Sunday, September 27, 2015

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz

Michael L.

(Cross-posted at the Elder of Ziyon and Jews Down Under.}

SchultzDebbie Wasserman-Schultz, for those of you who may not know, is US representative to Florida’s 23rd congressional district and chair of the Democratic National Committee.  This would make her not only among the most powerful Jewish women in the United States Congress, but among the most important people in national politics, period.

Shmuley Boteach has a piece published in the Jerusalem Post concerning Representative Wasserman-Schultz.  Boteach notes that although Wasserman-Schultz supports the Iran deal, she nonetheless cried about it on national television.  Her heart was torn.  Boteach writes:
She cares deeply about her Jewish family and relatives and would never want any harm to come to the Jewish people...

And yet she chose to support the deal but cried while doing so. A friend of mine who is a financial supporter of hers told me she did the same at a private meeting a few weeks before the vote.

But while tears are nice, resisting the barbarity of Iran is nicer.
Indeed.  Everyone agrees that even if Iran does not cheat on Obama's non-treaty, the deal paves the way for Iran to get the bomb in ten to fifteen years, just in time for your children or grandchildren to have to cope with the possible consequences.

Boteach compares Wasserman-Schultz's stance on the deal with the action of two American presidents vis-à-vis Israel, neither of whom were crazy about Jews, Harry Truman and Richard Nixon.  Truman, you may be unaware, despite his longstanding friendship with his old Jewish partner at the haberdashery, Edward Jacobson, clearly had a low opinion of Jews.

He wrote in his diary that Jews “...when they have power, physical, financial or political neither Hitler nor Stalin has anything on them for cruelty or mistreatment to the underdog.”

Yet, Truman recognized the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, the very day that Ben Gurion declared it to be.  He did so over the strenuous objections of his popular Secretary of State, George Marshall, and others within his government.

We, also, have Nixon on his famous White House taping-system claiming, “You know, it’s a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana are Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob? What is the matter with them? I suppose it is because most of them are psychiatrists.”

The "Bob," of course, might refer to Nixon White House Chief of Staff, Bob Haldeman.

Boteach goes easier on Truman's anti-Jewish racism than Nixon's who he says "expressed constant anti-Semitic beliefs."  Nonetheless, during the hair-raising 1973 Yom Kippur War, despite significant opposition from Congress, Nixon airlifted the weaponry and supplies that the Jews of the Middle East needed to prevent themselves from being driven into the Mediterranean Sea by Arabs armies.

At the end of the day, Boteach tells us that he would rather:
...take the anti-Semitism of a leader like Truman or Nixon who nonetheless stands up with courage to save Israel over the river of tears shed by a proud Jewish woman who fails in her responsibility to stop an Iranian nuclear holocaust. It is ironic when a non-Jew with prejudiced opinions is in touch with the Jewish principles of action and responsibility more than a prominent Jewish leader who forgets that saving life overrides every other consideration.
Along with Boteach I do not doubt the sincerity and depth of Wasserman-Schultz's feelings for the State of Israel or for the Jewish people.  Of course, I also could hardly care less about Wasserman-Schultz's feelings for the State of Israel or for the Jewish people.

Wasserman-Schultz knows as well as anyone else that the Iran non-treaty does not prevent Iran from getting the bomb, but paves the way for Iran to get the bomb... just not this Tuesday.  It will be a number of Tuesdays hence, but it is coming and Wasserman-Schultz is doing her part to see that it happens.

She seems to represent a good example of the kind of left-leaning American Jew who thinks that Judaism - or, at least, being Jewish - is more or less synonymous with support for the Democratic Party.  Harvard scholar of Yiddish literature, Ruth Wisse, has discussed this tendency with great insight.  The broad idea is that Judaism is fundamentally a religion grounded in ethics.  Islam is about submission.  Christianity, despite the behavior of many Christians, is about peace.  Judaism is about ethics and justice, and thus, law.

The tradition of Tikkun Olam, a medieval mystical notion which translates as "repairing the world," was an obscure idea within the Kabbalistic tradition until yanked from that obscurity toward the end of the twentieth-century among well-meaning Jewish liberals.  Tikkun Olam, we were told, means social justice and universal human rights and that this is the very heart of the Jewish tradition.  To be Jewish, we were to understand, means to fight for social justice and, within the United States, the political party doing most to stand up for social justice is the Democratic Party.  Thus in order to be a good American Jew, one must be a Democrat.  It is, in fact, considered a moral imperative by very many Jews in the United States to this day.

From the 1930s until now, the tendency among Jews to support the Democrats has become embedded within the American Jewish soul.  This is at least part of the reason why, despite Barack Obama's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, he received 70 percent of the Jewish vote his second time at bat.

Many American Jews would prefer to gnaw off their right arm and beat themselves silly with it rather than vote for a Republican.

The problem with this kind of long-term consistent devotion to a political party is, obviously, that political parties change and evolve over time.  What may have been a barely noticed, or entirely unnoticed, malicious trend within the party might at some point come to the fore.  This is what we are seeing with the increasingly obnoxious presence of anti-Zionists and BDSers within the Democratic Party and the progressive movement.  It is not a coincidence that Democrats are trending away from Israel.  The party leadership may denounce BDS, as they should, but this does not prevent anti-Semitic anti-Zionism, as a political ideology, from having an influence on how regular Democrats view the Jewish state as time goes by.

This is the broader context that Wasserman-Schultz is operating within and it puts her in a very tough spot.  Whether she realizes it or not as an American Jewish progressive her own political movement has forced her into a choice between supporting Israel and the Jewish people or supporting the progressive-left and the Democratic Party.

I made this choice quite consciously only a few years ago and my choice could not have been easier.

But, then, I was not chair of the DNC, now was I?

Ultimately, though, I wonder if Wasserman-Schultz, in her heart, knows the difference between what it means to be Jewish - whatever that might be for the individual - and what it means to be a Democrat.  In the meantime, she has attacked fellow Floridian, presidential candidate Marco Rubio because Rubio dared to visit the home of Harlan Crow, a wealthy supporter and collector who includes among his holdings an Isaac Newton first edition book, a Benjamin Franklin first edition book, and, along with other items of historical interest, a pair of paintings by Adolph Hitler.

Wasserman-Schultz said:
There's really no excuse for such a gross act of disrespect...  It is astounding that the presence of these items that represent horror for millions of Jews the world over would not stop Rubio or anyone on his team in their tracks when planning this event.
This is nonsense, particularly on such a flimsy and cynical charge, and I would I would peruse Mr. Crow's holding with much gratitude if given the opportunity.  What there really is no excuse for is using the Holocaust as a political club against one's partisan opponents.  It is, in fact, disgraceful.  But, again, the question is, does she understand that being Jewish is not in any essential way the same as being a Democrat?

The two are synonymous for untold numbers of American Jews, including perhaps the chair of the Democratic National Committee.

No wonder she cried.


  1. Interesting, but divorced from reality. Obama and Clinton did yeoman work to get the Russians, Chinese and Europeans to participate in the sanctions. It wasn't going to last forever. Kerry got about the best deal he could have given the situation. McCaskill checked with other governments to see if they would continue holding Iran''s money if the agreement were voted down. They wouldn't. The point is that, at this point, there really was no alternative to the agreement. And, by the way, for all its bluster, Iran had complied with all interim agreements. And do you now realize that the Republican party is truly built on hate and cares only about money for the rich? If you don't, you haven't been paying attention to the Republican candidates.

    1. The Iran non-treaty represents a true dividing line.

      Le's not forget that our Constitutional lawyer-professor-president actually skirted the Constitution by simply declaring that the treaty with Iran was simply not a treaty, but a "deal."

      The bottom line is that Iran will shortly get the bomb because the Obama administration has no steal in its spine.

      Any westerner who is complacent about this is gambling with the lives of their family, friends, and children.

    2. Again, the United States was not and is not the only party negotiating with Iran. Again, Obama and Clinton did a remarkable job to get the other parties to impose sanctions. Israel had always viewed Iran, not Iraq, as the major problem in the Mideast. It was Bush, not Obama, who went after Iraq and created the mess that is the current Mideast. If no deal had been reached, the sanctions were going to fall apart and the only option remaining would have been war. The American public isn't interested and that would not have happened. And I assume you have been following American politics and now realize that I am right about the Republicans.

    3. I'd be fine when the Iranians get The Bomb. After all, they're a threat to their own neighbors not us. If they nuke Athens or Sophia or Bucharest, so what?

    4. Joseph,

      Obama told the world that it is was US policy to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapony.

      Then he told the world that it was not US policy to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapony.

      And now eveyone agrees that, unless we take the necessary steps to see that it does not happen, Iran will have the world's most dangerous weaponry atop Intercontinental ballistic missiles within 10 to 15 years on the outside.

      I am sorry, but this is simply unacceptable. If Iran were not a hostile player and the foremost spreader of terrorism around the world I might feel differently. But it is a hostile player - hostile to Jews and to Americans - and it is the foremost catapulter of terrorism around the world.

      All Obama has done is kick the can down the road and, in my opinion, made prospects for war more likely, not less.

      In any case, you strike me as a left-leaning American Jewish Democrat... not that there is anything wrong with that.

      Is that a fair assesment?

      I was a left-leaning American Jewish Democrat until I started complaining about the introduction of anti-Semitic anti-Zionists to liberal-left sewing circles and then they told me that I was no longer "Left," so I went away.

      But I continue to insist that this blog is a non-partisan blog and that all flavors should be given a taste.

      You seem like a good man and I hope that you continue to participate and challenge me when you think that I am wrong.

  2. Actually, I'm probably left of that. Economically, I'm a theobaldian. But I like to think of myself as somewhat of a realist. The problem is that there was no realistic alternative to the deal. And it should be very clear by now that the Republican party is a fraud that is only interested in money for the rich. Everything else is for show. Halliburton, under Cheney, was selling to the Iranians despite the sanctions. HP, under Fiorina, was selling to the Iranians, despite the sanctions. I know she claims not to have known, but I'm not buying it. The right wing has sold out Israel for money in the past and will in the future. The best you can hope for if you put your eggs in the Republican basket is to scrambled eggs.

    1. You may very well be correct, Joseph, but just what is a "theobaldian"?

    2. Joseph,
      When you say the only alternative to the "deal" is war, just what exactly do you mean?

    3. Glad you asked. Robert Theobald (1929-1999) was a futurist who talked about the economy of abundance. The problem was explained by Kevin Drum at The problem is that making an economy work when more and more of its citizens are unnecessary has not been addressed by any politician.

    4. Jeff,

      I didn't say anything about war, what I said was that there was NO alternative. The Russians are far more concerned with the Sunni Chechnyans than with the Shiite Iranians. The Chinese are far more concerned with the Chinese Sunni Uyghurs that with the Shiite Iranians. I just think that you can't be completely myopic when analyzing these situations. We have to be concerned about ourselves, but we have to recognize that not everybody shares our concerns.

    5. "If no deal had been reached, the sanctions were going to fall apart and the only option remaining would have been war. "

      Could you now answer my question?

    6. To be plain, I would rather see the US or Israel (or both) bomb the holy crap out their facilities rather than see Iran gain nuclear weaponry.

      It is a gamble that we simply cannot afford.

      This would not mean war because, at the moment, Iran has no real capabiliy of taking the US on in a war.

      Obama seems intent on changing that, tho.

    7. I guess you're right. But here is the problem: The United States doesn't exist in a vacuum. Bush had sanctions and they were ineffective. During those sanctions Iran multiplied the number of centrifuges it had. It was only after Obama got other countries aboard that the sanctions had real effect. However, those sanctions could not last forever. There were other countries involved and they were satisfied with the agreement, therefore even if America rejected the deal, the sanctions would have the same, or less, effect than they did under Bush. And Mike, I knew a general in the Israeli army with whom I discussed the situation in Gaza. I suggested turning off the lights and electricity. He said that a moral nation just couldn't do that. The same is true about bombing Iran and the resultant deaths that would ensue.

    8. Joseph,

      this is not a question that I fret about for partisan reasons.

      I criticize the Left, but it is not because I come out of the Right. I am neither Republican, nor Democrat... although for many years I was a Democrat. And if you were to check me off box after box on ideologocal beliefs - social issues, tax codes and so forth - you would see very clearly that I am not a conservative, as we understand the meaning of that word in the US.

      Yet, I do not see how - despite the inclination of this president of the USA - that either the US or Israel can possibly allow Iran to go nuclear?

      "I suggested turning off the lights and electricity. He said that a moral nation just couldn't do that."

      Jewish ethics are important.

      Jewish ethics and morality represent the heart and soul of not only the Jewish people, but of the Jewish faith and even, in a significant measure, of western jurisprudence.

      Nonetheless, our highest duty is to maintain the well-being and ongoing viability of the Jewish State because it is only through maintaining that viability that the Jewish people can possibly survive in any meaningful way going forward.

      If the ayatollah's get the bomb, it means the end of Jewish self-determination and self-defense because the living or dying of Jewish people will no longer be determined by Jewish self-will, but by the very will of people who, for religious reasons, call for the death of the Jewish people through the annhilation of the Jewish state of Israel.

      I will never willingly accept such a thing.

      And that means, yes, at the end of the day, if we need to, we must use force to prevent an Iranian bomb.

  3. Joseph,
    I have to say that what I am hearing from you, IMO, are a lot of excuses. Moral nations do go to war to save the many from the few, the innocent from the wicked. But we're not talking about a war, we're talking about the possibility of Iran's nuclear installations, which presumably are not sitting in the heart of downtown Teheran. Would all those deaths you fret over be more or would they be less than the military actions taken by Iran and through their proxies? More or less than Obama's bombing campaigns in Afghanistan and Libya? Would it be anywhere the scale of death and destruction we see in Syria? How about a single day with ISIS? Really, these do sound like excuses to me.