In The Wall Street Journal, Norman Podhoretz explains why Jews are overwhelmingly liberal.
Why are Jews so often Liberal?

Why American Jews tend to be Liberal

by Jonathan Bernis
Phoenix, Arizona

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"The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern" - Proverbs 29:7

Rabbi Jonathan Bernis
Jonathan Bernis

The kingdom of priests and an holy nation

The predilection of American Jews to embrace liberalism both vexes and perplexes. We want our modern Chosen People to exemplify "the kingdom of priests and holy nation." God called them to do just that, yet we often find the majority of American Jews on the frontline of liberal social issues that compromise biblical morality. Why? Let's take a look.

Not all American Jews are liberal. Approximately ten percent of the American Jewish community is Orthodox - meaning they believe the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy) to be the Word of God. Many have a vibrant faith and believe prayer touches the heart of God. Generally speaking, the Orthodox and a small percentage of Conservative Jews hold to conservative values and biblical morality.

On the other hand, most American Jews are aligned with Reform or Conservative Judaism, while holding liberal views. While traditionally not Torah observant, many of the values and ethics that quicken the liberal heart surprisingly spring from a biblical heritage and social consciousness. There are countless Scriptures expressing God's commandments to defend, secure justice for, provide for, remember, deliver, and answer the cries of the poor. This has become ingrained in the Jewish mindset from time immemorial.

Love your neighbour, Care for the poor, Establish justice

Judeo-Christian ethics have deeply impacted the Western world as well, the essence of which is based on the Torah. Into a barbaric world the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob introduced elemental concepts of civilization: "love your neighbor," "care for the poor," establish justice."

One of the most famous Jewish Rabbis, Simeon ben Gamaliel, who taught Paul the apostle, said: "The world rests on three things: justice, truth, and peace." (Pirkei Avot 1:18). This exemplifies the Jewish worldview.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, Israel is exhorted to walk in righteousness before God. What is righteousness? In Hebraic understanding, righteousness, or tzedekah, is kindness to the needy, charity, compassion for the suffering, and bringing peace and justice to the world -- called tikkun olam - healing the world.

Liberalism's Blind Spot (Torah morality)

Socially conscious commandments are not difficult even for the least religious. Contemporary Jews keenly identify with the underdog, borne of their own suffering throughout history. It is perplexing, however, that the American Jewish community supports abortion and gay rights, a seeming contradiction, considering the Torah establishes very clear moral commandments, instruction and exhortation. It demonstrates that most Jewish People no longer feel bound to the literal interpretation of scripture and in most cases have no tie to their scriptures whatsoever. The only issues of concern are the preservation of the Jewish People and furthering the causes of social justice.

The Hebraic heritage subconsciously inspires most Jewish People to "do good." And, indeed, the Jewish People have blessed the world in multitudinous ways. Far disproportionate for their small numbers, the Jewish People have been world leaders in major scientific and medical research and development breakthroughs, have founded medical relief societies, world class hospitals, human rights organizations, and are often among the first on site offering aid when a natural disaster hits a third world country. However, all that is "good" by the world standard's is not necessarily "good" by God's standards. Apart from God, we lack the discernment to know the difference. When mankind fell, sin blinded us to spiritual truth. Scripture says that every inclination and thought of man's heart is only evil.

Agendas in direct opposition to the Word of God

In Luke 4:18 Yeshua (Jesus) quoted a passage from Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners." (Isaiah 61:1, read by Jews every Yom Kippur). Today, portions of that verse have been used in campaigns for various social agendas from same-sex marriage to abortion - agendas in direct opposition to God's Word. The people promoting these agendas are by and large motivated by a sincere desire to do good and help their fellow man. But they are sincerely wrong - they have missed the heart of God, as does the Jewish Community so often when moved by passion for man, but not for God.

God does care deeply for the poor, the oppressed, and the brokenhearted ... for justice, mercy, and charity. The Scriptures overflow with His compassion and concern for the widow, the orphan, and the impoverished. It's easy to see a biblical impetus for Jewish involvement in liberal social programs and passion for human rights.

So how can one know what God's will is regarding how we fulfill His commandments? Paul gave us a trustworthy formula: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Heinrich Heine wrote that "Moses was such a Socialist, though as a practical man he only sought to remodel existing institutions .... instead of hotheadedly decreeing the abolition of property, Moses only strove for its moral reform." [Moses]

Norman Podhoeretz - why are Jews Liberal?

In the presidential election, 78% of Jewish votes went for Obama.

It is mostly Orthodox Jews, or committed religious Jews, who have shown sympathy for Republicans.
See Rabbi Daniel Lapin

Peace through strength - the Israeli dilemma.
See Support for Israel is essential

Obama button in Hebrew
Hebrew campaign buttons for Barack Obama

Positively Maladjusted: Martin Luther King used this text (Romans 12:2) for his sermon "Transformed Non-Conformists." King said, "This hour in history needs a dedicated circle of transformed non-comformists ...The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority."

Peace For Israel

Martin Luther King, Jr. said: "Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality."

The Jew lends himself easily to Communism because it enables him to devote himself to a high cause, involving all of humanity, characteristics which are natural to him as a Jew.

Edmund Wilson - U.S. literary critic and author

We owe to the Jews a system of ethics which, even if it were entirely separated from the supernatural, would be the most precious possession of mankind, worth, in fact, the fruit of all other wisdom and learning together.

Winston Churchill - Prime Minister of Great Britain

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Jewishness, Liberalism, and Social Justice

Making the World a Better Place

(Jewish Concern for 'TZEDAKAH" or Charity -- and Social Justice)

Well known is the pervasive Jewish commitment to fairness, human responsibility, and social justice. These fundamental values are rooted in the Torah and permeate the Jewish tradition.

תיקון עולם

Tikkun Olam: (pronounced tee-KOON oh-LUHM) A Hebrew phrase found in ancient writings in the Talmud, that literally means “world repair” and today is an expression that asks people to make the world a better place through social action, change in public policy, acts of kindness and charitable giving. This phrase is one that became prevalent in the United States during the 1950s in reference to social action. It is possible that it grew as a result of years of social injustices that Jewish people had felt since the late 1800s. At that time a number of pogroms or violent riots directed at a particular group, most often Jews, had occurred across eastern Europe and Russia. Anti-Semitism became increasingly more prevalent resulting in hundreds of thousands of Jews being killed or maimed and their homes and businesses destroyed during these disturbances. Having experienced harassment, intimidation, segregation, and violence for years due to their religious beliefs, many Jewish people easily identified other social injustices in the world.
Jews live and work like Republicans, earn money like Republicans, but VOTE DEMOCRAT

Walter Block

Why have the Jews, who have benefited so much from capitalism, nevertheless, in the main, rejected it in favor of its polar opposite, socialism and government intervention into the economy; why is it that this group of people, whose socio economic status might be expected to incline them in the direction of the Republican political party in the U.S., instead vote in overwhelming numbers for the Democrats. The following explanatory theses are discussed: the role of intellectualism in pushing in this direction; early educational experiences; motives and purposes vs. empirical effects; jealousy and envy; the causal role of great participation in the culture of Broadway and Hollywood; contempt for Jews, intellectuals, and thus intellectual Jews, on the part of the larger society; purely religious considerations; historical experiences in Europe; persecution as a minority living with hostile majorities; income maximization; and last, and perhaps most controversially, as an attempt to preclude a repetition of the Nazi experience.

Please see Walter Block's Discussion

The incomparable civilizing impact of the Jewish people over literally half the globe

Paul Johnson (Christian historian, author of A History of the Jews and A History of Christianity)

Certainly, the world without the Jews would have been a radically different place. Humanity might have eventually stumbled upon all the Jewish insights. But we cannot be sure. All the great conceptual discoveries of the human intellect seem obvious and inescapable once they had been revealed, but it requires a special genius to formulate them for the first time. The Jews had this gift. To them we owe the idea of equality before the law, both divine and human; of the sanctity of life and the dignity of human person; of the individual conscience and so a personal redemption; of collective conscience and so of social responsibility; of peace as an abstract ideal and love as the foundation of justice, and many other items which constitute the basic moral furniture of the human mind. Without Jews it might have been a much emptier place.

Isaiah 68:10

There is immense silent agony in the world, and the task of man is to be a voice for the plundered poor, to prevent the desecration of the soul and the violation of our dream of honesty.

The more deeply immersed I became in the thinking of the prophets, the more powerfully it became clear to me what the lives of the Prophets sought to convey: that morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.

Abraham Joshua Heschel. (Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity)

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