Wednesday, September 27, 2006

If It Quacks Like a Duck

Two recent articles highlight the tension created when a politician uses their support for the State of Israel as a defense against accusations of anti-Semitism.

In the Forward, Rebecca Spence discussed the issue in relation to J.D. Hayworth, a Republican Representative from Arizona. Hayworth published a book in which he praises notable anti-Semite Henry Ford’s views on “Americanization.”:

“The controversy surrounding Hayworth, who describes himself as a Christian conservative, comes at a time when many in the Jewish community are debating the uneasy alliance that has developed in recent years between evangelicals, who paint themselves as unflagging supporters of Israel, and American Jews, a traditionally liberal voting bloc. While Republicans defended Hayworth’s comments by citing his long-standing support for Israel, some Democratic analysts said that Hayworth’s insensitivity to Ford’s anti-Semitic polemics illustrates the dangers of cozying up to Christian conservatives… Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, defended Hayworth, pointing out his commitment to the Jewish state. “J.D. Hayworth has been a longstanding and unhesitating supporter of Israel,” Brooks said. “His views on Henry Ford not withstanding, this is in no way a reflection on his own personal actions and his support for the Jewish community during his time in Congress.””

Two weeks later, Senatorial candidate Katherine Harris (R, Florida) stuck her Jimmy Choos in her mouth when she espoused some controversial views about governance and sin. From

"If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," Harris said. Her comments drew criticism, including some from fellow Republicans, who called them offensive and not representative of the party. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, who is Jewish, told the Orlando Sentinel that she was "disgusted" by the comments. Harris' campaign released a statement Saturday saying she had been "speaking to a Christian audience, addressing a common misperception that people of faith should not be actively involved in government." The comments reflected "her deep grounding in Judeo-Christian values," the statement said, adding that Harris had previously supported pro-Israel legislation and legislation recognizing the Holocaust.

Support for Israel does not equal support for the Jews, it equals support for Israel. Regardless of how we feel about the state of Israel (love it, hate it, ignore it, go to therapy over it), we must be aware that those who espouse support for Israel, from across the political spectrum, have their own agenda. We must be wary of the bedfellows we keep.


David Kelsey said...

You said,

"we must be aware that those who espouse support for Israel, from across the political spectrum, have their own agenda. We must be wary of the bedfellows we keep."

There are no other kind of bedfellows for our little tribe. Not on the Left; not on the Right. All have their own agenda.

the BFG said...

Not even within are there altruistic bedfellows. Who constitutes this 'we' Harley mentions? Too many conflate Israel and Judaism. The way that both are treated in politics turns them both into ethical bargaining chips. When someone plays the two-pair of antisemitism, the response must be the full house of supporting Israel. It is reflex at this point. All mixed metaphors aside, my point is there are no bedfellows. There are only one night stands.

harley said...

Insightful ands thought-provoking points. You bring up some of the questions I was pondering when I wrote the post. Thanks for contributing.

Nate said...

I have to disrespectfully disagree with the other commenters. I don't buy into the line of thinking that all bedfellows are problematic - but rather that right wing bigots who support Israel out of either the hope of the Jewish vote, or out of some whacked-out messianic fanaticism should not receive one iota of support from "our little tribe." Anyone who votes based on Israel alone, ignoring all else and putting them, their family, and their whole community at risk should not kid themselves, they are not Americans. They are worse than the illegal alien Mexicans that their politicians want so much to expel from our country (not to say that non-naturalized Mexicans are bad, just that they are seen as such on the Right, and especially by white, rich Israel-loving Jews). If you are an American, vote as an American. If Israel is really the ONLY thing you care about, your flight leaves in an hour - get moving.