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Why Jews Are Liberal

To give Podheretz a book topic, and, according to Medved, because we reject Christianity

Ari M. Brostoff
September 02, 2009

To help its former editor-in-chief Norman Podhoretz roll out his new book, Why Are Jews Liberals?, Commentary magazine organized a “symposium” of six writers, including Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and a Conservative rabbi, David Wolpe, to offer their takes on the question. (Podhoretz’s answer, in a nutshell, is that for millenia Jews’ greatest allies have been liberal universalists; as Jewish religiosity declined, it was replaced by a semi-religious allegiance to liberalism.) The most interesting contribution comes from conservative talk-show host and movie critic Michael Medved, who writes, “For most American Jews, the core of their Jewish identity isn’t solidarity with Israel; it’s rejection of Christianity.” He offers two convincing hypotheticals: first, a imagined meeting between Woody Allen and a young emissary from the ultra-Orthodox Chabad movement, in which “the one area where they find common ground—and differ (together) from the majority of their fellow citizens—is their dismissal of New Testament theology.” And, second, the fact that while “atheist Jews, Buddhist Jews, pro-Palestinian Jews, Communist Jews, homosexual Jews” are accepted by left-leaning Jewish congregations, Jews for Jesus are decidedly not. Medved concludes that “the liberal belief that Jews should be pro-choice and pro-gay marriage has nothing to do with connecting to Jewish tradition and everything to do with disassociating from Christian conservatives.”

Ari M. Brostoff is Culture Editor at Jewish Currents.