Michael Shurkin
Davening with Joe, p.4

Because of that lack of experience, I fear that the American-Jewish community underestimates the destabilizing potential of a Lieberman presidency (and possibly even a Clark presidency, or Judith Dean first ladyship). Things could get a lot worse here at home, or so bad overseas that America and its Jews would greatly suffer. Democracy and liberalism are fragile here and abroad. As in France, a Jewish president can undermine both, but unlike France the vitality of our democracy is crucial to the future of the entire planet. A Jewish president would both fuel anti-Semitism everywhere and be greatly hampered in his ability to act in defense of American, Jewish, even Western interests.

Am I arguing for quiet 'court Jews' like Henry Morgenthau, who allowed FDR to ignore the Holocaust because he didn't want to stir up trouble for the Jews? No, although historically court Jews have proved extremely useful both for the governments they served and for their community, and many with far more to lose than Morgenthau courageously risked everything in times of crisis. Jews in America should serve this country enthusiastically and proudly, for after all, America's well-being is crucial to our own. But without pandering to the rest of the world, we need to be realistic about it. People hate us. People hate Americans. People hate Americans in part because they associate Americans with Jews. Since so much is riding on the fate of our nation, we should try to avoid doing anything that could hurt it.

I like davening with Joe, even if I'm glad he won't be president. He reminds me what's right about Jewish values and American values. And yet he also reminds me how much those values are imperiled. Jews in America have already achieved so much; we can live without the presidency.

[1]       [2]       [3]       4
Image: Henry Morgenthau and FDR - "two of a kind"

Michael Shurkin is a writer and editor based in Washington, DC.

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From previous issues:

Carrying Light into Dark Times
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

What's your point?
Samuel Hayim Brody

Enraged in the Enron Age
Dan Friedman