For decades most of the organized left has fought
against Republicans and conservatives more than against the world's greatest
evils. During the Cold War, starting in the late 1960s, one heard little if
anything from the left about the evils of Communism or of Communist societies
such as the Soviet Union or Communist China. But one heard a great deal about
the evils of American anti-Communists; Ronald Reagan was vilified much more
than Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.
But last week, a new line seems to have been
crossed. The organized Jewish left – i.e., left-wing Jewish organizations that
claim to be committed to the welfare of Jews – made it clear that even in the
fight against the greatest enemy of the Jewish people, the Jewish left prefers
to fight what it considers an even greater enemy – conservatives and
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of the Islamic
Republic of Iran, who has repeatedly called for the annihilation of Israel and
who denies the Holocaust, came to speak at the United Nations. The day before
he was scheduled to speak, Jewish organizations across the religious and
political spectrum had organized a "Stop Iran" rally at the Dag Hammarskjold
Plaza across from the UN. They had invited Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and
then invited Republican vice-presidential nominee Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
The intent was to maximize publicity for the
anti-Iran cause, the most important Jewish concern (and arguably the most
important world concern) today. With Clinton and Palin present, the world press
would cover the anti-Iran rally, and the Jewish community could show the world
and America that this was one cause that knew no politics -- the most prominent
female Democrat and the most prominent female Republican would both lend their
names and prestige to this rally.
However, the moment that Clinton learned that the
organizers had invited Palin, she withdrew. For Clinton, giving the other most
popular woman politician in America publicity was unacceptable -- even among
New York Jews, one of the steadfast liberal and Democratic groups in America.
The near collapse of the Stop Iran rally was of less consequence to Clinton
than denying Palin a public platform.
Not many were surprised by Clinton's action. What
was alarming was the realization that for much of the Jewish left -- not
leftists who happen to be Jews and for whom the welfare of the Jewish people is
not particularly significant, but left-wing Jews who claim to care deeply about
Jewish survival -- fighting Palin is of greater importance than fighting
Left-wing Jews and Jewish organizations put intense
pressure on the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
to cancel the invitation to Palin. And the pressure worked.
As the liberal editorial page of New York's major
Jewish newspaper The Jewish Week put it:
somehow, a big-tent cause like Iran as a terrorist power seeking nuclear arms
has become so politicized within our community that Monday's rally was more
about the non-presence of Gov. Sarah Palin than about the very real presence at
the UN of a Holocaust denier whose goal is to destroy our way of life."
Yet, in a rare move, publishing an entire speech
that was never given, Ha'aretz, Israel's equivalent to The New York Times in
its prestige and in its liberal politics, published the speech that Palin would
have given. In Israel, liberal and even many left-wing Jews know that Iran is a
greater threat to Israel than American conservatives.
The Palin speech was so good it should be read by
every American concerned with Israel's survival. And it was so nonpartisan that
it praised Clinton for being at the rally. To say that Palin – who has the
American, Alaskan and Israeli flags in her Juneau office – is a better friend
of the Jews and Israel than much of the American Jewish left sounds odd only to
But the Jewish left acts as if it fears and hates
her more than it fears and hates Ahmadinejad. That is why within days of her
nomination Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., announced that "John McCain's
decision to select a vice presidential running mate that endorsed Pat Buchanan
for president in 2000 is a direct affront to all Jewish Americans. Pat Buchanan
is a Nazi sympathizer with a uniquely atrocious record on Israel. … It is
frightening that John McCain would select someone one heartbeat away from the
presidency who supported a man who embodies vitriolic anti-Israel
Wexler's statement was false: Palin supported Steve
Forbes, not Buchanan. And associating Palin with Nazi or anti-Israel sympathies
is morally loathsome, not to mention weakens the struggle against real
For left-wing Jewish organizations and their
supporters -- as opposed to many rank and file liberal Jews -- the real fight
is against Republicans and especially Christian conservatives (as a community,
the Jews' best friends) more than against a nuclear Iran.
After the cancellation of Palin, a left-wing Jewish
organization that was influential in opposing Palin's appearance, an
organization called J Street, on whose Board of Advisors sits the executive
director of MoveOn.org, headlined on its website: "We Won!"
That is indeed the case. The Jewish left did win.
Which is why the Jews and Israel lost.