Azure Lens on Judaism

By Beichman, Arnold | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 17, 1999 | Go to article overview

Azure Lens on Judaism


Beichman, Arnold, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


"On the Political Stupidity of the Jews" is the startling title of an article by Irving Kristol, he who a quarter-century ago sired the then neo-conservative movement, many of whose members were fellow Jewish intellectuals. He is not, however, talking about them but rather about Jewish liberals, who ever since the New Deal and particularly since the end of World War II, have comprised a large majority of American Jewry as they also do in Israel.

The 7,500-word article appears in a new conservative Israeli magazine, Azure (that color is a sacred attribute of biblical Judaism), published by the Shalem Center, an Israeli think-tank.

Mr. Kristol's article opens with this audacious judgment:

"In Israel as well as in America, Jews to this day continue to combine an almost pathologically intense inclination toward political foolishness often crossing over into the realm of the politically suicidal. How is one to understand this very odd Jewish condition - the political stupidity of Jews?"

As Mr. Kristol sees it the history of Judaism - political impotence, victimization, prophetic and rabbinic traditions - is not one which can lead a people "to acquire the kinds of skills necessary for astute statesmanship . . . and the absence of such a tradition of political wisdom continues to haunt all Jewish politics."

Lack of such political wisdom has led to an important reversal in the United States in the political handling of controversial religious and moral issues in public life: from "reasoned experience" before World War II to "abstract dogmatism" since World War II. Says Mr. Kristol:

"As everyone knows, this unwarranted and unfortunate reversal has provoked a constitutional crisis where there had never been one before. And much as I regret to say this, the sad fact is that American Jews have played a very important role - in some ways a crucial role - in creating this crisis."

This is the timetable as Mr. Kristol, longtime fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, sees it:

* With the precipitous postwar decline in anti-Semitism, Jews moved "massively" into the mainstream of American life.

* Official Jewish organizations began to "prosecute an aggressive campaign against any public recognition, however slight, of the fact that Americans are

Christian. …

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