Jimmy Carter who was perceived by liberal Jews as an evangelical and hence suspect (big mistake, he is the most hotly anti-Israeli of any establishmentarian national figure)…recent Democratic candidates…Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama… have received around the mid-70s of the Jewish vote. Some are higher, some lower. FDR was 90%; LBJ was 90%; Obama was 78%.
However there’s a lesson for Catholics in all this. Our own figures are far less than stunning in supporting candidates who adhere to dogmas of the Faith including pro-life. Obama received 57% of the Catholic vote in 2008.
*: St. Mary of Cleophas. “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother and his mother’s sister, Mary [the wife of] of Cleophas and Mary Magdalene”—John 19:25. The Greek text is ambiguous as to whether Mary was the daughter of Cleophas or the wife…but scholars are generally united she was his wife. Cleophas by the way is thought to have been the brother of St. Joseph, the Foster Father of Christ. Some scholars believe this same Mary was among the women who went to the tomb to minister to Jesus’ body with spices, Matthew 28:1 calling her “Mary of James” supposedly James the Less.
In John 19-25, Mary of Cleophas appears immediately after the words “His mother’s sister” giving much credence that Mary could be the sister of the Virgin Mary notwithstanding the confusion of two sisters having the same name (this happened fairly regularly in those times). Catholic scholarly tradition has it that her sons were James and Joseph. They are referred to as the “brothers of Jesus” but “brothers” was used interchangeably and Catholic theology teaches they were cousins. In Luke 24 Jesus appears to two people walking on the road to Emmanus and one is identified as Cleophas, believed to be the husband of Mary of Cleophas.