Cal Tzedek: Which side are you on?

Monday, October 25, 2004

Which side are you on?

American Jews, according to William Safire, appear to be suffering from an epidemic of false consciousness. While American Muslims, he writes, know “what side they are on” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a conclusion he draws from a recent poll showing that group’s overwhelming support for presidential candidate John Kerry, American Jews apparently don’t have their heads screwed on straight. Or something. Safire writes:

“Jewish American voters who differ with their Arab and Muslim compatriots, one might logically conclude, would seriously consider supporting the candidate who many Israelis believe has been their best friend in the White House.”

Not only does this statement suffer from the terrible logic of assuming that, if Arabs and Muslims take one position, Jews logically ought to take the opposite, Safire appears to have made a typo and substituted “many Israelis” where it should read “Ariel Sharon.”

Shockingly, at least for Safire, American Jews appear to overwhelmingly support Kerry, despite the fact that many American Muslims support him as well. His explanation for this apparent lack of clear thinking is that

“most Jewish Americans quite properly base their vote on issues like social justice, civil liberty, economic fairness and not primarily on what may be good for Israel”

Safire cleverly avoids the possibility that Bush’s presidency has not in fact been good for Israel, and that perhaps some of us American Jews may even realize that. Finally, if one’s vote is based on the principles of ‘social justice, civil liberty, and economic fairness’ at home, ought one not apply those values abroad as well?

I know who I’m voting for.


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