Thursday, November 3, 2011

fizziks has some words:

You are correct as far as #1...

Where you are wrong - way wrong as far as I see it - is #2. The Democratic party is not "the Left". The Democratic party is America's centrist political party...

The Democratic party, the Democratic base, and Democratic elected officials do not represent, and are not represented by, the Left...

In all honesty, there is basically zero support for antisemitism or antizionism among Democratic elected officials...

Tarring the Democratic party with the antisemitism of the far left is like tarring the Republican party with the antisemitism of Neo-Nazis...

The Democratic party in America is simply not the party of the far left, and the antisemitism and antizionism of the 'Left' is a problem for the Left, and not for the Democrats.

Welcome, fizziks, to Israel Thrives and thank you for your thoughtful comment. I hope that you do not mind if I front page it in order to discuss.

It seems to me that what you are doing is evading Democratic party responsibility.

Take this sentence:

The Democratic party, the Democratic base, and Democratic elected officials do not represent, and are not represented by, the Left...

I find this a tad suspicious. Imagine, if you will, a conservative or a Republican, when confronted with the worst of the Tea Party, claiming that "The Republican party, the Republican base, and Republican elected officials do not represent, and are not represented, by the Right."

Would you buy that proposition? Most people certainly would not. In the relatively loose language of most political speech it would be seen as a little ridiculous to make such a claim. Of course, the Republican party represents the conservative movement and the political right, even if many, or most, Republicans are moderate.

In just that way, the Democratic party represents the progressive movement and the political left, even if many, or most, Democrats are moderate.

And while I certainly agree that anti-Zionism has yet to make much headway among Democratic party elected officials, particularly on the national level, we need to keep it that way and that means alerting them to what is roiling around the base of the party.

That's the point, really. To make a stand. To nip this movement in the bud before it begins to gain credence among people with power. (Actually, it's too late for that. It has already gained credence which is why we find it so prominently in major progressive venues like the UK Guardian.)

Nonetheless, I have never claimed that Democratic party elected officials support anti-Zionism.

The claim is that the base of the party does, however, and that should be a major wake-up call for anyone who cares about the Jewish people and the Jewish state. The party leadership is not accepting of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism because the great majority of American people are supportive of the Jewish state of Israel, but that doesn't mean that there aren't major left-wing, or even moderate Democratic, political hubs that have not embraced anti-Zionism.

Think of, for example, TIME magazine's fairly recent front page article about how Israelis do not care about peace because they are too busy making money.

TIME magazine, for chrissake.

I say we stand up... and say, "NO."

No to the anti-Semitic BDS movement.

No to the progressive-left which provides a home for that movement.

And NO, at least this cycle, to the Democratic party which, itself, houses the progressive-left.

The Jewish people must stand up for themselves and we must not allow ourselves to be taken for granted by the progressive-left and by the Democratic party.

Finally, if boycotting the Democrats is too painful for liberal Jews than the very least we should be doing is boycotting the progressive-left as a movement. This means withdrawing financial and moral and intellectual support for that movement in any way possible because, indeed:

The left has made a home of itself for anti-Semitic anti-Zionism.


  1. I really have to take issue with this. I think you have fundamentally misrepresented and not done justice to the argument in my comment.

    To start with, your analogy to the Tea Party is fundamentally flawed, because the Republican party actively courts the votes and donations of the Tea Party, and it is, in fact, quite difficult to distinguish the Tea Party from a branch of the Republican party. Many Republican elected officials also proudly declare themselves to be IN the Tea Party. On the other hand, the Democratic party and Democratic elected officials do not court the far left, and never declare themselves to be a part of it. So yes, the Republican party can be criticized for supporting the Tea Party, because they do! Whereas Democratic elected officials do not, hardly ever, court or support the far left. Apples and oranges here, Karma.

    Fundemantally, the issue here is whether the Democratic party "houses" the "progressive left" as you put it, by which you mean the far Left as manifest on Daily Kos and other places that is hostile to Zionism and often antisemitic. I just don't see it. Like I said, no Democratic politicians adopt the rhetoric or positions of the far Left. None. Those that do (e.g. McKinney) quickly lose primaries. The far left's issues do not make it into the Democratic party platform. Ever. Contrast that with the far right, who always get their issues into the Republican platform.

    I just don't see how you can, with a straight face, link the "progressive left", by which you mean the far left, in with the Democratic party. They are just two separate things. We should all shun the far left for its acceptance of antisemitism and antizionism - that we agree on. But letting that spill over to the Democratic party is like punishing your daughter for something your son did.

  2. That having been said - just to be clear - if antizionism or antisemitism ever actually does make it into the mainstream Democratic party, I'm out quicker than you can say boo. You can count on that. But by that standard the Republican party already cannot be a home for Jews because of David Duke and Pat Buchannon.

  3. I have to agree with fizziks. Daily Kos is not a representative sample, particularly when it comes to the very skewed nature of Daily Kos I/P. Many, many people stay away from there because of the inhospitable environment. More than anything, it represents a failure of moderation by the site's administration, particularly when it comes to the likes of someone who wishes ill upon a person staring down a hurricane, who engages in borderline trutherism, and who uses Georgia's execution of Troy Davis for their own political ends. That person is still allowed to post at the site despite all that. Overall, I believe that just as among liberals in this country as a whole, there is a silent majority (I hate to use that Nixonian term) at Daily Kos that is supportive of Israel's continued existence as a Jewish and democratic state.

    As for if the Democratic Party ever did become antisemitic and anti-Zionist (and in all but the most exceptional circumstances I see the latter as nothing more than window dressing for the former), I would leave the Democratic Party. I would never support an antisemite. I would never support someone who hates me simply for being me. That, however, is a much bigger problem in the GOP than it is in the Democratic Party. In all your bashing of the left as a home for antisemitism and anti-Zionism, you completely ignore that the right has it too. In fact, the closest that antisemitism comes to mainstream politics, and, I would argue, actually does enter into it, would be through the evangelicals of the right, who are Christian Zionists and believe that we need to control the Land of Israel in order to facilitate Jesus' second coming, at which point we will either convert to Christianity or be killed and burn in hell.

  4. Hey, I'm going to respond to both of you folks later today.

    Meanwhile, I want you to know that Laurie says that if I vote Republican she is going to divorce me!



    I'll be back.

  5. fizziks and Reuven,

    I have to say, the next year is going to prove very interesting in terms of Jewish American politics and the Democratic party.

    If you look to the top right of this page you will see where I link to a few Pew and AJC polls that show Jewish support precipitously dropping out of the Democratic party.

    I very much favor that trend and hope to see it continue because, in truth, I simply do not believe this:

    "I just don't see how you can, with a straight face, link the "progressive left", by which you mean the far left, in with the Democratic party."

    fizziks, I link them because so many of them are, in fact, Democrats.

    Daily Kos is a website devoted to electing "more and better Democrats." It's one of the homes to the grassroots of the Democratic party and thus reflects the viewpoints of that grassroots.

    "Daily Kos is not a representative sample, particularly when it comes to the very skewed nature of Daily Kos I/P."

    Reuven, the point is not that Daily Kos is a representative sample of the Democratic party, although it is more or less representative of the activist base, but that the anti-Semitic anti-Zionist movement has made a home for itself within the Democratic party via that base, the progressive movement.

    Where fizziks and I fundamentally disagree is in the relationship between these two things.

    I see it like Russian nesting boxes. The Israel Hatred and the anti-Semitic anti-Zionism (the Heathlanders and the Unspeakables and the Lefty Coasters and on and on and on) represent a subset of the progressive-left. They are within the progressive-left.

    This subset has considerable influence as we see in all sorts of liberal venues, particularly in Europe.

    Are you guys familiar with the Engage website?

    David Hirsh teaches at King's College, if I am not mistaken, but he understands the anti-Zionist influence within progressive politics and is fighting the effort among left-liberal anti-Zionists to keep Israelis out of European academic discourse.

    In the US the overarching group that "houses" the progressive-left is the Democratic party. Not all progressives are Democrats, but that does not change the fact that most people who consider themselves "progressive" in the US are also Democrats.

    Therefore, as Jewish people who care about Israel, our best leverage is with the Democratic party.

    I do not expect vast numbers of Jews to run screaming for the hills this cycle and vote for Michelle Bachmann.

    {Can you imagine?}

    What I expect is that I will win my gentleman's wager with Volleyboy1.

    Last time around about 80 percent of Jews voted for Obama. I predict that next time around under 65 percent will do so, while Volley has said that over 75 percent will do so.

    There are any number of reasons for decline in Jewish support for Barack Obama, if not the Democratic party.

    Israel is merely one... but it is one that is important to me.

  6. 4 Jews, only 2 opinions! Something is terribly wrong here!

    But I'm with Fizziks and Reuven.

    I think the flaw in your thinking is calling the left the base of the party. On the Republican side, the Tea Party, the Religious right, the anti-taxers. They are the base. Politically, they act as this giant amoeba, twisting any principles they have, into something that base wants.

    Democrats don't do that. (I'll have to think that through really, I know how to name any group that has that kind of influence on Democrats, unless maybe it's organized labor.) But the anti-semites that have found a home in the deep dark corner of Democratic blogs? Not the base. Someone who wanders out where the buses don't go like me? Not the base. If I lived in Vermont I'd be Bernie Sanders' base.

    And while I'm at it, I think your apparent joy at seeing Jews leave the party is misguided at best, and dangerous at worst. In the larger scheme, I don't see what Republicans have to offer you. Or me. Or any other American Jew.

  7. I can't disagree with that Doodad.

    But if your adorable little house in Oakland needs fumigation, do you abandon it and move to a Miami Beach condo? Or do you just hire a cleaner? (I mean that figuratively, not literally....although....I do still have contacts)

  8. Karma, you are simply incorrect again.

    The crux of your argument is, again, this:

    "Not all progressives are Democrats, but that does not change the fact that most people who consider themselves "progressive" in the US are also Democrats."

    But you miss the crucial point, it is is not whether 'progressives' are Democrats, but whether antisemites/antizonists are Democrats. And, actually, if you look at what we have learned from Daily Kos, the answer is a resounding no.

    If we look at all of the hundreds of antisemitic/antizionist deranged simpleton idiots we've encountered there over the years, if they have any stated political affiliation at all, they are either Paulbots or hard core socialists/communists - and actually far more the former than the later. These antisemites/antizionists are simply not, en masse, Democrats.

    This is where your argument washes out. We all agree that the Far Left has fundamentally discredited itself by being way to accomodating to antisemites/antizionists (as well as to other idiocies like trutherism), but the Democratic party has not.

    These antisemites/antizionists are not Democrats, they don't want the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party doesn't want them.

    Like I said, it would be like punishing your son for something your daughter did, and that is senseless. The Democratic party has been nothing but supportive of Israel and Jews.

  9. Stuart, knowing that the fumigation would take a long time (antisemites are far harder to kill than cockroaches) I'd look for new digs. Not necessarily Republican digs. But maybe a little blog like this!

  10. ADL poll: Anti-Semitic attitudes on rise in USA

    "Among the findings, the poll demonstrated that stereotypes about Jews, money and Jewish power still remain.

    19% of Americans answered "probably true" to the statement "Jews have too much control/influence on Wall Street," an increase from 14% in 2009."

    Wall Street, eh? What a shocker!

  11. Show me the evidence then.

    Show me an example of how antisemites/antizionists have made a home in the Democratic party. I have provided you with my counterexample - that no Democratic elected officials are antisemitic/antizionist, and the one that was going down that route immediately lost her primary. So if you want to continue to make the claim that:

    "anti-Semitic anti-Zionists making a home for themselves in the Democratic party"

    you must provide some evidence. Please, just provide one shred of evidence that this is true, because your entire argument rests on it.

  12. Jim Moran, Maxine Waters, Jim Webb, Dennis Kucinich, anyone of them who ever embraced Al Sharpton, Move On.Org, Code Pink. Really the list is huge.