Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Where The Threat Comes From

It's no secret that most non-religious Jews in the Western world are either overt leftists or lean in their political and social beliefs to that side of the spectrum.  One can suggest many reasons for this.  Perhaps it's because for many centuries the political and religious right were the great enemies of our nation, culminating in the rightist fascism of Europe in the last century that brought us the Holocaust.  Perhaps it's because leftists, in their drive to build a more tolerant and inclusive society provided more opportunities for Jews to integrate into their surroundings.  Or it could be that the left's traditional emphasis on helping the poor and disadvantaged struck a cord with the pintele Yid present in even the most assimilated Jew's heart and created a sense of connection.  For whatever reason this bond between Jews and the left has been long and enduring.
It has endured even as the world has changed and the left has become the dedicated enemy of the Jewish nation and its values while the right has metamorphisized into our allies.  Look around you today and you see one thing clearly: the vast majority of the left, save some remnants from more intelligent days, hates Judaism and Israel.  The right, save some remnants from fascist times, sees Judaism and Israel as a valuable ally of Western civilization.
However political beliefs are hard to change.  A Jewish community that has seen the Democrats in the US and the Liberals in Canada as their natural representatives seems very slow the change in the face of leftist hostility dating back over the last forty years.  Look at the hostility displayed by the Obama administration towards Israel (except in the months preceding an election) and compare that with polls that show that the majority of non-religious Jews will still vote for him and one can only be amazed at the naivete on display.  Nowhere is this dichotomy more obvious than in San Francisco today, as Dennis Prager notes:

If the most left-wing major city in America starts arresting Jews who have their children circumcised there, some American Jews might awaken to the threat to Jews posed by the left. Obviously, San Francisco's already existing bans on toys in Happy Meals, on soda in city-owned places and on plastic bags, and the city's proposed ban on the sale of pets, even goldfish, have not moved many Jews (or non-Jews) to begin wondering whether left-wing governance is dangerous. But perhaps a ban on circumcision will.
Of course, not everyone who is on the left — and certainly not the traditional liberal — is an enemy of the Jews. But, aside from Islamists, virtually all the enemies of the Jews are on the left.
The worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel (i.e., to pave the way for moral acceptance of Israel's destruction) is virtually all on the left. Universities in America and elsewhere in the Western world, as well as the mainstream news media outlets around the globe, are all dominated by the left. They drum into their students', readers', listeners' and viewers' minds that Israel is one of the worst societies on earth.
The anti-Israel propaganda on the left is so great and so effective that according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, "Many of the youths who survived the (Norway) massacre said they thought the killer, dressed as a police officer, was simulating Israeli crimes against Palestinians in the occupied territories."
Yet, most American Jews still walk around thinking that Christians and conservatives are their enemies when, in fact, they are the best friends Jews have in the world today. From the present conservative Canadian government, which is probably the most vocal pro-Israel country in the world today, to every major conservative talk-show host in America (including the fiercely pro-Jewish and pro-Israel Glenn Beck, who has been libeled as an anti-Semite), to the leader of Holland's Party for Freedom and member of the Dutch parliament, Geert Wilders (one of the most eloquent pro-Israel voices in Europe today), to The Wall Street Journal's editorial page — the right is where the Jews' friends are.
What will it take for this generation of Jews on the left to realize what Arthur Koestler, perhaps the most prominent Jewish leftist of a previous generation, came to realize: namely, that leftism is "the god that failed"? Will it take a San Francisco ban on the oldest practice of the Jewish people? The City of Berkeley declaring Marines "unwelcome intruders"? PETA arguing that there is no moral difference between barbecuing chickens and cremating Jews? The ostracizing of the Jewish state from the world community by institutions dominated by the left?

One of the greatest features with the Jewish national psyche is that we are an am k'shei oref, a stiff-neck people.  At times it has been detrimental.  Read the narrative portion of Navi and you quickly see the stubborn tendencies our ancestors had in disobeying God and the laws of the Torah despite repeatedly being shown in no uncertain terms that there was no benefit to such rebellion.  This inflexibility is still present today.  Who is unfamiliar with the saying "Jews always leave a country the day after they should have?"
On the other hand being stiff-necked is exactly why God chose us. Throughout repeated exiles, challenges and attacks we have maintained our connection to God and Torah despite all the obstacles placed against us. No movement, religion, nation or philosophy down to modern times has displaced that position held by the faithful remnant of our nation.  Oppressors have come and gone but we, the people of God and Torah remain.
As Prager asks, what will it take for the less enlightened but equally stubborn portion of our nation to figure this out?


JRKmommy said...

I'll answer, as a disillusioned formerly left-wing Jew.

"Left", of course, is a really broad term, as is "liberal".

My bubby wasn't just vaguely liberal. She was part of the United Jewish People's Order, which was openly supportive of the Communists and the Soviet Union until J.B. Salsberg revealed the extent of Stalin's anti-Semitism in 1956.

My great-grandparents had fled the pogroms instigated by the Czar, and worked in the garment industry. It's not surprising that left-wing causes gained support. Within that support, however, there was quite a range. There was a dispute between the Communists and those that supported just the trade unions and what would become the NDP. There was also a rift between the Labor Zionists and the non-Zionist Bundists.

Anyway...growing up, I knew tons of Jewish leftists, and associated socialism with my bubby and her friends. In their era, there wasn't anything particularly anti-Jewish about their brand of socialism. My bubby wasn't really Zionist, but she wasn't anti-Israel either. She didn't like any form of nationalism, but didn't see Zionism as being any worse than any other type of nationalism. She regarded Israel as a place where friends would visit, and had some basic level of concern for the Jews living there.

That came to an abrupt halt when I arrived at a left-wing univeristy, majoring in the even more left-wing political science department. For the first time, I met socialists who weren't cute and cuddly older Jews, but scary folks claiming that Israel was an apartheid state which had to be destroyed, even if it meant supporting terrorism. I understood on a gut level that supporting the PLO in 1990 meant supporting the murder of any Jew in Israel.

I stopped being a socialist at that point.

That didn't make me a conservative, though. I'd be attracted to some conservative commentary expressing the same concerns about the left that I had, but then get turned off by other issues.

The Reform Party was still scary in 1993, to the point that I actually got an openly racist candidate kicked out. Since my family was originally from Quebec, they were also staunch federalists and the Liberal party was seen as the natural antidote to the anti-semitism of the old regime of Duplessis and the modern danger of Parizeau.

I didn't sour on the Liberal party until the Second Intifada, when news of yet another bombing of Israeli civilians would be met by standard statements from Bill Graham to stop the "cycle of violence on both sides".

Harper won me over with his complete support of Israel and principled approach to foreign affairs in general. Yes, he's reached out big-time to the community, but I don't see it as pandering because unlike the Liberals, the Conservatives maintain the same position to the rest of the world, even in the face of considerable opposition.

That said, I still feel uneasy when anyone, especially other Jews, think that I'll automatically support the most extreme knee-jerk conservatism. Having jumped off the left-wing bandwagon, I don't want to jump on the right-wing one. I appreciate the current support for Israel from the conservative Christians, but not the rest of their agenda. I still don't think that there is a "war on Xmas", don't support prayer in public schools, don't want to ban abortion or same-sex marriage, and do support universal medicare, gun control, and year-long parental leaves.

Larry Tanner said...

I don't see the left as the "the dedicated enemy of the Jewish nation." Neither do I see the right as allies of Jews, Judaism, or Israel. The right has its own agenda, largely Christian and Christological, at heart. They "befriend" the Jews opportunistically.

So far as I can tell, the left is sincerely dedicated to ideas of equality and justice, and to questioning exceptionalism, preferentialism, and status quo.

The right holds a fundamentally immoral position. They are against civil rights. They hold women in contempt. They prefer the wealthy and address the middle class only by necessity. They have no problem with sacrificing the poor. They resist any semblance of tax fairness.

There's more, but I honestly don't see any case whatsoever for a moral human being to side her- or himself with today's American style conservatism.

MIghty Garnel Ironheart said...

Oh where to begin? Where to begin?

> the left is sincerely dedicated to ideas of equality

Affirmative action through discrimination in favour of visible minorities as opposed to equal opportunity regardless of background is equality? The left is obsesses with classifying groups and according them different levels of rights.

> and to questioning exceptionalism, preferentialism, and status quo.

Again, the left is all about exceptionalism - using ethnic background and the "perpetual victim" agrument to say that certain people shouldn't be punished as harshly for certain crimes as others. Preferentialism in hiring women, visible minorites etc in the name of correcting "historic injustices" that victims of this policy had nothing to do with. And once these policies become standard the left fights to maintain this new status quo as much as the old system fought to maintain its own.

> They are against civil rights.

That is a lie.

> They hold women in contempt.

Also a lie.

> They prefer the wealthy and address the middle class only by necessity.

Also a lie. Boy, you're on a streak.

> They have no problem with sacrificing the poor.

Four in a row.

> They resist any semblance of tax fairness.

Because you must define tax fairness as "soak the rich".

Larry Tanner said...

Well obviously we're far apart on this matter [insert smiley face].

You think I'm lying or spreading lies. That's fine.

But I'm curious as to why on Earth you would think the current strand of American conservatism is at all (a) morally defensible or (b) beneficial for the Jews as a people.

Please accept this comment in the spirt of friendly opposition in which it is meant.

JRKmommy said...

The whole terminology of "right" and "left" is so broad that it's not really useful - and neither are sweeping generalizations.

For example, when I was studying political science, there were plenty of articles crticizing "liberalism" for being too right-wing. So yes, I'm quite familiar with the loony-left arguments that racism isn't racism if it comes from an oppressed group - but I'd also have to say that run-of-the-mill "liberals" who support basic civil rights and equality are quite separate.

The problem with much of the criticism of Israel is that its roots aren't truly in the classic liberal let's-treat-everyone-fairly philosophy at all. Instead, it comes from:
1. Leftover rhetoric from the Soviet Union
2. Oppression theory, which evaluates conflicts based upon whether one side can be seen as privileged or oppressed. Once the label is applied, just about anything can be justified as resistance against oppression. Lives are certainly NOT equal in this analysis.
3. Obsession with labelling Jews and Israelis as white, rich and privileged (and ignoring the 50% of Israeli Jews who aren't Ashkenazi).
4. Anti-American rhetoric
5. Perverse embrace of anyone who is anti-American, even if their values completely reject liberalism, gender equality, racial equality, religious freedoms, peace, democracy, gay rights or any basic human rights.

SJ said...

Larry Tanner and JRKmommy are two braindead bitches.

For example:

>> But I'm curious as to why on Earth you would think the current strand of American conservatism is at all (a) morally defensible or (b) beneficial for the Jews as a people.

The heterosexual family and banning abortion will maximize jewish reproduction as well as everyone else's.

>> don't want to ban abortion or same-sex marriage, and do support universal medicare, gun control, and year-long parental leaves.

Got news for you JRK, YOU'RE A LIB!!!

lol Garnel see why I use CAPS so much on my blog? XD So much bull shit from these fucking people.

SJ said...

>> The whole terminology of "right" and "left" is so broad that it's not really useful

* yaaaaaaaaaaaaawn * except for the issue of Israel JRK you are a leftist.

MIghty Garnel Ironheart said...

Larry, first of all I was not attempting in my post to compare the various moral pluses and negatives of the right and left, only to point out that the political and religious right these days is the pro-Israel side while the left is anti-Israel and the non-religious Jewish community hasn't yet figured this out.
Your statements about the right are, however, indefensible. Is there a single credible right wing figure out there who has openly expressed disdain for all women or opined that he hopes the poor go to hell? Yes there are crackpots but there are just as many on the left. You can't judge a philosophy by its extremists.
The essential difference between right and left these days is on how big a role government should play in one's life vs self-responsibility. The further left you go the more you find people wanting the nanny state to smooth out bumps in life for everyone and to create an artificially level playing field. The further right you go the more you finding people saying that we have to look out for ourselves, there are winners and losers and everyone has a responsibility to try to win on his own merits.
Leftists think that the right is immoral because it allows for losers alongside winners. The right thinks the left is idiotic because since not everyone can win the only fair policy is to make everyone a loser.
But to impute immoral positions like you did is grossly incorrect.

SJ said...

In the libtard mind, being against abortion is expressing disdain of women.

Larry Tanner said...


My statements of the right are borne out by the current field of GOP presidential candidates, the tea party movement, the Fox News and Breitbart contingents, and the Buchanan and Robertson set.

I don't want--and I don't think you want--a protracted discussion, so I'll just say I think you are whitewashing the truth to consider the right "pro-Israel." Their vision of Israel is not yours.

SJ, there is not one original or interesting idea in anything you say. Even your attempted insults are boring. I once remarked that you reminded my of the "Jewish Philosopher" except without his charm or humor (hint: JP has neither). You haven't changed.

SJ said...

No point in arguing with shit-for-brains Larry Tanner. I am not JP.

>> so I'll just say I think you are whitewashing the truth to consider the right "pro-Israel."

Friendly opposition. ROFLMAO! A Nazi could have said that.

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

Larry, I'm well aware that the right's vision of Israel is not the same as mine. I'll give you another example: Alan Dershowitz, one of the few prominent voices on the left that is still pro-Israel but his vision of Israel is definitely not the same as mine.
However I'll take my allies where I can get them since friends are so scarce most days.

JRKmommy said...

Actually, I'm a Canadian :)

Card-carrying member of the Conservative Party of Canada, in fact, complete with lawn sign for my candidate during the last election.

I don't really care about labels. I mean, "leftist" or "liberal" are pretty mild, especially since Jon Stewart came up with "Gay Nader Fans for Peace", lol.

Yes, I support the Conservative Party's stance on Israel. I think that Harper may be more pro-Israel than Netanyahu. Canada pulled out of the most recent Durban conference before Israel.

However, I also appreciate that I don't live in a country where partisan politics are so bad that they are willing to damage the entire economy by playing chicken with the debt ceiling. I like the fact that my house has increased in value since I bought it in 2007, and that my bank is stable enough to have bought out some of yours.

I would hope that politicians of all stripes would really that basic math skills are neither left nor right. You can't constantly increase your debt without it having an impact on your economy. The hard choices that you make may be political, in terms of choosing how to raise revenue and cut expenses, but the need to make those choices is just reality.

I think that intelligence and principles are more important than partisan politics. I have a tremendous amount of respect for political figures who are intelligent and reasonable, and who have shown a willingness to stand up for what they believe. While his economic and political savvy was questionable, I respect Bob Rae for his willingness to call out Parizeau for his downright racist speech after the 1995 Quebec referendum, and his willingness to split with the NDP over anti-Zionism that drifted into anti-semitism. I also respect David Frum's willingness, as a conservative, to call out the loony right in the United States.

MIghty Garnel Ironheart said...

However there are major differences in the political system between Canada and the US to explain the difference in partisan bickering.
When the Liberals decided to tackle the deficit in the 1990's they had a huge majority in Parliament and the Prime Minister was in complete control of that parliament. There was no partisan bickering because the the opposition had zero power over what would happen. Now you could argue (as I would) that in this instance it was a good thing since the government needed to make major changes without niggling compromises that would remove much of the impact they needed to have. However, if the government of the day had been less sensible Canada might have gone bankrupt at some point. I recall editorial pieces in papers like the Toronto Star insisting that since countries really could never go bankrupt that running deficits sky high was perfectly acceptable and that trying to bring finances under control was what was dangerous!
Yes pure math is ideology blind but the choice of which numbers to use and how to plug them into equations isn't. A pure right wing response to the crisis in the US would be "Cut spending". A pure left wing response would be "Raise taxes for the rich!" Both would have the same endpoint - a smaller deficit but they're worlds apart in terms of implications.

JRKmommy said...

Getting back to left-wing anti-semitism for a much of it is recycled old right-wing hatred.

It goes something like this:

Old Czarist, Christian and Nazi anti-semitism fell out of favor in Europe after WWII - but were picked up, preserved and recycled at that point in the Muslim world.

Meanwhile, after initially supporting the creation of Israel, Stalin develops a personal vendetta against Trotsky, and later after 1967 the Soviet Block turns against Israel for geo-political reasons. Along the way, the old anti-semitic propoganda got hauled out.

The Soviet Union fed the anti-Israel and anti-semitic stuff to socialist groups around the world. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, and especially after 9/11, those who were anti-American looked to ally themselves with those who the American opposed.

Same sh!t, different face.

A couple of interesting links:

Bob Rae's principled rejection of rabid anti-Israel position on the left:

Compare and contrast with Avi Lewis' treatment of Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

Listen at 4:20. BTW - Lewis went on to report for Al-Jazeera (English).

MIghty Garnel Ironheart said...

No surprise about Rae vs Lewis. Rae is married to a pro-Israel Jew. Lewis is married to an anti-Israel Jew.
(BTW that's why Rae will never be the Liberal leader)