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American Jews Like Muslims Twice as Much as They Like Christian Evangelicals

11:55 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

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A poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, published April 3rd, finds American Jews to be very wary of the Christian sects that claim to support Israel and its expansionist policies most vocally.  The Forward has published a thoughtful article on the poll results and on related recent polls:

The survey [PDF],conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and published April 3, asked Jewish respondents to rate the favorability of several religious groups. Mormons received a 47% favorability rating, Muslims 41.4%; the group described as “Christian Right” was viewed in favorable terms by only 20.9% of Jewish Americans. [emphasis added] In contrast, the general American population, as shown by other polling data, views evangelicals more favorably than Muslims and Mormons.

“Most liberal Jews view the Christian right as wanting to impose a Christian America on them,” said Marshall Breger, professor at the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law and leading voice on inter-religious relations. “To the extent to which the bulk of Jews are liberal, both politically and culturally, they’ll have negative views of the Christian right.”

Social views of Christian conservatives have been drawing attention in recent months as an increasingly significant part of the Republican presidential primary discourse. Attempts by GOP candidates to prove their conservative credentials in order to win over the Christian right have had, experts believe, an adverse effect on the Jewish community, turning it away from the Republican Party.

Given all the money some prominent uber Zionist Jewish donors, such as Sheldon Adelson, have thrown at GOP candidates so far this cycle, this news may come as a surprise to some.

The poll was conducted during the height of the GOP’s late winter war on women.  Over the winter, Jewish members of my family, all very liberal, were at least as upset as I’ve been over the crescendo of anti-feminist and sexist rhetoric aimed at eroding hard-fought positions American women have won over the past 40 years or so.  The Forward article on the poll results seems to note that:

Social views of Christian conservatives have been drawing attention in recent months as an increasingly significant part of the Republican presidential primary discourse. Attempts by GOP candidates to prove their conservative credentials in order to win over the Christian right have had, experts believe, an adverse effect on the Jewish community, turning it away from the Republican Party.

“It’s a huge factor in preventing Jews from becoming more attracted to Republican candidates,” said Kenneth Wald, distinguished professor of political science at the University of Florida and a leading expert on the intersection of religion and politics. He explained that the prominent role played by Christian conservatives in Republican politics is the major obstacle facing the party as it tries to win over Jewish voters.

The Forward article, though not directly addressing the growing rift between American Reform Jews and their more conservative Orthodox brethren, does note:

All research points to the sharp contrast between Jews and Christian conservative views on abortions, women rights, gay and lesbian rights, and the separation of religion and state as the key factor distancing the two communities. But David Brog, executive director of Christians United for Israel, America’s largest evangelical pro-Israel organization, sees these issues as an excuse.

“On the social issues, there is more-or-less unanimity between Christian Conservatives, Mormons, Muslims and Orthodox Jews,” Brog argued. But it is only the Christian conservatives who are treated with mistrust by Jews — a situation caused, Brog posited, by Jewish concerns over evangelical proselytizing or adherence to the belief that the Christian faith should replace Judaism. “We in the Jewish community need to stop viewing the present through the lens of the traumatic past,” he said.

While praising Jewish organizations and federations for welcoming Christian evangelicals, Brog pointed to the Reform movement as leading the opposing views. [Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews] spoke generally about liberal Jews who “are concerned about tikkun olam [repairing the world]” more than about Israel, as those who still refuse to trust evangelicals as partners.

In response, Rabbi David Saperstein, head of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, said that it is not the Christian right’s beliefs on social issues that pose a problem to the Jewish community — it is their attempt to bring those beliefs to the public sphere.

I’m reading Peter Beinert’s new book, The Crisis of Zionism, right now.  Beinert has much to say on how the evangelical right, and liberal Jewish distrust of their machinations play a part in the changing tenor of the debate on support for Israeli governmental policies.

To me, it is not surprising that American Jews are far more wary of Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists than the media seems to portray as the case.  It might be interesting to see more detailed polling on this subject, to find out how deep-seated the mutual distrust between these communities actually is.

The high standing American Jews seem to give to Mormons, on the other hand, must be good news to the Romney campaign, particularly regarding the swing state of Florida.  Recent articles on Romney’s decades-old friendship with Israel’s prime minister point toward an already formed relationship where Romney considers Benjamin Netanyahu to be the senior partner in a possible future leader-to-leader dependence:

The relationship between Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Romney — nurtured over meals in Boston, New York and Jerusalem, strengthened by a network of mutual friends and heightened by their conservative ideologies — has resulted in an unusually frank exchange of advice and insights on topics like politics, economics and the Middle East.

In a telling exchange during a debate in December, Mr. Romney criticized Mr. Gingrich for making a disparaging remark about Palestinians, declaring: “Before I made a statement of that nature, I’d get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say: ‘Would it help if I say this? What would you like me to do?’ “

…Martin S. Indyk, a United States ambassador to Israel in the Clinton administration, said that whether intentional or not, Mr. Romney’s statement implied that he would “subcontract Middle East policy to Israel.”

..Mr. Netanyahu was startled in January by an article exploring why Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino executive and outspoken supporter of Israel, was devoting millions of dollars to back Mr. Gingrich. It described Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Adelson as close friends.

Indyk’s analysis of Romney’s words aren’t Romney’s own words, but his analysis is troubling.  To me, Obama’s Middle East policy is already subcontracted to Israel more than enough, thank you.

image by Philip Munger

Politico’s Kenneth Vogel Adds To The Pile Of Trig-Centric Articles – Updated

2:25 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Kenneth P. Vogel has written an article about recent attention paid to Sarah Palin, published last night for Politico.com, that reminds me of the Kuskokwim River – long, shallow, cold and murky. In it, Vogel mischaracterizes the overall impetus behind many who question the authenticity or viability of Sarah Palin:

This self-styled anti-Palin movement — whose members span the globe and are mostly but not exclusively liberals — has been behind some embarrassing revelations about the former Alaska governor, her family and allies. But some of their leading theories have been thoroughly discredited and earned them widespread criticism. (See: ‘Mama Grizzly’ Sarah Palin back on the prowl)

Yet that only seems to have hardened a commitment to accomplishing what they profess to be their ultimate goal: the absolute and complete exposure of Palin as a fraud unworthy of a role in American civic life. And now, with Palin edging back into the political spotlight in the face of flagging poll numbers, they believe that they are closer than ever to achieving it. (See: Poll: The incredible shrinking Sarah Palin)

Vogel concentrates on aspects of attention toward Palin by writers, journalists and bloggers that tend to be salacious, or controversial in ways one sees most often in coverage of celebrities. Beyond the gossipy bullshit that Palin relishes because it keeps people from looking more closely at how she has dealt with substantive issues, Vogel seems out of his league. Here’s his intro to author Geoffrey Dunn:

St. Martin’s Press has scheduled a May 10 release of “The Lies of Sarah Palin: The Untold Story Behind Her Relentless Quest for Power,” by Santa Cruz, Calif.-based author and documentarian Geoffrey Dunn, who has joked that he might need three or four volumes to adequately cover the subject matter suggested in the title.

He told POLITICO he decided to write the book after hearing stories from Alaskans about Palin’s “childhood through her governorship that were troubling to me.” He said his goal is to frame Palin’s career in the contexts of both an Alaska political scene “plagued by a culture of corruption” and also in “the larger tradition of American political populism and demagoguery.”

Read the rest of this entry →

Saradise Lost & Found – Chapter 16: The Open Door Meme and Commentator Competence

2:24 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

A video posted several places on the web on Monday, The Battle Hymn of Sarah Palin, contains the line “Sarah Palin has the wisdom to walk through an open door.” In the video below on The Young Turks, Cenk Uygur and a colleague go through the entire song. Then they take a look at the lyrics:

The “open door” line actually has important context. This is from a week after the 2008 election, in one of Palin’s first post-election interviews.

So, these people, keyed up on their song, dedicated to “The Tea Party and all their patriots,” have – in this country western homily, in an evangelical church-attending, pre-2010 election environment – not only declared their fealty to the Palin-inspired meme that God will, as Palin beseeched in the November 2008 interview, “open a door” for Sarah, they’ve managed to sneak the metaphor past one of the sharper progressive commentators without notice.Cenk says, “I’ll tell you what, she can walk through a door – OK – she really can.”

Palin had said “God, if there is an open door for me somewhere – this is what I always pray – don’t let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is. Even if it’s cracked open a little bit, maybe I’ll plow right on through. Maybe prematurely plow through it, but don’t let me miss an open door - in ’12 or four years later. …… I’ll plow through that door.”

Uygur’s misreading of Palin’s coded text, conveyed back through a couple of her acolytes, isn’t entirely surprising. But Cenk’s staff might have googled “Sarah Palin: God, if there is an open door for me somewhere” before producing their segment on the seemingly inane lyrics.

People, like Max Blumenthal, Outside atheist and anti-theocracy bloggers, and some of the Alaska bloggers, have made important observations about those November 2008 lines, and have followed their embedment into her riffs and into the reactions of evangelicals, fundamentalists and charismatic Christians and Christianists to Palin’s ascendancy. It was longtime anti-Christianist and milita movement expert, David Neiwert, who brought this video to light the other day at Crooks & Liars.

On one level, the Battle Hymn of Sarah Palin is hilarious. On others, it is clearly ominous to some of us. More people need to take her Christianist sub-texts seriously.  Here’s Blumenthal’s October 2008 report from Alaska.

She will be doing more coded messaging in the coming weeks, and will be trying to tie it into more statements designed to heighten media attention to her upcoming visit to Israel.  Additionally, Palin has to announce formation of an exploratory committee for the 2012 presidential campaign soon.  My money is on February 6th, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ronald Reagan, the GOP God she invokes most often.

Whether Palin’s invoking the term “blood libel”  against those who questioned her role last week in the polarization of American politics was a considered move or not (she has highly educated advisors –  Jews such as Randy Scheunemann and Jessica Gavora, and Lebanese-American Rebecca Mansour, who are all familiar with the historical context of the term – so I seriously doubt the words were just thrown in there), the use of this loaded pejorative is not only one mere example of the loaded terms she is wont to use.

Palin is the most divisive and polarizing major American political figure since George Wallace.  And like Wallace and his coded resonance with white racists in the 60s, she uses many terms and code words that are only generally understood by her fundamentalist-evangelical-pentacostal brothers and sisters.  The media at large in the USA is indeed, as Palin terms it, “lamestream” when it comes to having a usable awareness of  both the language her religious followers use, and how they use it.  I’ve observed this as the case for well over  decade now.  I thought the general level of awareness of her theocratically driven views would grow.  It hasn’t.

There’s a danger in that, as the media fluffs her image, to bring in more hits to their sites, and more ad revenue.

Is Sarah Palin’s Response to the Wasilla Bible Church Fire Self-serving?

8:47 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The Wasilla Alaska church most often attended by Alaska Governor Sarah Palin since 2002, was the target of suspected arson last Friday night. The governor visited the church after the fire was controlled, and made a statement.

The Anchorage Daily News story Sunday, by reporters Wesley Loy and Rindi White, begins:

A Friday night fire at Gov. Sarah Palin’s church caused an estimated $1 million in damage, and investigators say it could be the work of an arsonist. Firefighters were called to Wasilla Bible Church about 9:40 p.m. and found flames and smoke coming out windows at the back of the three-story structure, said James Steele, chief of the Central Mat-Su Fire Department.

Five women, and possibly a couple of children, were inside the church working on crafts, but everyone got out safely after a fire alarm alerted them to trouble, Steele said.

Palin’s office issued the following statement on Saturday:

Gov. Palin stopped by the church this morning, and she told an assistant pastor that she apologizes if the incident is in any way connected to the undeserved negative attention the church has received since she became a vice-presidential candidate on Aug. 29.

Whatever the motives of the arsonist, the governor has faith Read the rest of this entry →