Confessions Of A Neocon Rabbi
Thirty years of being a registered Democrat came to an end this week and I thought it prudent to pause a moment to reflect.
It has been a slow and uncomfortable transformation for this pulpit rabbi, preaching each week to an overwhelmingly liberal congregation. I haven’t come out of the closet to them — yet. I thought I would take a risk with all of you first, as you live halfway across the country from my hometown. I have heard that most Jews in New York City tend to the left as well.
My Democratic credentials are solid. I hated the Vietnam War, voted Carter twice, Dukakis once, Clinton twice and was aghast when W was the choice of the Supreme Court. I have never voted for a Republican candidate for Congress and only recently voted for a Republican governor. ...
So why the switch? It started with my co-religionist, Monica Lewinsky, who was cavorting with our president in the White House. When I spoke out from the pulpit against immoral sex and the importance of marital fidelity the following Rosh HaShanah, some of my liberal congregants complained to me about having to listen to my politics from the bima; they wanted me to speak more about Judaism. ...
... I had no idea who George W was until he became my president. I didn’t know what he was made of until 9-11, when I was impressed with his firm and comforting response.
From him I heard that we Americans (and Jews) had real enemies in the world and had better start taking them seriously. Some of the young, Jewish neocons like William Kristol and Paul Wolfowitz, who the left were calling a “kabal,” were encouraging armed intervention to bring democracy to the world. On campus, professors were saying that these Jewish neocons were pushing our country to war to help Israel — and therefore, presumably, for the wrong reasons.
But I heard W and the neocons saying, “Bring the fight to the bad guys, so they can never again bring it to us,” which is just what Israel has been saying about its enemies for six decades.
Having been a pacifist at one time, I felt strange cheering on our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some on the left were saying Bush lied to us about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. For me, Saddam and every tyrant in the world is a weapon of mass destruction and therefore must be removed.
“But there are other tyrants in the world who we have not attacked,” say my liberal congregants.
“Not yet,” I reply. “Tyranny anywhere in the world is a threat to freedom everywhere in the world. Tyranny is against God’s will and it must be eradicated from the face of the earth.” [my emphasis - aa]
Go read it all at the link. This quote, though, is magnificent ...
My friend Ted Haggart, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, told me once that in the end of days, Jesus may come walking down Ben Yehuda Street, “and you Jews will have to make some theological adjustments.”
“Well, that’s no problem for me,” I told him.
When Jesus comes again, Ted and I will have a long talk about theology.