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Why are Jews Liberals and Democrats?

Posted 03-05-2023 at 06:56 AM by jbgusa


There is a lengthy book on that subject, Why Are Jews Liberals? by Norman Podhoretz. Norman Podhoretz, definitely not a liberal since the mid-1960's (and I would argue not before then either) reviewed the history of Judaism from its beginnings through modern times, and hints that it has Biblical roots. The roots of handicap protection (the injunction against placing stumbling blocks in the way of the blind), consumer protection (honest weights and measures), labor protection (do not hold the wages of the worker overnight) can all be found in Leviticus, Deuteronomy and I think Numbers. In addition the Bible has much about hospitality and generosity to strangers in need. So, the underlying traditions encourage liberality.

During much of the Jews' "European" interlude starting especially in the 18th and 19th Centuries the liberal or "left" (that tradition started during the early years of the French Revolution where the anti-monarchists sat on the left side of the Chamber of Deputies) forces were in favor of granting Jews more rights. While the monarchs themselves often cosseted the Jews, the forces aligned with the monarchs, and definitely the peasantry did not. The Jews, after all, were creditors. The "right wing" or "populist" forces had no use for Jews.

When the immigrants came to America, the Democrats were touchingly eager to help immigrants find jobs, apartments, English learning and, not incidentally, to declare themselves citizens and register to vote. This payed off at the polls, particularly in urban areas. The Republicans were the ones excluding Jews from their country clubs and "white shoe" employment.

For Jews, loyalty dies hard, even when, apparently, it makes no sense. Speaking for myself, I am a Democrat, not because of my beliefs, but because the Democratic primaries, where I live, determine election results. I barely know the names of the Republican Congressional and Senatorial candidates in my district and state. I know that in my State contests last year, the Republicans did not even run a candidate in either our Senate or Assembly races, I forget which.
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Comments

  1. Old Comment
    Roosevelt, a democrat, entered the US into WWII, to fight against the Japanese and Nazis. The US troops were an important part of freeing Jews from the Concentration Camps, and ending WWII.
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    Posted 03-07-2023 at 12:20 AM by Katlehman Katlehman is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Hi, I can confirm that Norman Podhoretz's book, "Why Are Jews Liberals?", explores the historical and cultural factors that may contribute to Jewish political beliefs and affiliations. It is certainly possible that some Jewish traditions and values, such as those related to charity, hospitality, and social justice, could align with liberal political principles. Additionally, the historical experiences of Jews, including discrimination and persecution, may influence their political views and loyalties. It is important to remember that political beliefs are complex and multifaceted, and are influenced by a variety of factors beyond just religion or culture.
    permalink
    Posted 03-08-2023 at 03:13 AM by DillonBlanch DillonBlanch is offline
 

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