Why Are Jews Liberals?

Nor­man Podhoretz
  • Review
By – September 9, 2011
Nor­man Pod­horetz, the ven­er­a­ble neo­con­ser­v­a­tive pun­dit who served as edi­tor of Com­men­tary mag­a­zine for 35 years, explores in his lat­est book the ques­tion of why Jews con­tin­ue to be over­whelm­ing­ly asso­ci­at­ed with lib­er­al ideas and orga­ni­za­tions, despite the fact that, in his view, such asso­ci­a­tions are not in their best inter­ests. The first half of the book is devot­ed to a his­tor­i­cal review, begin­ning with the birth of Chris­tian­i­ty, unam­bigu­ous­ly illus­trat­ing how anti- Semi­tism had been his­tor­i­cal­ly linked with right-wing pol­i­tics in the West, result­ing in Jews con­tin­u­al­ly grav­i­tat­ing to lib­er­al groups and social move­ments. How­ev­er, Pod­horetz argues that in light of the rad­i­cal­iza­tion of the left in the Unit­ed States over the course of the last 40 years, accom­pa­nied by the right’s adopt­ing posi­tions that appear to be more in line with Jew­ish con­cerns, includ­ing Israel’s secu­ri­ty and sta­ble fam­i­ly val­ues, it is dif­fi­cult to under­stand why the major­i­ty of Jews have not more pro­found­ly shift­ed their polit­i­cal alle­giances. The ques­tion of the intrin­sic nature of Jew­ish polit­i­cal per­spec­tives appears to be more pow­er­ful­ly posed than the answers that the author ten­ta­tive­ly offers, and to which only the last 30 pages of the book are devot­ed. This is a top­ic that deserves con­tin­ued research and reflection.
Yaakov (Jack) Biel­er was the found­ing Rab­bi of the Kemp Mill Syn­a­gogue in Sil­ver Spring, MD until his retire­ment in 2015. He has been asso­ci­at­ed with Jew­ish day school edu­ca­tion for over thir­ty years. R. Biel­er served as a men­tor for the Bar Ilan Uni­ver­si­ty Look­stein Cen­ter Prin­ci­pals’ Sem­i­nar and he has pub­lished and lec­tured exten­sive­ly on the phi­los­o­phy of Mod­ern Ortho­dox education.

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