A recent Gallup Poll about support for the Iraqi Occupation notes something very interesting: Jews are more likely to oppose the war, even after party affiliation is taken into account. Gallup states, “It is unclear why Jewish Americans show such strong opposition to the war.” My answer?
Because we’re fucking smart.
Just kidding. Seriously, here are some reasons why I think Jews disproportionately oppose the war (full disclosure: I’m Jewish):
1) Back in 2001, when Bush referred to our anti-terrorism efforts as a crusade, many noted that Muslims would feel threatened by this language. But there’s another group that doesn’t like crusades: Jews. Typically, we were the spring training for the big show in the Outremer (although sometimes, after murdering Jews, the Crusaders got bored and went home, having never reached the Levant).
2) If the Christian Right supports it, do the opposite. While I think that’s a wise strategy for just about anyone, there is a long, awful history of suffering at the hands of Christian zealots. Combine that with the Dominionist right which thinks the End Times will involve both the physical and spiritual annihilation of the Jewish people, and we get really nervous about being in the same ideological room with these guys.
3) On average, I think Jews follow Middle East politics more closely because of support of Israel (or at least Israel’s right to exist, if not Israeli policies). The “good guys, bad guys” world view just doesn’t seem particularly realistic.
4) The Israeli occupation of Lebanon. I know I wasn’t the only Jewish person who thought that the occupation of Iraq would be very similar to Israel’s occupation of Lebanon. In retrospect, it’s frighteningly similar.
5) The whole neocon “Israel will be our surrogate army for our lunatic schemes” strikes me (and I think others) as a willingness to fight to the last Jew (which is better than outright slaughtering us, I suppose). It’s bad for everyone involved.
That’s what I’ve come up with.
Update: Juan Cole has more.
Disclosure: I’m a half-Jew. (Technically, a non-Jewish one, in addition to being an atheist.)
My own views on policy aside, I find the cultural politics of American Jews, Israel, neocons, Iraq and the larger Middle Eastern geopolitical situation to be very interesting.
The 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war temporarily shattered the Jewish-left of center alliance on Middle East policy. Many progressive antiwar Jews supported Israel, but much of the larger left of center denounced Israel’s policy towards Lebanon as Iraq redux (or a replay of the earlier Lebanese occupation). (There were surprising exceptions on Israel-Hezbollah – James Carroll defended Israel to some extent and Bill Maher praised Bush’s stance.) A lot of people on the left of center, especially the big blogs, just didn’t want to get into it – Israel-Hezbollah was the proverbial turd in the punchbowl.
Ought left of center American Jews sign onto Walt and Mearsheimer’s Israeli lobby thesis, or Jimmy Carter’s use of the term ‘apartheid’ in the Palestinian territories? By comparison, taking sides on Iraq is easy.
By the way, what do you think of Adbusters’ Jew-baiting (in the guise of bashing Israel and neocons)?
Latest issue: ‘Does the Israeli tail wag American dog’?
2004: ‘Why won’t anyone say they are Jewish?’
Possibly American Jews can’t quite see how this whole damned mess – with its strengthening of the loonier elements of the Iranian government – is any good for people who are ‘over there’ even if (and it’s a big if) it is good for us ‘over here’. Or possibly they’ve figured out that the whole neocon support of Israel is there because, well, we gotta have an Israel before Armageddon can take place.
Based on those 5 answers, ‘fucking smart’ is the best summation, though it’s clearly a nurture thing, vs. genetic Jewishness.
So is the only way Christians can learn by marginalization and persecution?