Tuesday, January 05, 2010


I suppose I'm not really in a position to respond to Jennifer Rubin's Commentary article "Why Jews Hate Palin" -- I haven't read the piece, which is behind a pay firewall, and I'm not Jewish -- but if I can believe the characterization of the article by David Frum (who's Jewish and conservative and a Commentary contributor, though no Palin fan), it's a nasty bit of work:

... Rubin offers four general grounds of explanation for Jewish anti-Palin feeling.

First, says Rubin, Jews greatly value (and possibly over-value) formal credentials.

Jews, who have excelled at intellectual pursuits, understandably are swayed by the notion that the presidency is a knowledge-based position requiring a background in the examination of detailed data and sophisticated analysis. They assume that such knowledge is the special preserve of a certain type of credentialed thinker (the better the university, the more unquestioned the credential) and that possessing this knowledge is the key to a successful presidency.

Second, Rubin continues, Jews under-value traditional American folkways: hunting, fishing, the frontier, military enlistment.

Her personal life made her even more alien to American Jews. She comes from the wilderness, brags about hunting and eating native animals, and is a proud gun owner.

Third, Jews disdain working class occupations like those in which Palin labored.

Palin and her husband had labored at jobs most professional and upper-middle-class Jews would never dream of holding --waitressing, picking "strawberries in the mud and mosquitoes . . . for five cents flat," sweeping parking lots, and many "messy, obscure seafood jobs, including long shifts on a stinky shore-based crab-processing vessel." Her populist appeal and identification with working-class voters are rooted in a life experience that is removed by one or two generations from the lives of most American Jews. Her life is what they were expected to rise above.

Fourth and last, Jews hate Palin because Jews disapprove of large families -- and especially because Jews quietly favor the abortion of disabled children.

Frum deftly disposes of that last argument:

Jews despise large families? How then did Bobby Kennedy's popularity among Jews manage to survive?

I'd go further, referring you to this tabulation of the Jewish vote in presidential elections since 1916. Let's see: 82% of Jews voted in 1960 for JFK (military background, massive family); a whopping 90% for LBJ in '64 (rural, non-elite education, often lacking in couth); 71% for Carter in '76 (peanut farmer, military background, Southern); and 76% for Kerry in '04 (military enlistee, three Purple Hearts, military-themed convention).

As for the rest ... um, Jews disdain waiters and waitresses? You mean, the waitstaff at every restaurant in New York is 100% actor/dancer/Gentile?

Oh, and no Jew in recent years has ever done any work of any kind anywhere except behind a desk or in front of a laptop? All Jews are white-collar workers? Not only has no Jew in the past half-century ever needed to do blue-collar labor, or wanted to, but the clean-fingernailed are repulsed by anyone who's ever broke a sweat on the job? Really?

I don't buy the whole characterization -- and I know I'm not the person who should be getting upset about it, but it strikes me as dangerously close to an anti-Semitic Jews-as-fifth-columnists-and-New-Class-elitists stereotype. It's Jews vs. "Americans," with "Americans" being Palin's "real Americans." It's Rubin internalizing a somewhat watered-down version of "the International Jew."

And, of course, it turns out that there's no evidence behind this at all:

Rubin passes lightly over the question whether Jews in fact do hate Palin more than other people do. The sole evidence she cites on behalf of her assertion is a September 2008 poll in which Jews disapproved of Palin by a 54-37 margin. That does not look like foaming hatred to me, and anyway those numbers are now 15 months out of date.

Those numbers actually come from the American Jewish Committee's 2008 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion. And it turns out that Jews didn't disapprove of Palin 54-37, they disapproved of McCain's choice of Palin by that amount? A meaningless distinction? I'm not so sure. It's not as visceral. It's not hate.

And why did they disapprove? Look at the rest of the survey. Democrats outnumbered Republicans 56%-17%. Liberals constituted 44% of respondents, and moderates another 30%; only 24% called themselves conservative. These respondents disapproved of McCain's choice because they disapproved of everything conservative. They're liberals.

And there's this question:

What is the best way for the United States to handle its energy needs -- by encouraging greater energy production, by encouraging greater energy conservation, or by developing alternative energy sources?

Greater energy production 7
Greater energy conservation 6
Developing alternative energy sources 75
All three (vol.) 10

The Jews surveyed favored alternate energy -- and Palin was the Queen of "Drill, Baby Drill!" Of course they disapproved of her.

Sorry, this is a crock -- and, if I may say so, an offensive one.

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