Virtue-Signaling Jewish Dems Betray Israel and Themselves
President Trump has ripped the Band-Aid off a festering wound: the increasing division between Israel and American Jewish Democrats. This split has been worsening for decades, but the anti-Zionist infection afflicting Jewish Democrats has largely been salved and covered over rather than addressed directly. Now Trump is forcing the matter.
That the Democratic Party has long been moving toward a leftist anti-Zionist ideology, and is willing to harbor anti-Semites within its ranks with nary a quibble, is old news. The last Democrat president, someone named Obama, is no Zionist, and while not personally an anti-Semite, he didn't mind their support. Post-Obama, Democrats have moved more forcefully leftward than he dared and are busy adopting the far left's open hostility to Israel and actively welcoming active and obvious anti-Semites.
The Democratic Party's open embrace of fervently anti-Zionist congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilan Omar, as well as their corresponding anti-Semitism, is the acute problem, but the underlying issue with Jewish Democrats runs deeper. It's an issue that plagues the left in general, and it says much about leftist ideology.
That issue is virtue-signaling — publicly doing or saying things that demonstrate one's good character and moral virtue. Much of the Left's current agenda is largely driven by this dynamic, rather than real needs or credible rationales. Issues like climate change, immigration reform, gun control, on-demand abortion, and national health care are treated as ideological litmus tests often passed via virtue-signaling and little more.
Liberal American Jews tend to be strong virtue-signalers. It likely stems in part from Jewish history itself. Attempting to assimilate into dominant Christian societies, urban European Jews tended to adopt new bourgeois ideas and customs with a vengeance, so much so that this alone occasionally bred resentment.
The Dreyfus Affair in late 19th-century France is as good an example as any. Dreyfus was a French army captain from a well-to-do and upwardly mobile family that signaled its "Frenchness" as strongly as it could. That didn't help Dreyfus, falsely accused of treason and brutally imprisoned thanks to anti-Semites within the French Army.
Modern American Jewry managed to escape much of this, the United States truly becoming a kind of Promised Land for many millions who had suffered generationally in so many other lands. Yet the need to "prove" oneself as a success, and a good, respected person, remains an abiding facet in modern Jewish culture and probably in part drives much Jewish accomplishment.
Jews who gravitated to the Democratic Party in the 1930s and 1940s felt a need to prove they were the best Democrats. In the 1960s, Jews adopted Democratic ideas and programs that, actually went against their own best interest. High taxes and regulation worked against their growing wealth and businesses, while programs like affirmative action benefited non-Jewish minority groups and hurt accomplished Jewish students and job applicants alike.
In the 1960s, being a Jewish Democrat and being pro-Israel were the same thing. Jewish Democrats were happy to bask in Israel's military successes, as evidence of their own toughness and competence, real or imagined. But Israel's successes and territorial conquests quickly ran afoul of the Democratic Party's already entrenched leftist anti-colonialism. So the Arabs fighting Israel cleverly recast themselves as aborigines fighting off European invaders.
The movement to cast Israel as a colonial invader of Arab lands largely began in the academy but over the past half-century has become enshrined as liberal orthodoxy. The Western college students have long received large doses of anti-Zionist propaganda to go along with other nonsense.
At this point, Democrat Jews could have pushed back, but they did not — instead, they went along, virtue-signaling the whole way. As Jews, taking anti-Israel positions appeared to provide extra virtue, criticism of Israel usually preceded by the words "As a Jew, I..." Jewish liberals postured as morally "brave" and willing to go against confessional interests for what is "right."
Some Jews with names like Chomsky went off the deep long before that. But mainstream Jewish Democrats got to their current sad state more gradually. It picked up steam bashing Menachem Begin and continued with rightist Israeli leaders up to Netanyahu. During Netanyahu's first term in office in the 1990s, liberal reform synagogue–goers might typically begin a discussion with "I support Israel, but not Netanyahu..."
This obviously has continued as a common refrain throughout the many years Netanyahu has led Israel, and it is all virtue-signaling. Netanyahu is exactly the kind of Jew a liberal Spielbergian Los Angelino or New York Jew would otherwise admire to a fault if it weren't for the fact that the domestic and international Left hates him. He's urbane, articulate, linguistically fluent, smart, and legitimately a tough and brave Jew, having served in Israel's most elite commando unit. His fellow commando brother is one of Israel's greatest military heroes. The vibrant, rich, and much less socialist Israel he has helped create allows his Jewish critics to visit Israel in fine hotels, dine first class, and stay at former kibbutzim turned into boutique inns and spas.
Now Trump has called out the Democrats on their slide toward anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Democrat Jews (like Dems in general) despise Trump, and this exacerbates their bind. Will Jewish Democrats betray Israel to embrace the anti-Trump Left, itself dominated by anti-Zionists and anti-Semites? Or will they give up their incessant virtue-signaling and move away from a party that never really wanted them in the first place and is now quite ready to abandon them?
Unfortunately, I expect the virtue-signaling to continue, the lesson of Dreyfus long lost in the lefty fog.