Thursday, February 07, 2008

"Hate Germans, love women." -"What about German women?"

American Jews care about one thing and one thing only: Israel. Not only is Israel the only issue Jews consider, but Jews all have identical feelings about what constitutes a pro-Israel position.

If you can accept both of the above, then James Q. Wilson's City Journal article advising Jews to align themselves with evangelical Christians makes perfect sense. If you consider that perhaps the Jews who put Israel first live in Israel, not the United States, and that perhaps American Jews want what's best for America (not necessarily inconsistent with what's best for Israel), then, well, not so much.

Wilson offers up impossible-to-prove statements, most notably, "The most anti-Semitic group in America is African-Americans." (Not white-supremacists?) He doesn't so much try to prove this as point out that some black leaders have made anti-Semitic comments, using two well-known and long-known examples, adding nothing new. So it's hard to take this article too seriously. However, to respond with some generalizations of my own... are American Jews more urban or more rural? How many blacks to you think the average American Jew knows personally and sees on a day-to-day basis? How many evangelical Christians? (And aren't some evangelical Christians black? But nevertheless...). Jewish politics are not black politics, but there's good reason the two would be closer than Jewish and evangelical Christian politics.

To generalize some more, there's the issue of education. Jews are said to go in for education. Evangelical Christians are known for their rejection of the theory of evolution, and for their distrust of the 'educated, urban elites.' Think Huckabee and the squirrel, meant to symbolize his real-Americanness. No matzo-and-mesclun salad for him! For blacks, Jews are a fact of life. For evangelical Christians, Jews are quite possibly behind Hollywood, gay marriage, and Britney Spears' breakdown.

And finally, one thing Jews (secular and religious) don't like is hearing day and night about Jesus. One thing evangelicals like is talking day and night about Jesus. Putting a certain type of evangelical in office means CNN becomes indistinguishable from televangelist public access.

But back to the article. A brief mention of what it means to be an evangelical Christian comes at the end of a paragraph describing how they're not so bad, they wouldn't declare Jesus the official President-for-eternity or anything. Fine, but then there's this: "Evangelicals strongly oppose abortion and gay marriage, but in almost every other respect are like other Americans." Hmm. I may never live in Israel, but until menopause I could potentially end up in a disastrous situation if the evangelicals win the day. The uterus knows no identity politics.

Finally, and here is where the piece loses me completely, Jews are supposed to align with evangelicals because our numbers are dropping, or might be, due to intermarriage. Now wouldn't the frequency of intermarriage suggest that American Jews today have concerns that do not totally revolve around being Jewish?

1 comment:

choey said...

Well it's pretty obvious that Mr. Wilson hasn't spent all that much time with Jews or with Evangelicals.

I travel the country quite a bit and spend time with lots of evangelicals. They may claim to love the Jews and they may claim to love the Old Testament, but it's usually pretty apparent that they don't know many, or any, Jews and they don't really know the Bible either.

I've met and worked with the evangelicals that Wilson is talking about. They like the idea of the Jews. They even like the idea of converting us more. They like the idea of Israel and it has always seemed to me that they like the idea of a Holy Land free of brown people more than the Apocalypse scenario.

A year ago, while on business in downstate IL, I was flipping around the local cable and came across a Christian cable show called "Send a Jew to Israel". Really. The idea was to donate money to this group that would then send Orthodox volunteers on Aliyah. Go figure. I don't mind anyone taking Aliyah, but the images of Jews that this group was portraying was so stereotypical that if they weren't so earnest and serious, it would have been laughable, not scary.