[Marxism] Haaretz: 'Why Jewish Conservatives Fear Donald Trump'

Paul Flewers trusscott.foundation at blueyonder.co.uk
Sat Aug 20 14:48:57 MDT 2016


I received the article below via Moshé Machover, it's behind the Haaretz
pay-wall. An exchange between Moshé and I follows on from it.

Paul F

* * *

Peter Beinart, 'Why Jewish Conservatives Fear Donald Trump: Because he
represents a brand of nationalism that doesn’t really include them'

George Will once wrote that Barry Goldwater actually won the 1964 presidential
election. It just “took 16 years” — until the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980
— “to count the votes.” It’s time to update that line. Pat Buchanan actually won
the Republican nomination in 1996. It just took 20 years — until the nomination
of Donald Trump — to count the votes.

Although it’s been largely forgotten, the early 1990s were a period of
intellectual crisis inside the GOP. For much of the 20th century, conservatives
had urged “the West” to resist Soviet communism. But when Soviet communism
collapsed, two different groups of conservatives realized that they meant two
different things by “the West.” The party’s “neoconservative” intellectuals —
many of them Jews — defined the West ideologically: as the bastion of democratic
capitalism. Buchanan, by contrast, along with many rank and file conservatives,
defined the West ethnically: as the bastion of white Christianity.

These two different interpretations led to radically different foreign policies.
The “neocons” wanted take advantage of the USSR’s collapse to spread democracy
and free markets, if necessary by force. The Buchananites, quoting John Quincy
Adams, wondered why Americans should go overseas “in search of monsters to
destroy.” And they wondered whether global capitalism really benefitted ordinary
Americans anyway. The neocons defended the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA); the Buchananites denounced it. Neocons like William Kristol and Robert
Kagan urged the United States to take up arms to defend Bosnia and Kosovo
against Serbian aggression. The Buchananites asked why, exactly, the United
States should wage war for Muslims fighting Christians.

The divide culminated in 1996, when Buchanan won the New Hampshire primary. GOP
elites, he gleefully declared, “are in a terminal panic. They hear the shouts of
the peasants from over the hill. All the knights and barons will be riding into
the castle pulling up the drawbridge in a minute. All the peasants are coming
with pitchforks.” The knights and barons counterattacked, and managed to
nominate Bob Dole. Then, in the years that followed, Republicans papered over
their differences. They united in an attempt to impeach Bill Clinton. They
united in vengeance after the September 11 attacks. They united to oppose Barack
Obama.  

But below the surface, the balance inside the party shifted. After 2000, wages
stagnated, which led more Republicans to doubt the benefits of global trade. The
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan became quagmires, which led more Republicans to
doubt the benefits of foreign war. And Barack Obama’s election induced a panic
about America’s changing demographic character. All these factors strengthened
the Buchananites, even as Buchanan himself faded into obscurity.

Which brings us to Trump and the Jews. Name the conservative movement’s most
passionate Trump opponents, and you’ll notice that Jews — Bill Kristol, David
Brooks, David Frum, Robert Kagan, Jonah Goldberg, Max Boot, Bret Stephens, Dan
Senor, Jennifer Rubin — are heavily overrepresented. The primary reason is that
most Jewish conservatives find Trump’s brand of nationalism alarming. Trump
doesn’t see the “West” as worth defending on ideological grounds. Like Buchanan,
he thinks America’s key allies rip us off. He can’t see any reason why America
should spend money and risk lives defending the Baltic States — just because
they’re democracies — against Russia. For Trump, like Buchanan, the West matters
only as a religious and racial entity. Muslim immigration, Trump claims, is
“destroying Europe” and “I’m not going to let that happen to the United States.”
Jewish conservatives want to expand the West’s frontiers in the name of
prosperity, security and freedom. Trump, by contrast, wants the West to close
its doors to keep the Muslim hordes out. 

Jewish conservatives don’t only find this frightening because they fear what may
happen overseas if the U.S. withdraws. They also fear what may happen at home.
For many American Jews, the isolationism of the 1930s connotes anti-Semitism. It
evokes figures like Charles Lindbergh, Joseph Kennedy Sr. and Father Coughlin,
all of whom used Jew-hatred to justify appeasing Hitler. Trump, by resurrecting
the slogan of Lindbergh’s America First Committee, which opposed U.S. entry into
World War II, plays into those fears. It’s no coincidence that the Wall Street
Journal’s Bret Stephens recently warned that, “Donald Trump presidency raises a
new kind of version of conservatism which more closely resembles a kind of
Father Coughlin, America First populism and nativism and isolationism.”

Stephens is right to worry. Like anti-Semites of old, some Trump supporters see
Jews as cosmopolitans, people who would rob their nation of its authentic
character. That’s why Ann Coulter, who helped inspire Trump’s agenda, takes so
many anti-Jewish potshots. She wants to stop immigration so America can preserve
its northern European racial stock. And she knows that many of her most
formidable opponents inside the GOP are Jews.

For Jewish conservatives, the good news is that Trump will likely lose. The bad
news is that his success bespeaks a shift that will outlive his campaign. The
Republican base has grown more anti-intellectual, more anti-immigrant, more
anti-cosmopolitan and more contemptuous of the conservative elite in which Jews
play an important role. 

Jewish conservatives yearn for a party that reflects their own interests and
identity: a party that is hawkish on foreign policy, libertarian on economics
and defined by ideology, not ethnicity. Pat Buchanan tried to kill that
Republican Party in 1996. Maybe it spent the last 20 years dying from its
wounds.

* * *

I replied to Moshé: 'A fascinating if depressing article, I've been thinking
along these lines for some time, that the reassertion of the nation-state and
other aspects of conservatism in reaction to neo-liberal globalisation will
encourage anti-Semitism. For unscrupulous people, the old cliché of the
'cosmopolitan Jew' will be too tempting not to overlook in their campaigns. The
bogey of 'dual loyalty' will be thrown at neo-cons. Perhaps some of those
accusing the left of anti-Semitism might wise up a bit.'

He replied to me: 'While the reemergence of old-fashioned nationalist
conservatism seems likely -- in fact, it is actually beginning -- the revival of
anti-Semitism is much less so. The latter is too discredited and unpopular. It
is now confined to the backwoods. Islamophobia is a much more likely ideological
diversion.'

To which I replied: 'I agree that hostility towards Muslims is far more
widespread today than anti-Semitism -- indeed, I'd go so far to say that it's
become the predominant prejudice in many parts of the world. Nonetheless, I
think that anti-Semitism is not finished and could well come out of the
backwoods to some degree, not least on the grounds that it is a peculiar racial
prejudice that is predicated upon Jews supposedly being superior to the rest of
humanity in some respects (the idea that they can actually be successful in the
quest for world superiority), and this could well key in with the popularity of
conspiracy theories that see small groups of secretive powerful people
manipulating everyone else. Much depends upon how the conservative revival goes;
most modern European hard-rightists eschew (at least in words) anti-Semitism. I
believe that this is because they know it's far less acceptable a prejudice than
other sorts, and there's more to be gained by mobilising against Muslims. But I
still feel that it's there in the background and we should be ready for it
should elements on the right start pushing it again.'

* * *




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