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Is Neoconservatism a "Jewish" Movement?:

One thing I've noticed roaming around the blogosphere is that most people who use the term "neoconservative" have no idea what it means (or perhaps this means that the word itself is becoming meaningless). I'm especially sensitive to this because as a college student, I for a while considered myself a neoconservative, and I wrote my senior thesis on neoconservatism.

I can't give a whole history of neoconservatism in this blog post, but I can address one issue, whether neoconservatism is a "Jewish" movement.

Some writers use "neoconservative" as a synonym for "right-wing Jewish Likudnik [sic]," especially when talking about neoconservatives who served in the Bush Administration.

In their Israel Lobby book, Mearsheimer and Walt are actually more sophisticated than that. They recognize, for example, that many leading neoconservatives, including the late Jeane Kirkpatrick, James Woolsey, Robert Bartley, John Bolton, and William Bennett, are not Jewish. To that list I'd add, among others, Michael Novak, John Silber (though he has Jewish background), Frank Gaffney, and Frank Fukuyama, before his recent recantation. One of the most influential original neoconservatives, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, should also be on the list, though he later reverted to mainstream liberalism. Even of the important Jewish early neoconservatives, people like Irving Kristol and Daniel Bell had no particular ties to Israel, and the subject dosen't seem to have been of particular interest to them.

Nevertheless, M & W suggest that because Jews make up about 2/3 of prominent neoconservatives, and because neoconservatives are hawkishly pro-Israel, we can assume that neconservatism is a "Jewish" movement (e.g., "Jewish Americans are central to the neoconservative movement" (p. 132), and several later pages where the authors suggest that neocons are part of the "broader Jewish community" e.g., p. 243), and that neocons' hawkish positions on Israel can be traced to their primarily Jewish origins.

There is an exceptional logical flaw in this. Once we acknowledge that around 1/3 of prominent neocons are not Jewish, and that these neocons share the Jewish neocons' general position on Israel (not to mention that some of the Jewish neocons, like Wolfowitz, are significantly more dovish on Israel than most Gentile neocons), the question is, why attribute the neocons' views on Israel to their Jewishness? After all, neoconservatism is generally hawkish, on everything from Taiwan to Bosnia, going back to opposing the Panama Canal Treaty, and opposition to SALT I and II negotiations with the Soviets. Clearly, being hawkishly pro-Israel fits directly in with this ideology. Plus, the neocons share a disdain for Great Society domestic programs, but, unlike many other conservatives, a fondness for FDR, Truman, and the New Deal. That seems to have nothing to do with being Jewish. What does the Weekly Standards' neocon "national greatness conservatism" have to do with "Jewish?"

Ahh, you might say, but what about the fact that 2/3 of neocons are Jewish? Well, Richard Posner, in his book Public Intellectuals, notes that of around 600 leading public intellectuals, approximately 50% of Jewish. 66%, then, is well within the general stats for public intellectuals, especially if you consider that Jews are going to be severely underrepresented among some categories of public intellectual, like the (Pat) Buchananites, the Phyllis Schlaflyites, left-wing anti-globalists, and others.

Jews, indeed, are often represented at levels above 66% in intellectual movements. Consider leading American libertarians between, say, 1950 and 1980. By common consent, the greatest libertarians of this time period were Rand, Von Mises, Hayek, and Friedman--3 out of 4 (all but Hayek) Jews. If you look at second-tier libertarians, the next group would have to include Nozick and Rothbard, and, in the 50s, perhaps Chodorov. Then you have the whole Ayn Rand circle (the Brandens, Greenspan, et al.), Israel Kirzner, Gary Becker, Richard Posner, Aaron Director, Julian Simon, Sam Peltzman, and so on.

I think it's fair to say that at least on the intellectual level, for quite some time libertarianism was virtually dominated by Jewish thinkers, and they are still well overrepresented in those circles (consider the authors of this blog). That doesn't make libertarianism a "Jewish movement."

For that matter, in the 1960s, about half of all leading activists (think Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin) were Jewish, but the peace movement wasn't a "Jewish" movement. The leadership of the ACLU has been at times overwhelmingly Jewish, but that doesn't make the ACLU a "Jewish" organization. If you look at Brian Leiter's list of the most cited law faculty, you will find that seven of the top eight are Jews. The same is true for the younger cohort of most cited scholars. Jews, in general, are well-overrepresented on the faculties of top law schools, and especially in the field of constitutional law. That doesn't make constitutional law a "Jewish" field.

One could go on in a similar vein, but the point by now should be clear: Jews are extremely prominent in various intellectual fields and movements, and the fact that they happen to constitute 2/3 of neoconservatives doesn't mean that neonconservatism is "Jewish" in the sense that as a movement its goal is advance specifically Jewish goals, any more than libertarianism, ACLUism, etc., are Jewish. Obviously, there are cultural and historical reasons why Jews are more attracted to libertarianism, or the ACLU, or neoconservatism, than they are, to say, Pat Buchanan-style conservatism, or Quaker-influenced peace movements. But to say that Jews are more likely to find a particular ideological movement intellectually and socially congenial is very different than saying that the movement is a "Jewish" one in any meaningful sense.

In short, M & W (and many others) think that because Jews are 2/3 of neoconservatives, and neoconservatives are pro-Israel, that neoconservativism as an ideology is motivated by pro-Israel sentiment. My take is that by random chance, a prominent intellectual movement like neoconservatism will have around 50% Jews among its leaders. If the movement is one that is socially and culturally congenial to Jews, as neoconservatism, among others, is, the percentage will be higher. But there is no good reason to use "neoconservative" as a synonym for "pro-Israel Jew", any more than there is good reason to use "civil libertarian" as synonym for "secularist Jew."

Caveat: One of the founders of neoconservatism, Norman Podhoretz, was clearly put off by the 60s' lefts' hostility to Israel. But he was also put off by their support of racial preferences in the guise of affirmative action, their hostility to America and sympathy with the Viet Cong, their perceived libertinism, etc. It's not that the attraction of neoconservatism has nothing to to with neoconservatives' Jewish background, any more than the attraction of ACLUism has nothing to do with leading ACLUers Jewish backgrounds. Rather, it's that the ideology itself broadly transcends any specifically Jewish concerns, has appeal to many non-Jews, is not thought of by its adherents as being a specifically Jewish movement, and would inevitably attract a large percentage of Jews even if Israel didn't exist. To put it another way, if Israel suddenly was at complete peace with its neighbors and was no longer an issue of foreign policy concern, I would bet that all of the Jewish neoconservatives would remain neoconservatives, and continue to promote neoconservative views on foreign and domestic policy.

Owen Hutchins (mail):
My take has always been that "Likudnik" referred to a particular group of Israeli neo-conservatives. That does not make neo-conservativism "Jewish". Even referring to Jewish neo-conservatives as "Likudniks" does not say that.
9.24.2007 10:21am
Mappo (mail):
David-

WE GET IT. You're Jewish. Move along, now.
9.24.2007 10:30am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Mappo, you don't like Jews talking all that Jew-talk, you can move on to another blog.
9.24.2007 10:34am
advisory opinion:
Expect a furious response to a relatively uncontroversial and persuasive post in 3... 2...
9.24.2007 10:34am
karl (mail):
We should concentrate on ideas, not ancestry.
9.24.2007 10:39am
advisory opinion:
Oh dear. Mappo = case in point.

Less angst please.

Alternatively, get over it.
9.24.2007 10:40am
great unknown (mail):
Based on your statistics about leading intellectuals, would M&W agree that intellectualism is a Jewish movement? Their book certainly avoids any semblence of intellectual honesty.
9.24.2007 10:43am
Eli Rabett (www):
1. Can you point to a Jewish Likudnik who is NOT neoconservative? You confuse the issue because you ask whether the smaller group is the whole of the larger

2. Daniel Patrick Moynahan was NEVER neoconservative. Pretty much the same thing. That Moynahan may have had some agreements with neoconservative views does not mean he shared much. Here you are trying to use the halo effect.

A more sensible discussion would be are there any major points of disagreement between Likudniks and neoconservatives.
9.24.2007 10:46am
samuil (mail):
Yes, Jews are smart and they are diverse as any other ethnicity.
That's why there were so many Bolshevik Jews as well.
Is the population of Israel diverse in their views?
Here lies the answer.

One might as well call playing the fiddle strictly Jewish thingy( but there are other fiddlers, no)
9.24.2007 10:48am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Eli, because the category you suggest (Jewish Likudnik) doesn't exist, except as a propaganda phrase, the answer is that there are no Jewish Likudnik neoconservatives, and no Jewish Likudnik non-neoconservatives.

If, however, you simply want to know whether there are Jews who are not in any sense of the word neoconservative, but sympathize more with the center-right of Israeli politics than the Left, center-left, or far right, I'd say there are tens of thousands, or maybe hundreds of thousands.

And yes, Moynihan was an early neoconservative, though the term was not that current at the time. But don't take my word for it, Google Moynihan and neoconservative (and get 40,000 hits).
9.24.2007 10:57am
JosephSlater (mail):
David:

The great thing about being a Jew is that nuts on the right blame us for communism, socialism, and left-liberalism (you mention the 1960s, when quite a few on the right were talking about Jews getting the blacks riled up/blacks doing the Jews' bidding); meanwhile, nuts on the left blame us for right-wing movements and imagined conspiracies from controlling banks and the media to neo-conservatism.

Of course, when I say "great thing," I mean "idiotically tragic thing."
9.24.2007 11:10am
Seth Eagelfeld (mail) (www):
Great Post! As a Jew who's, to say the least, anti-neocon, I've rather been upset by the stereotype. Were accused of being war-mongers though the overwhelming majority of us opposed the war. This isn't new however, the contradictions of political Jew-hating have been a theme throughout history. Were all Bolsheviks, then we were all Capitalists (i.e. bankers), We were too against racism, then we were too racist. We were too dovish, now we're too hawkish.
9.24.2007 11:11am
Cato:
You may get a lot of hits with Moynahan and neocon, but I think a better pairing would be Moynahan and enigma. One could rarely figure out his vote on a matter of importance based on his public discussion of the issue.
9.24.2007 11:17am
MDJD2B (mail):

We should concentrate on ideas, not ancestry.


Tell that to Mearsheimer, Walt, and Pat Buchanan
9.24.2007 11:17am
Roach (mail) (www):
I think it is fair to say neoconservatism is Jewish, as much as any political movement can be Jewish. For instance, the Confederacy and the Wallace campaigns were both accurately described as "white" movements, even though some blacks participated in both. I think if there is a high percentage total coupled with a disproportionate percentage of any one group, we can at least say there is some connection, no?

In any case, what libertarianism, communism, neoconservatism, and all the rest of the modern ideologies have in common is what Yuri Slezkine observed in his recent (excellent!) book, "The Jewish Century": a penchant for the modern, the universal, the scientific, the rational, the cosmopolitan, and the unrooted. He terms this the "Mercurian" spirit in opposition to the "Appolonian" spirit of the past, i.e., rooted, physical, martial, exclusive, etc. Think Jewish merchants versus Polish peasants.

In Slezkine's view, the new and modern order is more Mercurial, and the Jews have succeeded so dramatically in this world in part because their values in the Old World are closer to the newer, modern values and lifestyles: itinerant, rational, literate, intellectual, verbal, g-loaded, etc.

Neoconservatives purported to cleanse the old conservatism of its Appolonian spirit, which they equated with racism and an unsustainable isolationism. They were more "patriotic" than the New Left, but their patriotism was to a universal creed. There was no particular reason to prefer liberal America versus liberal Australia versus any other nation that ascribed to this creed. The creed was universal to them in two senses: anyone could come here and thrive under it (hence their immigration extremism) and anyone elsewhere could enjoy it if only the opposition of oppressors was removed (hence Iraqis and others could enjoy it as well). They also added to the old conservatism the contributions of social science to liberate conservatives from the fickle "common sense" and instinctual views on things like the death penalty and the welfare state. They were particularly critical of the old conservatives for their alleged ethnocentrism and their ambivalence about the civil rights movement. Finally, on foreign policy, they were indeed hawkish, revolutionary, and ideological.

America would not merely defend its interests--which of course would lead to a far more restrained approach to Israel, which is a tiny country that has never assisted the United States in any of its 20th Century fights and has created for us many enemies in oil-rich despotisms who have something we need--but would romantically pursue a global ideology of expanding Democratic Capitalism for all people everywhere. Unlike otherwise liberal and internationalist minded liberal Jews who make an obvious and contradictory exception for Israel, the neoconservatives at least have the decency to be more or less consistent in their views, hence their support for the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo and their willingness to throw valuable allies like the Kuwaitis and the Pakistanis for their illiberal domestic policies. Similarly, when democracy backfires in places like Lebanon and the Palestinian authority, the sheer wrongness of their worldview becomes apparent. In the Cold War, the paleoconservatives and neoconservatives were able to form an alliance, but the inherent contradictions on matters domestic and foreign became apparent after '89.

Neoconservatives are hawkish liberals. And Jews are almost universally liberal in the United States. This is likely a heritage of their minority status, their penchant for the "scientific" pretensions of ideology, their historical perception of nationalism in their former environs of Russia, and the hostility of some Jews to America's former and somewhat discriminatory tradition of WASP elitism. (This occasionally makes an appearance in the still resentful ritual condemnation of "Jewish quotas" in the Ivies, even though many of these same Jews (including neoconservatives) support anti-white (as in white Christian) affirmative action policies and are even now writing books defending nepotism--Posner--that they are in power). Russian Jews romanticized America as the free and equal land of opportunity only to be surprised and disappointed by its similarity in some respects to the Old World. From Hollywood movies (Salt of the Earth, for example) and the tensions with the Legion of Decency, to their fanatical defenses of the Rosenbergs, to their opposition to school prayer, to their leadership in the New Left, and other countercultural institution, American Jews of all stripes, including the neoconservatives, had little use for an ethno-religious conception of America as a land defined as one chiefly of European Christians, mostly Engish in their folkways, in a nwhere their old, inherited, and somewhat contradictory rights and practices could be enjoyed in peace, insulated from the rest of the world and its problems (and massacres, Holocausts, border wars, etc.)

Neoconservatism is best studied not by counting heads but by contrasting its views with the old conservatism that continues on in places like Chronicles and the American Conservative. Ask whether those differences are characteristically Jewish in any important way, whether in terms of the interests protected, the habits of thought, or any other factor. I think real conservatives recognize that we must be realist in foreign policy and, wherever possible, more isolationist for all the same reasons George Washington counseled the same. We also must be respectful of the rights and desires and culture and religion of the majority at home. Our foreign policy should not serve abstract ideological goals but our inherited way of life, which is Christian in religion, English in language, and European in origin. Jews have intellectual, historical, and cultural reasons for being inclined against both of these views. I don't accept the view that they're obsessed with Israel and that defines neoconservatives. But I think their foreign policy views--crusading, rationalist, pro-democracy, opposed to historical nations and ethno-centric notions of nation-states, pro-Israel out of ethnic loyalty and a sense the Holocaust should have been prevented by America--are typical of the Jewish embrace of a certain kind of modernity and rationalism and exceptionalism to the same when it is, as Normon Podhoretz used to say, "good for the Jews."
9.24.2007 11:29am
M (mail):
I'm skeptical that Hayek is properly thought of as a Libertarian (classic liberal, yes, but not a Libertarian) but surely on no coherent definition is Posner a libertarian- a right-wing leaning proponent of a not very plausible version of utilitarianism, yes, but surely if Libertarian means anything more than someone who tends to favor wealth promotion Posner doesn't fit.
9.24.2007 11:36am
Bruno (mail):
Prof. Bernstein,

Your post shows how today's political culture has evolved from the Protocols-of-Zion-type antisemitism. In the 1920s antisemites were saying that Bolshevism was a Jewish movement and also that capitalism was a Jewish movement based on the prominence of Jews in both camps. This was considered evidence for a worldwide Jewish conspiracy against civilization. It's hard to imagine today, but back then, one could proclaim and believe such garbage and still claim, "I'm not antisemitic. Some of my best friends are Jews." I say that the situation today is analagous: one can still be a member of polite society and believe in "the Jewish Lobby" and "Jewish" neoconservatism and their pernicious influence on the nation and claim, "Some of my best friends are Jewish."

My mother always thought one should suspect people who said the "some of my best friends" line. I always thought she was old-fashioned for that. Now I'm not so sure.
9.24.2007 11:44am
Tony Tutins (mail):
While Neoconservatism is not exclusively Jewish, some Jews lay claim to Neoconservatism:
This is the first hit when I do a yahoo search on Commentary magazine:
Commentary Magazine
The home of neoconservatism.
www.commentarymagazine.com - 43k - Cached
9.24.2007 11:52am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
"I spoke to my mom's cousin, who lived in the US during the eighties and has been back in Iran for almost twenty years, and to my surprise, he came to the exact same conclusion that I had come to for a while; Ahmedinejad is THEIR Bush. And, before I could even say it, my mom's cousin did: "they're both neocons". "

- Someone at DailyKos
9.24.2007 12:14pm
PLR:
The straw man takes some more hits today. Still, it seems Kristol clear to this neutral observer that Mearsheimer and Walt are onto something, even though some members of PNAC were (are?) not Jewish, and even though some of the Jewish members were (are?) not Zionist.
9.24.2007 12:16pm
Zacharias (mail):
The argument does seem flawed. By its logic one would clearly assert that Christianity is a Jewish movement, since its first tier (Jesus), second tier (Peter, James, John, ...) and third tier (Paul) were all Jewish.

Likewise, Soviet Communism is a Jewish movement.

From my perspective, it's pretty hard to figure out who's Jewish. When it suits them, some folks deny Jewishness of people like Jesus and some Nazis and affirm Jewishness of others, like Einstein, who renounced his Judaism at the age of 15. I think it perfectly reasonable that a Christian Zionist could be called Jewish and made President of Israel. If St Peter had been around when Weizmann died in 1952, he might logically have been offered the position instead of Einstein.

By the same token, it's hard to figure out who's libertarian. Milton Friedman, who had ample opportunity to call himself a libertarian, instead insisted he was a Republican.
9.24.2007 12:17pm
David M (mail) (www):
Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 09/24/2007
A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.
9.24.2007 12:20pm
Yankev (mail):
You would think a couple of college professors would be smart enough to remember that "Two of three cats are grey mammals" does not prove that "Two of three grey mammals are cats."

And in many non-Orthodox Jewish circles (including publications of the Reform and Reconstructionist movements), Neocons are viewed with a certain suspicion of having betrayed Judaism and abandoned Jewish values.
9.24.2007 12:29pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Zacharias - Milton Friedman claimed to be a big "R" Republican but a little "l" libertarian, which I took to mean that while he had a lot of libertarian leanings, he would always vote for the Republican over the Libertarian.
9.24.2007 12:38pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Of course, one problem is defining neoconservatism. One that has some resonance with me is that of a progressive mugged by reality. Many of the earlier neocons came there from the progressive ranks, after discovering that many, if not most, progressive solutions either just don't work or are counterproductive. They may have agreed with the goals, but not with the solutions. And that is why Daniel Patrick Moynihan is counted in their ranks, at least for a time. For example, back in the 1960s, he predicted the societal problems caused by our welfare system that ultimately resulted in "Welfare Reform" in the late 1990s.

Thus, possibly the difference between the paleocons and the neocons is that the former view government as inherently evil, and assert that there are few things (such as national defense) that should be government provided, but we are better of without most such functions. The neocons though may come to a similar conclusion, but more from a pragmatic than an philosophic point of view.

Now comes the point where I may offend some of our Jewish brethren here. I have heard more than once that the difference between the Jewish and the Christian/ Moslem view of what happens at death pushes Jews more towards working towards a paradise on Earth, as opposed to Christians and Moslems who look towards paradise in their afterlives. And, a result of this may be that Jews, on average, are more utopian than many others in our society. And let me suggest that falling away from Judaism is unlikely to affect this much if the result is being a secular or non-religious Jew, as opposed to converting to Christianity or Islam.

It is arguably this inclination to push towards utopia that pushes may explain why the bulk of U.S. Judaism is progressive/ liberal. But as pointed out above, Jews are also probably the most intellectual segment of our society, so it is not surprising that some who originally shared progressive ideals applied that intellectual tradition and looked at progressive solutions to many of our society's problems and found them more counter-productive and wishful thinking than pragmatic.

Oh, and you forgot, intentionally or not, probably the most prominent non-Jewish neocon ever, VP Darth Cheney. He is not completely neocon, but that seems to have come to predominate his conservatism starting at least when he worked for President Ford. I would suggest that he is the reason why there has been as much neocon influence in this Administration, whereas President Bush is more traditionally conservative and much more in tune with the religious conservatives on the right.
9.24.2007 1:05pm
Lively:
I'm late to the fight, but I like posts like these. I find them interesting. There are posts that I routinely don't like....Sunday Song Lyric comes to mind. I scroll by it.
9.24.2007 1:05pm
CEB:
Funny, it doesn't look Jewish.
9.24.2007 1:08pm
Daniel San:
Significant support for the Balfour Declaration among the leaders of England arose from the belief that the Young Turks were Bolsheviks, and therefore were Jewish, so would favor England if it support the creation of Israel as a Jewish homeland. To the best of my knowledge, none of the Young Turks were Bolsheviks or Jews.
9.24.2007 1:18pm
r78:

In their Israel Lobby book, Mearsheimer and Walt are actually more sophisticated than that.

So does this mean that you have actually read the book now?
9.24.2007 1:31pm
Guest1234:
Mappo, you don't like Jews talking all that Jew-talk, you can move on to another blog.
And by the same token, if you don't like commentators commenting in the comments, you don't have to allow comments.

(I also find it offensive that you re-phrased the comment as somebody being tired of "Jews talking all that Jew-talk." It makes it seem like the comment was in some way anti-semitic, which it wasn't.)
9.24.2007 1:55pm
holdfast (mail):
Among my liberal but not terribly politically sophisticated friends here in the 'States neocon = warmonger/Bush/Cheney. When I explain the Liberal origins of many of the founders of the movement they tend to believe me, but it does not change the fact that they intensely dislike Bush, the war in Iraq etc., so for them neocon is not really such a loaded term, rather it is a convenient handle for all the stuff they dislike that they just parrot. For folks n Europe (esp the UK) neocon = uppity yid, period.
9.24.2007 1:56pm
Thomass (mail):
"There is an exceptional logical flaw in this. Once we acknowledge that around 1/3 of prominent neocons are not Jewish, and that these neocons share the Jewish neocons' general position on Israel..."

But back to the main point. What, really, is a neocon and why do we need the term?

I've found, among my everyday conservative friends, the same affinity / support for Israel as among these 'neocons'. It seems to be a mainstream conservative stance (re: being pro-Israel).

I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Mine are that the 'neocon' concept is required for leftists to separate out groups of conservatives that don't meet their insular concept of them (re: fundamentalist Christian, ignorant, traditionalist). So, the neocons are the round cons that can't be jammed through the other square hole without unacceptable levels of cognitive dissonance. In reality, its silliness as everyday conservatives are not the caricatures leftists see them as…. Jewish, neo, or not…. So, it's a false concept required to perpetuate the last false concept…
9.24.2007 1:57pm
Jacoby:
I would characterize it more as a pro-Israel movement rather than a Jewish movement.
9.24.2007 2:23pm
davidbernstein (mail):
It's pro-Israel, but pro and anti a lot of other things; you can call Pres. Clinton "pro-Israel", but if you were going to describe his foreign policy, that would be only one of many relevant things, as with the neoncons.
9.24.2007 2:27pm
Roach (mail) (www):
This discussion is amazingly dull. For starters, a standard of evidence is being used that is not used when we say things like, say, most terrorists these days are Muslim. Second, the amazing capacity of everyone on this blog to analyze ideas and trends and currents and other more abstract things is being abandoned for a one-for-one demand of correspondence that ignores the content of neoconservatism in contrast to what it critiqued. It's really quite a useless excercise in the "History of Ideas" and the sociology of neoconservatism to proceed in this fashion that ignores the most important parts: it changes and criticizes the preexisting conservatism in a way that is amazingly in tune with Jewish interests, trends in 20th Century Jewish thinking, and widespread Jewish prejudices.
9.24.2007 2:30pm
CJColucci:
I haven't read M&W, but over the last few years, the most frequent use I have seen of the Jewish-neo-con connection was to accuse opponents of the neo-cons (or even users of the name neo-conservative) of anti-semitism.
9.24.2007 2:33pm
MacGuffin:
I think I get it: If you say "neoconservative", you are an antisemite, because you obviously intend "Jewish" rather than "neoconservative"; however, if you say "Neoconservatism is a Jewish movement", then you are an antisemite, because Neoconservatism is obviously not Jewish. Heads I win, tails you lose -- unless you are a Jew, in which case you are always the victim.
9.24.2007 2:45pm
PLR:
MacGuffin, this is only a teaser. Just wait until the Rosen-Weissman trial starts in January.
9.24.2007 3:14pm
ScottyD (mail):
Good discussion.

To MacGuffin and others, "neocon" obscures more than illuminates and employs latent demagogic tropes.
I want to encourage healthy debate, not stifle it. I respectfully ask that we not be lazy intellectually by commonly using the term. Stating that Jews lead a movement that controls the White House, neoconservativism is a Jewish movement, and the use of neocon itself as a slur inevitably conjure the image of nefarious but uncertain activity.

There's an appeal and power to this ambiguity. One need not clarify who or what is under discussion and engage rigorous logic when a few names (Perle! Feith!) or references (Project for New American Century! A student of a student of Strauss!) ignites the listeners imagination. Freely mentioning "Jewish control" rings in my ears like "there's termites in our house. Must be exterminated."

Is the Jewish lobby the most dominant? No, Arms and Oil interests Who's got the better/bigger lobby?

Let's rein in the Global War on Terror and the Imperial Executive without letting the fringe Left and Right team up to find a shared scapegoat.
9.24.2007 3:20pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
I think the mistaken hidden assumption --- one that speaks well of David, but mistaken none the less --- is there actuallly is an attempt at argument underlying the "neocon = jewish" equation. As far as I have been able to tell, it's much more an attempt to indicate, encode, "neocons are bad".
9.24.2007 3:32pm
Roach (mail) (www):
There was a good article in Forward a few months ago reviewing Murray Friedman's book on the Jewishness of neoconservatism. I discuss it here; unfortunately, the original article must now be accessed on JSTOR or one of the other pay sites.

I've always thought it obvious that neoconservatism is distinctly Jewish, in particular when I studied under the almost exclusively Jewish Struassians at Chicago. I recall a distinct love among them of Abraham Lincoln, and the reasons why are obvious: much of the horror that descended upon European Jews in the 1930s was a consequence of a certain hidebound and legalistic thinking that prioritized diplomacy and international law and similar restrictions in the name of sovereignty. The same kind of thinking plagued America's discussions of slavery. Blacks and Jews, as fellow minorities, have often made common cause seeking legal and other forms of equality. Lincoln represents the triumph of bold action in favor of abstract justice against legal barriers. He was the first legal realist, if you will. And so a cult of Lincoln surrounded the neoconservatives and Straussians at Chicago. As a Burkean and an occasional fan of Calhoun and Sir Henry Maine, I realized my own conservatism (at least then) was very different: more interested in law, ethnicity, the role of elites, the dangers of democracy, the Christian roots of Western Civilization, the tragedy and errors of modernity, etc.

To say neoconservative is Jewish is not necessarily an indictment. After all, Jews both liberal and conservative rightly point to their greater sensitivity to the injustices of society because of their long history as an often oppressed and vulnerable minority. This pervades neoconservative domestic and foreign policy thinking. Catholics too, at least in America, share some of this sensitivity; hence, the thorough-going liberalism of much of Massachusetts and other heavily Catholic areas. But if neoconservatives acknowledge their manifest individual identity as Jews and the collective prominence of Jews among neoconservatives, then they must be prepared to stand up to and discuss candidly the natural conclusion of many observers that their defense of Israel is ethno-religious in origin and much of the "exoteric" defense of their policies in universal terms are masking a normal human trait: concious and subconcious motives to support ones coreligionists (and coethnics).
9.24.2007 3:32pm
MacGuffin:
So, the neocons are the round cons that can't be jammed through the other square hole without unacceptable levels of cognitive dissonance.

So the square-peg Conservatives were what? Hard Wilsonians in disguise?
9.24.2007 3:51pm
davidbernstein (mail):
But if neoconservatives acknowledge their manifest individual identity as Jews and the collective prominence of Jews among neoconservatives, then they must be prepared to stand up to and discuss candidly the natural conclusion of many observers that their defense of Israel is ethno-religious in origin and much of the "exoteric" defense of their policies in universal terms are masking a normal human trait: concious and subconcious motives to support ones coreligionists (and coethnics).

Roach, I'm a libertarian. I acknowledge my individual identity as a Jew, and the prominence of Jews among libertarians. Does that mean that my libertarianism is a result of "concious and subconcious motives to support ones coreligionists." What a lot of horse****.

Not to mention that the Straussians, and the original neoconservatives were overwhelmingly secular and not involved in the Jewish community. This is like blaming "Bolshevism" not just on Jews (for being overrepresented), but on Jews pursuing Jewish interests, even though the Bolshie Jews tended to be quite hostile to their Jewish brethren, in power and outside. A bunch of ex-Trotskyites (oops, another Jew!), looking out for Jewish communal interests?

You are right, as I acknowledge, that Jews are going to be more attracted to universalitistic, internationalist, pro human rights (however conceived), etc. movements than they are to what you call a movement rooted in Christianity and Europeanism. But that's quite different from saying that they are more likely to be universalistic, et al., because they are primarily looking out for Jewish interests, as opposed to they have bad group memories of reactionary, nationalistic Christianity, and will naturally be attracted to movements that are not like that.

I'll give the ACLU again as an example. It's not surprising that Jews are going to be attracted to strict seperationism when they recall being forced to read from a Christian Bible and say Christian prayers in school. But their strict separationism is not a "Jewish" response--that would be to have state-funded Jewish schools, or ensure that a Hebrew Bible and prayers without Jesus were used. Rather, it's a "we saw the bad consequences of allowing religion into the schools, it's bad for religious minorities in general, it's unfair, it's wrong," let's do away with it.

In other words, much of what you seem to call a "Jewish", self-interest perspective is actually a universalistic reaction to Jews' historical oppression.
9.24.2007 3:54pm
davidbernstein (mail):
My first paragraph just above is a quote from "Roach."
9.24.2007 3:54pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Neoconservatives are hawkish liberals.
While there is some truth to this, the odd thing about the debate is that neoconservatism was not defined, originally, by foreign policy at all. (That's not to say that neoconservatives didn't tend to be hawks; they did. But it was their views on domestic policy that was the original impetus for the evolution of the "movement.")
And Jews are almost universally liberal in the United States
Insert the word "non-observant" before "Jews" for this statement to be true.
9.24.2007 3:59pm
MacGuffin:
more counter-productive and wishful thinking than pragmatic

Sounds like neoconsevative foreign policy.

If a neocon is supposed to be a progressive mugged by reality, what should we call a realist mugged by necon idealism?
9.24.2007 4:01pm
Milhouse (www):
"Likudnik" is an extremely silly term, because the Likud is not an ideological party, it's a coalition cobbled together from different parties on the Israeli centre and right. The name itself indicates that - it means something like "bloc" or "coalition", and it was originally not a party at all, but a formal alliance between the Liberal Party, Herut, and a handful of smaller groups; later the constituent parties merged into one organisation, but ideologically it remained a hodgepodge. So while it might make sense to call a Likud supporter a "Herutnik" or a "Liberal", "Likudnik" as a name for an ideology never made any sense. The only legitimate use for "Likudnik" is to refer to political activists for the Likud organisation, people who are dues-paying members of that organisation and/or work for it at election time.

Bruce Hayden, whatever you think you know about "the difference between the Jewish and the Christian/ Moslem view of what happens at death", is probably wrong. The differences between the Jewish view on this subject and either the Christian or the Moslem view are probably no greater than the differences between the Christian and Moslem views. In particular, the idea that Judaism doesn't believe in an afterlife, or attaches no importance to it, has become fashionable in some circles, but it's utterly wrong.
9.24.2007 4:03pm
David Burncream (mail):
And yes, 9/11 was a neoconservative conspiracy, even though Norman Podhoretz denies it. But don't take my word for it, Google 9/11 and neoconservative and conspiracy (and get 2,170,000 hits).

Argumenting. It's just that simple.
9.24.2007 4:03pm
davidbernstein (mail):
Clever, except that whether Moynihan was considered a "neoconservative" can actually be proven by showing references to him as a neoconservative.
9.24.2007 4:08pm
MacGuffin:
the prominence of Jews among libertarians

Come again? Have you got some stunning demographic data that contradict the popular conception of libertarians? Would you care to guess at the ratio of those that would answer in the affirmative to "Is Libertarianism a Jewish movement?" against those whose who would so answer the question in your title?
9.24.2007 4:13pm
MacGuffin:
Clever, except that whether Moynihan was considered a "neoconservative" can actually be proven by showing references to him as a neoconservative.

Clever, except that your argument requires the assumption constancy in the application of "neoconservative".
9.24.2007 4:16pm
Immigrants Suck (mail):
To answer this question, one must consult the premiere website for true conversativism in the United States, VDARE.com, which has tirelessly fought the evil influence of brown people and other non-whites, if you know what I mean. As one of the conservative intellectuals at VDARE.com put it:

In all of the Jewish intellectual and political movements I studied, there is a strong Jewish identity among the core figures. All center on charismatic Jewish leaders—people such as Boas, Trotsky and Freud— who are revered as messianic, god-like figures.

Neoconservatism's key founders trace their intellectual ancestry to the "New York Intellectuals," a group that originated as followers of Trotskyite theoretician Max Schactman in the 1930s and centered around influential journals like Partisan Review and Commentary (which is in fact published by the American Jewish Committee). In the case of neoconservatives, their early identity as radical leftist disciples shifted as there began to be evidence of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. Key figures in leading them out of the political left were philosopher Sidney Hook and Elliot Cohen, editor of Commentary. Such men as Hook, Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, Nathan Glazer and Seymour Martin Lipset, were deeply concerned about anti-Semitism and other Jewish issues. Many of them worked closely with Jewish activist organizations. After the 1950s, they became increasingly disenchanted with leftism. Their overriding concern was the welfare of Israel.

By the 1970s, the neocons were taking an aggressive stance against the Soviet Union, which they saw as a bastion of anti-Semitism and opposition to Israel. Richard Perle was the prime organizer of Congressional support for the 1974 Jackson-Vanik Amendment which angered the Soviet Union by linking bilateral trade issues to freedom of emigration, primarily of Jews from the Soviet Union to Israel and the United States.

Current key leaders include an astonishing number of individuals well placed to influence the Bush Administration: (Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, I. Lewis Libby, Elliott Abrams, David Wurmser, Abram Shulsky), interlocking media and thinktankdom (Bill Kristol, Michael Ledeen, Stephen Bryen, John Podhoretz, Daniel Pipes), and the academic world (Richard Pipes, Donald Kagan).

As the neoconservatives lost faith in radical leftism, several key neocons became attracted to the writings of Leo Strauss, a classicist and political philosopher at the University of Chicago. Strauss had a very strong Jewish identity and viewed his philosophy as a means of ensuring Jewish survival in the Diaspora. As he put it in a 1962 Hillel House lecture, later republished in Leo Strauss: Political Philosopher and Jewish Thinker:

"I believe I can say, without any exaggeration, that since a very, very early time the main theme of my reflections has been what is called the 'Jewish 'Question'."

Strauss has become a cult figure—the quintessential rabbinical guru with devoted disciples.

While Strauss and his followers have come to be known as neoconservatives — and have even claimed to be simply "conservatives"— there is nothing conservative about their goals. This is most obviously the case in foreign policy, where they are attempting to rearrange the entire Middle East in the interests of Israel. But it is also the case with domestic policy, where acceptance of rule by an aristocratic elite would require a complete political transformation. Strauss believed that this aristocracy would be compatible with Jewish interests.

Strauss notoriously described the need for an external exoteric language directed at outsiders, and an internal esoteric language directed at ingroup members. In other words, the masses had to be deceived.

But actually this is a general feature of the movements I have studied. They invariably frame issues in language that appeals to non-Jews, rather than explicitly in terms of Jewish interests. The most common rhetoric used by Jewish intellectual and political movements has been the language of moral universalism and the language of science—languages that appeal to the educated elites of the modern Western world. But beneath the rhetoric it is easy to find statements expressing the Jewish agendas of the principal actors.

For example, anthropologists under the leadership of Boas viewed their crusade against the concept of "race" as, in turn, combating anti-Semitism. They also saw their theories as promoting the ideology of cultural pluralism, which served perceived Jewish interests because the U.S. would be seen as consisting of many co-equal cultures rather than as a European Christian society.

Similarly, psychoanalysts commonly used their theories to portray anti-Jewish attitudes as symptoms of psychiatric disorder.

Conversely, the earlier generation of American Jewish Trotskyites ignored the horrors of the Soviet Union until the emergence there of state-sponsored anti-Semitism.

Neoconservatives have certainly appealed to American patriotic platitudes in advocating war throughout the Middle East—gushing about spreading American democracy and freedom to the area, while leaving unmentioned their own strong ethnic ties and family links to Israel.

Michael Lind has called attention to the neoconservatives' "odd bursts of ideological enthusiasm for 'democracy'"— odd because these calls for democracy and freedom throughout the Middle East are also coupled with support for the Likud Party and other like-minded groups in Israel that are driven by a vision of an ethnocentric, expansionist Israel that, to outside observers at least, bears an unmistakable (albeit unmentionable) resemblance to apartheid South Africa.

These inconsistencies of the neoconservatives are not odd or surprising. The Straussian idea is to achieve the aims of the elite ingroup by using language designed for mass appeal. War for "democracy and freedom" sells much better than a war explicitly aimed at achieving the foreign policy goals of Israel.

Neoconservatives have responded to charges that their foreign policy has a Jewish agenda by labeling any such analysis as "anti-Semitic." Similar charges have been echoed by powerful activist Jewish organizations like the ADL and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

But at the very least, Jewish neoconservatives like Paul Wolfowitz, who were deeply involved in pushing for the war in Iraq, should frankly discuss how their close family and personal ties to Israel have affected their attitudes on US foreign policy in the Middle East.

Wolfowitz, however, has refused to discuss this issue beyond terming such suggestions "disgraceful."

A common argument is that neoconservatism is not Jewish because of the presence of various non-Jews amongst their ranks.

But in fact, the ability to recruit prominent non-Jews, while nevertheless maintaining a Jewish core and a commitment to Jewish interests, has been a hallmark—perhaps the key hallmark—of influential Jewish intellectual and political movements throughout the 20th century. Freud commented famously on the need for a non-Jew to represent psychoanalysis, a role played by Ernest Jones and C. G. Jung. Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict were the public face of Boasian anthropology. And, although Jews represented over half the membership of both the Socialist Party and the Communist Party USA at various times, neither party ever had Jews as presidential candidates and no Jew held the top position in the Communist Party USA after 1929.

In all the Jewish intellectual and political movements I reviewed, non-Jews have been accepted and given highly-visible roles. Today, those roles are played most prominently by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld whose ties with neoconservatives go back many years. It makes excellent psychological sense to have the spokespeople for any movement resemble the people they are trying to convince.

In fact, neoconservatism is rather unusual in the degree to which policy formulation — as opposed to implementation — is so predominantly Jewish. Perhaps this reflects U.S. conditions in the late 20th century.

All the Jewish intellectual and political movements I studied were typified by a deep sense of orthodoxy—a sense of "us versus them." Dissenters are expelled, usually amid character assassination and other recriminations.

This has certainly been a feature of the neocon movement. The classic recent example of this "We vs. They" world is David Frum's attack on "unpatriotic conservatives" as anti-Semites. Any conservative who opposes the Iraq war as contrary to U.S. interests and who notes the pro-Israeli motivation of many of the important players, is not to be argued with, but eradicated. "We turn our backs on them." This is not the spirit out of which the Anglo-American parliamentary tradition was developed, and in fact was not endorsed by other non-Jewish pro-war conservatives.


How can one argue with conservatism's leading lights?
9.24.2007 4:29pm
Roach (mail) (www):
David, your last post is interesting, but I'm unconvinced.

First, mere prominence or over-representation alone would not define something as "Jewish," though the degree should matter. Take libertarianism: There are plenty of prominent non-Jews in this vein of thought, including John Locke, John Stuart Mill, Mencken, Nock, etc. So that argument just doesn't fly. More important, there are basically no libertarians other than their public intellectuals. It's almost purely a movement in search of a constituency. Neoconservatism, on the other hand, has become a dominant force in the Republican party and the President, and influences his policies and rhetoric dramatically.

You cannot off again/on again define Jews only as religious Jews. Israel does not. Nor do Israel's supporters when they say things like: "The Arabs are killing Jews." (This is notable too because it represents the on-again/off-again equation of Israel and Jews.) Israel has a huge secular population, but it's also a Jewish nation. To me a Jew is someone who calls himself a Jew. This is enough for our purposes. Because you can lose your religion and still have ethnic loyalty and habits of thought and values from one's Jewish heritage (or the epiphenomena of half-hearted rebellion against it). Much of secular Jewish radicalism is essentially the inherited hostility to Christianity from the Jewish religion divorced from all ethical and other constraints mandated by that religion. Consider this statement from Al Goldstein, the founder of Screw magazine, "The only reason that Jews are in pornography is that we think that Christ sucks. Catholicism sucks. We don't believe in authoritarianism." Well.

Your view of Soviet history is simply quaint propaganda. The Bolsheviks were overwhelmingly Jewish. Jews and the leadership of the early Soviet state were more or less coextensive. While some Jews were persecuted by the Soviet state, they were overwhelmingly its beneficiaries until the late forties and early fifties, and, according to Yuri Slezkine, under-represented in the purges and other sometimes anti-semitic efforts of that era. Even after pro-ethnic-minority affirmative action began to displace Jews from their dominance in various state ministries from 1919-1941, Jews remain over-represented in pretty much every professional bureaucratic position in the Soviet State.

Jews can pursue a universalist ideology for the reasons stated by that ideology to appeal to all mankind and still take notice of the fact that it is individually beneficial. Consider how few people give up, for example, state subsidies on principled grounds when it is individually beneficial, even though they spin baroque tales of how it's good for the economy when farmers get to be paid for not forming. Most people are self-interested, to be sure, and most proponents of an ideology that creates winners and losers (even when it claims everyone wins) can be assumed to be looking out for number one. Do blacks like affirmative action because it's good for them? Or because of some abstract ideological reasons? In this instance,neoconservatism's hostility (and that of other liberal groups like the ACLU for that matter) to America's historic demographics, its indifference to our Christian heritage, its faith in "the creedal nation," and its fanatical devotion to open borders at home and violent American hegemonism (i.e., permanent war) abroad is striking. And the reasons people bring up the fact none of these guys have known military service or worked the kinds of jobs affected by immigration, and nor have their children, is that it is the people most negatively affected by the secularist and demographic transformation of life at home who are doing the fighting abroad, i.e., good ol' boys who hate mass immigration and the anti-Christian agenda of guys like David Brooks, David Frum, and the insipid John Podhoretz.

I also think the classification of neconservatism as a "universalistic" reaction to oppression is ridiculous. It's certainly not the universal reaction of everyone everywhere in history who are oppressed to create fantastic ideologies based on redefining the society's core values and then influencing its political policy through propaganda, outright lies, and extensive political donations. No the neoconservatives are truly unique in their brazeness but also in their effectiveness.
9.24.2007 4:59pm
cvt:

Nevertheless, M &W suggest that because Jews make up about 2/3 of prominent neoconservatives, and because neoconservatives are hawkishly pro-Israel, we can assume that neconservatism is a "Jewish" movement (e.g., "Jewish Americans are central to the neoconservative movement" (p. 132), and several later pages where the authors suggest that neocons are part of the "broader Jewish community" e.g., p. 243), and that neocons' hawkish positions on Israel can be traced to their primarily Jewish origins.

DB:I wonder whether you are setting up a straw man in order to attack M&W. I can't look right now at the context of the statements that you cite from their book, but it appears that you attribute more to them than they actually say. You don't give a page cite for your assertion that M&W contend that "neocons' hawkish positions on Israel can be traced to their primarily Jewish origins." Where did they say that? And the other two statements that you cite do not necessarily mean that they think that neoconservatism is a "Jewish movement." You and everyone else agrees that Jews are prominent in the nonconservative movement. That seems to be all that the first statement says. You then say that they "suggest" that neocons aare part of the "broader Jewish community." That's pretty vague. What did they actually say?
9.24.2007 5:01pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
<blockquote>
The great thing about being a Jew is that nuts on the right blame us for communism, socialism, and left-liberalism (you mention the 1960s, when quite a few on the right were talking about Jews getting the blacks riled up/blacks doing the Jews' bidding); meanwhile, nuts on the left blame us for right-wing movements and imagined conspiracies from controlling banks and the media to neo-conservatism.
</blockquote>Sometimes you get to combine them. Hitler blamed Jews not only for international Bolshevism, but also for international capitalism. (Perhaps he was envisioning a future with George Soros in it.) I'm surprised that he didn't blame them for vegetarianism as well as blaming them for meat-eating.
9.24.2007 5:05pm
PJH (mail) (www):
samuil said: "One might as well call playing the fiddle strictly Jewish thingy( but there are other fiddlers, no)"

Yeah, but there's only Heifetz.
9.24.2007 5:21pm
BGates (www):
you can call Pres. Clinton "pro-Israel", but if you were going to describe his foreign policy, that would be only one of many relevant things, as with the neocons.

Yeah, you could never consider Clinton a neocon unless he had sent troops into a couple of Muslim countries with or without UN support or attacked Iraq over its WMD programs. And none of that ever happened.
9.24.2007 5:21pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Roach says:

No the neoconservatives are truly unique in their brazeness but also in their effectiveness.

Damn, outsmarted by the Jews. Again.

That has got to hurt.
9.24.2007 5:27pm
Yankev (mail):

differences between the Jewish view on this subject and either the Christian or the Moslem view are probably no greater than the differences between the Christian and Moslem views.

One big difference is that the Jewish afterlife is open to the righteous of all nations, and is not limited to Jews.
9.24.2007 5:28pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
BGates,

I think Clinton signed the Regime Change in Iraq Bill.
9.24.2007 5:28pm
Roach (mail) (www):
And clearly capitalism and communism are mortal enemies and it's impossible for a mobile, trans-national, high IQ minority to have a strong interest and ability to thrive in both systems, as evidenced by the career of Armand Hammer, the rise of the ex-communist Russian oligarchs (90% Jewish) following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the close connection between the traditional-elite-destroying properties of capitalism and the way this would create a disaffected proletariat eager for Marxism as described by Marx himself.

What is this: facile, easily refuted arguments day at Volokh? Standards are going down.
9.24.2007 5:29pm
Yankev (mail):

And clearly capitalism and communism are mortal enemies and it's impossible for a mobile, trans-national, high IQ minority to have a strong interest and ability to thrive in both systems, as evidenced by the career of Armand Hammer, the rise of the ex-communist Russian oligarchs (90% Jewish) following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the close connection between the traditional-elite-destroying properties of capitalism and the way this would create a disaffected proletariat eager for Marxism as described by Marx himself.

Uh-oh, David, looks as though Roach is on to us and has discovered how we have been manipulating world events for centuries! The secret is out -- quick, we'd better invent a new disease that will attack non-Jews only in order to silence him, or else start a new recession in order to distract people's attention.
9.24.2007 5:46pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Okay Roach: Panama Canal Treaty and Bosnia, both significant neocon causes--where was the Jewish interest in those? Especially Bosnia, where the U.S. helped the groups that helped the Nazis (Croats and Bosnian Moslems), and helped spark Islamic radicalism in the latter?

As for your view of Soviet history, it's nonsense. I can't speak to who was in the bureaucracy, but I do know that the overwhelming majority of Jews in Russia as of 1917 had at least some religious connection, and many were very religious, yet the Soviet authorities were much harshers with regard to synagogues and Jewish religion than with regard to Russian Orthodoxy.

And do you have a legitimate cite for your view that the Bolshies were "overwhelmingly" Jewish. My understanding is that they were better represented among the Mensheviks, and, while represented at much higher levels than their population percentage, were only a minority of Bolsheviks. Here's a real source: In 1907, Jews were about ten percent of Bolshevik party members, half as high as in in the Mensheviks. R. Pipes, The Russian Revolution (1990), p. 365

BTW, given Roach's posts, it's not really surprising that Jews weren't exactly comfortable with the "Old Right," is it?
9.24.2007 5:56pm
hey (mail):
No one brings out the fans of the austrian painter like Bernstein.

You are absolutely wrong on the makeup of left-wing anti-globalists. Naomi Klein - No Logo, and now The Shock Doctrine - is one of the most prominent on the anti-global left and definitely a Jew. Not exactly observant, from a left wing family and married into another prominent left wing family. I'd call the lot of them self-hating nihillists with a Jewish background, rather than calling them jews. Daily Kos had a poster claiming to be a Jewish Lesbian who liked Ahmadinejad while acknowledging that he'd have her killed! http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/9/23/83652/6735

To sum it up, jews are humans, represented across the spectrum of belief and intelligence. They just get to be super exrta hated by a wide range of sub-normal inbreds like roach, Chavez, and Ahmadinejad.

On the subject of Israel - we share the same enemies, and they do a great job of dealing with jihadis, so why shouldn't I support them? Pakistan and Saudi can never be decent friends as they must foster external conflict to maintain their tyrannies - and thus will always cause trouble for the US despite what the KKK posters here say.
9.24.2007 6:00pm
Roach (mail) (www):
I remember just yesterday the Saudis were invading Lebanon and the Pakistani armored brigades were sweeping into neighboring Iran. Israel, of course, avoids all wars at all costs, as evidenced by the "defensive" '56 Sinai adventure.

Is this the best you can do: ad hominems and mockery and totally self-serving accounts of history. The neoconservatives, at least on foreign policy, are so transparent it's not even funny. They've ruined themselves and the Republican party for a generation. They've made some worthwhile contributions on domestic policy--The Bell Curve comes to mind--but other than that they're totally useless . . . and dangerous . . . and too cocky for their own good. Oh well, can't wait for that AIPAC spying trial to get rolling.
9.24.2007 6:08pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
there's only [one] Heifetz

What, no love for Yehudi Menuhin?
9.24.2007 6:11pm
daniel (mail):
I knew that reading Kevin Macdonald's Culture of Critique would eventually pay off. Roach's observations about the prominence of Jews in various political and ideological movements are important in Kevin Macdonald's discussion of Judaism as a (highly successful) group evolutionary strategy. It all seems to boil down to Jews aggressively advocating for "cosmopolitanism", and being good at it. This has disempowered the previous elites and created a power vacuum that has advantaged Jews. Anecdotal evidence of the shift in society's power structure abound, not the least of which is the fate of anyone prominent who utters these dangerous truths.

The statistics in Conspirator Bernstein's review of Jewish prominence in political movements bolster this position, at least to the extent that Jewish participation and "overrepresentation" in anything "modern" does. With the 1960s and now neoconservatism, America has finally been "Judaized", right up to the hallowed halls of leadership.

What would you like to do about it, Roach? It's obviously not enough to stop immigration. Is isolationism still attractive when your country's already full of powerful Jews and Jew-thinking non-Jews?
9.24.2007 6:42pm
Roach (mail) (www):
Given all the stupid pointless wars the neoconservatives keep getting us in, it's pretty clear why real Americans are not too comfortable with these hair-brained, half-educated idiots at the helm, is it?
9.24.2007 6:50pm
Yankev (mail):

And do you have a legitimate cite for your view that the Bolshies were "overwhelmingly" Jewish.

The John Birch Society? (Are they still around?)
Hamas?
Storm Front?
Combatants Royaliste du Christianite'?

How much of this myth is due to the ignorant who assume that any slavic sounding name must by definition be a Jew name?

Marx, of course, was born to Christian converts and was as rabid as any Nazi in his contempt for Judaism. Nevermind, to those who know the "truth", he will always remain Marx the Jew.
9.24.2007 8:05pm
Yankev (mail):
Roach is sure that Jews are manipulating history and destroying American culture, all for their own parochial benefit, dismisses any challenge to his theories as "ad hominems and mockery and totally self-serving accounts of history" and tells us that "it's pretty clear why real Americans are not too comfortable with these hair-brained, half-educated idiots at the helm."

daniel writes:

What would you like to do about it, Roach? It's obviously not enough to stop immigration. Is isolationism still attractive when your country's already full of powerful Jews and Jew-thinking non-Jews?

I can't wait for one of these geniuses to propose that the Turner Diaries are the country's salvation.
9.24.2007 8:12pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I find that asking conspiracy theorists to explain the neocon's "Jewish" interest in Bosnia is rather effective in making them go batty. [Arggh! Facts can't be squared with my beliefs! I'm melting!]
9.24.2007 8:19pm
Stash:
I think I get it. Jews apparently have "widespread prejudices" and "ways of thinking" that are inimical to non-jews everywhere, and necessarily taint any opinion they might have. It is important to know whether a lot of neoconservatives are Jews, so that it can be understood as a "Jewish movement" and people will know not to trust it without further investigation. The ideas need not be engaged on their merits, but may be ignored due to their suspect provenance. As a helpful aid to those hoping to avoid tainted ideas I have compiled this list of Jews, so you may be sure to avoid agreeing with any of them:

Milton Freidman, Leon Trotsky, Abbie Hoffman, Henry Kissinger, Norman Podhoretz, Norman Finklestein, Noam Chomsky, Alan Dershowitz, Roy Cohn, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Benedict Spinoza, Naomi Klein, Jacques Derrida, Senators Feingold, Leiberman and Spector, Tony Judt, Ruth Ginsberg, George Soros, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Woody Allen, Moses, Jesus, Joseph and Mary. Oh and don't forget Bernstein.

Now there are some who say that a Jew who thinks Sharon was a war criminal, is anti-occupation, pro-peace and sympathetic to the Palestinian cause has thrown off the cultural shackles of his heritage, but how can you be sure? Since making peace in the Middle East can also be seen as "pro-Israel"—indeed there is a Peace Now movement in Israel itself--this may simply be a disagreement about what policies are best for Israel, and therefore still suspect.

From what I gather here, any individual Jew's opinion is always best evaluated in light of the fact that he is Jewish. The excuse for non-Jewish neocons is unclear, but apparently they are unintelligent, less than competent dupes led down the garden path, because there is no possible basis for supporting Israel without being Jewish.

But, on the other hand, it would be more than unfair to suggest that ethnicity has any affect on other prominent thinkers. No one has even suggested that Mearshimer's German heritage or other "unconscious prejudice" has anything to do with his current thesis. This would be wrong, because it would suggest he adopted his position for a reason apart from his proffered logic and evidence. This is as it should be, because opinions of persons, other than Jews, should always be addressed on their merits and not be characterized and dismissed as mere prejudice or ways of thinking that may be ascribed to their heritage or unspoken bigotry.

The European-Christian tradition on which this country is based, much like the Muslim tradition, has no history of ethno-religious hostility towards Jews, and therefore those brought up in it can be trusted to fully, fairly and objectively evaluate and determine all issues on which Jews, by their nature, are necessarily disqualified from having a legitimate opinion.

So, since the majority of Americans of Euro-Christian background are generally pro-Israel, those pro-Israel Jews must have gotten it right by mistake.

D'oh! That can't be right. Let me start again…
9.24.2007 9:10pm
JM Hanes (mail):
It's really pretty simple: When liberals collectively attempt to influence policy, it's a grass roots movement; when conservatives join forces to do the same, it's a conspiracy; if there are Jews involved, it's a cabal.

Mr. Bernstein:
You are right, as I acknowledge, that Jews are going to be more attracted to universalitistic, internationalist, pro human rights (however conceived), etc. movements than they are to what you call a movement rooted in Christianity and Europeanism. But that's quite different from saying that they are more likely to be universalistic, et al., because they are primarily looking out for Jewish interests, as opposed to they have bad group memories of reactionary, nationalistic Christianity, and will naturally be attracted to movements that are not like that.
This statement deserves particular emphasis, as it touches on the real, and in my opinion, poisonous subtext here. The authors' putative political objective is to discredit neoconservative foreign policy. Early attempts in more amateur quarters to frame the Enabler in Chief as a Saudi tool proved too novel an approach to gain much public traction in that regard. Blaming Jews, however, for almost anything will always attract an audience somewhere, but it's a particularly useful tool if you're looking for a way to tar neocon strategy as contrary to U.S. national interests.

Aside from the basic question of intellectual rigor you pose, the issue of whether or not neoconservatism can be construed as a Jewish movement only becomes important if you go from granting credence to the old familiar imputation of divided loyalties to insinutating that Jewish loyalty to Israel will inevitably trump Jewish loyalty to the United States. Make that leap, sell it as a pseudo-historical given, et voila: Neoconservatives should be registering as agents of a foreign government, not perverting the U.S. role in the world to unAmerican ends. That argument would be dismissed out of hand were we talking about virtually any other special interest group. Even corporations are presumed to be self-interested, not treasonous.

One can certainly argue about whether Israel has been an albatross around the neck of U.S. foreign policy or a critical line in the sand, but that's not the vein being mined here. The very first question Mearsheimer &Walt pose in the original essay that spawned the book, makes their predicate clear and virtually precludes all but one answer:
Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state?
From what I've heard so far, receptiveness to their conclusion depends less on the quality of the arguments they advance than on whether the audience starts out already believing the albatross is self-evident too.
9.24.2007 9:28pm
Kip Watson (mail) (www):
Truth is, a lot of people feel the desire to remonstrate with our Jewish brothers for the hurt some Jews cause us -- surely a reasonable thing given the degree (as you admit yourself) that Jews dominate key areas in society (law, media, entertainment, advertising, education... for example).

But while one may freely criticise Christians, Muslims, the French, Rednecks, 'trailer trash', Arabs, Dead White Men, Republicans, and so on, no one can utter a harsh word to the Jews without immediate, strident accusations of Nazism.

Therefore it's neither surprising nor sinister that people seek proxies to criticise -- Zionists, the Israel lobby, neocons etc. Sadly, they do it out of fear -- fear that a Jew with power over them will regard them as a quasi-Nazi and will seek to hurt them.

Does that make the Jews among you comfortable?

Wouldn't it be a fine thing for you guys to stop acting like a superior race, a perfect people, the mere criticism of whom is a crime against humanity?
9.24.2007 9:33pm
SIG357:
Jews are going to be severely underrepresented among some categories of public intellectual, like the (Pat) Buchananites, the Phyllis Schlaflyites, left-wing anti-globalists, and others.



I think Jews are well represented among left-wing anti-globalists. But I question the whole concept of "public intellectuals". To a very large extent, it involves a lot of very forgettable people scratching each others backs. It may be that Jews excel at such activity though.
9.24.2007 9:47pm
Stash:
Kip Watson:

Let me get this straight: all Jews should accept criticism of Jews in general because of the "the hurt some Jews cause"? So if an individual who happens to be Jewish does you an offense, it's ok to "remonstrate" with Jews as a group? This would revolutionize race and ethnic relations, don't you think? If someone cuts you off in traffic, it is justifiable to issue a condemnation of all of their ethnic brethren? And, when the next convenient member of the group for you to hold responsible comes along, you expect him to meekly accept your criticism of his group as valid, reasoned or justifiable? Do you think I can rightfully blame you, your family and entire community, if I am ever mistreated by one of your religion, race, ethnicity, gender or other category? (Presumably, I get to pick.) And if anyone in your group complains it is unjust that I blame them for someone else's actions, well they are just being superior and pretending they are perfect. Nice world you live in.

Wouldn't it be a fine thing if people were treated as individuals without regard to race, creed or color? Somebody should organize a country on that basis.
9.24.2007 10:31pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
What, has some loony nazi site linked to this post? Comments will be closed shortly, I've had my fill of garbage for the day.
9.24.2007 10:32pm