By Mark David Blum, Esq.
Of late there has been substantial chatter about how the “Jewish” vote is swaying toward the G.O.P. because of the perceived Republican loyalty to Israel and the severity with which the American right is dealing with terrorists.
Lemme say this about that.
First of all, please stop using the word “Jewish”. To a Jew, the word “Jewish” should be as offensive to the Hebrew ear as is “Nigger” to an African ear or “Wop” to an Italian ear. To be a “Jew” means to be a follower of Judaism. To be “Jewish”, in English, means to “act like a Jew.” The “ish” ending that Americans have affixed to the word “Jew” is screwing it all up.
In their defense, those who use “Jewish” to reference a Jew are not intending their word to sound rude. “Christian” and “Muslim” and “Atheist” are all words that are multi-syllabic and hence have a sense of rhythm to the American ear. The word “Jew” is monosyllabic and very harsh on the ear because of the letters ‘J’ and ‘W’. Historically too, being called “Jew” was not always a pleasant accusation. So Americans have softened the aural impact of the word “Jew” by adding an extension to it … Jewish.
If you think about it, being accused of acting like a Jew can be very insulting. What does a speaker insinuate when he says you are Jewish. Does that mean you always get it wholesale? What about being Christianish or Hinduish? Lord knows how I would not be caught dead acting Catholicish. One can be a Jew and not be remotely Jewish while conversely, one can act totally Jewish and not be one of the brotherhood. Please stop calling me Jewish unless you actually catch me trying to control the weather.
During my suspension, one of the more glorious jobs I did was to drive a street sweeper around from 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. cleaning various parking lots from Shoppingtown to Wegmans in Auburn. My first few nights out were in the passenger seat; learning both the route and how to operate the machine. Spending that many hours in the cab of a truck with a kind hearted good man who is also a total hillbilly was a most interesting experience. We spent many MANY hours together sharing opinions and thoughts on just about everything.
One night, we pulled into a Hess for a coffee fillerup. While meandering about inside the store, I was having a very “Jewish” discussion with the owner about the price of a cuppa java. When I turned to my partner and shared my thoughts on how outrageous was the price, and not knowing of my heritage, he looked me dead in the eye and inquired whether I was “half a Jew?” To him, the ultimate insult about being “cheap” was being Half a Jew. “Nope”, I said smiling most evilly. “I am 100% full blooded American Jew.” It was nice to hear of his lack of malicious intent though I doubt he understood why I was so offended. Being called cheap is not an insult; it’s a badge of honor. Being a Jew is an honorable heritage. But damn, I was not even good enough to be a full Jew. I was being accused of being half a Jew. Now THAT hurt. Mustering all my Jewish powers, I manipulated that goyisha schmuck to pay for my coffee. ‘Guilt’ is a wonderful thing.
I tell you that story because it makes a very important point. This buddy of mine was likewise a staunch Republican. In his mind, Osama and Sadaam were one in the same. While I tried to reach out to his heart and mind, he was very entrenched in his opinions and attitudes. His vote is going for George W. Bush.
Over the past years, I have seen well who in fact are the friends and supporters of the President and who voted for his re-election. I see the hardcore Christian Right being the Republican core base. Crosses were embedded in the podium at the 2004 Republican convention. These are the people who seek to instill Christian values in schools and in society. Republicans are the ones who want to limit voter access to the polls, do not recognize a basic fundamental inalienable right to privacy of the self. Republicans are the party of big spenders (retail, I might add), and the massive growth of government and taxes. They are a warrior people; an evangelical people.
Jews are not a warrior People. We are a peaceful lot. Culturally, we give so much to our communities and have always worked hard to join in and advance whatever culture we find ourselves. We do not even have a concept of ‘Hell’. That idea is a gift to mankind from our Christian brothers. Until 1948, the Jews opted to suffer the pains of stupid human tricks rather than bring on bloodshed. Those that were not randomly slaughtered just moved on. Since 1948, the words “Never Again” are not a slogan; they are a blood oath shared by all Jews.
I learned during the Democrat Convention of 2004 that the first Jews arrived here in the United States back in the early 1600’s. Apparently, a boatload of about 20 Jews left Brazil and relocated to one of the early American settlements. Of course they did, someone had to open the bank, be the lawyers and doctors, and start up the newspapers.
Yes, Israel is under attack. No, siding with the current Republican Agenda is not going to alleviate that attack. It is only making it worse. America wants to escalate the war. Bush wants to take the fight to them to prevent the fight from coming here. “Taking the fight to them” means taking the fight to Israel. The U.S. is provoking Iran who in turn is threatening Israel. Jews do NOT need this in their lives. If memory serves, it was not until George Bush labeled Iran part of the Axis of Evil, that the Iranians turned on their nuclear development machine.
My mother and her friends told me back in 2004 I should support then Vice Presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman because “he was a Jew”. Apparently, to some, the anointment of one of God’s chosen people was to give Lieberman a special status in a nationalist agenda. I cannot imagine anything more ignorant than to select a candidate based on their religious upbringing. In fact, I can almost envision Senator Joe being among those standing there at the train stations telling their friends and neighbors it is OK to get on the trains because the Nazis are taking them to a better place. Senator Joe Lieberman was the best thing to happen to the Republican party since Karl Rove learned how to count votes.
Joseph Lieberman is no representative of Democrat and Progressive and Libertarian values. Not only was he a supporter of an immoral and unjust war, but he was also among those who insisted Terry Schiavo languish and suffer longer. Lieberman stood shoulder to shoulder with the White House on all issues security … from invasions of American’s privacy, to stripping down the constitutional wall between religion and state, to backing the trillion dollar boondoggle known as Iraq, to cowering and remaining silent on the reactionary appointments and Dominionist takeover of the federal judiciary. Today, he is on his knees before Senator McCain.
When Clinton was President, he made it his goal to end the Israeli / Palestinian conflict. He was damn near close to it. There were accords and peace and doors opening and withdrawals and but-for the insolvable issue of Jerusalem, it was all but done and over. Then we saw what happens with the Right wing take-over. First Sharon, then Bush. Since then, the entire region has turned to incessant combat. Israelis are building a Warsaw-esque wall. American right wingnuts are doing the same thing. They are not me. I am not them.
I am an American Jew. I am an American voter. I am not an Israeli and my first priority is to American interests. Anybody who seeks to line up support for the Republican presidency based on religion cannot ask a Jew to support them. Nothing a Jew believes in; socially, politically, morally, or economically is consistent with the current outcropping of Republican candidates and current Republican doctrine.
Most importantly of all, let us not forget that it was Bush’s blind charge into Iraq that has become the #1 recruiting event for new anti-Israel sentiment and increased death. Bush’s support of the Wall is making the situation far worse. Local Republicans invited known terrorists to march down the streets of Syracuse. Republicans have invited terrorists into our country because they rally Republican votes. But Cat Stevens is denied entry. They are making national lists and amassing a national database. Never forget that Bush and Rove have deep financial and family connections to pre and post WWII Nazis. “According to Bob Woodward's Bush at War, Bush attended a New York Yankees game soon after the September 11 World Trade Center disaster. He wore a fireman's jacket. As he threw out the first pitch, the crowd roared. Thousands of fans stuck out their arms with thumbs up. Karl Rove, sitting in the box of Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, likened the roar of the crowd to "a Nazi rally."
As an American, vote your conscience. But if your status as a Jew is the deciding factor for whom you cast your vote for President, then how could you ever stand together with the right wing religious fundamentalists. Israel will be safe no matter who is President. American Jews have a great deal of political influence over Congress. Think of your home, not your homeland. This election will determine whether you have a right to live in either.
Every time I think of a Republican seeking my support because I am a Jew, all I have to do is remember the guy in the street sweeper and say … NEVER AGAIN. I will not stand politically with people who think like him. Once upon a time, Poland was not far enough.