Sunday, October 09, 2005

Prager, Jews, and Anti-Semitism

Cognitive dissonance is also what American Jewry is experiencing, according to Dennis Prager, a cognitive dissonance "the likes of which it has never known." In his latest column for the LA Times Sunday opinion section Currents, Prager analyzes the role that universities are playing in increased anti-Semitism, even amongst Jewish students: "When young Jews major in anti-Semitism."

After stating four reasons why "Jews revere the university," he counters that with the reality of what universities are actually doing:

Yet universities have become society's primary breeding ground for hatred of Israel. This hatred is often so intense that the college campus has become a haven for people who use anti-Zionism to mask their anti-Semitism. Moreover, anti-Zionism itself is a form of anti-Semitism, even if some Jews share it. Why? Because anti-Zionism is not simply criticism of Israel, which is as legitimate as criticism of any country. Anti-Zionism means that Israel as a Jewish state has no right to exist. And when a person argues that only one country in the world is unworthy of existence — and that happens to be the one Jewish country in the world — one is engaged in anti-Semitism, whether personally anti-Semitic or not.

Not long ago, on my radio show, I invited a UCLA student who, on the occasion of Israel's birthday, had written a hate-filled article about the Jewish state in the Bruin, the school newspaper. I asked her if she had always been anti-Israel. She said that as a Jewish girl growing up in Britain, she was actually a Zionist who had visited Israel a number of times on Jewish student trips there.

"What changed you?" I asked.

"The university," she responded.

That sort of transformation may be what inspired Harvard University's president, Lawrence Summers, to deliver a speech in which he identified the university as replacing the far right as a center of anti-Semitism. "Where anti-Semitism and views that are profoundly anti-Israeli have traditionally been the primary preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists," he warned, "profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities. Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent."


To make matters worse for many Jews' psyches, not only has the institution they most revere turned out to be a moral wasteland and the most congenial place for enemies of the Jewish people — and of the United States (but that is another story) — at the same time, the people whom many Jews have most feared, conservative Christians, have turned out to be the Jews' most loyal friends. That the secular university is bad for Jews, and conservative Christians are good for Jews, is more than enough cognitive dissonance for a Jew to experience in a lifetime.


Jews for whom liberalism has become a surrogate religion — and who therefore do not wish to acknowledge a god that failed — will not acknowledge the moral failure of the university, and they will find every reason to dismiss support from conservative Christians as somehow illegitimate.


As more Jews rethink their commitment to secularism, the left and their embodiment in the university — without abandoning their commitment to the less fortunate — Jewish and American life will change dramatically. For the better.

2 comments: said...

The issue is one that has been on my mind for quite some time. Having a Jewish fiancée, I first became aware that the new wave of anti-semitism was not just some irrational anticipatory anxiety. When my fiancée attended San Francisco State, an anti-Zionist protest broke out that turned into an anti-semitic riot, and I feared for her safety.

ASTOUNDINGLY (to me), was that in the aftermath, UC BERKELEY's response to the 'protest' was one of endorsement amongst many students, faculty, AND ADMINISTRATORS. The Jews were to blame for the riotous behavior of the anti-semities, according to press releases from UC BERKELEY's staff.

I was sickened by the reports. One would think that liberal institutions would actually BE LIBERAL. Yet, liberalism seems to have mutated into some sort of police state against objectivity. Consequently, I've been working on many essays on "Academia as Big Brother," and have just about enough to make a book, which I've been considering.

Another oddity is that the dismissal of the conservative Christian's average disposition towards the Jew is now being revised under the general umbrella of "Christian Fundamentalism," where our story is told of us (by the liberal side) that our concern is not for the Jew per se, but rather because Zionism meets our on messianic expectations. They cite Revelations, rob us of any potential to make reparations for millenia of our own anti-semitism, and totally distort the Christian agenda, which seems to aim at ecumenicalism, not the assumed need to restore Old Jerusalem back to its archetectural status prior to the completed Muslim conquest in the mid-1500's. This assertion, taught in contemporary theology courses, history, poly sci...just frustrates the Jewish-Christian peace process. Aren't liberals supposed to be all about peace?

Our country's gone insane with extremists. We're so polarized it's hard to see any unity. What has happened both in the liberal and conversative orietnations is astounding. The liberals of today would denounce JFK as too conservative. The conversatives would probably pray that someone like JFK could actually still be called a liberal today.

Pluralism has been made to suffer no unity. I'm not against pluralism per se, but the problem I see is that under the current pluralism, we're all just like drifting icebergs, either floating by one another, or violently colliding and breaking apart. :(

W. said...

Nicely stated.

I think there are various reasons for Christian "friendliness" toward Israeli Jews. The Catholic one (and some Evangelicals)tends to be not as polemic and still biblical. It tends to be, in my view, the most Christo-centric response.

The comments about JFK are right on. Prager has even written and lectured on that.