Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Intolerant Jews on the left

Intolerant bigoted anti simetic Jewish left

Richard Baehr

Clueless Jews
It has been a startling week for the American Jewish community, and a revealing one. Most American Jews are politically liberal and secular. There is, of course, no crime or problem in being either. But blatant bigotry, close-mindedness, intellectual laziness and anti-Semitism, are attitudes or traits most liberal American Jews would say are associated with others, and certainly not with some of the leaders in their organizational world, or some of their “thought leaders” in their most respected media organs. Some events of this week suggest otherwise.

First we have the case of the Connecticut rabbi and Tim Tebow. If you are not in America, you may not be familiar with Tim Tebow. The second-year quarterback for the NFL’s Denver Broncos had a very successful career at the University of Florida, helping to win two national titles and winning the Heisman Trophy Award, given to the nation’s top player. There are plenty of athletes who are physically talented and are also viewed as leaders or winners for helping motivate other players on their teams to play harder and better. Tebow stands out from many other professional or collegiate stars because he is not only talented, a leader, a winner, and a motivator, but because he is also a visibly believing Christian. It is this last part that has led to the new phenomenon of “tebowing,” an imitation of Tebow kneeling to pray.

In the last few weeks, Tebow has become a much bigger story as his team has rallied to win six consecutive games, many of them in highly improbable fashion, none more painful to this author than Denver’s miracle victory over the Chicago Bears. It is not hard to understand that this linkage of a serious religious person and a football star would have lots of appeal in a country where football is the most popular sport and where religion matters more than it does in many other Western democracies.

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So along comes Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, a member of J Street’s Rabbinic Cabinet and a columnist for The Jewish Week. Hammerman’s appalling, bigoted article denigrating Tebow and his supporters has now been removed from The Jewish Week’s website, and apologies have been offered by the journal and Hammerman. But the article has been preserved by other sites.

This is one particularly offensive part of the article:

”If Tebow wins the Super Bowl, against all odds, it will buoy his faithful, and emboldened faithful can do insane things, like burning mosques, bashing gays and indiscriminately banishing immigrants. While America has become more inclusive since Jerry Falwell’s first political forays, a Tebow triumph could set those efforts back considerably."

Did you get all that? If the Broncos win the Super Bowl, all hell will break loose in America, as Tebow’s Christian warriors go on a rampage.

This week the Union for Reform Judaism held its biennial General Assembly. On the first day of the meeting, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Republican, gave an address in which he criticized the Palestinian Authority for its culture of worshipping terrorism and challenged its readiness for a state. But some attendees decided to boycott Cantor’s address. What was Cantor’s crime in their eyes? Simply put, he has conservative views.

“A number of participants could be heard outside the ballroom where Cantor was speaking discussing their choice not to attend his speech so as to not lend their support to his conservative views,” The Hill, a Congressional newspaper, reported.

Imagine having to at least give a hearing to an alternative viewpoint. Of course, tuning out conservatives is obligatory for some in the Reform movement, since the movement is far more about liberal politics at this point than about religion. When U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to the URJ event on Friday, he defended his record for enhancing Israel’s security, but the biggest applause lines concerned his pitch on social issues -- abortion, gay rights and the appointment of liberal judges.

This same week, the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College was in the news after the school turned down a donor who offered to fund a conservative scholar. While there might be reason to question a donor defining a viewpoint for a program, there already is a dominant, and largely unchallenged viewpoint at Hebrew Union, and that is that Judaism is all about fighting for social justice. Hostility to Israel is quite prevalent as well.

Many at the school, from administrators to professors to students (the future rabbis) simply have no interest in intellectual diversity. One area where such diversity of thought is frowned upon is Israel:

“While I loved my time there and deeply respected my professors, I found that HUC was not comfortable exploring or discussing anything politically that wasn’t Left,” said Rabbi Samantha Kahn, who received her ordination from Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles in 2011 and is now the assistant rabbi at Congregation Emanu-El in Houston, Texas. “I definitely struggled with it, and I was hurt by the lack of openness and the anger toward positions of center and right when it came to Israel and foreign affairs.”

And then there is Thomas Friedman, America’s most overrated columnist and a fixture at the New York Times, where he has been pontificating for decades. The man who prefers the Chinese authoritarian economic model to that of Western democracies also loves to scold America for its wasteful energy consumption. But Friedman lives in a 10,000-square-foot home, leaving a carbon footprint almost as large as his self-regard.

This week, Friedman, a relentless critic of Israeli policy, at least under right-of-center governments, wrote what should be a career-ending column. In it, he argued that the Israel Lobby controlled the U.S. Congress (he stated that the members were bought and paid for), and that is why the House and Senate members cheered Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he spoke earlier in the year. This is the kind of comment that warms the hearts of Professors Steven Walt and John Mearsheimer, but also brings good cheer to Patrick Buchanan, David Duke and other Israel-haters and/or anti-Semites whether on the Left or the Right.

Friedman is clearly frustrated that Netanyahu does not accept the fact that Thomas Friedman, more than anyone, knows what is good for Israel. Bibi is a repeat offender for Friedman, since he ignored the columnist’s advice in his first term in office as well .

The man who tried to sell the “Saudi peace plan” -- is the real story that Friedman was bought and paid for by the Saudis? -- does not seem to understand that members of Congress are pro-Israel because Americans are pro-Israel, as much now as ever before.

In addition, members of Congress see a lot more to like about Israel and its pluralistic, Western democracy, than they do in a movement which values the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews as more important goals than the creation of a new Palestinian state.

Finally, there is the case of New Yorker editor David Remnick. He is the author of a lengthy paean to Barack Obama, now filling remainder shelves at bookstores across America. Remnick earlier this year expressed his weariness about having to discuss Israel any more, and this week became apoplectic over Newt Gingrich challenging the narrative of a distinct Palestinian nationality.

Remnick went after Gingrich, but spent most of his time assaulting Joan Peters and her 1984 book “From Time Immemorial,” which argued that many Arabs moved to Palestine in the last century only after the Zionists began to move there in large numbers. Remnick attempts to diminish Peters’ work by scornfully pointing out that she was not a trained historian -- something he is not either, of course. Remnick’s hit job on Peters consists of a link to one critical article by Yehoshua Porath (who admits that there was Arab migration to Palestine during this period), and one quote from Daniel Pipes that is taken out of context (in fact, Porath credits Pipes with a favorable review of Peters’ book). Not surprisingly, Remnick neglects to link to attacks on the book by Edward Said, or Professor Norman Finkelstein, whose attacks on Peters have been never-ending and obsessive. It must be that Finkelstein’s reputation at this point is too damaged for Remnick to rely on him, and it is difficult, outside of New York Times editorial board meetings, to sell Said as a fair critic of anything related to Israel. There is no evidence that Remnick has ever read Peters’ book, and his critique is derivative, relying mainly on name-calling.

Remnick is not only not a historian, he is also not much of an editor. As New Yorker editor-in-chief, he has authorized and then approved of the “investigative” pieces of such notables as Seymour Hersh, who like Ron Paul, argues that there is no evidence that Iran is building nuclear weapons. Tina Brown tried to turn the New Yorker into Vanity Fair without the color photography. Remnick has pushed the New Yorker toward the print model of MSNBC.

In his book on Obama, Remnick avoided any serious investigation of any part of the Obama biography that might challenge the currently held views about the president and his background, still taken as gospel by so many of his worshippers in the media, and viewed by them as necessary to sustain his re-election bid. Is it any surprise that Remnick labels Gingrich and Peters as bigots, just as he renounces critics who challenge parts of Obama’s history as racists? If you disagree with David Remnick's view of the world, you must be intolerant and racist.

Taken as a whole, these items suggest a growing intolerance among those on the Left, who are quick to see this trait in their political enemies.

Richard Baehr is the co-founder and chief political correspondent for the American Thinker, and is a visiting fellow at the Jewish Policy Center.

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