For decades, “The 92nd St. Y”—as in Young Men’s Hebrew Association—has been a bastion of progressive thought in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The community center describes itself as “a proudly Jewish institution that reaches out to people of every race, ethnicity, religion, age and economic class.”
Last fall, the Y featured a revealing discussion on “the Left, the Right, and Judaism” between the conservative moralist Dennis Prager and superlawyer, liberal activist, and Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz. David Frum joined them as moderator. It was a discussion between Jews, for Jews, and about Jewish interests, which is something Jews do quite a bit of…
The discussion ultimately amounted to a friendly debate over whether conservatives or liberals were Best For The Jews (that is, most supportive of Zionism and least prone to “anti-Semitism). What I found most striking was that each man stressed just how happy he was that there were so many Jews in the opposing camp—and how he only hoped there might be more some day…
What becomes clear in discussions like this one is that Jews view Left and Right as static—as two components of a system they operate in. I don’t think Prager and Dershowitz are insincere in their beliefs and opinions. It’s simply a matter of issues like, say, abortion and social welfare policy being completely subordinated to the REAL issue (and you know what that is.) For this reason, they’re delighted to see more of their kind in prominent positions “on the other side.”
This metapolitics has obviously been successful for them. Note how in the second video, Prager says that the Jews ridiculed and attacked George W. Bush—but did so in full confidence that he would never stop standing up for Zionists and risking his political career on their behalf.
Europeans and European-Americans could do worse than learn something from a people whose political ideas are profoundly informed by racial consciousness.
Norman Podhoretz wrote in his book, Why Are Jews Liberal?, that Jews “back Republicans only so long as they adopted the liberal position on ’such bellwether issues … as immigration, abortion, gay rights and the separation of church and state.”
John Murray Cuddihy wrote in The Ordeal of Civility: Freud, Marx, Levi-Strauss and the Jewish Struggle With Modernity:
“With the advent of Jewish Emancipation, when ghetto walls crumble and the shtetlach begin to dissolve, Jewry – like some wide-eyed anthropologist – enters upon a strange world, to explore a strange people observing a strange halakah. They examine this world in dismay, with wonder, anger, and punitive objectivity. This wonder, this anger, and the vindictive objectivity of the marginal nonmember are recidivist; they continue unabated into our own time because Jewish Emancipation continues into our own time.”
A 1996 poll of Jewish attitudes showed that, in the words of Podhoretz, “Jews are firmly committed to permissive social codes, sexual codes in particular. The gap between Jews and others in polls regarding non-marital sexual behavior, marijuana, and divorce laws is quite substantial: 58 percent of Jews had liberal responses on these items as opposed to just 31 percent of non-Jews. In like fashion, huge gaps separate Jews from others on abortion (86 percent vs. 44 percent) and control of pornography (71 percent vs. 45 percent).”