Why Are Jews Liberals?

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The question most often posed to me by my Christian Conservative friends is: Why do a majority of American Jews continue to support Liberal policies and the Democrat party when it is clear that the Democrats are overwhelmingly hostile to Israel and to Judaism? President Barack Obama—demonstrably anti-Israel with a host of Jew hating friends and associations—is the Democrat party writ large.

My answer is two-fold:

1. Jews are traditionally lever-pulling Democrats and breaking this self-destructive habit is a lot like kicking crack or heroin.

2. Most American Jews—fanatic secularists—have replaced authentic Judaism with the false idols of the liberalism.

A few months ago I was having lunch—at Pico Kosher Deli—with David Horowitz. We discussed this issue at length. David, savoring his matzo ball soup, pointed out that American Jews were the only demographic in the U.S. who consistently vote against their own self-interest.

“Why do you think that is?” I asked.

David chuckled: “Because it makes them feel noble, and self-righteous.”

In the latest issue of Commentary Magazine, Norman Podhoretz asked a a group of articulate and very bright people to comment on this very question.

Here’s a selection from Jeff Jacoby’s analysis:

Most American Jews, on the other hand, seem to have learned from an early age that to be Jewish is to be a liberal Democrat, no matter what. No matter that anti-Semitism today makes its home primarily on the Left, while in most quarters of the Right, hostility toward Jews has been anathematized. No matter that Israel’s worst enemies congregate with leftists, while its staunchest defenders tend to be resolute conservatives. No matter that Republicans support the Jewish state by far larger margins than Democrats do. No matter that on a host of issues — homosexuality, abortion, capital punishment, racial preferences, public prayer — the “Torah” of contemporary liberalism, as Podhoretz calls it, diverges sharply from the Torah of Judaism. As Why Are Jews Liberals? convincingly and depressingly demonstrates, the loyalty of American Jews to the left has been unaffected by the failure of the left to reciprocate that loyalty.
Here are further responses from: David Wolpe, Jonathan D. Sarna, Michael Medved, William Kristol, Jeff Jacoby, and David Gelernter

Norman Podhoretz’s book Why Are Jews Liberal? has just been published and it looks fascinating.

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My friend Joshua Pundit—back home, and thank G-d, safe from the wildfires—hosts Haveil Havalim #233, excellent reading for this Labor Day Weekend.

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14 Comments

  1. Posted September 10, 2009 at 5:05 am | Permalink

    I love so many of the messages from Commentary, especially this exploration of why so many Jews are mindlessly liberal.
    But Norman Podhoretz is basically anti-religious. He’s as much of a secularist at heart than the most liberal of liberals. He’s smart enough to know that 99% of secularists are liberals, so he steers clear of them personally. But he has an intense hatred of religious Jewish practice and many of its practitioners, no matter what their political leanings. He leaves me feeling like he’s a fraud. Of course, if his feelings about religious people ever got out there, he’d lose a lot of his supporters.
    I may not be so religious either, but I don’t consider my religious family and friends to be superstitious idiots.
    The real profound mind in the family, and someone with a better understanding of religious people, is his brilliant wife Midge Decter. Read her stuff and you’ll see what I mean.
    Also, check out First Things, it’s a magazine for thinking conservatives who happen to be religious Jews, Catholics, etc.

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  2. Miranda Rose Smith
    Posted September 7, 2009 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Dear Ms. Barnat: The glitchy computer strikes again!

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  3. Miranda Rose Smith
    Posted September 7, 2009 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Dear Ms. Barnat: The people demanding to see Obama’s birth certificate are desperate to get rid of him, clutching at straws and ready to jump on any nutty theory. If Obama shows his birth certificate, they’ll come up with something else. Did you see the article, in The Onion, about the people demanding to see Obama’s afterbirth? The whole thing is on the same level as Holocaust Denial (did you see the article, in The Onion, on San Francisco Earthquake Deniers?), saying Bacon wrote Shakespeare or 9/11 Trutherism.

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  4. Miranda Rose Smith
    Posted September 7, 2009 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Dear Ms. Barnat: The people demanding to see Obama’s birth certificate are desperate to get rid of him, clutching at straws and ready to jump on any nutty theory. If Obama shows his birth certificate, they’ll come up with something else. Did you see the article, in The Onion, about the people demanding to see Obama’s afterbirth? The whole thing is on the same level as Holocaust Denial (did you see the article, in The Onion, on San Francisco Earthquake Deniers?), saying Bacon wrote Shakespeare or 9/11 Trutherism.

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  5. Posted September 7, 2009 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Sorry, Miranda … I see your computer has a glitch. I have had the same problem in the past.

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  6. Posted September 7, 2009 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Johnny, Your statement is profound:

    So many liberals think expecting the state to care for the poor absolves them of responsibility.

    And, yes, Miranda, we get it that you really do not like townhall or the campaign to see the real birth certificate of BO.

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  7. Bill Brandt
    Posted September 7, 2009 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Johnny: The comparison with Catholics is a good one although to take the analogy further one can’t say Obama is actively trying to undermine the Vatican.
    Reagan really shook up the coalitions and it is amazing to me how few in the Republican leadership learned from him.
    When he left office in 1988, he had set the foundation for a conservative Republican dynasty – it was said that George Bush won Reagan’s 3rd term, and who can disagree with that?
    Heck, they didn’t even learn from 1994…

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  8. Miranda Rose Smith
    Posted September 7, 2009 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Dear Johnny: No, I really, really, really really don’t like that glitchy computer at work.
    My mother was shocked, a few years ago, when I told her I voted for Bush. I, in turn, was shocked when she told me that my father, of blessed memory, had voted for Norman Thomas in 1940. How could a Jew vote for a man who was cozy as kittens with Charles Lindbergh and the America Firsters?

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  9. Johnny
    Posted September 7, 2009 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    Miranda, I guess you really, really, really, really don’t like townhall.com.
    Robert, I’m Catholic and before they died my parents never voted for a republican. Reagan managed to pull a lot of Catholics out of the FDR coalition but there are still a lot that still mindlessly vote for democrats, even ones so pro-abortion as Obama.
    Most Catholics that vote liberal do so by arguing that we are commanded by the Gospels to work for social justice etc., not comprehending that Jesus wanted the individual to give freely and not under compunction of the state.
    So many liberals think expecting the state to care for the poor absolves them of responsibility. Think how little Biden and Obama gave to charities.
    If anyone can explain why Rahm and Axelrod are so willing to beat up Israel I’m sure Podhoretz can.

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  10. Miranda Rose Smith
    Posted September 6, 2009 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    The one thing I don’t like about David Horowitz is his involvement with http://www.townhall.com, which prints Pat Buchanan’s column and spreads Obama’s birth cirtificate theories.

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  11. Miranda Rose Smith
    Posted September 6, 2009 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    The one thing I don’t like about David Horowitz is his involvement with http://www.townhall.com, which prints Pat Buchanan’s column and spreads Obama’s birth cirtificate theories.

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  12. Miranda Rose Smith
    Posted September 6, 2009 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    The one thing I don’t like about David Horowitz is his involvement with http://www.townhall.com, which prints Pat Buchanan’s column and spreads Obama’s birth cirtificate theories.

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  13. Posted September 6, 2009 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Hi Robert,
    Thanks for the kind words and good wishes.
    Not to shill my own work unduly, but I see a number of historical forces at work as well as the stuff you and David mentioned, even here in America.
    America will never permit a Shoah ala’ Germany, but I see more and more open Jew hatred on the web and I’m convinced that a lot of it is because many Jews are perceived as being linked with the forces that have always tried to destroy American society and values.
    What we’re witnessing with Obama and his acolytes is the final result of the Gramschian warfare launched at America two generations ago by the Soviets.
    It’s not well known, but many Germans who may have disliked Jews but weren’t homicidal allowed themselves to be fooled by Hitler’s intentions because Jews were so identified with supporting the corrupt,financially incompetent, ultra Left decadent Wiemar Republic.
    And these fools delude themselves that it’s all because Israel wants to build homes for its people in their own country!
    Shavua Tov,
    Rob

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  14. Posted September 6, 2009 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    One primary reason is surely the traditional Jewish reverence for education. The longer one stays in school, and the more one has been encouraged to believe that educators are founts of wisdom, the more one is likely–in America as it has existed over the last few decades–to be moved toward the left.

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