As a Jewish American, lucky me, apparently I am spared the worst vitriol the religious right/neocons/Old Guard has in its collective stomach. Even Ann Coulter, I think, is purportedly on our side. Moslems and immigrants--oh, recent immigrants, you know, from those darker countries, certainly not my grandparents or yours, this lot is different--they're fair game; and, um, well, gay folk, well, if you lot just weren't so demanding. But anti-semitism--at least, overtly expressed--is RIGHT OUT.
How'd this come about?
Well, duh, the Holocaust; no one wants to see that again. At least, not with the same cast of characters.
And even before that, one could argue, the Jews were by and large among the "good immigrants;" at least there are plenty of less assimilated/more recently arrived/exotic folks to now take their/our place, same (sort of) as happened with the Irish and the Eye-talians.
And, oh, yeah...Israel.
And, well, the Jews, well, they and Christians should be like chocolate and peanut butter, right? I mean: same book (one of them at least); same God; come from the same general region. Same values. Not like those barbaric Moslems, who are certainly not People Of The Book, (hell, they may not be people at all), or monotheists worshipping a desert God; and clearly share nothing at all with the Judeo-Christians.
Here's my deal, before we go any further:
I've never been to Israel. Have no family there. Speak no Hebrew.
And I do not practice Judaism. (and therefore will never get to Carnegie Hall). Only went to synagogue for one year as a sprog. We've been "secular" on both sides of the family for at least three generations.
Which means, by the standards of both a number of more conservative Jews and, curiously enough, of much of the not-at-all-anti-semitic Religious Right, I am a "bad Jew."
Oh. Did you not know that there were two kinds of Jews? Well, there are.
You see, before the creation of Israel, much less the current conflagration involving the U.S. and the War On Terror, the Jews were commonly associated with...well, pretty much the Jewishness I know (and love): Yiddish-speaking immigrants, godless socialists, bleeding-heart, artsy-fartsy, effete intellectual liberals.
(Not to mention good at making money; and, oh, yes, plotting to Take Over The World, Pinky).
And those Jews, see, are still on the shitlist, more or less; it's just we don't call them Jews anymore. We say...o, I don't know, the Cultural Elite. Godless Hollywood. in a pinch, the gays will do nicely as a fill-in; after all, there's a lot in common there (artsy-fartsy, effete, bent on destroying Western Civ and/or taking over the world, Pinky).
At the same time, however: well, see...it goes something like this. We need Israel, for practical and more obscure reasons (more on the latter in a moment). Jews tend to support Israel; therefore, Jews R R Friends. also, we can unite in our emnity of the new Evil Empire (the Moslems); whereas before there was maybe a little too much association of the Jews with the former Evil Empire (Communism).
And, too: well, we all like the Old Testament. It's all full of xenophobia and fiery retribution and laying low of enemies and shit.
Funnily enough, I tend to favor the sandalled guy in the sequel, you know, the one who suggested that maybe we might all try to love our enemies and passionately sided with the underdog; then got nailed up for it (and is apparently associated with the nailing far more than the actual message for a lot of people; such is life).
Finally: everyone loves the whole Chosen People riff. Especially the U.S. right now; we can so relate. Hey, you're special! We're special, too!
So, hey presto: the religious right comes a-wooing, bringing the not-especially religious right in its wake. Nice Jewses. Good Jewses. Hey, we share morals, am I right or am I right? Ethics. Family Values. Love of country. A fondness for bagels. Everyone likes bagels. And God the Father. And Jesu-well, okay, we'll just agree to ignore that one for the time being. And Being Number One. And War. We agree on the need for this, right? ...oh, wait, you don't? well, back on the riffraff Commie-lesbo-witch-America-hating pile with you.
Well, spank my ass and call me Memorex: I'm a bad feminist, a bad lesbian, a bad Jew, and hell knows I'm a bad American.
It's just this little thing, see, where I don't care for bullying the underdog.
Which is, p.s. also part of my Jewish heritage, and as far as I'm concerned the best part.
As for the Religious Right being on "our" side: not buying it. And fewer and fewer people are these days. And for good reason: a temporary exemption from a catalog of bigotries is no basis for a lasting friendship. Particularly when, as it turns out, the exemption has nothing to do with anything but expedience after all.
More on this here:
Why the silence until now? Part of it has to do with Israel. Christian Zionism, inspired by end-times beliefs that make the return of Jews to Israel a precondition for the second coming, has made American evangelicals the world's staunchest backers of Israeli hawks. (Their Jewish allies usually choose to ignore the fact that the Christian Zionist's apocalyptic scenario ends with unsaved Jews being slaughtered and condemned to hell.) But while evangelicals support Israel for their own eschatological reasons, there have been threats, implicit and explicit, that such support might weaken if Jews oppose their domestic agenda too aggressively. Indeed, in response to Foxman's speech, Tom Minnery, vice president of government and public policy at Focus on the Family, told the Forward, "If you keep bullying your friends, pretty soon you won't have any.'"
...Jews in America aren't endangered, but the power of the religious right has clearly reached a point where a great many feel exceedingly nervous. The fear is not of pogroms or outright discrimination; rather, it's of the disappearance of the secular civic culture that allowed Jews to feel like full citizens of America rather than a tolerated minority.
Throughout the last decade, the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish groups had reached a kind of accommodation with the religious right that was based in part on Christian leaders toning down their more theocratic rhetoric. In 1995, Ralph Reed, then the executive director of the Christian Coalition, addressed the ADL and apologetically acknowledged that much of his movement's language alarmed Jews. "This is true not only of the blatant wrongs of a few -- those who claimed that 'God does not hear the prayers of Jews,' those who said that this is a 'Christian nation,' suggesting that others may not be welcome, and those who say that the only prayers uttered in public school should be Christian prayers. It is also true because of the thoughtless lapses of many -- the use of religious-military metaphors, a false and patronizing philo-Semitism, and the belief that being pro-Israel somehow answers for all other insensitivity to Jewish concerns."
Such sensitivity has virtually vanished from today's religious right, replaced with a triumphalist religious nationalism...