Ask Auntie Pinko
November 18, 2004
By Auntie Pinko
As a Jewish man, I feel that the Democratic Party is becoming
less concerned about the fate of Israel. Why are we growing more
concerned about non-quintessential issues like taxing the rich?
Is there a growing sense of anti-Semitism amongst the Democratic
elite as there is in Europe? Why is it that we are going much the
way of socialism?
Please excuse the delay in getting back to you. Auntie is not
Jewish, so your many questions necessitated some research among
Jewish friends and acquaintances, and various documentary sources.
And these researches certainly proved extremely interesting! Auntie
was aware, of course, that there is a relatively broad spectrum
of opinion among Americans who are Jewish, but I had not fully appreciated
just how conflicting some of the views really were.
I found some who believe in a religiously orthodox Jewish nation-state,
with the same borders as the ancient states of Israel, Judea and
Samaria. Anything less in either territory or ideology is incomplete,
unacceptable. Non-Jews, including Palestinian Arabs, should be expelled,
and non-religious Jews should be required to conform to all the
Levitical observances incorporated in such a nations civil code.
I found some who ridiculed the concept of a geographical "Israel"
at all, since such a state can only be truly re-established by the
coming of a Messiah. There was a lack of clarity regarding whether
He would establish it by means of supernatural events, or more prosaic
methods of political/philosophical leadership, but without overt
Divine intervention, there could be no true "Israel" on Earth.
While both of these views appeared to represent relatively extreme
minorities, their exponents seem passionate and vocal.
The larger middle ground shares a general belief in the right
of the State of Israel to continued existence. But that belief seemed
the only clear consensus point among Jewish Americans, whose various
opinions ranged from demanding that America simply and unequivocally
support all of the policies of the Israeli government, to a profound
and growing uneasiness with those same Israeli policies, and a desire
for the United States to apply strategic leverage to influence them
in various directions. Clearly, anything America does in relation
to Israel is going to piss off a substantial number of American
I have been part of the Democratic Party for a great many years,
and have always regarded support for the existence of Israel as
one of the bedrock principles of American liberalism. I do not believe
this has substantially changed. All of the liberal Democrats Auntie
knows staunchly support the continued existence of the State of
Israel in some form. But an increasingly fractured consensus regarding
the precise form of that State has necessarily taken a toll. I don't
believe the Democratic Party can reasonably be assigned responsibility
for the fracturing of that consensus and the subsequent debates
about what precise shape America's policy goals regarding Israel
As for the precise importance of this issue in comparison with
others, applying reductio ad absurdum to the issue of fair
tax policy in an effort to belittle its importance against the issue
of American policy regarding Israel is counter-productive, at best,
if your goal is to mobilize Democratic support for a particular
view on Israel. While Israel is one of America's most important
foreign policy concerns, and certainly merits more sustained and
thoughtful discussion within the Party, tax policy is a critical
domestic issue that also plays a key role in defining our Party's
identity. While we must make thoughtful choices about where we choose
to put our intellectual, social, and political resources, it is
not a zero-sum game.
As for the issue of anti-Semitism, Auntie is not the only Democrat
who is feeling alarm and disgust at the resurgence of such ignorant
barbarism throughout the world. Allowing disagreement with the policies
and actions of the Israeli government to manifest as vulgar and
primitive prejudice against an entire faith/ethnic group is typical
of the undisciplined and subjective emotionalism that has taken
the place of reason in public discourse. However, with specific
regard to your question about the Democratic Party "elite," I'm
afraid I can't be too helpful, as I don't know any Democrats who
might reasonably fit the definition of the word "elite." Most of
my Democratic friends are ordinary run-of-the-mill voters who participate
in the Party at a local level, if at all.
For what it is worth, the leadership of the Democratic Party (as
well as other political and social groups) does seem to be willing
to qualify the concept of unequivocal, uncritical support for all
of the policies of the Israeli government. If that is what you are
referring to as "anti-Semitism," then perhaps it could be considered
a "growing sense."
And finally, with regard to the issue of Socialism, you say that
like it's a bad thing. Auntie Pinko can only conclude that you have
never actually studied the core principles of Socialist philosophy.
Perhaps, too, you have not had the chance to observe its overwhelmingly
civilized, decent, and livable democratic applications in places
like Denmark, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, and other nations
that have incorporated Socialist elements into their political infrastructure.
I might also point out that some of Europe's most Socialist states
today are those who did the most to protect their Jewish populations
during the Nazi occupation. Check it out, Bill, and thanks for asking
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