American Thinker accused of publishing 'a general attack on traditional Judaism'

Thomas Lifson
A blogger normally worthy of respect has hurled a charge at an article published in American ThinkerSultan Knish, the blog published by Daniel Greenfield, posted "A BRIEF NOTE" which is reproduced below in its entirety.  Mr. Greenfield does not have individual URLs for his entries, so it is impossible for us to refer readers directly to the item.

Here it is:

American Thinker ran an article by Fay Voshell accusing Mayor Bloomberg of turning New York "into the progressive version of a gigantic kosher kitchen" and "seeks to apply his politically-correct orthodoxy to the entire city, forcing his transmogrified politico/religious sensibilities on the masses."

Fay Voshell goes on to write, "Such is his fevered zealousness that he has banned charitable organizations devoted to feeding the hungry homeless from distributing loaves and fishes" and "In the end, Bloomberg is the modern day version of the Pharisees." 

This quickly turns into a general attack on traditional Judaism and wraps up with, "The average New Yorker might want to take a look at the Pharisees presently ruling the city and ask if he or she wants to continue to have someone else's religion forced down his/her throat."

Mayor Bloomberg is not an Orthodox Jew. Attacking his policies by conflating them with Orthodox Judaism is just as offensive as criticizing Cuomo or Pelosi's legislative activities in terms of Catholic doctrine.

Cuomo is not a Pope and Bloomberg is not a Rabbi. They're both liberals following leftist ideologies. And using Judaism as a metaphor for the left is the sort of thing that I would expect from TakiMag or Vdare, not from American Thinker.

The article was far from an attack on Judaism and was not using Judaism as a whole as a metaphor for the left.  Indeed, Greenfield quotes the author's characterizing Bloomberg's "transmogrified politico/religious sensibilities."  "Transmogrified" means "altered," with a connotation of grotesquery, as for example:

... to change in appearance or form, especially strangely or grotesquely; transform.

So, quite clearly, Bloomberg is offering something grotesque -- not Judaism, not the laws of kashrut, but a faith based on pseudo-science and elitism.  Big bottles of sugary soda banned, while big bottles of sugary orange juice (the sort of thing favored by upper-income consumers) remain available, for instance.

Greenfield does not offer any examples of his most serious charge, "a general attack on traditional Judaism," because there are none.  The article used two separate metaphors, both drawn from Jewish history -- which, after all, is the longest single recorded account of a human group and thus the source of many lessons for humanity on human nature.  The first metaphor is the "kosher kitchen."  Of all the religious dietary prescriptions known to Americans, the laws of kashrut are the most familiar by a large margin.  If you are going to liken the dietary restrictions being pushed by Mayor Bloomberg and many others to religious dietary laws, then kosher is the metaphor to use.

But equally importantly, the concept of a kosher kitchen is also familiar to more Americans than any other religiously mandated food preparation arrangement.  Many New Yorkers, in particular, have encountered a kosher kitchen and know that special rules apply as to what can be introduced, and what utensils can be used.  If one is going to characterize a source of food from which certain substances have been banned, then the obvious metaphor of choice is a kosher kitchen.  Thus, the article was about Bloomberg's Kosher Kitchen.

The second metaphor is the Pharisees.  They were, after all a political faction -- one that, as Fay Voshell writes, "believed laws regulating every aspect of human life were the way to achieve righteousness and purity."

Doesn't that sound an awful lot like Bloomberg?

Greenfield obviously didn't bother to research Fay Voshell before launching his attack.  She is about the unlikeliest anti-Semite one could imagine.  See, for example:

On the dangerous combination of anti-capitalism and anti-Judaism: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/10/occupy_wall_street_occupy_judaism.html

On the attempts of San Franciscans to ban circumcision and the outrageous anti-Semitic cartoons that accompanied the attempt:  http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/06/a_subtle_tyranny.html

On Ron Paul's anti-Semitism and why his attitude toward Jews and Israel should disqualify him from candidacy: http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/01/the_second_coming_of_huey_long_and_father_coughlin.html

She even defended Goldman Sachs on her own blog, stating that the administration should be wary of buying into medieval-type anti-Semitism targeting bankers: http://simplyfayth.blogspot.com/2010/04/goldman-sachs-zionist-conspiracy.html

We live in an era when the fires of true Jew-hatred are burning brighter and brighter.  The leader of a nation creating nuclear weapons threatens to wipe Israel off the map.  A politician who blames Jews for most of the world's ills is rising in power in Italy.  The BDS movement thrives on American campuses.  And Daniel Greenfield is worried about a credentialed theologian who uses a fairly apt metaphor drawn from the Jewish tradition (with which she is quite familiar thanks to her postgraduate studies).  This strikes me as rather a waste of time and energy, and, worse, a trivialization of a genuinely awful problem.

Perhaps the most common manifestation of anti-Semitism in America is the application of a different standard to Jews and Israel from what is applied to everybody else.  Other nations can build walls on their borders, but Israel is not allowed to do so, for example.  Israel, which gives more political rights to its resident so-called Palestinians than any Arab nation, is characterized as racist and apartheid, while the nations who confine their Palestinians in camps for generations escape criticism.

I do not think that Jewish history should be off-limits for drawing metaphors and lessons for humanity.  That would be to treat Jews differently from other peoples.  For example, the use of "inquisition" to describe an unfair inquiry.

A blogger normally worthy of respect has hurled a charge at an article published in American ThinkerSultan Knish, the blog published by Daniel Greenfield, posted "A BRIEF NOTE" which is reproduced below in its entirety.  Mr. Greenfield does not have individual URLs for his entries, so it is impossible for us to refer readers directly to the item.

Here it is:

American Thinker ran an article by Fay Voshell accusing Mayor Bloomberg of turning New York "into the progressive version of a gigantic kosher kitchen" and "seeks to apply his politically-correct orthodoxy to the entire city, forcing his transmogrified politico/religious sensibilities on the masses."

Fay Voshell goes on to write, "Such is his fevered zealousness that he has banned charitable organizations devoted to feeding the hungry homeless from distributing loaves and fishes" and "In the end, Bloomberg is the modern day version of the Pharisees." 

This quickly turns into a general attack on traditional Judaism and wraps up with, "The average New Yorker might want to take a look at the Pharisees presently ruling the city and ask if he or she wants to continue to have someone else's religion forced down his/her throat."

Mayor Bloomberg is not an Orthodox Jew. Attacking his policies by conflating them with Orthodox Judaism is just as offensive as criticizing Cuomo or Pelosi's legislative activities in terms of Catholic doctrine.

Cuomo is not a Pope and Bloomberg is not a Rabbi. They're both liberals following leftist ideologies. And using Judaism as a metaphor for the left is the sort of thing that I would expect from TakiMag or Vdare, not from American Thinker.

The article was far from an attack on Judaism and was not using Judaism as a whole as a metaphor for the left.  Indeed, Greenfield quotes the author's characterizing Bloomberg's "transmogrified politico/religious sensibilities."  "Transmogrified" means "altered," with a connotation of grotesquery, as for example:

... to change in appearance or form, especially strangely or grotesquely; transform.

So, quite clearly, Bloomberg is offering something grotesque -- not Judaism, not the laws of kashrut, but a faith based on pseudo-science and elitism.  Big bottles of sugary soda banned, while big bottles of sugary orange juice (the sort of thing favored by upper-income consumers) remain available, for instance.

Greenfield does not offer any examples of his most serious charge, "a general attack on traditional Judaism," because there are none.  The article used two separate metaphors, both drawn from Jewish history -- which, after all, is the longest single recorded account of a human group and thus the source of many lessons for humanity on human nature.  The first metaphor is the "kosher kitchen."  Of all the religious dietary prescriptions known to Americans, the laws of kashrut are the most familiar by a large margin.  If you are going to liken the dietary restrictions being pushed by Mayor Bloomberg and many others to religious dietary laws, then kosher is the metaphor to use.

But equally importantly, the concept of a kosher kitchen is also familiar to more Americans than any other religiously mandated food preparation arrangement.  Many New Yorkers, in particular, have encountered a kosher kitchen and know that special rules apply as to what can be introduced, and what utensils can be used.  If one is going to characterize a source of food from which certain substances have been banned, then the obvious metaphor of choice is a kosher kitchen.  Thus, the article was about Bloomberg's Kosher Kitchen.

The second metaphor is the Pharisees.  They were, after all a political faction -- one that, as Fay Voshell writes, "believed laws regulating every aspect of human life were the way to achieve righteousness and purity."

Doesn't that sound an awful lot like Bloomberg?

Greenfield obviously didn't bother to research Fay Voshell before launching his attack.  She is about the unlikeliest anti-Semite one could imagine.  See, for example:

On the dangerous combination of anti-capitalism and anti-Judaism: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/10/occupy_wall_street_occupy_judaism.html

On the attempts of San Franciscans to ban circumcision and the outrageous anti-Semitic cartoons that accompanied the attempt:  http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/06/a_subtle_tyranny.html

On Ron Paul's anti-Semitism and why his attitude toward Jews and Israel should disqualify him from candidacy: http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/01/the_second_coming_of_huey_long_and_father_coughlin.html

She even defended Goldman Sachs on her own blog, stating that the administration should be wary of buying into medieval-type anti-Semitism targeting bankers: http://simplyfayth.blogspot.com/2010/04/goldman-sachs-zionist-conspiracy.html

We live in an era when the fires of true Jew-hatred are burning brighter and brighter.  The leader of a nation creating nuclear weapons threatens to wipe Israel off the map.  A politician who blames Jews for most of the world's ills is rising in power in Italy.  The BDS movement thrives on American campuses.  And Daniel Greenfield is worried about a credentialed theologian who uses a fairly apt metaphor drawn from the Jewish tradition (with which she is quite familiar thanks to her postgraduate studies).  This strikes me as rather a waste of time and energy, and, worse, a trivialization of a genuinely awful problem.

Perhaps the most common manifestation of anti-Semitism in America is the application of a different standard to Jews and Israel from what is applied to everybody else.  Other nations can build walls on their borders, but Israel is not allowed to do so, for example.  Israel, which gives more political rights to its resident so-called Palestinians than any Arab nation, is characterized as racist and apartheid, while the nations who confine their Palestinians in camps for generations escape criticism.

I do not think that Jewish history should be off-limits for drawing metaphors and lessons for humanity.  That would be to treat Jews differently from other peoples.  For example, the use of "inquisition" to describe an unfair inquiry.