Jews Against Judaism

Ilana Mercer, October 31, 2008

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida) has become a popular participant on cable TV shout-fests. The pretty blond puts her velvety voice and forceful personality to use in promoting Obama’s statist schemes. (“Obama, a leftist big-government progressive,” has, naturally, captured the media’s imagination more so than “McCain, a conservative big-government progressive.”)

These days, Wasserman Schultz, a consummate big-government gal, sends chills up Chris Matthews’ leg. (Erotic overtones Matthews usually reserves for Obama.)

Wasserman Schultz’s Jewishness is central to her political pitch. (But her double-barreled, affectatious surname isn’t; so I’m dropping it.) Her congressional page states that she is “the first Jewish Congresswoman ever elected from Florida.” Another of Wasserman’s listed accomplishments is to have called on the president to declare a Jewish American Heritage Month. He, and the House, obliged her. Wasserman regularly touts Obama, former friend to race-baiters and Israel haters, as a solid ally of Israel.

Jews, with the exception of Wasserman and her ilk, have always been among the most individualistic, original, and entrepreneurial members of American society. Think of Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and Milton Friedman. Or, of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, the eponymous mastermind of Dell Inc., casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, and many more.

Unfortunately, fellow Jews like Wasserman have done more than their fair share to swell the counterproductive ranks of the State. The congresswoman fits the well-founded stereotype of the well-to-do, left-liberal Jew.

An existential contradiction, really. Overwhelmingly self-reliant and self-made, Jews thrive in the free market—and in bygone, perilous times have survived by it. Nevertheless, they’ve consistently championed an elaborate, intrusive welfare state.

“American Jews are the most educated ethnic group in the United States,” write Corinne and Robert Sauer of the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies. Like Wasserman, Jews are more likely to be employed in prestigious occupations, and they “earn per capita almost twice as much as non-Jews.” Yet more so than gentiles, Jews identify as Democrats, vote for Democrats, and boost big government programs (the preserve of both parties).

“Champagne Socialism” is how the Sauers characterize this penchant among American Jews—they tenaciously defy “any empirical regularity that links higher income levels with more conservative, or economically liberal (in the European sense), political positions.”

The same misguided political proclivities afflict Jews living in Israel. Like their brethren in the US, Israeli Jews are also ahead of the Jewish state’s non-Jewish minority in educational and occupational attainment.

More crucially, in their monograph titled Judaism, Markets, and Capitalism: Separating Myth from Reality, the Sauers puncture the myth that the leftist leanings of the Wassermans of this world come from Judaism. If anything, the Sauers argue, it is mistaken to conflate Jewish social justice with “progressive,” government-enforced, social programs.

Hands up, Debbie Wasserman, if you knew that “Maimonides, the great medieval Jewish philosopher and codifier of Jewish law,” held that the most praiseworthy and effective means of fulfilling the commandment of charity is “through offering an impoverished person a business partnership, a business loan or a job.” As opposed to (nominally) “free” education or healthcare. Which is why another clever Jew, Benjamin Netanyahu, said that “It is not enough to be a Thatcherite, a Jew should go even further and become a Maimonidite.”

Judaism, say the Sauers, is a system of thought more naturally aligned with the basic principles of “economic liberalism,” or free-market capitalism. With reference to the Faith’s legal (Mishnah, Talmud), biblical (the 39 books of the Hebrew Bible), and philosophical tenets (Maimonides and others), the Sauers have formulated a “list of basic principles which help systematize the foundations of Jewish economic theory”:

PARTICIPATION IN THE CREATIVE PROCESS: “In Judaism, work, creative activity, and innovation are the avenues through which the divine image is expressed. G-d gave Man an incomplete world, and Man is supposed to help perfect it through domination of material resources, work and innovation.”

PROTECTION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY: “Thou Shalt not steal’ and ‘Thou Shalt not covet anything that belongs to thy neighbor”: As the Sauers note, “Two of the Ten Commandments directly relate to the safeguarding of private property. Man was given the potential to create, but the Jewish sages clearly recognized that Man will only work and innovate if he can lay claim to the fruits of his labor. Therefore Judaism fiercely protects private property, and metes stiff punishment to transgressors.

THE ACCUMULATION OF WEALTH: In Jewish tracts, wealth accrued honestly is “a sign of great effort, skill and success in partnering with G-d in the creative process. … The Talmud sages regard the refusal to attempt to benefit from one’s labor and accumulate wealth as dangerous behavior that can lead to craziness. … Rabbis forbid individuals to give more than a fifth of their possessions to charitable causes, regardless of their level of wealth. This is for fear that, by giving too much, one may eventually become impoverished.”

A note of reassurance to worrywart Wassermann: The Obamas are in no danger of incurring rabbinical wrath. Their meager charitable givings (one percent of taxable income) only rose commensurate with Barrack’s bid for the presidency. The far poorer Palins, on the other hand, may be in trouble. They “gave more to charity in the last two years than Biden has in the last eight combined.”

CARING FOR THE NEEDY: The Hebrew word for charity—Tzedakah—comes from the word justice: Tzedek. To comply with both, a Jew must give ten percent of his income to help the poor. Charity, however, “is a moral principle, not a legal one.” There is nothing in this injunction that implies “a need for a public policy of involuntary taxation and … monetary handouts for the unemployed.” Voluntary charity, moreover, “should not be confused with income redistribution. Income redistribution aims at reducing income inequalities because income disparities are seen as unfair or immoral. … This is not the Jewish view. … The poor have no legal right to the rich’s property—distribution, and eradication of income disparities is impossible and not the goal in Judaism.”

But it is the goal of Obama, under whom high-income earners “would pay over two-thirds of each new dollar in earnings to the federal government. The United States would … have a higher top rate than such high-tax nations as Sweden and Denmark.”

LIMITED GOVERNMENT: In the First Book of Samuel is found one of the oldest, most powerful warnings against the wickedness of centralized power, likened by Sir Jonathan Henry Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, to Friedrich Hayek’s warning in The Road to Serfdom:

Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, ‘This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. Then that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day.—1 Samuel Chapter 8

If only! Send us such a kind king who’ll enslave us to the tune of a mere tenth of our wealth!
The king’s men, the knaves Matthews and Wasserman, sealed with snide snickers an exchange that was neither Socratic nor Jewish.

The Sauers are spot on: Judaism doesn’t explain Wasserman Schultz, Saul Alinsky (one of Obama’s many twisted gurus), and the politics that dominate among Jews.

October 31

CATEGORIES: Democrats, Economy, Free Markets, Jews & Judaism, John McCain, Left-liberalism, Political Philosophy, Private Property Rights