Saturday, November 10, 2012

Right Wing Jews Are Endangering Israel By Trying To Make It A Partisan Wedge

I have contended in the past that right wing Jews who claim to be motivated by love of Israel to support Republicans are actually trying to do the inverse.  They are motivated by love of Republicans and are to use Israel as a wedge to benefit Republicans.  It is like the tail wagging the dog.  I think this has been completely laid bare in the most recent election.

For people of all political stripes who care about Israel, this presents a huge potential problem.  Like any wedge issue, this one may have its intended effect and divide the electorate.  Given that we have had and currently have an electorate that has been largely supportive of Israel and Americas ties to Israel, this is a very bad thing for people who support Israel.

Support for Israel in American political discourse has long been bi-partisan, and it still largely is.  It is one of the rare issues that is so in our hyper-polarized age, and that has been an amazing gift for American supporters of Israel, allowing us to maintain America's crucial support for Israel through different administrations and Congressional changes.  However, if right wing Jews succeed in making it a wedge, then support for Israel will no longer be bi-partisan.  Support for Israel will be identified with one political party, and then by definition be shut out of power half the time.


I read such intense vitriol directed at liberal Jews from right wing Jews.  They think that liberal Jews are all communist agitators who want to bomb Israel off the face of the Earth.  This post from PJ media is a typical example.  It makes me wonder if those kinds of authors and the commenters have ever actually met any liberal American Jews or have ever been to the places where they live. Or if they have ever been to Israel and seen the tremendous political diversity among Zionist Jews there.

It is clear that right wing Jews are trying to drive the message that if you support Israel, you have to be on the right wing.  They've even demonized Alan Dershowitz, who is one of the most important pro-Israel voices in America, because he is a Democrat.  And the amount of vitriol that they've directed at President Obama is astounding, brazenly calling him an antisemite.  Whether one loves or hates his policies, it is clear that the President is not an antisemite, given that people closest to him in his inner circle have included, for example, Chiefs of Staff Rahm Emmanuel (served in the Israeli Army) and Jack Lew (Orthodox Jew).


Liberal American Jews won't, en masse, turn on Israel if a wedge is driven by these right wing Jews, but liberal non-Jews will.  There is creeping anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism on the left, as evidenced by the antics at places such as Daily Kos and Huffington Post that have been documented here and elsewhere.  If support for Israel becomes identified in the public discourse as a "right wing" or "Republican" thing, then it will push much of the left to be against that, and into the opposite camp.  That's how polarized American politics works, because most Americans, left and right, buy their politics wholesale and don't follow individual issues carefully.

By trying to force a wedge to boost Republicans, right wing Jews are endangering Israel.

It would be slightly less ridiculous if right wing Jews were at least succeeding in boosting Republicans with these shenanigans, but even that doesn't seem to be the case.  In spite of the last several years of constant shrill vitriol against the President, Democrats, and liberal and centrist Jews, and the hundreds of millions of dollars thrown in by the likes of Sheldon Adelson, the President was reelected this week, Democrats had a substantial nationwide victory, and studies indicate that the Jewish vote hardly moved from being solidly Democratic. 

Support for Israel has been amazingly bi-partisan and enduring in American politics in recent decades, and that has been one of the greatest benefits to Israel as it faces constant challenges from its hostile neighbors.  But now, right wing Jews, by dishonestly presenting support for Israel as exclusively a right wing trait and demonizing famous liberal supporters of Israel, are trying to force American discourse on Israel away from a somewhat broad bi-partisan consensus and toward partisan polarization.  They may very well succeed, and this will profoundly harm Israel.

If right wing Jews really care about Israel, they should cease trying to use it as a wedge, and accept that support for Israel should be bi-partisan to the largest extent possible.  If instead, what they really care about is advancing Repubicans and Israel is simply a means to that end, then it is obvious that they will continue to do as they are doing, and Israel will suffer for it.


  1. This... came from an anonymous poster and got caught in our SPAM filter:

    I read such intense vitriol directed at liberal Jews from right wing Jews.

    And the liberals throw rays of warmth and friendship.

    Liberal American Jews won't, en masse, turn on Israel if a wedge is driven by these right wing Jews, but liberal non-Jews will.

    Or perhaps "liberal" non-Jews already have turned.

    Rather than blame the right wing Republicans, what about the liberals that will do what is wrong only because it opposes their political adversaries.

    1. Hello Anonymous,

      Rather than blame the right wing Republicans, what about the liberals that will do what is wrong only because it opposes their political adversaries.

      Those liberals are a problem too, and I spend an awful lot of time fighting them on the internet. Perhaps you have seen my perpetual dissing of David Harris Gershon and his ilk on this blog? I'm doing what I can, but in the end, buying politics wholesale, echo chambers, and 'us vs. them' adversarial politics are a huge part of the modern American political scene. It is mostly the fault of right wing Jews if Israel becomes identified solely with one political party.

      So, in this article I'm taking a break from my usual fights with the anti-Israel partisans and seeing if I can appeal to pro-Israel partisans, for the good of Israel. It really comes down to this: What do you care about more, Israel or Republicans? If the answer is the later, then I suspect you will continue to use Israel as a wedge in American politics, and in the process harm it. If the answer is the former, then you will adjust accordingly.

  2. Anon....

    First of all that is classic misdirection. Can you... without talking about what "Liberal Jews" do, acknowledge the divisions caused by Right Wing, and self proclaimed protectors of Zionism cause.

    The Right Wing Jewish community mirrors the Right Wing community in the American Polity. They simply have little to no truths to tell and when confronted by truth simply either dismiss their offending rhetoric as hyberbole OR don't simply don't acknowledge the answers to their ridiculously framed questions.

    But the Right Wing in our community (the Jewish community) has reached places that would shame most Jewish scholars and advocates. To say something like this:

    If Israel is sometimes harsh with the local Arab population it is because the Arabs outnumber the Jews fifty or sixty to one in the Middle East and they simply refuse to allow those Jews to live in peace, free from ongoing harassment, genocidal incitement, and outright murder.

    No... that is the old Jim Crow argument about blacks in South. No... If Israel is harsh with innocent actors of a local population then there is NO EXCUSE for harsh treatment. Sure, if someone breaks the law then deal with them accordingly but to say something like: "Well I smacked that kid around or wrecked someone's house because Arabs in general want to kill us all"... That is freakin' bigoted in the extreme.

    So my Right Wing reader... would you then support some Arab in a far country saying... "You know those Jews of Israel are being harsh with my cousins in Palestine, perhaps WE should be harsh with our local Jewish population"?

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  3. Fiz... interesting look at things. For me the tolerance of Bigotry on the Right, all the while trying to "steal" liberal values for their own makes our Right Wing community particularly odious.

    One should not fight hatred and anti-Semitism by becoming a bigot themselves. Becoming your enemy makes you NO DIFFERENT from them.

    These Fringe individuals worry so much about Rights of others in other countries, YET in their own country supported a party that wants to suppress Civil Rights for both Minority and LGBT citizens, a party that seeks repeal of a Woman's Right to choose what to do with her own body, A party that wants to repeal a health care act that will bring services to 36 million uninsured Americans.

    SO... while they are right to be concerned with what happens in other countries, shouldn't one see that promoting a party that wants to dismantle American civil rights and sell them to the highest bidder renders their arguments to be mere shill cries of hypocrisy?

    1. I think there are two largely separate issues here:

      1) Right wing Jews are using Israel as a wedge to promote Republicans, and in the process endangering Israel

      2) Right wing Jews are acting in ways in regard to domestic politics that are utterly inconsistent with their professed rhetoric in regard to international politics

      My piece was about #1, which I think is a more concise point that might make RWJs pick up and listen.

      You are addressing #2 in your comment, and yes, it is a huge problem, but like most people, right or left, RWJs will probably not see their own cognitive dissonance. It is just human nature. For instance these RWJs always love to tout Israel's tolerance of gays and its green energy efforts. These are things that I love about Israel too. But unlike them, I am consistent and I enthusiastically support those things in America too, while the RWJs support the party that bashes gays and coddles oil companies while acting like Solyndra is the worst think that has ever happened in the world. But like I said, it is very unlikely for people to recognize their own cognitive hypocrisies.

    2. I agree and disagree...

      You are correct that I address issue #2 in my comment. BUT, I also do comment on #1 here with the first part of my comment. Particularly the point about "becoming your enemy" (and yes that overlaps into a part of issue #2. Here is my reason for saying that.

      The Right Wing Republican Jews endanger Israel by moving it to solutions based on zero sum outcomes - similar to what the Arab Polity has done (and the reason it has failed for all of these years). Right Wing and Republican Jews funnel millions of dollars into settlement and land grab projects which will eventually force Israel to face challenges to it's own identity as a "Western" State and as a Democracy.

      By advocating this they try to silence the 70% of American Jews (and their allies in Israel) who agree with them that Israel needs a secure peace but not at the price of destroying the essence of the State.

      Moreover these RWJ's do not have to face any of the consequences of their own politics. They will never man a checkpoint. They will never live in those settlements that they champion. So they in effect argue for policies that were those policies to go wrong... They could sit in their living rooms in places like California and Pennsylvania and never have to deal with the excesses that they support and are supported by millions of American dollarss

    3. Wow, that is so well put - RWJs are becoming their enemy, both in terms of how their maximalist agenda is endangering Israel and how their domestic politics are enabling Israel bashers. You should flush than analogy out into a whole piece - it could go viral.

    4. Thanks fiz... I could use some help on that - care to co-author it?