I struggled for a few minutes to find a clever title for this post that would convey the volume of information I’m about to download from my brain, but realized I couldn’t. A laundry list description will just have to do.
You see, last night, I had the pleasure of attending a Hanukkah party that the NorCal chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition hosted. What wasn’t surprising was that conservative Jews attended the party. What was surprising was that they came from all over the Bay Area. Apparently the opportunity to get together with fellow conservative Jews is a beguiling one, even if one has to travel a hundred miles or so to do it.
What was even more surprising, and was also tremendously heartening, was the number of non-Jews who attended out of a feeling of solidarity with Israel. It was a reminder in the flesh of the fact that America’s tiny percentage of Jews, standing alone, cannot account for America’s (not the administration’s, but America’s) long-standing support for Israel. That strong support comes about because America’s Christian population respects and believes in that small, democratic Jewish state, a nation surrounded by hostile forces inimical, not only to Israel, but to America as well.
Another draw for the party was the speaker: syndicated columnist Joel Mowbray. I’ve enjoyed Joel’s writing for years, and hoped that he’d be as delightful a speaker as he is a writer (some writers, sadly, do not translate well to the spoken word). Happily, he exceeded my expectations. He’s a charming speaker, offering everything you’d hope for: pleasant voice and cadence, good sense of humor, a well-informed mind, and an easy verbal lucidity.
Joel spoke about the situation in Israel today and he was surprisingly optimistic. He says that Israel is enjoying an extremely prosperous time right now, with a growing economy and a significant lack of terrorist violence. The targeted killings in the West Bank and Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, and the Hezbollah War all served, temporarily at least, to quiet the terrorists and give Israelis a respite. Further, the setbacks to Iran’s nuclear program, especially Stuxnet, have given the Israelis (not to mention the Arab nations around them) some breathing room.
Israelis fully understand, though, that this is merely a respite, rather than a lasting peace. A nuclear Iran is an impossible-to-contemplate game-changer, not just in the Middle East, but throughout the world. The Israelis are planning accordingly, both defensively and offensively. In other words, they are being smart, rather than burying their heads in the sand.
Most of the questions in the room expressed concern about Iran and about President Obama’s manifest hostility to and disdain for Israel. Joel believes (and I agree) that Obama will not go too far in undercutting Israel should the bombs start to fly. He also believes (and I agree) that Americans will support Israel. The other countries will huff and puff, in a very ugly way, but they too will be happy should Israel succeed in destroying Iran’s nuclear pretensions. As Joel pointed out, the situation in North Korea is a useful illustration of the impossible Hobson’s choice that arises when you have a rogue nation armed with nuclear weapons.
I asked Joel about American Jewish voting trends in the 2012 elections. He said that, except for those implacably wed to liberalism, signs are good for a shift away from the Democratic party. (To which I’ll add that we can only hope that American Jews finally start living up to their reputation for intelligence.) It occurred to me that the recent attacks against Glenn Beck, charging him with antisemitism because he is going after George Soros, may be a preemptive attempt to keep the Jews on the Progressive reservation.
After Joel’s speech, I got the opportunity to talk to some old friends and some new ones. One of my old friends asked me an excellent question: What is it with the self-loathing Jews? My response to him is that they are desperately trying to deflect attention from themselves. “You say you hate Jews? Well, so do I. Heck, I hate them even more than you do. So if you ever feel like attacking Jews, you can just ignore me.”
From that, we talked about how supportive American Christians are of Jews and Israel. My friend opined, correctly I think, that part of the reason American Christians identify strongly with Jews is because American Christians are versed in both the Old and the New Testaments. He pointed out that, in Europe, the Old Testament is virtually ignored. Not only does that mean they hear only that part of the Bible hostile to Jews, it also deprives them of the ability to understand and appreciate the Jews’ rich history and their deep ties to the Holy Land.
Barbara Tuchman, incidentally, makes a similar point in her wonderful book, Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour, about the philosemitism that characterized the Jewish upper classes in the years leading to the Balfour declaration. Because they were steeped in the Old Testament, the Brits, while they wouldn’t dream of dining with a Jew, thought it was a fine thing to reestablish a Jewish nation in the ancient homeland. Nowadays, between oil and Leftism, it’s hard to imagine a Britain that doesn’t waiver between vicious and virulent antisemitism, but that wasn’t always the case.
It was truly a revitalizing evening. Not only was Mowbray’s cautious optimism comforting, it was a very real pleasure to be in a room full of Jews and non-Jews alike, all of whom share a deep commitment to liberty and individual freedom, whether exercised in America or abroad.
Cross-posted at Right Wing News