BEND THE ARC MARSHALS JEWISH VOTERS TO PRESSURE ERIC CANTOR ON IMMIGRATION REFORM
Jewish voters are ratcheting up the pressure on Majority Leader Eric Cantor to move comprehensive immigration reform [VDARE.com note: a.k.a. amnesty/ Immigration Surge] through the House. On Monday, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice launched a petition calling on Rep. Cantor to bring immigration reform to a vote. The effort, spearheaded by Bend the Arc, is a collaboration of many of the nation’s leading Jewish organizations.
But what is striking is that Jewish immigration enthusiasts have portrayed themselves as motivated entirely by a set of ethical values that are unique and central to Judaism. Thus Bend the Arcproclaims:
We are building a national movement that pursues justice as a core expression of Jewish tradition….Jewish tradition is about liberation and love for humankind. We believe in the dignity and inherent right of all people to live in a just, fair and compassionate society. As Jews immigrated to America, this belief was stowed in their luggage. Throughout American history, courageous Jews have worked with others to hold the nation to its promise, whether in the abolitionist movement, the anti-sweatshop movement, the movement against child labor, the modern labor movement, the civil rights movement or the movement for LGBT inclusion (just to name a few).
Over the past year, Bend the Arc has organized around the issue of immigration, arranging meetings between Jewish leaders and congressional staff, hosting immigration-themed Shabbats, organizing petitions and participating in marches, vigils and town halls to deliver the message that immigration reform is a top priority for Jewish voters. In October, Bend the Arc’s rabbi-in-residence was arrested at a national demonstration for immigration reform alongside members of Congress during an act of civil disobedience on the National Mall.
A similar wall-to-wall Jewish lobbying effort in California is aimed at limiting deportations of illegal aliens. Again, their motives are the purest:
“Is immigration a Jewish issue?” [a California Assemblyman] pressed skeptically.
[Rabbi Larry Raphael of Congregation Sherith Israel] answered, “We believe it is.”
Clearly, from the mainstream Jewish perspective, swamping the historic American nation with peoples from all over the world is nothing less than a moral imperative. The tacit assumption: Jews are ethically superior—motivated by a unique set of specifically Jewish values that make them support displacement-level immigration into Western societies.
Here’s another recent example:
We are compelled to act because we remember our core story: We were strangers in a land that was not our own. The imagery of the Exodus and the Jewish story of immigration and rejection, of landlessness and powerlessness, continues to animate us and guide our consciousness of the fate of others. We have experienced the pain that comes from the separation of families, of closed borders, of inhumane immigration policies. Because Jewish memory is both eternal and inspirational, we believe that we must act to achieve immigration reform. We are proud to bring our own set of values to the forefront as we stand beside our many partners in the Asian, Latino and other faith communities on behalf of the undocumented and to seek justice for immigrants in California and throughout the United States.
Given that these sentiments are so central to the mainstream Jewish community in the US, you would expect that Jews in Israel would welcome immigrants from Africa and elsewhere with open arms.
But of course you would be wrong. African immigrants are mistreated, rounded up, and deported. Even African Jews have been subjected to a variety of indignities, including being given long-acting Depo Provera birth control shots.
Some American Jews are willing to say frankly that their interest is in Israel remaining a Jewish state, which would be compromised by African immigration. An Orthodox rabbi explains:
Rationally, though, we recognize that every nation must place limits on the number of foreigners who wish to reside there. … In a country with approximately six million Jews, and over a million Arabs, the character and culture of the Jewish state will be diluted once a critical mass of non-Jews is allowed to permanently reside there. If the gates are completely open, Israel can be overrun with another million or more foreigners—non-Jews who do not share the values and destiny of the Jewish people, and the Jewish State will begin to evaporate. Obviously, the Torah recognizes limitations on a non-Jews’ right to live in the land of Israel.
Would that analogous sentiments had been permitted in America in 1965, when it was 90% White and a self-consciously Christian, European-derived civilization!
To anyone with even a passing acquaintance with Jewish history, the idea that a unique set of universalist ethical values defines Judaism would be surprising indeed. The traditional self-concept of Diaspora Jews was that the rewards of keeping the faith and obeying religious regulations will be many descendants (“I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore,” [Gen. 22:17]), a return to power, wealth and prosperity in Israel, and the destruction or enslavement of Israel’s enemies.
Rather than a universalist ethic, traditional Jewish ethics made strong distinctions in the morality of actions depending on whether Jews or non-Jews were involved. For example, radio personality Dennis Prager describes the results of asking 10 Talmudic scholars about returning an item acquired as the result of an error by a non-Jew:
Suppose you ordered an electric shaver from a store owned by non-Jews, and by accident the store sent you two shavers. Would you return the second shaver?
Nine said they would not. One said he would.
What is critical to understand is why they answered the way they did. The nine who would not return the second shaver were not crooks. They explained that halachah (Jewish law) forbade them from returning the other shaver. According to halachah, as they had been taught it, a Jew is forbidden to return a lost item to a non-Jew. The only exception is if the non-Jew knows a Jew found the item and not returning it would cause anti-Semitism or a Khilul Hashem (desecration of God’s name). The one who said he would return it gave that very reason — that it would be a Khilul Hashem if he didn’t return it and could be a Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of God’s name) if he did. But he, too, did not believe he was halachically bound to return the shaver.
The nine were not wrong, and they were not taught wrong. That is the halachah. Rambam (Maimonides) ruled that a Jew is permitted to profit from a non-Jew’s business error.
Returning the item because of fear of anti-Semitism is hardly a principled moral position along the lines common among Western philosophers. Thus Immanuel Kant’s “Categorical Imperative” commands that one act only if one would accept such an action as a universal law. But for the Talmudic scholar, including the one who returns the shaver, the Jewish ingroup retains a morally privileged position. This is without parallel in Western philosophy.
In fact, traditional Jewish law had different penalties for a variety of crimes depending on whether or not one was a Jew—not only taking advantage of business errors, but theft, rape, and murder (reviewed in Ch. 6of my A People That Shall Dwell Alone). The Jewish law of slavery was highly elaborated—Jews owned and traded slaves throughout history, until the practice was banned in the 19th century as a result of anti-slavery movements originating in Western societies. But there were very clear differences between the recommended treatment of Jewish and non-Jewish slaves, much to the detriment of the latter. Even proselytes who had converted to Judaism had a lower moral standing than other Jews—a fact that has doubtless weighed heavily with prospective converts in traditional societies.
Sexual intercourse between a married Jewish woman and any man other than her husband is a capital offense for both parties, and one of the three most heinous sins. The status of Gentile women is very different. The Halakhah presumes all Gentiles to be utterly promiscuous and the verse “whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue [of semen] is like the issue of horses”40 is applied to them. Whether a Gentile woman is married or not makes no difference, since as far as Jews are concerned the very concept of matrimony does not apply to Gentiles (“There is no matrimony for a heathen”). Therefore, the concept of adultery also does not apply to intercourse between a Jewish man and a Gentile woman; rather, the Talmud 41 equates such intercourse to the sin of bestiality. (For the same reason, Gentiles are generally presumed not to have certain paternity.)[From Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years (1994)]
Shahak provides several similar instances from the rabbinic literature in which offending words were altered in the interests of political expediency, only to be restored in more recent times in Israel because the rabbis had become confident that they would not result in persecution.
Shahak concludes that the nationalist ethics of Judaism survives in the contemporary world:
Anyone who lives in Israel knows how deep and widespread these attitudes of hatred and cruelty to towards all Gentiles are among the majority of Israeli Jews. Normally these attitudes are disguised from the outside world, but since the establishment of the State of Israel, the 1967 war and the rise of Begin, a significant minority of Jews, both in Israel and abroad, have gradually become more open about such matters.
In recent years the inhuman precepts according to which servitude is the “natural” lot of Gentiles have been publicly quoted in Israel, even on TV, by Jewish farmers exploiting Arab labor, particularly child labor. Gush Emunim leaders have quoted religious precepts which enjoin Jews to oppress Gentiles, as a justification of the attempted assassination of Palestinian mayors and as divine authority for their own plan to expel all the Arabs from Palestine.
Given the ingroup morality of traditional Jewish society, whence this self-image of American Jews that they are following a universalist ethic that commands them to admit tens of millions of non-whites into countries established and (precariously now) dominated politically and culturally by whites?
I mentioned Kant above because the origin of this Jewish self-conception was a reaction to Kant’s writing on Jews. According to Kant, writing in 1793, the Jewish community had excluded
from its communion the entire human race, on the ground that it was a special people chosen by God for Himself—[an exclusiveness] which showed enmity toward all other peoples and which, therefore, evoked the enmity of all
Kant perceived Judaism as a national/ethnic movement with an ideology of eventual political reunification of its dispersed members. He wrote:
Judaism is really not a religion at all but merely a union of a number of people who, since they belonged to a particular stock, formed themselves into a commonwealth under purely political laws, and not into a church; nay, it was intended to be merely an earthly state so that, were it possibly to be dismembered through adverse circumstances, there would still remain to it (as part of its very essence) the political faith in its eventual reestablishment.
(Emphasis in original).
In other words, Kant understood that Jewish ethics were essentially national self-interest rather than anything having to do with ethics as he understood it. And because Kant was so prominent, Jews regarded his views as threatening. Jewish reformers quickly took up the intellectual challenge of remaking the intellectual basis of Judaism in a manner that would appeal to Western intellectuals. As John Murray Cuddihy noted in his Ordeal of Civility:
These Diaspora groups were uninterested in actual history; they were apologists, ideologists, prefabricating a past in order to answer embarrassing questions, to outfit a new identity, and to ground a claim to equal treatment in the modern world. [P. 65]
The result: a new emphasis among these Jewish reformers on purely religious faith as the moral basis of Judaism. Sermons and intellectual defenses of Judaism now focused not on the minutiae of ceremonial law or on the eventual reestablishment of a Jewish political entity, but on ideals of virtuous behavior.
Thus, instead of being the religion of no morality—as Kant defined it—the Reformers sought to present Judaism as the religion most exclusively concerned with morality, and hence most worthy of the future.
Because of the critical importance of morality, there was an attempt to reinterpret passages from Jewish religious writings that represented a doubtful morality—a project which is of continuing interest in the modern world. An influential example: prominent German-Jewish philosopher Moritz Lazarus (1824–1903) who, according to Ismar Schorsch in his Jewish Reactions to German Anti-Semitism, 1870-1914,published
…a classic apologia of Judaism under emancipation, successfully expunging every trace of the particular, the irrational, and the historical from what Lazarus held to be the essential unity of Jewish ethics [P. 73]
(This earned him the condemnation of Orthodoxy). In Lazarus’s reconstruction, the essence of Judaism was its belief in “the oneness of God, the oneness of the world, and the oneness of humanity.” “God acknowledged as One, beside whom there is no other, cannot be national. . . . [This concept of God] so illumined, with its purity and sublimity, the soul of the Jewish people that Israel was fitted to become a ‘light of the nations’.”
This historical revisionism was completely successful. By the middle of the 20th century, Jewish self-conceptions, particularly among Reform Jews and secular Jews, were completely shaped by the self-image of universal moral idealism. For example, in remarks on a 1961 Commentary symposium of “Jewishness and the Younger Intellectuals,” Norman Podhoretz, described the contributors as
Believing (on the basis, it should be emphasized, of an obviously scant acquaintance with the literature and history of Judaism) that the essence of Judaism is the struggle for universal justice and human brotherhood, these young intellectuals assert over and over again that anyone who fights for the Ideal is to that degree more Jewish than a man who merely observes the rituals or merely identifies himself with the Jewish community” (Emphasis added).
“Scant acquaintance with the literature and history of Judaism” indeed!
Call me cynical. But the way I see it is that overtly nationalist ethics are alive and well in Israel, as it rids itself of African migrants and systematically oppresses the Palestinians via ethnic cleansing and apartheid, while in the U.S. and elsewhere in the Western Diaspora the organized Jewish community and most Jewish intellectuals pose as enlightened universalists. (Right now liberal Zionists are tying themselves in knots trying to justify Israel in the face of the pro-Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.)
This tactic is effective because Europeans are peculiarly susceptible to appeals to morality—the flip side of the tendency for Whites to absolutely horrified when labeled a “racist” or “White supremacist” because they oppose immigration or for other contraventions of Political Correctness.
A basic strategy of progressive intellectuals in the Diaspora has been to frame the dispossession of Europeans as a moral imperative because they are quite aware that such rhetoric is the coin of the realm in the West (and nowhere else). For example, New York-based Rabbi Marc Schneier, President of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and Vice-President of the World Jewish Congress, stated in March of 2011
But these activists exempt Israel from a similar moral obligation to efface its ethnic basis as a Jewish state.
But when we get beyond the smokescreen of such hypocritical moral posturing, we should be aware of the real ethnic interests involved: Diaspora Jewish groups in the West see themselves as benefiting from displacement-level immigration because it lessens the power of the White majority. The “lesson of the Holocaust,” as perpetrated by a homogeneous, racially conscious society, looms large. As Leonard Glickman, president and CEO of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society once put it, when asked why his organization was importing Somali Muslims: “The more diverse American society is the safer [Jews] are.”
Disoriented by this constant drumbeat, Western peoples have been defenseless against their own disempowerment. They can only begin to defend their legitimate interests when they challenge the hypocrisy, and historical inaccuracy, of Jewish immigration enthusiast claims to a unique, and imperative, moral vision.