In his recent article dealing with the new film "Borat" (1), columnist Charles Krauthammer decries the disturbing resurgence of anti-Semitism. He says the most significant anti-Semitic activity "since the Holocaust" has hit Europe – including formerly benign places like France and Norway. In the Middle East, hatred of Jews is already white-hot. Iran is close to obtaining nuclear weapons, with the stated objective of wiping out the entire nation of Israel.
Mr. Krauthammer writes: "Yet, amid this gathering darkness, …alarming number[s] of liberal Jews are seized with the notion that the real threat [to Jews] lurks deep in the hearts of American Protestants, most specifically Southern evangelicals."
Jewish filmmaker Sacha Baron Cohen – whom Mr. Krauthammer calls "brilliant" – evidently believes the real anti-Semitism is…where? In Arizona! (Of course.) "Borat" has drunks in an Arizona bar singing, "Throw the Jew down the well." (No indication of church affiliation.) Mr. Cohen believes he is showing us the "true danger" – possibly another budding Holocaust.
"This is all quite crazy," says Mr. Krauthammer. "America is the most welcoming, religiously tolerant, philo-Semitic country in the world. No nation since Cyrus the Great's Persia has done more for the Jews. And its reward is to be exposed as latently anti-Semitic by an itinerant Jew looking for laughs and, he solemnly assures us, for the path to the Holocaust?"
Evangelical Christians are the only American gentile political bloc willing to defend Israel, yet Jews treat them as latent anti-Semites plotting to unleash pogroms and establish some kind of "Christian Sharia Law". Mr. Krauthammer’s question (and our riddle #1) is: why do Jews have so much trouble distinguishing their friends from their enemies?
Exit polls showed that Virginia Senator-elect James Webb’s narrow win over Senator George Allen included 92% of 51,000 Muslim votes. Mr. Allen lost by only 9200 votes, so Muslims were the winning margin for a new Democratic senator.
Muslims also helped elect Keith Ellison as the first-ever Muslim Congressman, by a 56% majority in Minnesota's liberal 5th District. A self-described "moderate", Mr. Ellison was backed by the National Jewish Democratic Council, although his Republican opponent, Alan Fine, was Jewish. Muslim voters are flexing their new muscles.
Democrats rhapsodize about FDR’s "big tent" of southerners, ethnic minorities and northern liberals. But their recollection is flawed. Few blacks voted before 1960, and those who could were Republicans. After Martin Luther King Jr. endorsed John Kennedy, blacks began to vote Democratic. But as blacks’ influence in the party grew, southern whites pulled out. Those two fundamentally opposed political factions could not really coexist inside the same "tent".
Milton Himmelfarb famously said, "Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans." Indeed, Jews instinctively support ethnic minorities. All through the 20th century, American Jews helped empower minorities inside the Democratic tent. This remained true even while southern segregationists and avowed racists ran the Democratic Party.
But as the Allen and Ellison campaigns show, a growing Muslim minority is now thronging the Democrats’ tent. Estimates of Muslims in America range as high as six million. Political analysts agree that they lean decidedly Democratic. Their interests conflict with Jewish interests – especially with respect to Israel. Thus, political opponents again share the Big Tent.
Democrats oppose the Iraq War and are tiptoeing away from supporting Israel. As Muslims stream in, Jews will find their interests increasingly disregarded and even opposed. This is now happening, yet Jews still vote 90% Democratic. "Why are they doing this?" is our second riddle.
Then there is the curious case of Joseph Lieberman. In a bitter Connecticut primary contest, Mr. Lieberman – a popular three-term senator (and former vice-presidential candidate) – lost the Democratic nomination (52-48) for his seat to Ned Lamont, a political novice who had previously held no office higher than councilman. Mr. Lamont ran against the Iraq war. Senator Lieberman strongly supported the war because he saw it as critical to Israel’s survival.
When it became clear, early in the primary campaign, that Mr. Lamont had considerable support and might win the nomination, Mr. Lieberman declared he would run as an Independent if he lost. He followed through on that promise the day after Mr. Lamont’s victory. High-level Democrats shunned Mr. Lieberman and denounced him for his independent run. Some said he might hand the seat to the Republicans.
As an Independent, Senator Lieberman led in all polls throughout the campaign and won a clear general election majority over both Mr. Lamont and the Republican candidate. Formerly hostile Democrats oozed bonhomie and warm congratulations for his victory while signaling that they would welcome him back to the Senate Democratic Caucus.
Despite this shabby treatment, the senator says he will caucus with Democrats and support their narrow Senate majority. Abandoned by his party when it counted most, he might sensibly caucus with Republicans whose positions on Iraq and Israel match his far better than the Democrats’. The GOP solidly supports Israel, while Democrats are waffling on it. Yet there goes the senator, back to the Dems like an old draft horse returning to his stall when the barn is burning.
What is Mr. Lieberman thinking? Does he hope to convince some Democratic senators to support the war, while he hangs with Democrats on financial and social issues? Does he aspire to national office as a Democrat? Or is "tradition" what keeps him linked to the Democrats? These questions are all facets of our riddle #3.
Democrats still call Islam "a religion of peace", but savvy Jews like Senator Lieberman know this is rubbish. Polls show that many Muslims who aren’t personally trying to kill infidels are still sympathetic to Sharia law and the worldwide Caliphate crock. Sooner or later, something will have to give between them and American Jews. When it does, one group or the other is going to leave the Democratic Party. My money is on the Jews clearing out. Maybe Mr. Lieberman will be the Moses who leads that exodus. The locus of their political Promised Land is riddle #4.
(1) "Just an Anti-Semitic Laugh? Hardly"; 24 November 2006. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/23/AR2006112300966.html