|Republican candidate for President, Senator Ted Cruz (Reuters)|
New York liberals. That is sometimes used as a pejorative euphemism for Jews by the political right wing. And in my view it is a thinly disguised borderline antisemitic slur in many cases. Which brings up a recent comment by Republican candidate for President, Senator Ted Cruz. He spoke negatively about New York values. That immediately brought out the PC police suggesting he might be a closet antisemite.
New York City is where most American Jews live. I believe Jews make up about 10% percent of the population there compared to less the 2% of the population nationwide. While a 90% non Jewish population hardly makes New York a Jewish city - that is how it seen by many people. One may recall a comment made by the Reverend Jesse Jackson referring to New York as Hymie-town. (He has since apologized for that comment.)
The problem is that Ted Cruz is anything but an antisemite. He is just a politcally conservative politician who rightly suggests that the values expressed by most New Yorkers are highly liberal and anathema to conservatives. I personally think he should not have used that term. Not because he is an antisemite. But because it enables false charges of antisemitism to be hurled against him.
That said, Cruz is not wrong about New York’s liberal values. Nor is it even incorrect to say that the vast majority of Jews are politically liberal. The only Jews that are generally not liberal are Orthodox Jews. Most of us tend to be politically conservative.
Although there are many exceptions. Rav Ahron Soloveichik was a New York liberal. I recall him defending FDR’s lack of action in saving European Jewry during the Holocaust. He blamed it on FDR’s Jewish advisor who for example told FDR that over 100 Orthodox rabbis requesting a meeting with him about it were an ancient relic of a dead past (or something like that).
Why are non Orthodox Jews liberal? And why are so many Orthodox Jews conservative? I think that in the case of the former, they see Tikun Olam as the way to practice their Judaism. And since Halacha is otherwise meaningless to so many of them (since they generally do not follow it), they tend to support humanistic causes seeing it as Tikun Olam.
They are also far more tolerant of socially liberal values since Halacha does no play into their thinking. Orthodox Jews do care about Halacha. So that issues that are generally supported by political conservatives that tend to be more religious (like Evangelical Christians) are the same ones that are supported by Orthodox Jews. For example gay marriage, abortion rights, and feminism are 3 humanistic values that sans the religious component are seen as a human rights issue in a country founded on the principle that ‘All men are created equal’.
Orthodox Jews on the other hand see abortion rights, gay marriage and feminism in Halachic terms first. And tend to side with the conservative perspective on those issues. So it isn’t all that unreasonable to say that Jews are New York liberals. That’s because most of them are.
If it is true that most Jews in New York are liberals, why is calling someone a New York liberal considered an anti-Semitic slur? And if it is, how do I know Cruz wasn’t using it as ‘code’ for antisemitism, too? To a conservative, calling someone a liberal is a pejorative. Because they believe that liberals who in most cases do not see biblical values as their guide are destroying the country. And since they see a a liberal New York filled with Jews - then they are the ones destroying the country. And that is pure antisemitism.
Is this what Ted Cruz thinks? I highly doubt that. For one thing his support for Israel is total. Especially with a conservative Prime Minister in office. But more importantly one of his top political advisers is Nick Muzin. He is a senior adviser and deputy chief of staff for Senator Cruz. It should be no surprise that this Jew is a political conservative. He is Orthodox.
If Ted Cruz is an antisemite this is a very strange way of showing it. Unlike the real antisemites among some conservatives that see all Jews as New York liberals, Cruz understands that liberalism is not a Jewish trait. and that Orthodox Jews are the ones that use the bible to inform their values. Much he does and like most Evangelicals do.
This of course does not mean that all Orthodox Jews are politically conservative. Nor does it mean that all non Orthodox Jews are liberal. There are a lot of exceptions, like the one I quoted above. And then again there are people like me that tend to be liberal on somethings and conservative on others. For example I am for abortions rights whereas most Orthodox Jews are opposed to it. My reasons for being in favor are Halachic - same as the reason most Orthodox Jews oppose it.