Jewish Obstinacy in the Age of Omar

Let’s be crystal-clear about this right up front: I am both Jewish and conservative. I vote Republican most of the time because Republican candidates usually support the conservative positions and ideals that I favor.

As can be expected, my conservative leanings have put me at odds with the vast majority of my family and childhood friends. The public-school district in my Connecticut town was 80% Jewish, so almost all my school friends from elementary school right through my high school graduation in 1972 were Jewish. Because of various annual reunions and other activities and organizations, I am still in close, frequent contact with several of my Jewish public-school friends today. Even the college I went to -- Boston University, BU for short -- was nicknamed “Be Jew,” because of its high concentration of Jewish students, its student body fed from many upper-middle-class NY and NE suburbs with large Jewish populations.

So you can see my upbringing was among the “automatically Democratic/liberal” mindset that dominated Jewish households in the 1960s and 1970s.

But there is an undeniable anti-Semitic aspect in current-day Democratic politics, as optimized by the many offensive statements issued by freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi, faced on one hand with growing public pressure to condemn what is seen as blatant anti-Semitism and trying to balance the need not to cause a fracture within the Democratic Party on the other hand, is trying to walk a fine line. The liberal Washington Post is even trying to give Pelosi an escape route by saying that Omar’s criticism of Israeli policies or American politicians’ actions should not be conflated with blanket criticism of Jewish people. That’s a microscopic needle for Pelosi to attempt to thread.

All of which brings us to where we are – undeniably -- today: unequivocal support for Israel is seen as a Republican platform plank, not a Democratic one. Instead, Democrats now take a more “enlightened,” nuanced view, criticizing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, their supposed asymmetrical, disproportionate military response to terror attacks, their continued building of settlements in “disputed” territory and their use of a wall to prevent border intrusions.

Democrats not being unconditionally supportive of all things Israel is relatively new and it has reached something of a zenith during President Trump’s tenure.  Anything that President Trump is in favor of, Democrats -- officeholders, liberal mainstream media reporters and rank-and-file partisans alike -- are against. That “against” list now includes things that American Jews would ordinarily favor, such as the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and being in favor of Israel’s use of its West-Bank Barrier to strengthen its security and reduce violent border incursions. But since President Trump favors these, Democrats find themselves in the uncomfortable and unfamiliar position of having to rationalize an anti-Israel position in order to maintain their anti-Trump purity. So total is their disdain and disregard for President Trump, so deep is their impossible-to-relinquish resentment over Hillary’s humiliating, ignominious defeat in 2016, so transparent is their intellectual dishonesty, that these Democrats would rather adopt an anti-Israel stance on these issues than admit even the partial correctness of any of President Trump’s positions.

Watching otherwise intelligent people -- doctors, lawyers, local business leaders, many of them devout, lifelong Jews -- suddenly genuflect and mendaciously contort their viewpoint on Israel to conform with an arbitrary always-anti-Trump stance is painful indeed to anyone with a well-grounded sense of intellectual consistency and emotional integrity.

The new anti-Israel Democratic line joins other forbidden Democratic positions in the Trump Era. Democrats today must buy in completely to the following or risk being shunned from their party:

  • The dogma of anthropogenic global warming (now amusingly called “climate change” once the disasters predicted by the agenda-driven models failed to materialize).
  • The notion that a border wall on our Mexican border is immoral, racist and anti-immigrant and that there is no actual, meaningful distinction between “immigrant” and “undocumented immigrant.”
  • That a “woman’s choice” now includes the right to terminate a baby’s life after birth, because such a decision is, after all, a private matter between a woman and her doctor.
  • The idea that capitalism is bad, and we must move to a society based on “Democratic Socialism” where hypersuccessful individuals are scorned, if not outlawed, and it is government’s responsibility to provide for everyone’s basic needs -- education, healthcare, housing, and sustenance.

These are now the basic liberal tenets from which no current Democrat politician may deviate.

For Jewish voters -- ordinarily a reliable, consistent Democratic voting constituency, averaging comfortably over 80% Democratic in the last several national elections -- the new anti-Israel Democratic position is problematic indeed. Many American Jews consider Israel to be a virtual “second home country,” even if they’ve never been there. Programs such as Birthright (in which Jewish teenagers and young adults can travel to Israel at no cost to their family and visit the ancient, traditional Jewish sites and become steeped in Jewish tradition) are very important to the notion of automatic and complete loyalty by American Jews to Israel. Indeed, such programs are representative of the virtual emotional parity in which the two nations are held by American Jews.

When confronted with the new Democratic anti-Israel components of their platform, some American Jews, frantic to rationalize the irreconcilable positions, will dishonestly claim that “My country is America, I’m a Democrat, so what American Democrats say against Israel doesn’t matter to me.”

Hogwash.

For other Jews, they just simply refuse to address the question, feigning complete unfamiliarity, as if it’s as vexing as the undeniable evidence that an immediate family member has committed some heinous crime that one refuses to accept. “Ignore it and it doesn’t exist” is the principle at play here.

A significant faction of American Jews will be mollified by a mere “resolution” by Congress that obliquely criticizes some recent utterances -- nonbinding, unspecific, nonactionable, and holding no individuals accountable. That will suffice for them and the real anti-Israel policies that continue in actuality will be conveniently, but disingenuously, dismissed.

In political terms, the bottom-line question is this: Will any perceived anti-Israel bias or anti-Semitism on the part of the Democratic Party significantly affect the historically-reliable Democratic loyalty of the American Jewish voting bloc?

If the reaction I’ve witnessed among my Jewish friends and family is any indication, the answer is a resounding no. To whatever talents and abilities were previously ascribed by American society to the Jewish community, another can now be added: an almost unfathomably limitless capacity for self-deception.

Let’s be crystal-clear about this right up front: I am both Jewish and conservative. I vote Republican most of the time because Republican candidates usually support the conservative positions and ideals that I favor.

As can be expected, my conservative leanings have put me at odds with the vast majority of my family and childhood friends. The public-school district in my Connecticut town was 80% Jewish, so almost all my school friends from elementary school right through my high school graduation in 1972 were Jewish. Because of various annual reunions and other activities and organizations, I am still in close, frequent contact with several of my Jewish public-school friends today. Even the college I went to -- Boston University, BU for short -- was nicknamed “Be Jew,” because of its high concentration of Jewish students, its student body fed from many upper-middle-class NY and NE suburbs with large Jewish populations.

So you can see my upbringing was among the “automatically Democratic/liberal” mindset that dominated Jewish households in the 1960s and 1970s.

But there is an undeniable anti-Semitic aspect in current-day Democratic politics, as optimized by the many offensive statements issued by freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi, faced on one hand with growing public pressure to condemn what is seen as blatant anti-Semitism and trying to balance the need not to cause a fracture within the Democratic Party on the other hand, is trying to walk a fine line. The liberal Washington Post is even trying to give Pelosi an escape route by saying that Omar’s criticism of Israeli policies or American politicians’ actions should not be conflated with blanket criticism of Jewish people. That’s a microscopic needle for Pelosi to attempt to thread.

All of which brings us to where we are – undeniably -- today: unequivocal support for Israel is seen as a Republican platform plank, not a Democratic one. Instead, Democrats now take a more “enlightened,” nuanced view, criticizing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, their supposed asymmetrical, disproportionate military response to terror attacks, their continued building of settlements in “disputed” territory and their use of a wall to prevent border intrusions.

Democrats not being unconditionally supportive of all things Israel is relatively new and it has reached something of a zenith during President Trump’s tenure.  Anything that President Trump is in favor of, Democrats -- officeholders, liberal mainstream media reporters and rank-and-file partisans alike -- are against. That “against” list now includes things that American Jews would ordinarily favor, such as the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and being in favor of Israel’s use of its West-Bank Barrier to strengthen its security and reduce violent border incursions. But since President Trump favors these, Democrats find themselves in the uncomfortable and unfamiliar position of having to rationalize an anti-Israel position in order to maintain their anti-Trump purity. So total is their disdain and disregard for President Trump, so deep is their impossible-to-relinquish resentment over Hillary’s humiliating, ignominious defeat in 2016, so transparent is their intellectual dishonesty, that these Democrats would rather adopt an anti-Israel stance on these issues than admit even the partial correctness of any of President Trump’s positions.

Watching otherwise intelligent people -- doctors, lawyers, local business leaders, many of them devout, lifelong Jews -- suddenly genuflect and mendaciously contort their viewpoint on Israel to conform with an arbitrary always-anti-Trump stance is painful indeed to anyone with a well-grounded sense of intellectual consistency and emotional integrity.

The new anti-Israel Democratic line joins other forbidden Democratic positions in the Trump Era. Democrats today must buy in completely to the following or risk being shunned from their party:

  • The dogma of anthropogenic global warming (now amusingly called “climate change” once the disasters predicted by the agenda-driven models failed to materialize).
  • The notion that a border wall on our Mexican border is immoral, racist and anti-immigrant and that there is no actual, meaningful distinction between “immigrant” and “undocumented immigrant.”
  • That a “woman’s choice” now includes the right to terminate a baby’s life after birth, because such a decision is, after all, a private matter between a woman and her doctor.
  • The idea that capitalism is bad, and we must move to a society based on “Democratic Socialism” where hypersuccessful individuals are scorned, if not outlawed, and it is government’s responsibility to provide for everyone’s basic needs -- education, healthcare, housing, and sustenance.

These are now the basic liberal tenets from which no current Democrat politician may deviate.

For Jewish voters -- ordinarily a reliable, consistent Democratic voting constituency, averaging comfortably over 80% Democratic in the last several national elections -- the new anti-Israel Democratic position is problematic indeed. Many American Jews consider Israel to be a virtual “second home country,” even if they’ve never been there. Programs such as Birthright (in which Jewish teenagers and young adults can travel to Israel at no cost to their family and visit the ancient, traditional Jewish sites and become steeped in Jewish tradition) are very important to the notion of automatic and complete loyalty by American Jews to Israel. Indeed, such programs are representative of the virtual emotional parity in which the two nations are held by American Jews.

When confronted with the new Democratic anti-Israel components of their platform, some American Jews, frantic to rationalize the irreconcilable positions, will dishonestly claim that “My country is America, I’m a Democrat, so what American Democrats say against Israel doesn’t matter to me.”

Hogwash.

For other Jews, they just simply refuse to address the question, feigning complete unfamiliarity, as if it’s as vexing as the undeniable evidence that an immediate family member has committed some heinous crime that one refuses to accept. “Ignore it and it doesn’t exist” is the principle at play here.

A significant faction of American Jews will be mollified by a mere “resolution” by Congress that obliquely criticizes some recent utterances -- nonbinding, unspecific, nonactionable, and holding no individuals accountable. That will suffice for them and the real anti-Israel policies that continue in actuality will be conveniently, but disingenuously, dismissed.

In political terms, the bottom-line question is this: Will any perceived anti-Israel bias or anti-Semitism on the part of the Democratic Party significantly affect the historically-reliable Democratic loyalty of the American Jewish voting bloc?

If the reaction I’ve witnessed among my Jewish friends and family is any indication, the answer is a resounding no. To whatever talents and abilities were previously ascribed by American society to the Jewish community, another can now be added: an almost unfathomably limitless capacity for self-deception.