David Gelernter and the Debasement of Jewish Politics

I have always found the assumption that American Jews vote first and foremost on the issue of Israel deeply offensive. The mere suggestion has an odious whiff to it, as though the Jewish vote can be wooed merely by toeing a particular policy in the Middle East. It also has an element of the absurd to it, as anyone familiar with the fractious ideological machination of the American Jewish community knows, there is no unified “pro-Israel” position for politicians to pander to. It is an old argument, a battle that has been raging for years in the pages of Commentary Magazine.

All of which brings me to an essay in the current issue of The Weekly Standard by David Gelernter. Gelernter (who is himself and profoundly fascinating individual) takes the opportunity of the violence in the Middle East to revive this stale argument and inveigh against the liberal proclivities of American Jews. He is somewhere between dismayed and appalled that a majority of American Jews are so “naive” that they are unable to gauge their own self-interest with the clear-eyes he brings to the table. Their behavior, Gelernter writes, “is a lesson in self-destructive nihilism.” Their offense? They do not support President Bush with all their heart and soul because President Bush supports Israel.

Now, Gelernter does offer the requisite caveat early on in his polemic: “Of course American Jews, like all Americans, define their interests in terms of many issues and not just one.” But he then proceeds to spend the next 1,217 words arguing as though it were in fact the case that American Jewish politics can be reduced to one (albeit important) issue.

Explore posts in the same categories: Eloquent Pig, Israel/Palestine

2 Comments on “David Gelernter and the Debasement of Jewish Politics”

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