Monday, January 19, 2009

Tikkun Olam

In this column, Bill Kristol is distressed that Jews haven't recognized their greatest ally. The often baffled columnist writes:

"I couldn't help but reflect that a distressingly small number of my fellow Jews seem to have given much thought at all to the fact that President Bush is one of the greatest friends the state of Israel — and, yes, the Jewish people — have had in quite a while."

I wonder if Kristol is referring to the fact that Jews overwhelmingly voted against Bush in both elections (and 78% voted for Obama). You can see here were McCain got his strategy for campaigning for Jewish votes (just keep mentioning Israel!): Kristol seems to be assuming here that Israel is the only issue that Jews vote on. He's trying to make Israel to Jewish voters what abortion is to Catholic voters: the one issue that is supposed to trump all others. It's insulting and it neglects the reasons why Jewish voters support Democrats and liberal causes. The Hebrew phrase Tikkum Olam means "repair the world," and though like many religious concepts is open to interpretation, it is often used as inspiration for supporting social justice. This concept is dramatically different from the "destroy the world" (not sure what the Hebrew is for that) policy that the Bush administration has been engaged in. 

Oh, and let's not forget that Bush and the other Christian right "friends" of Israel are only friends of convenience anyways. Maybe Kristol is unaware that many Jews may actually find this very disturbing.

"But I don’t think keeping us safe has been Bush’s most impressive achievement. That was winning the war in Iraq..."

This kind of statement comes right from the Kristol playbook: "If I talk like one of my ideas are valid, that's enough to validate it."

As for Kristol's comment on Bill Moyer, I just had to check it out for myself. Indeed, Moyer's biblical scholarship is a bit bizarre (though he does clarify it some here). I don't think that should disqualify him or anyone else from legitimately caring about the death of innocent civilians.

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