Torossian: Misguided Criticism of American Jewish Liberals

It is quite clear that today’s Democratic Party is not the Democratic Party of old.

Twenty-seven Jewish “social justice organizations” recently wrote a widely-publicized open letter calling upon “political candidates to put an end to the racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia” which “has emerged in this year's campaign.”

Naturally, all Jews – and decent people anywhere – agree that racism in any form is unacceptable, and none of us approves of what these organizations describe as “hurtful characterizations of entire ethnic groups as criminals.” All Americans can agree with them that “the Jewish community knows all too well what can happen when particular religious or ethnic groups become the focus of invective. We have witnessed the dangerous acts that can follow verbal expressions of hate."

As such, it was disappointing that a radical, extremist organization such as The New Israel Fund, which openly supports a boycott of Israel, was among the organizations that signed this letter.

It is quite clear that today’s Democratic Party is not the Democratic Party of old.

Israel must always be a bi-partisan issue and sadly we’ve recently seen that historic bond between Israel and the Democratic Party erode and weaken. Shamefully, elements of the Democratic Party now are anti-Israel and doing all they can to destroy the pro-Israel consensus, as they stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those who boycott Israel.

Furthermore, why did this letter not urge all candidates to stand with Israelis across the political spectrum who say no to dividing Jerusalem and no to a nuclear Iran?

Naturally, all of us stand with the letter writers in condemning anti-Semitism. Therefore, why did this letter not urge all candidates to “shun advisors and close family friends” (i.e. Max Blumenthal) who are anti-Israel, who compare the Israel Defense Forces to Nazi Germany, who refer to Israel as an “apartheid state,” and who harm the Jewish State. 

As Alan Dershowitz—a Clinton supporter – notes,

Max Blumenthal is well outside the acceptable range of rhetoric about Israel. His constant comparisons between Nazi Germany and the Jewish state establish him as an extremist bigot whose greatest appeal is to anti-Semites and others who apply a double standard to the Jewish state. Any political candidate who would associate himself or herself with such views would be unacceptable to Americans… I hope that the Clintons ask Sid to expressly disassociate himself from his son’s views–and if he refuses to, that they no longer work with him on any matters.

The reality is that this letter was about what Jeff Jacoby, the op-ed editor of the Boston Globe, has written, namely that "liberalism has superseded Judaism as the religion of most American Jews." As author Norman Podhoretz wrote in Why Are Jews Liberal?, “where the Torah of contemporary liberalism conflicts with the Torah of Judaism, it is the Torah of liberalism that prevails and the Torah of Judaism that must give way.”

While Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, claims this letter is not about “a liberal or conservative issue,” he neglects to mention his recent embrace of J Street and the fact that he is a former senior advisor to the most anti-Israel President in modern history, Barack Obama. That says it all.

Yes, we must all condemn anti-Semitism – and we must also remember, as Jacoby has written, "This liberalism isn’t rational. It isn’t sensible. It certainly isn’t good for the Jews."

Hank Sheinkopf, CEO of Sheinkopf Communications is a leading political strategist who has worked on campaigns in four continents.  His clients have included former President Bill Clinton.

Ronn Torossian is a New York-based Public Relations executive and author of the bestselling PR book For Immediate Release.  He is currently a member of the Republican Jewish Coalition Vice Chairman's Council, although he wrote the above article in a personal capacity.