Monday, March 7, 2011

Catholics counted, Protestants counted but not Jews?

Today in the New York Times there was an article that broke down the membership of the U.S. House and Senate into demographic groups...the number of men and women, age groups, etc.

What struck me was that in the "religion" category only Catholics and Protestants were mentioned, not Jews (there is only one Muslim, so that omission is understandable). As a result, 47 of the members of the House/Senate were missing in the religion tally.

This was too much for me. The Jewish members of the House and Senate are uniformly cheerleaders for Israel with absolutely no countering presence. I wrote the following comment on the article to the NYT. No other comments mentioned this omission.
There is a glaring oversight (in this article) - 47 members are unaccounted for in the tally for religion and Jews are not mentioned. Why is the change in Protestants and Catholics of interest but not of Jews? In light of the fact that Israeli settlements and that country's flouting of international law and the actions of the UN is front and center as a cause of the isolation of our country in the world and an incitement to attacks against us - and that the loudest voices for Israel in Congress are Jewish (Lieberman, Kantor, Schumer, Harman, etc.) Judaism should certainly be listed as a religion because it would be interesting as an indication of change in the strength of the Israel lobby. Can anyone name a single Jewish member of Congress who is not a supporter of Israel? The only Jewish candidate that fits that description, as far as I know, was Marcy Winograd who was defeated by Jane Harman. Since there is only one Muslim in Congress, it's understandable that that religion is not mentioned.

The foregoing is doubly important in that a House investigation of Muslim extremism is about to begin where there is but one Muslim in Congress to temper an examination by Congressmen and women who have shown themselves not just indifferent, but hostile to the Palestinians, giving approval to any and all actions of the Israeli government. Congress has yet to have even the most cursory investigation of the power of Israel to direct U.S. foreign policy regarding that country and its neighbors. Even the attack on the USS Liberty was hushed up. I, for one, want my Congress back from the Israel lobby. It's something all Americans should desire.
My comment has not been published.


  1. I've been following your blog for quite some time and generally agree with it. But while I agree with you that omitting Judaism and Islam from the article is strange and glaring, I think you're starting to expouse views that run dangerously close to antisemitism. I am a Jew who does not support the Occupation and many other actions of Israel, and so would never assume that if there are Jewish members of Congress, they are lockstep with Israel. Many, if not most, are. But so are most Congressmen in general-name one evangelical in Congress who is not reflexively supportive of Israel's actions, including the settlements?

    So while I agree with you about the amen choir in Congress for Israel, it is hardly stratified by religion, and I don't think it is fair to suggest that Jewish congressmen and congresswomen are somehow more prone to tolerating the occupation than are others. They are more likely to tolerate the occupation simply by virtue of being, well, in Congress.

  2. Anon: The purpose of the NYT article was to break down Congress into groups. Why if not to let readers understand how Congress behaves based on the voting behavior of those groups over time? The fact that there is lock-step support for Israel in Congress is in no small way created by fear of being labeled anti-Semitic if one doesn't do so and suffering the electoral consequences from the withdrawal of wealthy donors. Abe Foxman and the ADL, let alone AIPAC, have made a profession of doing this name calling.

    Support for Israel started with and has always been promoted by Zionist Jews under the protection of the fear of being labeled an anti-Semite. Americans cower before the potential label to this day.

    You have all but put the label on me just now, though all I have said is the truth - that Jews in Congress uniformly support Israel, are it's cheerleaders and that they are not enumerated in an article that claims to break down Congress by demographic. Being Jews they are protected from the anti-Semite label so we can say that they alone vote freely on the subject of Israel in that regard.

    No U.S. publication, not the NYT, will ever publish an article on Congressional voting for Israel, lobbying money for Israel or anything close to it. Even here, on this lonesome blog, you're out to restrain little me!

    We are told how many Catholics are in Congress - yet how can we characterize their votes? How about Protestants? Yet for the one group whose votes are definitely biased in one direction and not for an American issue but for the interests of a foreign country as defined by that country's government, we may not know about their numbers?

    Every country in the world is now, regarding Israel, calling a spade a spade, calling a law breaking apartheid state just that. The only country that doesn't is supposedly the freest country in the world for the right to speak out. I credit Zionist Jews for the effective suppression of that freedom and if there are non-Zionist Jews in Congress, please let me know!

  3. "Catholic" and "Protestant" are ostensive religious affiliations. "Jew" is a racial or familial affiliation which MAY be a religious affiliation as well. I suspect that the Times didn't know how to parce the matter in a politically correct fashion, so dodged through silence.

    I believe I have an idea of why your responses and postings are so aggressive. Yet do you think that those Israeli rights ogranizations to which you dedicate your blog would approach your near use of "Zionist entity"? I expect the Israeli State to get even worse, at least for awhile. But I doubt that a clear party line as to who everyone essentially is will advance matters toward a new direction. Your last sentence in reply to the first comment essentially categorically asserts Zionism is all of one thing. I don't think it ever was. You equate present Israeli State policy with all of whatever Zionism is. Who, then, shall I find as ally in Israel against that policy? Those in the Israeli Courts will not condemn Zionism total. Perhaps you wait for Israel to implode; I think that will not work. greg

  4. Greg - one of the goals of Zionism was to make Judiasm appear racial rather than as the religion that it has always been. By doing so, return to a ficticious place of common racial origin could be put over. A mythological homeland was produced that would justify any and all Jews claiming the land of evicted Palestinians.

    Early Zionists, notably Ben Gurion, admitted that the Palestinians they were displacing were likely closer relatives to the ancient people of Palestine than were the European Jews. Israeli geneticists have studied this as I mentioned on my blog with a video and there are some Palestinian Jews. The link is...

    Though that goal of racialization was put over, it has no historical basis. This isn't surprising because Judaism spread by conversions around the Mediterranean and into Mesopotamia in the period from 300BC to 100AD before Christian conversions surpassed it and began to suppress/oppress it, so many people who had no connection to Palestine became Jews.

    As far as there being varieties of Zionism, that's quite true, but the great majority of Zionists were not of the Judah Magnes type who could live with the Arabs. Noam Chomsky lived on a kibbutz in his youth that was of one of the accommodating varieties of Zionism. He estimates these were at best 30% of Zionists in their heyday - which is long gone.

    There were Jews resident in early 20th century Palestine that opposed Zionism for fear of what it would (and did) bring - the alientation of the Palestinian Arabs. Modern Israel is more extreme than ever in rejecting all but Jews.

    I support the Israeli human rights groups because they are doing the right thing - made up of Jews who would be doing the right thing wherever they were. As such, they do not support their government but defy it - attempting to undo the awful things it does to the extent they can. In this way they represent a Zionism that is not exclusivist but they are a small minority in their country, hounded for what they do by their state and even called traitorous - accused of taking money from foreign sources while the state of Israel (through subsidies), the United States (by way of tax-deductible contributions to settlements) and American citizens fund the settlers - a group who are nothing if not racist.

    My concern on this blog is to distance my country from Israel, the Jew-as-militant- evictor state that it is and was planned to be by those who drove the effort to form the state. It is a Zionist entity and a human rights disaster that stands as a colony that forced its way into a place where Jews were already allowed to live in peace, to evict and erase all evidence of the indigenous people - a significant human rights disaster of the 20th century that continues today.

    I am not trying to sway Zionists, whether American or not, but Americans who are indifferent to Israel and are unaware of the great power, the stranglehold, it exerts over our foreign policy in the region. My concern is not the future of or security of Israel but the future of and security of the United States.

    I think the only hope for Israel is that it become a state that is not for Jews only. That may well be a future impossible for those who live there to conceive - but Israelis have put themselves in the position they are in today - a country based on aggression and dispossession that expects to be seen as a victim but that has caused and causes monumental suffering to all but it's citizenry, and - if Arab - even to that part of it.

  5. Obviously there are those who consider themselves Jewish but not religious. I have Sand's book too. But that work will not change the fact that some call themselves racially Jewish but not of Judaism. You cannot force the word "Jew" to mean something different to meet your world view (well, you can, but others will not go there). Since it is quite likely that those making the list which bothers you not only adhere to that mistake, but do not even know they have been duped by early Zionism, that "Jew" is not listed in the breakdown is not surprising. In fact, if may well be that one saying she is racially Jewish may be able to be elected to Congress without direct admission of faith in the Jeudao-Chirstian God (forigive my spelling, it is late and I am lazy), while just about every other member of Congress has to list some sort of generic faith. So, by your own historical analysis, you should not expect inclusion of "Jewish" or "Jew" in the NYT breakdown.

    Chris, you are way more productive than I. But I often feel, reading your pieces, that I am reading some sort of Marxist transmuted to an anti-Zionist. Everything is due to Zionism, early or now. You once said that post WWII Zionists worked to force other migration points beside Israel off the migrant's radar. Everywhere Zionists control. There is indeed a lot of pure ideological control, certainly in Israel at the moment. But there is more than that.

    I think the absolute categories you employ bleed reality; and I think they ultimately harm the target of your passion.

    I am an admirer. I have learned many things from your posts. But I feel there is no room for difference. And that I truly do believe will ultimately harm the already so harmed Palestinians. greg again.

  6. Greg - whatever a person may call him or herself, whether a Jew who practices the religion or a "racial" Jew, would any deny a relationship to the Judaic religion either at present or through forebears? The Jewish religion is what ties Jews together as a group, whether they practice that religion or not.

    This doesn't mean that one is inherently a Jew because one's forbears were Jews. Jews, like Christians, or those of any other faith, are free to leave their religion behind. Ironically, it was the Nazis who defined Jews as racial and went all-out to define the physical characteristics of "the Jew" in order to exterminate them. Now we have "who is a Jew" being used to say who can be an Israeli - which has led to some real absurdities.

    You say my categories are "absolute". It is Israel that makes the absolute definition of Jew vs non-Jew and does all it can to make concrete the "us versus them" idea. I've lost my own sister to this idea. She's a convert and is so dedicated to her Judaism as signified by Israel that I don't recognize the free-thinking person I grew up with. I asked her to go with me to a meeting of Jews and Arabs, just to meet an Arab, a class of people seen with pure hatred. She refused to go because she knew all about "people who think only they know the truth" She once told me that it was her desire to "make more Jews". That's crazy talk. How about having children as human beings? No one should want the power to determine what their children will be before they are born, yet how many do!

    I don't deny I am anti-Zionist in that I oppose the idea that Jews have an exclusive right to Palestine. They should not be excluded either, and they weren't. If the variant of Zionism that was inclusive had taken off and prevailed with Jews and Arabs living together as equals in Palestine, I would not be anti-Zionist.

    It is the absolutism that has taken over the foreign policy of my country and turned it into an amen chorus for the acts of a tiny extremist nation on the other side of the world that I oppose.

    Norman Finkelstein said something in the movie "Defamation" that I thought was brilliant. I forget the exact wording but it was close to - "Zionism has taken anti-Semitism and used it to wrap the club with which it beats the Palestinians"

    If you haven't seen "Defamation", made by an Israeli, please do.

    Jews may be tormented in how to deal with Israel. Non-Jews should not be. Zionism is an attempt to take a disparate group, mix in a heavy dose of Holocaust, and make it into a tribe with a territory in order to justify the unjustifiable: taking a land for the manufactured tribe and kicking out the very folks who had been living there for centuries. The entire world with the exception of the United States sees this.

    A gentle reminder - it's Clif, not Chris :)

  7. A couple of points:

    1. Judaism is a religion, and a culture (for atheists and reconstructionists like me, it's a culture). Not a race. Never has been, never will be. Anyone can become a Jew by choice, and non-belief in god or the lack of any particular religious practices do not make anyone less of a Jew. We have Jews of African descent, Jews who are Asian, Jews who are white, Jews from the subcontinent of India, etc, just as there are Muslims from every region and of every race. No one would define Islam as a race, nor should anyone define Judaism as a race.

    2. Sand's book is certainly worth reading and has much to commend it. But there is absolutely no genetic support whatsoever for the theory, now discredited and relegated to antisemitic/white power circles, that Jews are descendents of the Khazars.

    3. Congress is, overall, pro-Israel. That's been the reality for many, many years, and is not simply a consequence of having Jewish members of Congress. Most folks in Congress are not Jewish-there is only one Republican in the House who is Jewish, for example (Eric Cantor-he's an embarrasment to all of us Jewish folk). The reality is that with few exceptions, evangelicals and other religious Christians are very pro-Israel and anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian in particular. It's actually not so much that most of them love the Jews-they don't. It has more to do with their own fundamentalist Christian beliefs in which Israel must exist and displace Palestinians in order for Jesus to return. There is a very weird alliance between the evangelicals and Israel. Neither side truly trusts the other, I think, but it's a marriage of convenience and they've embraced one another.

    4. There is a diversity of opinions and beliefs among Jews like me, vis a vis Israel. Many of us do criticize Israel and do not support its actions. We don't want to see it go out of existence any more than we would want France, Egypt or S. Korea to cease to exist. But is Israel deeply meaningful to us? Probably not. Certainly not for me. We want coexistence and equal rights for all citizens of Israel, an end of the occupation and freedom/self-determination for our Palestinian brethren.

    5. Which brings up another important point, and I say this as someone who has been heavily and consistently critical of Israel's actions for several decades: stating or implying that European Jews have no relation to Israel, and therefore no right to live there, is a racial (and racist) statement, in that Jews are not a race. It's very convenient to claim that most Jews are descended from Khazars since that nullifies the racial claims to being in Israel.

    But again, Judaism is not a race, and few if any living Jews have any relationship to the Khazars any more than to the Cajuns of Louisiana.

    Under the British Mandate, Jews, Christians and Muslims had every right to live under British Mandate rule. And indeed, even under the Ottomans, there largely was peaceful coexistence. As the diaspora increased to Palestine, Palestinian Muslims and Christians did feel threatened, culminating in the Hebron Massacre of 1929 and the massacres of 1936. Violence is never justified, and these are all tragedies. All the more reason why coexistence is the only rational solution, even if it requires two states.

    6. Finally, Israel is not a paradise for non-Orthodox Jews, either. Ben-Gurion made a huge mistake by permitting the Orthodox to control many state matters. Israel went from a socialist state to a near-theocracy and is now close to fascism. Jews who are not Orthodox feel threatened and discriminated against, as do many non-Jews or people who claim to be Jewish but are not considered Jewish under very strict Orthodox law. It's the religion, more than Zionism, that has really messed up Israel internally.

  8. Actually, this is kind of good Clif (not Chris--don't know why I keep doing that). Real discussion here.

    It is hard to become a Hopi if not descended from a Hopi (although there is adoption). It is rather hard to become a Jew if not descended from a Jew (although it can be done, albeit perhaps not recognized everywhere, say, in Israel). The Law of Return uses family history to define eligability. Germans do so too; as to Russians and several of the independent post Cold War countries. Cultural practice is usually a difficult world to enter. One can side-step race (but I believe Ethiopian Jews (as a group) share a genetic marker with other Jewish sub-groups?), but some such barrior will still be present. I doubt many recognize conversion to Jewish culture absent religion as admissible. But those pointing to a family history once religious are Jewish absent present faith. So the category "Jew" is usualy biological, yet not necessarily religious. Which means the NYT was right to exclude the category--although they may have had none of this in mind.

    Clif, thank you for backgrounding some of your passion. Your passion and work is important and I am grateful for the comments made herein. And I think I understand your frustration, somewhat.

    With David, I think a recursion to religion to police Zionism to be a terrible mistake. With Clif, I think that a pluralistic Israel incorperating its Arab citizens is difficult at best. I have given up on an outside solution to Palestine (so Obama's veto). A solution must begin in both Israel and the imprisoned lands. If I go so far as Clif in my rehtoric (I cannot spell and at the moment am not looking up words), I know I can suggest nothing in Israel proper. Some Palestinians might cheer me, but I see this stance as just perpetuating the frozen conflict. Of course, nothing I say matters. But I can pretend otherwise, so I pretend I offer thought somehow linked to the culutre of Israel, even if those links are presently struggling for survival. I have said elsewhere that I think Israeli law must move to change the Israeli Arab citizen's status before a greater solution can be found. I've reached this view through frustration and horror.

    But I do not think Clif an anti-Semetic. I do not think he should be silenced for what he champions. I just think that, within Israel, he will have no hearing. (which is not to say I will ever have a hearing; I don't know why I care so much about Israel/Palestine. It seems to have made me a fool in many eyes.)

    Somehow, all this talk of Jew as race or religion and culture seems to avoid the terrible risks which must be made to stop the perpetual suffering which is Gaza, and the fear within Israel, to name only two.

    When Gary Adams of the Sinn Fein (sp!) was asked to condemn violence by the "Real IRA" he said he would not. "If I do so," he said, " they won't talk to me--and then where would we all be?" Although a nothing, I feel like that. If I condemn Zionism now, they won't "talk" to me. Of course, they won't anyhow. Foolish to have opinions.

    Glad to see some comments here.

  9. Greg, your comments, and those of others, are always appreciated.

    Regarding race - to create a tribe all it takes is a definition of us and them. The most absurd example are the white supremicists of the old South who were out to preserve the purity of white womanhood. Now you couldn't find a more heterogeneous group than "white" people, let alone talk of some kind of "purity" genetically, yet there are still those who think of "the white race". Jews, while they may in Europe have held themselves apart and/or be shunned for centuries, are "while people" and there is certainly prejudice in Israel against "black people" who are Jews. There are rabbis in Israel calling for the protection of Jewish women from Arab men - Semites one and all!

    To the issue of presenting something palatable to Israelis - does power ever yield willingly? I'm way past trying to reason with and appeal to folks who elect a government of expansionists that use "peace" as a shield for continuing theft.

    I aim for withdrawal of US support for the Israeli government, which would wilt like a plant without water if this came to pass. A case could be made that my goal is just as impossible as reasoning with the Israeli government, but I am an American so at least I can exert pressure as a stakeholder here. After all, it's my money that's going to Israel and I have a right to petition my government for redress of greivances.

  10. You may have misconstrued me. I do not give up "talking" to Israel because of people like Elik Elhanan.

    If we were all alike, there would be only one way to do things, so nothing, finally, to do.