Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Jewish Left is in Shambles? [link]

What is a good Jewish leftist to do? Being an activist for world peace does not seem to be working too well. has a column dealing with the dilemma that the Jewish left now finds itself in.

This is a soul-searching moment for the Jewish left. Actually, for many Jewish liberals, navigating the gloomy politics of the Middle East is like walking with two left feet.

* * * *

Yet, since 9/11 and the second intifada, in which suicide bombings and beheadings have become the calling cards of Arab diplomacy, and with Hamas and Hezbollah emerging as elected entities that, paradoxically, reject the first principles of liberal democracy, I feel a great deal of moral anguish. Perhaps I have been naive all along.

And I am not alone. Many Jews are in my position--the children and grandchildren of labor leaders, socialists, pacifists, humanitarians, antiwar protesters--instinctively leaning left, rejecting war, unwilling to demonize, and insisting that violence only breeds more violence. Most of all we share the profound belief that killing, humiliation and the infliction of unnecessary pain are not Jewish attributes.

Promote appeasement as much as you can and the rest of the world's leftists STILL accuse you of working on a plan straight out of Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

However, the world as we know it today--post-Holocaust, post-9/11, post-sanity--is not cooperating. Given the realities of the new Middle East, perhaps it is time for a reality check. For this reason, many Jewish liberals are surrendering to the mindset that there are no solutions other than to allow Israel to defend itself--with whatever means necessary. Unfortunately, the inevitability of Israel coincides with the inevitability of anti-Semitism.

And here is the conclusion:

The Jewish left is now in shambles. Peace Now advocates have lost their momentum, and, in some sense, their moral clarity. Opinion polls in Israel are showing near unanimous support for stronger incursions into Lebanon. And until kidnapped soldiers are returned and acts of terror curtailed, any further conversations about the future of the West Bank have been set aside.

Not unlike the deep divisions between the values of red- and blue-state America, world Jewry is being forced to reconsider all of its underlying assumptions about peace in the Middle East. The recent disastrous events in Lebanon and Gaza have inadvertently created a newly united Jewish consciousness--bringing right and left together into one deeply cynica
l red state.

Of course, some Jews will never learn. Consider this excerpt from another piece last Friday:

For the past several years, the members of the religious left, upset by GOP "values" victories, have argued that the Democratic Party needs to be more welcoming to people of faith. Some have even formed an organization--the Network of Spiritual Progressives--to pursue this cause. So why did they decide not to support the candidate who has probably been more vocal about his faith than just about any other Democrat on the national scene? Ms. Seger, Mr. Balmer and Rabbi Lerner all cite Mr. Lieberman's support of the war in Iraq.

Mr. Balmer, who says that he has voted for Mr. Lieberman in previous elections, explains: "My objection is not to Lieberman as a person or voice of faith. I just happen to disagree with him on this issue." Rabbi Lerner, who is also the national chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, is more forceful: "I think you have to ask Lieberman, 'What part of "Thou shalt not kill" do you not understand?'"

What part of "thou shalt not kill" does Rabbi Lerner not understand? Is it OK for Muslim militants to slaughter Jews? I was raised to believe that suicide was the greatest sin a Jew could commit. Refusal to defend oneself against Muslim militants is suicide. I guess this rabbi feels that it is better to be a pure suicide than to justifiably defend oneself.

Of course, later in the piece Rabbi Lerner demonstrates that he is an idealistic idiot for whom symbols are more important that substance:

Rabbi Lerner disapproves of Mr. Lieberman's recent vote for federal tax cuts. "He disempowers government," Rabbi Lerner says, keeping it from caring for the poor.

I disapprove of Rabbi Lerner. He is too stupid to be permitted to provide anyone with spiritual (or any other kind) of guidance.


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