The End of the Special Relationship?

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19 Responses

  1. Ori says:

    To the extent that Senator Obama’s likely election betokens a move towards a more European America, the special ties that have bound the people of America and Israel show signs of fraying.

    The US may move to be more like European in the next few years, but such a move will likely be short-lived. Under the constitution political power comes from having the votes. At the end of the day, conservatives tend to have more children. Barrack Obama may get move votes than Sarah Palin. But her children will outvote his – and that seems to be a general pattern.

    Whether Israel could afford to wait those few years or not is another matter. Israel doesn’t have much of a security margin, especially if the loss in 2006 was symptomatic of deep problems instead of a fluke.

  2. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Jonathan, You’re recent Obama and Obama/Israel articles have been fantastic. You’re sounding more and more like Religious Zionist every day! (That’s meant as a compliment. 🙂

  3. Bob Miller says:

    Menachem Lipkin, are you hinting that Obama’s policies would indirectly encourage aliya from the US?

  4. Garnel Ironheart says:

    That the US has not yet had a cosmopolitan president until now is itself a sign of Divine intervention. For how many decades have liberal anti-Western professors been influencing their university students to hate their own country and its values? Indeed, it was only a matter of time before an Obama-type person became the president. The Dem’s couldn’t screw elections up forever!

    Israel survived Jimmy Cah-ter. They’ll survive the O-man!

  5. Steve Brizel says:

    WADR, IMO, this article and some of the articles in this week’s Yated are essentially a brief for the argument that Torah Jews must support the Republican Party and its social agenda 100%. One can argue that the Democratic Party of today is not the same party as the pre 1968 Party and that Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Bush ( the son) were great supporters of Israel and supported Israel in the clutch and that the US is under siege by those who would have it adopt European views on political issues. OTOH, the notion that we must support all items of the Republican social agenda can and should be the subject of more analysis and discussion simply because one cannot argue that Halacha and TSBP are inherently liberal or conservative. The article also neglects to note that the heterodox Jewish communities are solidly pro Obama. IMO, we err in writing off such communities and their leaders completely simply because it is more convenient for the Orthodox world to discuss some, but not all issues with the base of the Republican Party.

    Like it or not, Halacha neither always views life as beginning at conception, supports the unfettered exercise of reproductive rights, bans or supports every abortion or condemns homosexuals. Halacha has a far more nuanced POV which condemns or condones the action, as opposed to condemning or condoning the actor for his or her actions.

    The notion expressed in the Yated that democracry cannot be found in the Torah IMO cannot withstand serious scrutiny. One can ideally argue that the concession of the need for a monarchy was a concession and not an ideal system.

    However, Halacha Krabim, the rights of a minority and the reluctance to rely on confesssions are Torah values that have become accepted in the US, which no less than RMF called a Malchus Shel Chesed. Shmittah and Yovel, which are as contradictory in nature as one can imagine in their financial impact, are serious halachos that one can argue are the basis of any system of protecting the poor and preventing the dissipation of one’s hard earned wealth. IMO, it is a serious mistake to claim that there are no echoes of democracy in the Torah.

  6. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Bob, that’s not exactly what I meant. Some of Jonathan’s recent articles have had a strong pro-state feel to them.

    However, to your point, people in the US have said to me explicitly that if Obama wins they will be making Aliyah. So, now I’m torn. 🙂

  7. Bob Miller says:

    The majorities that appear in halacha are typically majorities of people on some elevated level of wisdom/erudition/expertise/character, are they not? What does that type of majority have in common with majorities of entire nations, even of the Jewish nation? For example, in today’s world, no majority of Jews in general could modify or overrule any halacha. Those too ignorant, etc., to meet the needed qualifications would not have a vote.

  8. Bob Miller says:

    Above (11:33 AM) I meant to write:
    “For example, in today’s world, no majority of Jews in general could modify or overrule any previous halachic decision”

  9. Ori says:

    Steve Brizel, other than Massiach, we are unlikely to see a candidate that would follow the Torah 100%, or probably even 75%. That being the case, Orthodox Jews can either stay out of the US political process completely, or select which issues are most important and vote based on those – even if it means supporting a candidate who will promote some non-Halachic policies.

    The article also neglects to note that the heterodox Jewish communities are solidly pro Obama.

    We are? Living in Texas must have wrapped my view ;-). More to the point, this only matters if:

    1. Obama will be more beholden to heterodox Jews than to Muslims (both groups seem to support him).

    2. These Heterodox groups will pressure him to act in a pro-Israeli manner. This does not mean figuring from a distance that Israel should negotiate more and trying to put pressure on its government to do so. It means assuming that Israelis know what they need better than we US Jews do. I haven’t seen a very strong tendency in this direction.

  10. BY says:

    “WADR, IMO, this article and some of the articles in this week’s Yated are essentially a brief for the argument that Torah Jews must support the Republican Party and its social agenda 100%.”

    Criticism of part of the Democrats’ foreign policy constitutes support for all of the Republicans’ domestic policies?

    I voted for the party I thought fewer people in general and Americans and Jews in particular would be murdered under in the long term. Foreign policy is the chief element of that. Why bother waiting for a party or person you agree with everything on when you can wait for the messiah and save time?

    The two points of this line of articles are that 1) McCain’s foreign policy is more appropriate for the reality we find ourselves in than Obama’s and that 2) this is the most important issue of this election. On domestic policies, reasonable people may differ…or not, if you so believe, but that doesn’t address the article.

    Do you disagree with the foreign policy analysis?

    You only tangentially addressed the second point by pointing out that neither party has a halachic view of abortion. Are you seriously contending that Obama’s is so much better than McCain’s that it is worth ignoring foreign policy? Would Supreme Court Justices appointed by Obama and approved by 60 members of a Senate with 55-60 Democrats out of 100 be more halachic than McCain appointees under that constraint? If so, is it to such an extent that we should ignore everything else and vote Obama?

    I don’t understand your point about heterodox communities supporting Obama. Are you presenting this as evidence that would act well regarding Israel, on the premises that 1) heterodox Jews wouldn’t support a candidate (with what they regard as ideal liberal domestic views) unless he also genuinely supported Israel beyond token words, and 2) that the Arabs in Gaza, America and everywhere else are wrong to support Obama for foreign policy reasons (Ori – I have spoken to many Muslim Pakistanis, all of whom support McCain)? If so, it is thin gruel compared to Rosenbloom’s evidence. Or are you saying that this is an opportunity to act in unity with them, and we are distancing ourselves from them by bonding with Republicans instead? If so, this is a poor reason to abandon Israel to its enemies.

  11. SM says:

    This article retreads the standard frum view that Jews should vote Republican.

    I am uninterested in that argument, although I reject it. Judaism seems to me to demand social action and interaction which the republican Party has regularly stood against.

    However, the thesis above that Europe does not care about Israel is simply, and profoundly, wrong. The research carried out in England within the last year demonstrates that amongst opinion formers – MP’s, Ministers, Newspaper Editors, political activists and so forth – support for Israel’s actions in terms of its own defence runs at 70% plus.

    The concern in Europe about supranational institutions has manifested itself by the concerted rejection of the latest such attempt by all nations who have referred the matter to their electorate – including the French. It is wrong to say that Europe is moving in that direction. Ironically, the European concern is that the drive to supranational institutions will bring about an United States of Europe!

    With so many factual errors I would respectfully suggest that the article’s conclusions cannot be sustained. I hesitate to suggest that the author is starting from his conclusion and working backwards. The answer lies in more research and more nuanced interpretation of what is actually happening in Europe (where I live).

  12. Steve Brizel says:

    I am sure that I am not the only person who is wondering why the public has been not allowed to see anything that Senator Obama wrote or contributed to in Columbia, Harvard LS, U of Chicago or elsewhere. Two books and informercials as well as the absence of authorship of legislation or prominent roles on a Senate committee strike me as a woefully inadequate record.

  13. Ori says:

    SM: Judaism seems to me to demand social action and interaction which the republican Party has regularly stood against.

    Ori: Social action, or government action? Halachically, are we obligated to give Tzdakah, or to vote for laws that will take money by force/threat of force (= taxes) that will then go to Tzdakah?

    I don’t recall any Republican legislation outlawing private charities, so I assume they are only opposed to having government run Tzdakah.

  14. Chaim Fisher says:

    Rabbi Rosenblum’s attempts to tar Obama with the “European” brush don’t fool anyone; we all know that Bush and Rice have been pushing exactly the same surrenders down Israel’s throat as hard as they can (Rabbi Rosenblum always gives Bush a pass on that.)

    The truth is it is precisely the Rosenblums of the world who have their own selves to blame. They did an absolutely terrible job. The foreign and domestic policies they championed with such puerile, and wrong, headlines as Rabbi Rosenblum’s “Bully Pulpit” and “Thank HaShem for George Bush!” braggadocio and Bush’s “You’re doing a heck’of a job Brownie!” fell absolutely flat on their faces, as such immature stuff should.

    The Republicans are handing this election to Obama on a silver platter. The two thirds of the country who can see that Sarah Palin is an incompetent are dead right. What do the Repbulicans want–to be elected just as a favor to them, even though they are incompetent duds?

    They blew it. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  15. Naftali says:

    How has the Bush administration been helpful to Israel over the past 8 years? Demanding the Hamas stand for elections in Gaza? The “unlinked” roadmap? Annapolis? At the beginning of the campaign, McCain announced that he would appoint James (“You have my phone number”) Baker as his special envoy to the middle east. He may or may not, but it shows his attitudes towards the conflict. I don’t know if Obama will be better, but if we discount for the cultural (dare I say racial?)static he seems to generate among parochial Orthodox Jews, I don’t believe Obama can be worse.

  16. Garnel Ironheart says:

    Ori, I doubt Obama will feel beholden to the Jewish community because of their support. The Democrats, as well as most leftist liberal parties in the west, long ago figured out that most non-Orthodox Jews would vote for them even if they ran a confirmed neo-Nazi as their presidential candidate since leftist parties generally reflect their “Jewish values”

  17. YM says:

    Just curious, I wonder how many people know who their Rav is supporting for President? If yes, and you are planning to vote for the opposing candidate, how many of you have discussed this with your Rav and feel confident that he would support your decision? If you don’t know who your Rav is supporting, have you discussed it with him?

  18. Reb Yid says:

    One of the reasons for the “American exceptionalism” as noted above was that, unlike Europe, the US never had an established religion.

    The modernizing movements in Europe were largely anti-clerical, since the religious institutions held much (if not all) of the power.

    This history also provides one of the big differences between US and Israel, with the latter coming much closer to the European model; so-called “secular” Jews in Israel are much more likely to be antagonistic towards Judaism or the rabbinate than are so-called “secular” US Jews, who are largely indifferent.

  19. Ori says:

    Garnel Ironheart: The Democrats, as well as most leftist liberal parties in the west, long ago figured out that most non-Orthodox Jews would vote for them even if they ran a confirmed neo-Nazi as their presidential candidate since leftist parties generally reflect their “Jewish values”

    Ori: From what I’ve seen, most non-Orthodox Jews vote based on a candidate’s domestic agenda. While they might support certain policies, such as an anti smoking campaign, other policies, such as denying contraception to certain races, would encounter severe opposition.

    The basic fact is that we US non-Orthodox Jews are culturally more Americans than Jewish. It makes sense for us to vote based on what we want in the US, rather than the interests of Israel. That doesn’t mean we don’t judge candidates, only that we judge on different criteria.

    My reasons for voting for McCain, for example, have very little to do with Judaism. In my smattering of Jewish knowledge I never saw guidance as to whether pure diplomacy or the threat of force are more effective in specific situations. That I hope to learn from the same history available to everybody.

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