Skip to comments.Explaining Jews, Part V: Why Are Jews Liberal? (Dennis Prager Alert)
Posted on 04/24/2006 9:48:36 PM PDT by goldstategop
The most frequently asked question I receive from non-Jews about Jews is, why are Jews so liberal?
The question is entirely legitimate since Jews (outside of Israel) are indeed overwhelmingly liberal and disproportionately left of liberal as well. For example, other than blacks, no American group votes so lopsidedly for the Democratic Party. And the question is further sharpened given that traditional Jewish values are not leftist. That is why the more religiously involved the Jew, the less likely he is to be on the Left. The old saw, "There are two types of Jews -- those who believe Judaism is social justice and those who know Hebrew," contains more than a kernel of truth.
In no order of importance, here are six reasons:
1. Judaism is indeed preoccupied with social justice (as well as with holiness and personal morality), and many Jews believe that the only way to achieve a just society is through leftist policies.
2. More than any other major religion, Judaism has always been preoccupied with this world. The (secular) Encyclopedia Judaica begins its entry on "Afterlife" by noting that "Judaism has always affirmed belief in an afterlife." But the preoccupation of Judaism has been making this world a better place. That is why the Torah (the Five Books of Moses) is largely silent about the afterlife; and it is preoccupied with rejecting ancient Egyptian values. That value system was centered on the afterlife -- its bible was the Book of the Dead, and its greatest monuments, the pyramids, were tombs.
3. Most Jews are frightened by anything that connotes right wing -- such as the words "right-wing" and "conservative." Especially since the Holocaust, they think that threats to their security emanate from the Right only. (It is pointless to argue that Nazism stood for National Socialism and therefore was really a leftist ideology. Whether that is theoretically accurate doesn't matter; nearly everyone regards the Nazis as far Right, and, therefore, Jews fear the Right.) The fact that the Jews' best friends today are conservatives and the fact that the Left is the home of most of the Jews' enemies outside of the Muslim world have made little impact on Jews' psyches.
4. Liberal Jews fear most religion. They identify religion -- especially fundamentalist religion and especially Christianity -- with anti-Semitism. Jews are taught from birth about the horrors of the Holocaust, and of nearly 2,000 years of European, meaning Christian, anti-Semitism. They therefore tend to fear Christianity and believe that secularism guarantees their physical security. That is what animates the ACLU and its disproportionately Jewish membership, under the guise of concern with the Constitution and "separation of church and state" (words that do not appear in the Constitution), to fight all public expressions of Christianity in America.
5. Despite their secularism, Jews may be the most religious ethnic group in the world. The problem is that their religion is rarely Judaism; rather it is every "ism" of the Left. These include liberalism, socialism, feminism, Marxism and environmentalism. Jews involved in these movements believe in them with the same ideological fervor and same suspension of critical reason with which many religious people believe in their religion. It is therefore usually as hard to shake a liberal Jew's belief in the Left and in the Democratic Party as it is to shake an evangelical Christian's belief in Christianity. The big difference, however, is that the Christian believer acknowledges his Christianity is a belief, whereas the believer in liberalism views his belief as entirely the product of rational inquiry.
The Jews' religious fervor emanates from the origins of the Jewish people as a religious people elected by God to help guide humanity to a better future. Of course, the original intent was to bring humanity to ethical monotheism, God-based universal moral standards, not to secular liberalism or to feminism or to socialism. Leftist Jews have simply secularized their religious calling.
6. Liberal Jews fear nationalism. The birth of nationalism in Europe planted the secular seeds of the Holocaust (religious seeds had been planted by some early and medieval Church teachings and reinforced by Martin Luther). European nationalists welcomed all national identities except the Jews'. That is a major reason so many Jews identify primarily as "world citizens"; they have contempt for nationalism and believe that strong national identities, even in America, will exclude them.
Just as liberal Jews fear a resurgent Christianity despite the fact that contemporary Christians are the Jews' best friends, leftist Jews fear American nationalism despite the fact that Americans who believe in American exceptionalism are far more pro-Jewish and pro-Israel than leftist Americans. But most leftist Jews so abhor nationalism, they don't even like the Jews' nationalism (Zionism).
If you believe that leftist ideas and policies are good for America and for the world, then you are particularly pleased to know how deeply Jews -- with their moral passion, intellectual energies and abilities, and financial clout -- are involved with the Left. If, on the other hand, you believe that the Left is morally confused and largely a destructive force in America and the world, then the Jews' disproportionate involvement on the Left is nothing less than a tragedy -- for the world and especially for the Jews.
(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie. Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")
Liberal American Jews are that simply because they have lost much of their faith.
Rather than following the core of their beliefs as the most conservative Jews do, many simply say they are Jewish without bothering with any of the "trappings". If they want to eat pork, it is okay. If they want to have sex, they do.
In many ways, this is how modern Christianity is too. Everything is okay in the end because a good God couldn't have a problem with our personal selfish desires being fulfilled.
"Why Are [fill in the blank] Liberal?" All groups have leftists/liberals. Most western culture religious groups are mostly socially libertine--even groups containing mostly fiscally conservative members. And most groups include mainly observance/behavior/attendance rather than familial descent as a determinant. Sooner or later, Jewish people will be the light to the world.
Thanks, Praeger puts everything in a nutshell. Without being anti-semetic, I have long believed the "social justice" theory was a cancer because of it's use as a foundation for everything from Marxism to Rawlsian ethics.
Thanks for posting this, as well for the previous part which you posted earlier. Its informative and instructive to many of us non-Jewish Americans. But the articles don't give any suggestions on how to deal with these leftist trends and activities by the majority of Jewish people, who want to take us to a socialistic world government! Should I just disregard that they are Jewish, and just treat them the same as other ordinary leftists? Would appreciate your comment!
Without a view of heaven, pace Prager, "social justice" is exactly where "ethical monotheism" will go. This world is the anteroom, it is not the mansion.
That's pretty funny.
When it comes to faith, we all are as binary as computers, it is either yes or no, on or off, we either have it or we do not. If we do not have it, then we have not God and that leaves us lots of space to play God. Once you feel good and comfy playing God, there is virtually no end to the good you can do so you become a political activist. One sees quickly that he could leverage the good he does by manipulating the levers of the state. Hence, one quickly becomes a statist.
Prager has explored this phenomenon in other essays which are well worth the reading and many of us have also contributed.
Prager's sixth reason, leftist Jews abhorrence of nationalism, is worth special mention. It is also paralleled in the Christian tradition by those who do not actually confess the faith. You will hear them say that nationalism (they will often blame religion as well) is the cause of wars and unnecessary human suffering. This observation is really relevant in these times in which we are dismayed to discover a fifth column operating against the United States in its own CIA, the State Department, and the Pentagon. These institutions, together with the establishment media and academia, have long despised United States of America and decried it as the font of all evil. I have posted my belief that the hatred against United States is generated by the recognition among these leftists that the United States presents the greatest obstacle to their goal of ending nationalism and instituting oneworldism.
Can you imagine the good these people can do when the levers they manipulate govern the whole world?
Odd, I posted comments very similar to this not too longs ago.
I think that Mr. Prager is pretty good as sort of a "big picture guy" - not just on this subject, but many others as well. I also think that he somewhat underestimates the destructive influence of secular Jewish leftists within Israel itself, who suicidally wish to hand over Israel to greater Hamasistan. This substitution of liberalism for actual Jewish religion is as widespread in Israel as it is in other Western nations, according to the comments I've received from some Chassidic and Orthodox correspondents living in Israel.
The Golden Calf...
It goes to the Jews' preoccupation with bettering the world - tikkun olam - and the belief leftist policies are the best way to bring it about.
There's something that's hard to believe about these explanations, and I don't know what it is.
The problem with liberal Jews is that they care more about saving the world than saving themselves. How can you save others if you don't have enough self-respect to stand up for yourself? I've been right-wing (proudly so) for so many years I simply don't understand liberal Jews. They are alien to me.
I've read almost every one of this series. Wanted to like them, wanted to say I now understand, it now makes sense. And still the whole thing falls flat and doesn't make a lick of sense to me. I don't think this can be explained politically.
"In many ways, this is how modern Christianity is too."
Both that comment and this article are right on target.
As CHristian churches are becoming more and more secularist, their hierarchies see things along the same line as secularist Jews.
Only the return of most Jews to Judaism as a religion instead of a cultural expression, and the return of most Christians to Christianity as a religion rather than a social expression, will save America.
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