Dennis Prager’s troubling discussion of Jewish liberalism

Sometimes I wonder, when I’m saying critical things about Jews, if I’ve gone a bit over the line. For example, when I recently quoted several Jews who said that their Jewish soul “hinges” on open borders, which they see as the “Jewish American civil religion,” and as “the very heart, for Jews, of what it means to be an American,” some readers felt I was being unfair because the Jews I was quoting are secular leftist Jews, who are anti-religion and thus are not “real” Jews. In reply, I wrote:

The fact remains … that the Jewish people, far out of proportion with any other ethnic group, keep producing a fantastic number of leftists, whether they are “Jewish” or not. Any gentile country with a significant Jewish population needs to consider honestly this Jewish tendency and find responsible ways of restraining it. Ignoring it will only allow it to become more and more destructive (just as the Jewish left is destructive of Israel itself), leading ultimately to the growth of serious anti-Semitism on the part of the majority population.

After I posted that statement, I felt it was so broad that I added qualifying language to show that this problem could be solved through civilized criticism and political discourse.

Now no one would call columnist Dennis Prager or David Horowitz, the editor of FrontPage Magazine, anti-Semites, yet Prager’s article at FrontPage today, “Why are Jews Liberal?”, is a more sweeping and devastating criticism of Jews than anything I have ever written, including my 2004 FrontPage article, “Why Jews Welcome Moslems.” Here are key passages I’ve excerpted from Prager’s article. These are all direct quotes:

  • … Jews (outside of Israel) are indeed overwhelmingly liberal and disproportionately left of liberal as well.

  • Most Jews are frightened by anything that connotes right-wing—such as the words “right-wing” and “conservative.”

  • Liberal Jews fear most religion. They identify religion—especially fundamentalist religion and especially Christianity—with anti-Semitism.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

So, according to Prager, Jews are overwhelmingly left-liberal, and they are devoted to leftism as to a religion. Further, these liberal-left Jews, comprising the overwhelming majority of Jews, are “frightened” of conservatism, they “fear” most religion, they identify religion and especially Christianity with anti-Semitism, and they “fear” nationalism, seeing it as the source of the Holocaust.

I have never written or even imagined such a sweeping criticism of Jews. My approach has always been, let’s look at the Jewish tendencies to leftism and anti-nationalism as correctable behaviors. If the American majority started to act like the “adult” again, the Jews, the “angry adolescent” in this scenario, would shape up, since the Jews are at bottom rational people and members of Western civilization.

But in Prager’s portrait, the Jewish problem is more deeply entrenched. As Prager describes it, the overwhelming majority of Jews oppose, fear, and regard as evil everything that our society is based on: conservative values, free enterprise, religion, Christianity, even nationhood itself, and they are compelled to these anti-American views by what they see as their religion.

If Prager is correct, how should the rest of the American community regard and respond to Jews? I repeat my conviction that if other Americans began in a civilized but firm way to criticize these Jewish dispositions, that would force the Jews to pull back from their aggressive leftism. If the majority culture restored itself and its moral authority, then Jews would again become good members of it, as they had been prior to the shattering of the majority culture in the Sixties Revolution. Yet at the same time, honesty compels me to acknowledge that Prager’s article makes the problem of Jewish leftism seem more threatening, and harder to solve, than ever before.

[See also the exchange I had with a devout religious Jew who has exactly the same egalitarian, open-borders, anti-national vision of America as the secularist leftist Jews criticized by Prager.]

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 25, 2006 01:46 PM | Send

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