Commentary Magazine


Topic: national director

It’s Not Rush Limbaugh Who Should Apologize

In my new book, Why Are Jews Liberals?, I argue that it no longer makes any sense for so many of my fellow Jews to go on aligning themselves with the forces of the Left. I also try to show that our interests and our ideals, both as Americans and as Jews, have come in recent decades to be better served by the forces of the Right. In the course of describing and agreeing with the book the other day, Rush Limbaugh cited a few of the numerous reasons for the widespread puzzlement over the persistence of liberalism within the American Jewish community. And while discussing those reasons, he pointed to the undeniable fact that for “a lot of people” — prejudiced people, as he called them twice — the words “banker” and “Wall Street” are code words for “Jewish.” Was it possible, he wondered, that Obama’s attacks on bankers and Wall Street were triggering a certain amount of buyer’s remorse within the American Jewish community, which gave him 78 percent of its vote?

Finally, taking off from my observation that many Jewish liberals like to call themselves independents, he wondered whether a fair number of the self-described independents who deserted Obama and voted for Scott Brown might actually have been Jewish liberals. If so, he concluded, Brown’s “victory could be even more indicative of an even bigger change in the political temper of the country than has so far been recognized.”

For this, Rush Limbaugh has been subjected to a vile attack by Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League. Of course, Mr. Foxman has a long history of seeing an anti-Semite under every conservative bed while blinding himself to the blatant fact that anti-Semitism has largely been banished from the Right in the past 40 years, and that it has found a hospitable new home on the Left, especially where Israel is concerned. This makes Foxman a perfect embodiment of the phenomenon I analyze in Why Are Jews Liberals? Now Foxman has the chutzpah to denounce Rush Limbaugh as an anti-Semite and to demand an apology from him to boot. Well, if an apology is owed here, it is the national director of the Anti-Defamation League who should apologize for the defamatory accusation of anti-Semitism that he himself has hurled against so loyal a friend of Israel as Rush Limbaugh.

In my new book, Why Are Jews Liberals?, I argue that it no longer makes any sense for so many of my fellow Jews to go on aligning themselves with the forces of the Left. I also try to show that our interests and our ideals, both as Americans and as Jews, have come in recent decades to be better served by the forces of the Right. In the course of describing and agreeing with the book the other day, Rush Limbaugh cited a few of the numerous reasons for the widespread puzzlement over the persistence of liberalism within the American Jewish community. And while discussing those reasons, he pointed to the undeniable fact that for “a lot of people” — prejudiced people, as he called them twice — the words “banker” and “Wall Street” are code words for “Jewish.” Was it possible, he wondered, that Obama’s attacks on bankers and Wall Street were triggering a certain amount of buyer’s remorse within the American Jewish community, which gave him 78 percent of its vote?

Finally, taking off from my observation that many Jewish liberals like to call themselves independents, he wondered whether a fair number of the self-described independents who deserted Obama and voted for Scott Brown might actually have been Jewish liberals. If so, he concluded, Brown’s “victory could be even more indicative of an even bigger change in the political temper of the country than has so far been recognized.”

For this, Rush Limbaugh has been subjected to a vile attack by Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League. Of course, Mr. Foxman has a long history of seeing an anti-Semite under every conservative bed while blinding himself to the blatant fact that anti-Semitism has largely been banished from the Right in the past 40 years, and that it has found a hospitable new home on the Left, especially where Israel is concerned. This makes Foxman a perfect embodiment of the phenomenon I analyze in Why Are Jews Liberals? Now Foxman has the chutzpah to denounce Rush Limbaugh as an anti-Semite and to demand an apology from him to boot. Well, if an apology is owed here, it is the national director of the Anti-Defamation League who should apologize for the defamatory accusation of anti-Semitism that he himself has hurled against so loyal a friend of Israel as Rush Limbaugh.

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Reversing Field, ADL Blasts J Street Over Palin

Days after the ADL pandered to its liberal adherents with a report that attempted in part to link mainstream conservative critics of the Obama administration with extremists, the venerable watchdog group tilted in the other direction with a blast aimed at J Street, the leftist lobby that seeks to undermine the pro-Israel consensus in Washington. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, ADL national director Abe Foxman called up the wire service last night to condemn J Street for its attack on Sarah Palin’s recent statement opposing Obama’s stand on Jewish settlements. JTA’s Capital J blog said Foxman termed J Street’s statement “over the line” and wondered whether the group should be calling itself “pro-Israel.”

Palin had expressed support for the settlement movement in a Barbra Walters interview, though her explanation of the need for allowing existing settlements to expand was a bit off the mark. She said it was because “more and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead.” That is more than anybody in Israel knows about the possibility of an increase in aliyah. The argument for settlement expansion has to do with Israel’s rights to the land and its security as well as the needs of the existing Jewish population. This is, alas, another example of the former vice-presidential candidate sometimes having a correct opinion but not knowing the right reason for having it. But in a week when Obama personally blasted Israel for building new apartments in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, this is not a moment to quibble about the statements of those who are trying to help Israel rather than cut it off at the knees, as the administration seems intent on doing.

Which is why Foxman was absolutely right to point out that J Street was way out of line. Capital J claims that Foxman asserted that J Street’s refusal to support Israel’s invasion of Gaza, its opposition to new Iran sanctions, its failure to support last month’s congressional resolution condemning the Goldstone Report, and the reaction to the Palin statement raise a “question mark” about the group’s own “pro-Israel” bona fides.

J Street’s willingness to use the settlements issue to jump on Palin, a popular liberal punching bag, illustrates again that its primary reason for being has nothing to do with a desire to back Israel or a peace process that is dead in the water due to a complete lack of interest in making peace on the part of the Palestinians. J Street’s only purpose is to pursue the political agenda of the Left with no concern for the need to maintain a bipartisan pro-Israel coalition. But as much as Foxman’s anger at J Street was on target, we’d have a little more respect for the ADL’s own judgment had the full force of its efforts not otherwise been similarly aimed at delegitimizing anti-Obama and largely pro-Israel conservatives earlier in the week.

Days after the ADL pandered to its liberal adherents with a report that attempted in part to link mainstream conservative critics of the Obama administration with extremists, the venerable watchdog group tilted in the other direction with a blast aimed at J Street, the leftist lobby that seeks to undermine the pro-Israel consensus in Washington. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, ADL national director Abe Foxman called up the wire service last night to condemn J Street for its attack on Sarah Palin’s recent statement opposing Obama’s stand on Jewish settlements. JTA’s Capital J blog said Foxman termed J Street’s statement “over the line” and wondered whether the group should be calling itself “pro-Israel.”

Palin had expressed support for the settlement movement in a Barbra Walters interview, though her explanation of the need for allowing existing settlements to expand was a bit off the mark. She said it was because “more and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead.” That is more than anybody in Israel knows about the possibility of an increase in aliyah. The argument for settlement expansion has to do with Israel’s rights to the land and its security as well as the needs of the existing Jewish population. This is, alas, another example of the former vice-presidential candidate sometimes having a correct opinion but not knowing the right reason for having it. But in a week when Obama personally blasted Israel for building new apartments in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, this is not a moment to quibble about the statements of those who are trying to help Israel rather than cut it off at the knees, as the administration seems intent on doing.

Which is why Foxman was absolutely right to point out that J Street was way out of line. Capital J claims that Foxman asserted that J Street’s refusal to support Israel’s invasion of Gaza, its opposition to new Iran sanctions, its failure to support last month’s congressional resolution condemning the Goldstone Report, and the reaction to the Palin statement raise a “question mark” about the group’s own “pro-Israel” bona fides.

J Street’s willingness to use the settlements issue to jump on Palin, a popular liberal punching bag, illustrates again that its primary reason for being has nothing to do with a desire to back Israel or a peace process that is dead in the water due to a complete lack of interest in making peace on the part of the Palestinians. J Street’s only purpose is to pursue the political agenda of the Left with no concern for the need to maintain a bipartisan pro-Israel coalition. But as much as Foxman’s anger at J Street was on target, we’d have a little more respect for the ADL’s own judgment had the full force of its efforts not otherwise been similarly aimed at delegitimizing anti-Obama and largely pro-Israel conservatives earlier in the week.

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