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Liberal Conservative Multiple Personality Disorder

Reader comment on item: Who Supports Israel[, Jews or Conservatives]?

Submitted by Elisha Ignatoff (United States), Sep 3, 2003 at 13:20

"Today, all that has changed. The Middle East has replaced the Soviet Union as the touchstone of politics and ideology. With increasing clarity, conservatives stand on one side of its issues and liberals on the other."

It is difficult to describe living inside this historical gyre, which is what I find myself up against on a daily basis.
I'm as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs when I contemplate the embrace of my "new" friends on the right. It's hard to shake the notion that their "love" of Israel has more to do with Christian eschatological triumphalism than with any real regard for Jews. That their positions on issues such as church/state separation, the use of government to promote social and economic justice and the use of government to moderate the workings of our capitalist economic engine are almost always antithetical to mine, is no help.

At the same time, I can't get over that "et tu Brute" feeling I get from my "former" friends on the left. Especially from the "Jewish Intellectuals" leading the charge. These are the folks with whom (for a century and a half) I have shared fundamental ideological stands, invariably in opposition to the "Right." (I'm not that old I'm speaking historically).

As with any other "sea change" there are also submerged currents at play. The most significant (to me) revolves around the use of the word "Jewish" (as in Jewish Intellectuals). A Jewish name or Jewish grandparents does not a Jew make. The only rubric which covers both Jews like myself (at the far liberal end of the spectrum) and those at the extreme orthodox end of that same spectrum is not connected to "being" Jewish (although that is the only language available to describe it). It proceeds from "doing" Jewish. Maimonides to the contrary notwithstanding (his is a comparatively late voice) Judaism is not a religion of faith, but of acts. Judaism is built around the 613 commandements contained in the five books of Moses, all of which are acts which one is either required to perform or required to refrain from performing.
Laid over this is a tradition of argumentation and interpretation, required because no fixed document can cover the continually expanding possibilities of the human experience. This body of interpretation is presented as argument, with the majority opinion, the minority opinion and often additional opinions, presented together, in recognition of the fact that under slightly different circumstances the secondary opinions may be the more valid; and as a way of elevating the process of engagement with the texts over any particular opinion.
By this standard, the "Jewish" nature of these "Jewish Intellectuals" pales in significance in comparison to the other components of their intellectuality.
If you challenge them on this point they will huffily respond "Of course I 'am' Jewish." "I 'am' Jewish by virtue of the fact that I choose to assert that I 'am' Jewish." "My statements and acts are drawn from and informed by the highest values of the Jewish experience (mostly the social justice ideals as ennunciated in Isaiah et alia)" "If I willingly identify myself with the most reviled and persecuted people in recorded history, no one can say me nay."
That they rely on the concept of "being" Jewish rather than "doing" Jewish is, for me, a measure of how attenuated their "Jewishness" actually is. But this is the texture of all the soups of contemporary American religious life and the majority opinion as to what constitutes "Jewishness".

As to Sharon, I don't view him as a cause, but rather as an effect. When confronted with the third iteration of Arab rejectionism the Israeli body politic turned away from those politicians who advocated accomodation and ressurected Sharon as a holding action. If Arab intransigence on this fundamental question does not change Israel's leadership will only continue to harden into a mirror image of rejectionism (rejection of the idea of a Palestinian state and a reliance on the rule of war - they've started three 'formal' wars and two 'informal' wars against us, all of which they have lost. This territory is ours to do with as we see fit; up to and including the expulsion or liquidation of the present population. To do exactly as was done to 1,000 year old Jewish communities in the Arab countries)

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Reader comments (48) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
1Who supports Israel. (Conservatives or Liberals?) Conservatives overwhelmingly love Israel [223 words]DeborahAug 19, 2009 08:56160406
The Difference - from a REPUBLICAN [84 words]jennifer solisMar 28, 2008 01:07123868
Really the U.S. and Israel People are my lovely People [1719 words]Saleh Babeker Yahia SalehJun 11, 2007 05:0797635
What the liberals think that they win attacking Israel? [167 words]Mauricio McleanJan 24, 2004 16:4413522
The Left and the Nation State [90 words]Peter EdgarSep 22, 2003 03:5211398
Just one detail... [28 words]Thomas P. ReitzSep 21, 2003 18:2011389
What about Christian messianists? [62 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
David AxelrodSep 18, 2003 10:1611291
David Axelrod- What about Christian messianists? [14 words]Mark RothMar 27, 2008 15:3411291
Christians Believe the Holy bible, and God's word! [214 words]DeborahAug 19, 2009 09:0811291
Support of Israel [168 words]Jeanne ZangerSep 8, 2003 17:0711088
1BJP of India supports Israel [158 words]Devang VyasSep 8, 2003 14:4011085
If Israel survives, humanity survives. [88 words]D. KrabbenhoftSep 7, 2003 23:5711077
reality versus self-delusion [238 words]Y Brandstetter MDSep 7, 2003 04:2611070
Typical left wingers [174 words]Samuel SchwartzSep 6, 2003 22:3411066
the states that harbor terrorists.... [55 words]larrySep 5, 2003 11:2311050
Great [58 words]steve wellsSep 5, 2003 10:2911048
Blair snubs Israel? [35 words]Paul FordSep 5, 2003 08:2311046
Blair snubs Israel? [34 words]Paul FordSep 5, 2003 03:0911043
A note [59 words]Shalom FreedmanSep 5, 2003 01:5411042
Who supports Israel [138 words]Sharon ChadhaSep 5, 2003 00:1211041
Ingrams profiling far more sophisticated than visible ethnicity [213 words]Florence B. SinowSep 5, 2003 00:0911040
Who Supports Israel? [20 words]Violet West RapoportSep 5, 2003 01:0311036
Who supports Israel? [114 words]Ricky HaikinSep 4, 2003 16:5911034
Support for Israel [192 words]Vijay DandapaniSep 4, 2003 15:3311033
israel has got killer technology [127 words]bharatJul 16, 2006 11:1511033
who support Israel [52 words]george glanczSep 4, 2003 10:2611030
Forgotten dissenters [622 words]Enoch WisnerSep 4, 2003 10:2311028
Pro-Israel Jewish Intellectuals [17 words]Kenneth D. Cohen, Ph.D.Sep 4, 2003 09:0211026
Yes but Why? [128 words]BenjaminSep 4, 2003 03:0311021
It is (radical) leftists, not liberals who are anti-Israel [35 words]Arthur CohnSep 4, 2003 01:1411019
Savaging Israel [390 words]Arlinda DeAngelisSep 3, 2003 21:0311016
Befuddled [193 words]Martin SchulbergSep 3, 2003 17:3211011
Fouad Ajami [62 words]Johnathan R. GaltSep 3, 2003 16:2311010
Propping up terrorists, the effect of altruism. [275 words]David SmithSep 3, 2003 15:5211009
Liberal Conservative Multiple Personality Disorder [720 words]Elisha IgnatoffSep 3, 2003 13:2011007
jajaja [31 words]palMar 4, 2010 00:3811007
NY Times Vindicates Pipes [119 words]NK285Sep 3, 2003 12:4611005
who supports israel [22 words]douglas meedSep 3, 2003 12:3511003
Thomas Friedman should not be lumped with the likes of Chomsky [253 words]Matthew RandSep 3, 2003 12:3111002
Thx for comprehensive historical rundown on Israel in world affairs. [105 words]robert alexanderSep 3, 2003 12:0911001
Jewish Opponents of Israel [43 words]Jerrold KatzSep 3, 2003 11:2210997
Comments on who supports Isreal [295 words]Darwin Scott StamperSep 3, 2003 11:1010995
Liberal Left wrong again! [133 words]Joe FitzgeraldSep 3, 2003 11:1010994
U.S. Support of Israel [515 words]Don CanhamSep 3, 2003 11:0810993
Much thanks [48 words]Walter D'UllSep 3, 2003 10:0610989
Support For Israel [128 words]Leon A. DavisSep 3, 2003 09:5810988
Good job [6 words]Alan TowsonSep 3, 2003 09:1610985
Bi-Polar world? [111 words]Glenn KlotzSep 3, 2003 07:5510981

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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