Lieberman

ÁÎ×Ó¹â Henry C.K.Liu ¹ù¤l¥ú hliu at SPAMmindspring.com
Mon Aug 7 22:19:09 MDT 2000


                 article
                 Bad for the Jews, Bad for the Country
                 Joseph Lieberman has strayed from the best
                 aspects of Jewish tradition

                 By Michael Lerner


                 Among the candidates considered by Al Gore for the
                 vice-presidential nomination, Joseph Lieberman was
                 the most politically conservative. While Bush
                 supporters are claiming that Lieberman's voting record
                 shows a man closer to Bush than to Gore, and may be
                 lamenting the political capital Gore may thereby
                 accumulate with conservative voters, the rest of us
have
                 a deeper concern. Joseph Lieberman is likely to
                 accelerate the process in which the two major parties
                 seem to be merging into one pro-business,
                 pro-wealthy, elitist, and morally tone-deaf governing
                 force.

                 Joseph Lieberman will also give greater prominence to
                 the tendency in the Jewish world to subordinate values
                 and spiritual goals to self-interest and material
                 success. All the more ironic, then, that the media is
                 responding to his nomination by talking about his
                 willingness to critique Clinton on moral grounds or his

                 Orthodoxy as proof of having a spiritual center.

                 In short, Lieberman's nomination is bad for the country

                 and bad for the Jews.

                 Lieberman joined with Bill Clinton and Al Gore to
create
                 the Democratic Leadership Council precisely to
                 transform the Democratic Party from its previous New
                 Deal roots as the champion of working people,
                 minorities, and the poor to a party that would cater to

                 the needs of Wall Street and to the upper middle class.

                 And they've done a great job. With Democrats on
                 board, the gap between rich and poor has accelerated
                 in the Clinton/Gore years, environmental protections
                 have eroded when they conflicted with corporate
                 interests, and instead of using the end of the Cold War

                 to dramatically reduce the defense budget and redirect
                 spending to rectify the history of inequality and
provide
                 basic social services, health care, and education,
                 defense spending has been treated as sacrosanct, and
                 savings were found by eliminating welfare.

                 There were those who argued that all this was Clinton's

                 doing, and that Gore in his heart was a more
                 progressive and caring person who had to hide his true
                 feelings in order to remain in Clinton's good graces.
In
                 selecting Joseph Lieberman, Gore has unwittingly
                 given great impetus to the Naderites and others who
                 argue that the trajectory of American politics is to
                 reduce even more the differences between the two
                 major parties. Before the American people have a
                 chance to register their desires, the party supposed to

                 be representing the only chance to restrict corporate
                 irresponsibility has already made its lunge to the
right.

                 One reason why that's not good for the country is that
                 the elimination of real debate on fundamentals leads
                 many people to give up on the public sphere, refusing
                 to vote, turning away from the news, and generally
being
                 cynical about participation in any aspect of democratic

                 life.

                 It's also not good for the Jews.

                 American Jews are among the most liberal voters in
                 America, more consistently supporting a progressive
                 agenda than any other voting bloc. There's an important

                 reason for this--the Torah tradition has a strong
                 commitment to social-justice values and to caring for
                 "the other." Jews who became secular in America
                 carried those values with them, and they became the
                 backbone of the labor movement, the anti-war
                 movement, the women's movement, and other
                 progressive social-change movements of the past
                 hundred years.

                 But in the past 50 years, a strong conservative voice
                 has emerged in the Jewish world that has had a very
                 different agenda. Forged by the new possibilities of
                 "making it" in America, these more conservative Jewish
                 voices have insisted that the best interests of the
                 Jewish people lie in identifying with America's elites
of
                 wealth and power, finding a place within those elites,
                 and, just in case that didn't work out, building a
                 militarily strong Israel to which we might escape
should
                 the (in the conservative view) ever-present danger of
                 anti-Semitism reappear here. Cuddling up to the
                 powerful meant subordinating social justice and joining

                 in the celebration of the globalization of capital and
the
                 triumph of the ethos of selfishness and materialism.

                 These same conservatives sought to build American
                 ties to Israel on a new basis--no longer as the
                 exemplar of democratic and human rights values that
                 had been the view of many liberal Jews, but rather as
                 the strong military ally of the U.S., which could fight

                 against communist and post-communist threats to U.S.
                 interests. From their standpoint, the documentation of
                 Israeli torture of Palestinians, the denial of human
                 rights, and the oppression of another people were all
                 irrelevant and uninteresting. Jewish self-interest,
from
                 their standpoint, had nothing to do with the triumph of
a
                 moral or spiritual reality, either in the U.S. or in
Israel.
                 So while most American Jews were critical of Israeli
                 policy toward Palestinians, these conservatives gave
                 knee-jerk support to whatever government the Israelis
                 produced (and to be fair, I sat next to Hadassah
                 Lieberman at the signing of the Oslo Accords at the
                 White House, and she was as willing to support this as
                 she and her husband had been to support previous
                 hawkish Israeli governments).

                 The sad truth is that Lieberman represents the
                 tendency within the Jewish world to abandon the moral
                 and spiritual vision that led generations of Jews to be

                 the moral conscience of our society. Rather than
                 championing dramatic escalations in spending for
                 social purposes, and to end poverty and oppression, he
                 will champion defense spending. Rather than critiquing
                 Israeli policy and attempting to push Israel toward
more
                 significant compromises with the Palestinians, he will
                 exhibit the kind of contempt for the needs of the
                 Palestinian people that is already over-represented by
                 Gore's top adviser Martin Peretz (editor of The New
                 Republic, and one of the most consistently
                 anti-Palestinian voices in American politics).

Full Article:
http://www.beliefnet.com/frameset.asp?pageLoc=/story/36/story_3613_1.html&boardID=4262






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