Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Uncle Jake

Since Ezzie hasn't yet taught me how to continue a post on a different page, and I don't want to clutter up the main blog page with a long article, I'm just posting the URL. In the article, which I found via Jewish World Review, Dennis Prager writes about being Jewish and politically Conservative.

EDIT: [Ezzie:] Here's the piece from Prager, which is incredibly sharp: Jews who support the Christian right are "Uncle Jakes."

So says a pro-Israeli Jewish official in his recent column for the Israel Policy Forum, a pro-Israel organization. "Uncle Jake" is M. J. Rosenberg's term for Jewish equivalent of "Uncle Tom." Just as the left sees conservative blacks as traitors to African-Americans, so it sees conservative Jews as traitors to the Jewish people. I am the "Uncle Jake" most criticized in the Rosenberg column.

That a Jew on the left would use this term to describe Jews who support conservative Christians gives one an idea of how irrational, how hysterical are the arguments of the Jewish (and non-Jewish) left. And lacking a rational basis, they frequently rely on name-calling.

Speaking personally, I have been called many things in my life, but "Jewish traitor" is a first. For the record, and offered with obvious embarrassment at having to list these things about myself, here is a brief review of my Jewish activities:

From 1969 onward I was one of the leaders of the Soviet Jewry movement, beginning with being the national spokesman for the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, the leading activist group in that cause.

I have lectured in more Jewish communities in North America — federations, synagogues of all denominations, Jewish community centers — than almost any living Jew. And I have spoken at the national conventions of virtually every major American Jewish organization — including Hadassah, the General Assembly of Jewish Federations; the United Jewish Campaign; AIPAC; and the American Jewish Committee.

I co-wrote with Rabbi Joseph Telushkin perhaps the most widely used introduction to Judaism in the English language.

I am the recipient of the American Jewish Press Association's 2004 Prize for excellence in Jewish Commentary.

For seven years I was the director of the Jewish retreat center, the Brandeis-Bardin Institute.

I am a founder of a Jewish day school in Southern California.

I am the emcee of the annual Chabad telethon; I've been teaching the Torah at the University of Judaism for 25 years, and teach Torah at my Reform synagogue. And I have brought tens of thousands of Jews back to Judaism and Jewish identity — Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox.

How then does a Jewish writer call me, a man whose life has been so committed to the welfare of the Jewish people, a traitor to Jews?

The answer is simple: To many leftist Jews, a non-leftist Jew is by definition a traitor. It's as simplistic as that. To these Jews, "left" and "Jewish" are synonyms. Just as to many on the left, "left" and "black" are synonyms.

The use of this smear is the tactic of those who cannot argue. Blacks and whites who smear black conservatives such as Thomas Sowell, John McWhorter, Larry Elder, Walter Williams, and Ward Connerly as "Uncle Toms" do so because they cannot, or wish not, to engage them in intellectual argument. It's far easier to libel them than to debate them.

The same libel and intellectual shallowness characterizes the Rosenberg piece.

His major charge is that Jews who support conservative Christians are "Jews taking positions hostile to the Jewish people in order to stay faithful to some political agenda."

And what are these positions that are "hostile to the Jewish people"? Rosenberg enumerates them: "the entire Christian Right agenda: opposing abortion, poverty programs, progressive taxation, laws that protect gays, affirmative action, the environmental movement, and feminism.

Even if that portrayal of conservative positions were accurate, why are these positions "hostile to the Jewish people"? Because they are conservative positions! Again, to such minds, "left" and "Jews" are synonymous, and therefore "conservative" and "hostile to Jews" are synonymous.

If you think most abortions are immoral; that a lower tax rate is better for society, including the poor; that the problem of poverty in America will not be solved by the government spending trillions more; that marriage should not be redefined; that a race-blind society is a finer society and that race-based affirmative action hurts both the recipients of the lowered standards and the society at large; that we desperately need the oil from a small percentage of the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve because doing so will help us rely less on Saudi oil and won't hurt any caribou; and think that, in retrospect, the feminist movement (as distinct from the belief in man-woman equality, which every religious conservative I know holds) hurt more men and women than it helped — you are anti-Jewish.

Such shallowness is based in part on ignorance. For example, Rosenberg writes that "He [Prager] conveniently ignores the fact that Christian Right support for Israel is largely based on a religious belief that Christ will only return after Jews are all in Israel accepting the divinity of Jesus Christ."

That is the lie about Christians that the left spreads to prevent Jews from knowing the truth about Christian support for Israel: that it is rooted overwhelmingly in the beliefs that G-d promised the return of the Jews to Israel, that Christians are grafted onto the tree of Israel, that G-d blesses those who bless the Jews, that Israel is a humane democracy and its enemies are bloodthirsty and backward regimes.

To Rosenberg, conservative Christians are a caricature.

Rosenberg's charges that Jews who support Christian conservatives do so from nefarious motives and that Christians who support Israel do so from nefarious motives is typical of the left. They judge motives, not deeds. And the reason is clear. They are so certain of their moral superiority, they can only deduce that all those who differ with them are bad people. That's how a Jew who has devoted his life to the Jewish people can be called an Uncle Jake.


  1. Thanks SIL! Great piece by Prager - I'll re-do it if you'd like.

  2. I am not a leftist but I don't trust the Conservative Xtian agenda. I do not agree that it is solely based upon shared values.

    They can say all that they want that they love Jews and Israel and at the same time they are busy proselytizing and doing everything that they can to try and get us to switch sides.

    I have been told far too many times that people want to pray for my soul because I am not taking care of it.

    The hell with them. They can believe what they want, but go bother someone else.

  3. I'm not saying they're perfect - but to call them "Uncle Jakes" seems outrageous. And the problems with the left are spot-on.

  4. I won't call them any name, but I just can't understand how anyone who supports groups that spend millions trying to convert Jews to another religion should be considered a Jewish leader.

    Regarding the reasons why some Christians are pro-Israel, there are truly a lot of different reasons. Liberals identify with the struggles of the Jewish people and see Israel as a just cause. Conservatives do it either because they really think HaShem gave us the land, or because they think we have a role to play in their end times scenario (after which, we fry!). The third group is the most opposed to territorial compromise because to do so will screw up their
    master plan; the other two groups would like to support whatever is in the best interest of Jews (if *we* could ever agree!). But in any case this is a current disagreement among Christians and we should not get involved. The third group definitely represents a minority opinion.

    Somewhat related is the question of whether Jews need to convert to Christianity in order to be "saved" (whatever that means). The third group tends to say "yes" (and think they are doing us a favor by protecting us from the flames of their hell), and the first group tends to say "no". I'm not sure about the second group.

    Then there are the many Christians who don't have any problem with Judaism as a religion but don't have a clue about Eretz Yisrael. Unfortunately, looking at the Catholic and mainline Protestant churches, this may actually be the majority opinion today.

  5. I don't think he's a Jewish "leader", though I do think Prager is a decent writer. And he's right to note that being called an "Uncle Jake" is pretty despicable.

    Great comment overall Charlie.

    I'll add that your last point rings most true: Most Christians really don't care all that much. I would add to your overall comment that I think most conservatives defend Israel because they think Israel is right in its battle vs. the Palestinians, primarily because they (properly) view the Palestinian actions as terrorism.

    I don't think liberals have the monopoly on identifying with Israel and thinking it's a just cause. If anything, they have the monopoly on identifying with the Palestinians and thinking it's a just cause.

  6. I don't care how much the Christian right supports Israel, their motives are not sincere, and it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

  7. Funny, I've been proselytized more by Lubavitchers and Orthodox "evangelists" than Christians. How dare they believe I would be better off believing as they do?!