My talented pal Bob Parks—at one of my favorite websites, Media Research Center, produces this mini-documentary asking, “Why are American Jews liberal?”
I dunno, if after a couple thousand years, people I’d never met wanted to hurt or kill me and everyone like me, for reasons I had no choice in or control over, after a while, I might act kind of bizarrely, as well.
Now it seems if I vote Republican the democrats will say I’m anti-Semitic.
I always thought it had to do with a) the emphasis on Torah scholarship and, by extension, scholarship and intellectualism in general, and b) modern Jews’ interpretation of the mishnah “tikkun olam” (“repair the world”) to mean working for liberal-style social justice, etc.
Also, my impression is that a hundred years of pogroms and Nazi exterminations got rid of most of the rural Jewish land owners and peasants, who may have been less enthusiastic about redistributing wealth than their landless urban counterparts.
I think David Mamet explains it best. Judaism as a culture is intensely group-centric and group-identity-focused. Democracy is the politics of the group, the mass, the mob, the band wagon. Democrats feed on group identity and deride the sovereignty of the individual. It shouldn’t surprise us that this has led to a natural gravitation of American Jews toward the left, to mention nothing of the changes in Judaic belief systems themselves over recent decades.
There is a very simple reason why many American Jews are “liberal,” i.e., leftist; their parents and grandparents and sometimes even great-grandparents were leftist.
In some ways, Jews of European background are still trying (often unsuccesfully) to grapple with the aftermath of the French Revolution and emancipation. Yes, emancipation; people forget, if they ever knew, that it was the “left” in the person of Napoleon (the prototype of so many subsequent leftist dictators, in Europe and elsewhere) that emancipated Jews from their ghetto status and made them citizens of the nations in which they resided.
In Western Europe, since the Napoleonic Era, Jews have been trying to figure out how to actually “cash that promissory note,” as Martin Luther Melech might have put it. In Eastern Europe that was never a problem; there was never any pretense that Jews were part of the larger society, which is why so many Jews gravitated to the far-leftism of anarchism and bolshevism, which seemed to promise an end to a level of discrimination and misery unimaginable to us in the US today.
Jews from both Eastern and Western Europe brought this tropism towards the left with them when they came here—and, three or four generations on, as they have allowed themselves to be seduced from their culture and religion, they have still retained the political leftist faith.
Well if you look at the replies to my comment in your last blog:
1) by BOLD BELIEVER “Sorry Diana. Judaism brought us Law. Law never saved anyone because we are too weak to DO what the Torah requires us to do. Messiah did fulfill the Torah, therefore we must put our trust in the atoning death and life-affirming resurrection of Messiah, not in Judaism. Judaism without Messiah is an empty shell.”
2) by PAUL of ALEXANDRIA “Remember, of course, that Christianity is Judaism fulfilled; it is not a completely separate religion. (Jesus was a Rabbi).”
This type of triumphalism (which I worry sometimes is in the heart of many Christians) could almost make me a liberal! Well, no I’ll remain firmly conservative, but I do have a better understanding of why many Jew stay liberal.
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