Today is Rosh Hashanna, the Jewish New Year, 1 Tishrei 5772. It is the first of the “High Holidays” (“Days of Awe”), celebrated ten days before Yom Kippur. According to Jewish tradition God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a book, the “Book of Life” on Rosh Hashanah and waits until Yom Kippur to seal the verdict. During the Days of Awe, a Jew tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God and against other human beings. The evening and day of Yom Kippur are set aside for public and private petitions and confessions of guilt. At the end of Yom Kippur, one considers oneself absolved by God.
On this day I think about the 50 or so percent of American Jews who don’t support Israel, and some that affirmatively condemn Israel. These American Jews also harbor ill feelings toward devout Christians, especially evangelicals. They seem to believe that Christians are rabidly anti-semitic, evangelicals again getting the worst of this slander. Or maybe this is just a way to rationalize irrational beliefs because devout Christians are about as devoid of anti-semitic attitudes as may be found anywhere on this planet. It could also be that the Democrat party has conducted one of the most successful brain-washing campaigns ever on American Jews. About 73% of American Jews voted for Obama in 2008 and polls seem to show he will get pretty close to that level of support from American Jews in 2012. This support is for the most anti-Israel American president ever, and the leader of a political party where actual anti-semitism can be found in abundance.
So on Rosh Hashanna I always wonder if American Jews will spend any part of the Days of Awe reflecting on their reflexive voting habits and support for a politicians and a political party that has massively duped them into false beliefs. Will they seek atonement for their false accusation of anti-semitism against Christians, who are in fact their allies in fighting anti-semitism around the world? No, of course not. I’ve wondered about this for too many years. As they used to say in my old neighborhood, “It ain’t gonna happen.”
Actually, fearing I would be perceived to be mean spirited or even anti-semitic, I wasn’t going to say any of this. But then I found something written by an American Jew that seems to support my theory on American Jews of the liberal variety. I don’t think he is of the reform movement variety of American Jew, or he probably could not have written this:
Sundown tonight marks the start of the Jewish New Year that begins with the celebration of Rosh Hashanah. The ten days from the start of that holiday until the end of Yom Kippur next week are known as the Days of Awe in Judaism. During this period, Jews reflect on their deeds in the past year and seek to account for them to their Creator as well as their fellow human beings. This period of introspection should cause all of us to think about what we have done in the past 12 months and work to improve ourselves.
It would also be good advice for many world leaders as we observe the circus at the United Nations where nations line up to cheer dictators and to single out Israel for discriminatory treatment. As Jews around the globe take note of their shortcomings, perhaps those who have done so much to encourage hatred of the Jewish state and the Jewish people should take a few moments and own up to their policies that have done so much harm and which have made peace even more unlikely.
Though we refer to Jewish tradition, the notion of accountability is something that speaks directly to the problems of any democracy which is based on the concept that elected leaders are judged by the voters. For those in both parties who have sought to demonize their political opponents, the dawn of the New Year represents an opportunity to step back and realize that attempts to brand leaders, parties and movements as being beyond the pale or even questioning the wisdom of democracy itself — that is to say, questioning the right of the voters to override the dictates of the politicians and the intellectuals — has done much to undermine any hope for a resolution of our national problems.
These are the words of Johnathon Tobin writing at the Contentions Blog of Commentary Magazine. I have been a subscriber to Commentary since about 1968. Wow, that’s 43 years. It’s former editor, Norman Podhoretz, is a favorite author and has written a shelf of wonderful books, one devoted to the question of why so many American Jews are liberals.
I’d have to take exception to Mr. Tobins moral equivalence on how both parties demonize their opponents. Demonization of political opponents is a Democrat trait, not a Republican one. But otherwise I quite like what he says.
I may be reading too much into Mr. Tobins statement. I think I read a call to American Jews to take stock of themselves in their political beliefs and attitudes and consider whether they are giving aid and comfort to those who seek to do harm to Judaism, to Israel and to America. Others might read it differently.