Will American Jews Follow Their British Cousins in Repudiating Jew-Hatred?
By Rabbi Aryeh Spero
There was an editorial last week in The Free Beacon positing that due to anti-Semitism within its ranks, the Democrat party will mimic the electoral defeat of England’s Labor Party, which is similarly plagued by anti-Semitism. The Ilhan Omar–Ocasio-Cortez–Tlaib trio, as well as many members of various Democrat congressional caucuses, are open enemies of Israel’s existence and redolent with anti-Semitic pejoratives. The Beacon’s theory is that just as Jeremy Corbyn’s Labor Party was shunned by Jews and many in the public, thereby losing the last election to the Tories, so will Democrats lose to Republicans in 2022. Nancy Pelosi in the House and Chuck Schumer in the Senate, though themselves not anti-Semitic or anti-Israel, continue to allow this anti-Semitism in their party, and Pelosi goes farther by publicly and proudly embracing the Squad and especially Omar.
The Beacon should have given its supposition a bit more scrutiny, for there is a big difference between the repudiation of the Labor Party in England and the situation here with the Democrat party. In Britain, virtually every Jew, Jewish organization, and Jewish politician spoke against the anti-Semitism and severe anti-Israelism happening within the Labor Party. Their disgust was across the board, and many Jewish Laborites spoke of leaving the Labor Party…and did. The entire Jewish community was alarmed by what was happening and growing within Labor’s ranks and leadership, spotlighted it as the anti-Semitic party, and worked hard for Labor’s defeat.
In contrast, here in America, we do not hear or see the majority of Jews repudiating the Democrat party. Not at all! The Democrats have lost basically none of their previous 70% Jewish support. If one removes the Orthodox support for Republicans, the Jewish Democrat support is as high as 80%. Nor has any of the Jewish politicians threatened to leave the Democrat party. In fact, a dozen or so Jewish congressmen have joined and led others to further tighten Joe Biden’s grip over Israel, and many Jewish Democrat politicians continue to defend Ilhan Omar and whitewash everything she says, calling her critics Islamophobes. And while some Jewish organizations have criticized Omar herself, none of the major establishment organizations has made any condemnation of the Democrat party per se, as was done against Labor by England’s Jewish organizations. Dismayingly, non-Orthodox American Jews continue to stand solidly behind the Democrat party today, just as they did last Nov. 3 and many years previous.
Why the difference? Though in the past, many British Jews voted Labor because of their leftward tilt and past voting patterns, for American Jews, the Democrat party has become more than a preferred party or a voting pattern. It has become the heart and home of most American Jewry, with identification and love for it surpassing even the synagogue. It is their lifeline. There is no doubt about this. In fact, their synagogues and temples are subservient and in service to it.
England’s Jews left Labor, for their survival instinct rose in importance over their past voting patterns. Not so with American Jewry. Their very life, their sense of who they are, and their life’s transcendence, as well as their political power, are tied inexorably to the Democrat party, its politics, and its causes. It is the anchor and springboard of their “religious” mission, an earthly vehicle toward purpose and fulfillment. And in practical terms, they have an influence and rank within it that they think is unassailable. They are not worried at all. In their minds, it is still their party, “where a Jew belongs.”
Furthermore, the civil rights movement became for many American Jews a type of sacred theology. It gave them personal meaning, fulfillment, a civic identity. It morphed into what became their “Judaism.” Thus are they deferential to anything falling under the rubric of civil rights; minority rights; or “justice” for non-white minorities, be they Black or Muslim. The civil rights movement, tied as it was to slavery and emancipation, was a uniquely American undertaking and became for American Jews, suddenly and retroactively, “the ole time religion.”
Because the “civil rights” movement provides this sense of ongoing personal destiny, there will always be another and yet another “civil rights” cause that needs to be tackled and fought for…even when these “rights” and movements become absurd and unhealthy. It has become a lifeblood that must continually be activated as an affirmation of one’s personhood and nobility of purpose. This outlook always culminates in a never-ending, unquenchable desire to transform society. The politics of grievance is the “moral” fuel behind the agenda of transforming society, done under the lofty banner of “civil rights.” The Democrat party is the party of “grievance,” devoted to transforming America, to socially engineering every aspect of American life and, thus, the natural home to those who see that as their ongoing, immutable “noble” mission.
Many American Jews see themselves as soldiers in the intersectional movement, choosing to make Jews and Jewishness subservient to it. It has become their animating motif and thus spirit. They will never repudiate the Democrat party, which is the sponsor and home of the intersectionality thesis they support and adore. It is more important to them than any other cause — even Jewish survival or Israel. For them, “progressivism” is the ultimate goal, and Judaism is but a ladder in its behalf. They see Jewishness as but a means for “greater causes.”
This explains why some prominent establishment Jewish organizations are basically unwilling to spotlight attacks on Jews when those attacks come from Blacks or Muslims or Hispanic aliens. Though it would certainly help save Jewish lives if the leaders of these other groups were pressured to acknowledge what is happening, tone down their rhetoric, and do something to stop the attacks coming from members of their community, these Jewish organizations always choose, as they say, the “sensitivities” of those minorities over their own Jewish minority. It is pathologic.
Others simply do not or will not see leftwing anti-Semitism if it jeopardizes their unconditional devotion to the Democrat party. They are of the left, by the left, and for the left, and nothing will convince them that someone with left-wing bona fides and credentials would knowingly do something anti-Semitic or without “justified” cause. To admit this would mean rethinking their entire life’s outlook. This is an introspection and act of humility a “progressive” is unwilling to undertake.
Others are so confident of their power within the party that they erroneously believe they can rein in the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish direction any time they decide to. Boy, are they wrong! And many Democrat Jewish politicians are choosing their political career over defending Jewish interests in a party that no longer embraces Jews who defend Jews.
If Democrats lose an upcoming election, it will not be because of fall-away, disenchanted Jewish voters. It will only be because the general public has become sick of what the Democrat party is doing. For example, Evangelicals decide their vote based much more on a candidate’s positive pro-Israel position than do 80% of non-Orthodox Jews. Unfortunately for a majority of non-Orthodox American Jews, the radical left-wing social agenda is more important to them than anything else. If the majority of Jewish Americans do not spotlight the anti-Semitism growing in the Democrat Party, as British Jews did against Labor, most Americans will not even be aware of this ugly reality and not register a protest vote against the Democrat party.
Unfortunately, most Democrat Jews will continue to fool themselves even if leftist anti-Semitism stares them in the face. This is the current American Jewish tragedy. It is tragic because American Jewish Democrats and liberal Jewish spokespeople could have stopped this early on. But they chose the wrong allegiance.
Rabbi Spero is president of the Conference of Jewish Affairs and author of Push Back: The Battle to Save America’s Judeo-Christian Heritage.[Originally published in The American Thinker, July 4, 2021]