How America’s Jews Learned to Be Liberal

tags: religion, Judaism, immigration

Steven R. Weisman, the vice president for publications and communications at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, is the author of the forthcoming “The Chosen Wars: How Judaism Became an American Religion” and a former correspondent and editor at The Times.

A startling opinion survey released this summer revealed just how wide is the rift between the world’s two largest Jewish communities.

Israelis approve of President Trump’s handling of United States-Israeli relations by 77 percent, which is hardly surprising for the most pro-Israel occupant of the White House in many years. But only 34 percent of American Jews feel the same way, and 57 percent disapprove of Mr. Trump’s approach to Israel, according to the same poll, which was taken by the American Jewish Committee.

This division reflects disagreements over West Bank settlements, Iran and other political issues. But Israel’s departure from its secular origins — including its recent downgrading of non-Jewish citizens’ status and the stranglehold of the Orthodox rabbinate over civil laws and women’s rights — has also rankled many American Jews.

Israelis are red-state Jews. American Jews are blue-state — politically liberal in their outlook.

The liberalism of most American Jews has long confounded American Jewish neoconservatives like Norman Podhoretz, who asserts that it is illogical for American Jews to embrace the welfare state, and the taxes to pay for it, given their comfortable economic status. Jews, he has argued, mistakenly think that social justice is rooted in the Torah and other Jewish teachings, such as “tikkun olam,” a Hebrew phrase meaning “repairing the world.” ...

Read entire article at NYT

comments powered by Disqus