Why America Hearts Israel

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7 Responses

  1. Ori says:

    Schramm’s passing reference to Israel had nothing to do with his topic. Nevertheless, the case can be made that it is precisely America’s historical emphasis on freedom (over equality) that explains the strong support for Israel in America.

    It is interesting to read this in an Orthodox blog. Looking from the outside, G’dolei Israel (the great Torah scholars, who are supposed to lead Orthodox society) look like Philosopher-Kings.

  2. Bob Miller says:

    Are the American elites in government, news media, and academia part of this analysis? They are largely alienated from both American traditions and Israel. While the majority of Americans may hold otherwise, these people today are pretty much in charge. Somehow, the majority let them reach their positions of power and influence despite their views.

  3. mevaseretzion says:

    >Americans have always entertained a deep skepticism about anything that smacks of rule by Platonic Guardians, who deem themselves wiser than the common man, whether in the form of activist judges or Washington bureaucrats.

    See Bloom’s “Closing of the American Mind”, he argues that the goal of the Enlightenment (which was the foundation of the Founding Fathers’ vision) was to replace the monarch with the scientist and philosopher as the unseen “guardian”. I summarized his arguments last year on my mevaseretzion blog

  4. Ori says:

    Mevaseretzion, the Enlightenment was primarily a European movement. I don’t think anybody in Europe of the 1700s could imagine the mostly uneducated commoners livings without guardians. The the Americas it was different, because population density was much lower and people couldn’t have guardians.

  5. mevaseretzion says:

    Ori, this is why I put guardian in quotes. The concept is different from the Platonic one in some ways, but the idea is that democracy is still led by unseen pupeteers.

    See Bloom’s book for his (I believe convincing) arguments.

  6. Jonathan Rosenblum says:

    In answer to Bob’s question: I’m analyzing a popular, not elite, phenomenon. Since I wrote this piece, a reader called my attention to a long treatment of the subject by Walter Russel Mead in Foreign Affairs July/August 2008, “The New Israel and the Old: Why Gentile Americans Back the Jewish State.” Everything Mead writes is worth reading.

  7. Raymond says:

    This nation was founded primarily by the Puritans, who were Protestant Christians who felt that followers of Martin Luther had not gone far enough in emphasizing our Torah, so much so that they referred to themselves as Old Testament Christians. And for the first couple of hundred years of them inhabiting this land, talking about the Torah was as fashionable as the Oprah Winfrey show or the Dr Phil show is to talk about in our day. Virtually every single Inaugural address has invoked G-d without ever mentioning a specifically Christian G-d. And with really only two exceptions, every one of our Presidents has been pro-Jewish and then pro-Israel when it became applicable.

    People often credit the ancient Greeks with bringing democracy to the world, but that is not true. In that civilization, the only ones allowed to vote were native-born Greek male landowners. Women were treated horribly, worse than animals. Slavery was taken for granted. The real root of democracy is right in the first chapter of our Torah, where it describes how G-d created Us in His Image. It does not differentiate between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak; it says that each and every one of us have Divine potential. That is about as democratic of a statement as there can be. And, in Jewish society, nepotism plays a relatively minor role, as anybody can become a great Rabbi, Rabbi Akiva being one of the most prominent examples of that. And then there is the phenomenon of how our genuinely good teachers, welcome challenging questions. We do not blindly follow our leaders.

    I think also that free market capitalism is one of the best ways to ensure equality of opportunity. Besides the more obvious fact that any of us has the potential for rising up from poverty to wealth in this country, having to make a profit almost forces us to not discriminate against people on the basis of how they were born. If a person belongs to any given group that we do not particularly like, but brings us business, we would be fools to turn the person down. And, as the great Jewish Nobel Prize Winner of Economics, Milton Friedman, pointed out, economic freedom is a necessary (although not always sufficient) precursor to individual freedoms.

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