The divided landscape of Jewish America is beyond one man

After the 2016 election, I, like many others, believed that society would return to normal and that we could begin to talk about exactly what the next four years of public policy on healthcare, defense, immigration, and the opioid crisis would look like. This expectation was wrong, as instead I’ve dived into a world of blogging and video editing that until about a year ago had barely registered in my consciousness. So absorbed did I become, that for about 10 months I almost went without listening to any music because I was engrossed in the content of a lot of bloggers and creators. It was a sharp transition as I never wanted to vote, and until then I’d only done it once in 2012, which I thought might be my last time voting. I’ll explain with a brief autobiography of my political development.

My background had always caused me to spurn active participation in politics: Our family was the typical immigrant, working-class type, and that went for both sides of my divorced household. I’ve often considered that if the only thing that my parents shared support for was Bill Clinton, it’s no wonder their marriage was not to be (although they divorced 5 years before he ran for president, so this is included in humour). In 2000 as a high school freshman I saw our teacher, a Rabbi, shame a fellow student for saying he would probably rather George Bush be president than Al Gore. Suffice to say that within a few months I ditched Jewish day school to go to public school and I also abandoned the belief in belonging to a particular political party. The fact that so many other Jews I know are active in either party has not caused me to regret that but only validated it. It doesn’t matter that in those years my political beliefs were definitely to the left or that nowadays I’ve moved more towards free market economics as the main core of my political beliefs. My stint in the IDF during the tail end of the Intifada and experiences with the Israeli political system also showed that more choices don’t always include competent ones.

So when I see Alan Dershowitz going on Fox News, or Aiding & Abetting Defamation League President Jason Greenblatt releasing press releases on one topic or another, my ears are waiting for the inevitable cringe-inducing moment when they imply that their position represents the hopes or fears of Jewish America. I’m sorry, when was I asked? My interests are not represented by AIPAC, or the A&ADL, or Jewish Voice for Peace, or Hillel, or Hadassah, and I’m sure if you really surveyed the politically agnostic sector of American Jews they would also reject that premise. More often than not, these organizations will release press releases concerning matters such as the expansion of the Kotel wall in Israel and claim that one change or another is conducive to “Jewish unity”. Those statements are not only deceitful, they show the arrogance and delusions of grandeur of the people that staff the higher echelons of those organizations.

I break with the majority of Jewish Americans on the following issues:

  • I oppose abortion, 76% of respondents support it. (Gallup Poll)
  • The greatest threat to the USA. 57% of respondents say North Korea, I say China. (AJC Poll)
  • Unlike 86% of those surveyed that oppose it, I strongly support the Trump policy on US immigration. (AJC poll)
  • Unlike 80% of respondents, I oppose the US having a “leading” or major role in solving international problems. (AJC Poll)
  • As far as presidential candidates, I agreed with only 3.8% of respondents in supporting Rand Paul as my first choice, and only 6% that supported Ben Carson as their second choice. This compared to 39.7% that supported Hillary Clinton and 17.8% that supported Bernie Sanders. (AJC 2015 poll).

It is clear therefore that in many respects my opinion has been alienated from the consensus. But where does that difference stem from? Could it be that the Jewish American consensus is not a product of a liberal, well-reasoned orchestra of deep thought, but rather a judgmental and increasingly institutionalized illiberal elite class? In 2016 ADL president Greenblatt complained in Israel that anti-Semitism in the USA was as bad as it had been in 1930s Germany. In an equally idiotic statement that same month he claimed many American Jews live with “white privilege“. Well sir, you can’t have it both ways saying that Jews have never been so persecuted in the USA since the pre-Nazi era in Germany, yet at the same time claim that we enjoy the entitlements of the racial majority. This is because one of the more ridiculous precepts of having “white privilege” is that feminists and black nationalists claim that even impoverished whites enjoy greater privileges than do rich blacks. So which one is it, ADL? The more likely explanation is that Greenblatt was too insecure to talk about Jewish privilege, an even more inflammatory topic that has been floated lately on the left.

The monolithic consensus in Jewish America according to the AJC consider themselves “liberal” but there is nothing liberal about their mindset. In July, in collaboration with CNN, the ADL went on the offensive to contend with the threat of . . . an internet troll. Members of this consensus include MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, former Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes and other luminaries that continually condemn the Trump administration for intolerance. This despite the fact that Maddow’s network colleague is Crown Heights riot inciter Al Sharpton, and Ben Rhodes has talked about constructing a false image for the media of a reformist Iranian faction that has never existed. These are not liberals of the great 1990s that listened to Pearl Jam and Sleater-Kinney or watched John Cusack movies. In fact they have also lost their mid-2000s principles of attacking American war policies in the Middle East and parts beyond. They are a corporate supported faux hipster amalgam of various guilt trips and emotionally journeys that have nothing to do with a logical and composed thought process.

In a typical incident, one of the few nominally independent voices left at the top tier of liberal Jewish Americans, Alan Dershowitz, went to bat to dispel rumours of Stephen Bannon’s anti-Semitism. The response was rancorous including a broadside attack by Alternet’s Max Blumenthal and Sarah Lazare. Blumenthal and Lazare are two pillars of the American Jewish far left that supports BDS. I am no fan of Dershowitz’s domestic policy agenda, and have serious differences with his foreign policy agenda as well. But the difference between the aging Harvard Law School professor and defense lawyer and such hard-line left-wing opponents as the youthful Blumenthal and Lazare is the openness to discourse and exchange of views. The truth is that even a liberal icon like Dershowitz is now feeling ostracized due to such positions like his unwillingness to buy into the Russiagate hysteria. Last week he claimed that his fellow liberal friends no longer “invite me over for dinner”.

Less than a week ago I published on my personal page a public request to a liberal Jewish American blogger to come to my YouTube channel and present his case for why he remains engaged in the “Resistance” against Donald Trump to this day. I had already attempted to contact him privately a number of times, to no avail. True, it’s anyone’s right when and who to speak with on any given topic. There’s no way to force dialog. However, dialog should probably be expected when your organization’s principles include: “We aim for respectful discussion and to see the validity in the views of others, especially those we disagree with”. I think we agree on that, but now it’s up to you to show that you’ve stuck to those values.

About the Author
Ramón Epstein writes analysis of political and social issues from a libertarian perspective. He also writes for the Hard News Network.
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