RonnieGal Beckerman writes for The Forward about the Jewishness of neoconservatism. Now don’t get into a tizzy! The Forward is a very Jewish newspaper after all!

There’s no doubt that reminding Americans of the risk to their way of life, their existence, helped this country win the Cold War. This was, perhaps, a Jewish gift to conservatism. But now, this same historical framework and its accompanying rhetoric have only obfuscated the situation … But it is not 1939. The enemies who wish us harm in this new century are more amorphous, scattered, complex. Armies alone cannot defeat them. Constitutions alone won’t do it, either. We need to be strategic and nuanced and, in this, Jewish memory will not help us. Fear begat neoconservatism — fear that enemies inside and out would destroy an America that had come to represent a second kind of promised land. And maybe, just as American Jews need to evolve a positive identity based on more than just the horror of annihilation, neoconservatism, too, needs to understand America’s actual position in the world: what it means to be a sole power, what limits and prerogatives this imposes, and how, most of all, to add a much needed dose of realism to an otherwise important and worthy sense of idealism.

What? You didn’t really expect a rah rah article discussng neoconservatism in The Forward, did you? Read the rest of the article here.

About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • I thought the most important part of the article was the statement that,

    “it is a fact that as a political philosophy, neoconservatism was born among the children of Jewish immigrants and is now largely the intellectual domain of those immigrants’ grandchildren. Understanding what might be Jewish about this movement (or “persuasion” as its godfather, Irving Kristol, prefers it be called) should be possible without being accused of conspiracy theorizing about secret cabals pulling strings for Israel.”

    Dead on!

  • “We need to be strategic and nuanced and, in this, Jewish memory will not help us.”
    – – – – – – – – – –
    …oh really?
    I get it: we are all smart because we’re Jewish, but our ancestors were all stupid and primitive.

    Yeah, right.

    This from the liberal Jews who – in their spontaneously generated brilliance – are siding with the Islamists and attacking the strongest gentile friends of Israel.

    Or am I missing a “strategic nuance”?

    Yeah, right.

  • Ben-David, I agree with you, BUT in the end we and the Muslims have the same concept of Hashem, which is NOT shared by Christians. So, when peace finally arrives in the Middle East, we will definitely be cooperating with the Muslims, since we have no real essential theological disagreement with them.

  • “we have no real essential theological disagreement with them.”

    Except for the part about them wanting to kill all of the infidels, including the Jews. I consider that a rather fundamental disagreement.

  • Grace: The killing of Jews is not an essential theological aspect of Islam. Certainly it is far less imperative than in say… Lutheranism, and the Christian record vis-a-vis the murder of Jews is far more impressive than that of the Muslims. Dave may indeed have a point.

  • ck wrote: Lutheranism, and the Christian record vis-a-vis the murder of Jews is far more impressive than that of the Muslims.

    ck, what a dubious honor for the Muslims to have! And I honestly would not expect to hear this from a Moroccan Jew. Weren’t there bloody ‘pogroms’ in the Casbah, for example?

    But I definitely with you that Islam doesn’t mandate that Jews (& Christians) be killed. No, that’s reserved for the idol-worshippers that won’t “submit” to Allah. We get off the hook with second-class dhimmitude, dude.

  • Pun Police Public Service Alert: the next writer to use the term ‘cabal’ when referring to Jews will get a severe flogging. See your local friendly neighborhood etymology expert for further details.

  • taltman: Yep. There were the occasional violent incidents in the casbah, but these pale in comparison to the sheer bloodlust exhibited by Christians on a passion play inspired pogrom. And I’ll take dhiminitude any day over having me and my family turned into bars of soap. I mean look, there’s no way any of us Moroccan Jews are going to go back to live in the old country, but we don’t totally hate the Moroccans at all.

  • The FORWARD is the newspaper of the Workmen’s Circle. The Workkmen’s Circle is a labor organization. It has a Yiddish identification. It does NOT FAVOR THE STATE OF ISRAEL. IT IS ANTI-ZIONIST. That is of course it’s G-d given right. But people should be clear about its position, that is all. Phone them. Check on this. They will wiggle. Look at their website. Search “Israel” on their website.

    If you want to be tactless, you can remind them that Stalin trashed the Bund.

    I am not putting them down, but just know what is what with them.

  • Jewish Mother, were you born yesterday?

    You wrote about the Forward,


    In fact, the Forward, more than any periodical, we important in swinging American Jewry behind the State beginning in 1929 when Abe Cahan began changed his anti-Zionist stand to a pro-Zionist one after the Hebron pogrom.

    And as for your statement,

    “If you want to be tactless, you can remind them that Stalin trashed the Bund.”

    Actually, the Forward and the WC were fierce fighters of all totalitarianism, ESPECIALLY communists. They hated the communists and drove them out of the Unions and wherever they found them.

    Not like the Trotsky lovers, some of who were critical to Neo-Conservatism and the New Left.

    Please get your facts straight. I know it is common in right-wing Zionist circles to revise history, and to lump the socialists with the communists, and to ignore the hard-left history of many who founded the Neo-con movement.

  • David! That was then! This is now! You are absolutely right, BUT the Workmen’s Circle has CHANGED its views and platform COMPLETELY since then.

    Call them. Search the website. Talk to their PR person. See for yourself.

  • In the old days, to join the Workmen’s Circle you actually had to affirm that you FAVORED Israel. Not any more. They are different now.

    My Stalin remark seems to be wide of the mark, thanks for setting that straight.

    But what about now? Today!

    (The left does not like to remember its deep anti-semitic roots and history. That was all I meant. Marx himself loathed Jews, for instance, even though his grandfather was a rabbi.)

    Anyway, we are living in the now. Call the Workment’s Circle! Find out their Israel position. You will be amazed!

    The Workmen’s Circle is very cagey, sly, discreet and careful about not making its position plain. They don’t want to alienate anybody. They hide behind their Yiddishism: they SEEM like a pro-Israel outfit, but they are anti-Israel.

    I am just for clear labeling, that is all.

    You just have to know this background when you read the FORWARD. That does not mean there is nothing worth reading in the FORWARD. There might be. I don’t know. I can’ bear to read it.

  • CK yes in the past the Christians were more absolutist. But what about now?

    Are we just going to have to ride our horses side-saddle? You know, not like a real man would ride. More like a woman would ride.

    Things are a lot more severe now.

    People will probably wonder what I am talking about again. Dhimmis have to ride side-saddle. I mean, had to. I do not think there is a way to ride a car side-saddle. I do not think it will be about that. Know, we will just have to die a little bit. Or convert. That’s been done before, too. Would that wash with this crowd? I don’t think so.

  • Dave: one of the tenets of Judaism is that philosophical purity does not matter more than morality between humans – and may matter less.

    Sure, Islam is more purely monotheistic – but it doesn’t carry over into a moral society. In fact, Muslim society is pretty debased when you look at the value it assigns to basic elements of Abrahamic morality – from honesty in speech and business dealings, through to respect for human life.

    Which is more important? One temple was destroyed for idolatry, the other for “baseless hatred”. So the sages are equating the two – at least, homiletically.

    It’s not at all that clear who are allies will be. And if our task is to improve the moral lot of humanity here on earth – then we have to pull with those who are trying to preserve the West’s high, Judaic moral standards.

  • JM, thanks for the comment.

    As for the post and the first couple of comments, I would respond that this is a movement by Americans for Americans. It is hyper-Americanism, not some offshoot of Judaism. If it weren’t for the fact that a bunch of powerful non-Jewish politicians think along lines parallel to those of these Jewish academics, scholars and publishers, this “movement” would be another idea with just a few afficionados in think-tanks or certain rarefied pockets of Right wing movements in the US.

    The issue is not that discussing the Judaism of many neo-Cons is problematic or antisemitic, but rather that very often people who bring up the large number of Jews involved in this ideology also attempt to color or taint their hyper-Americanist Ideology with ulterior motives along the lines of dual loyalty.

  • Ben-David, that is a profound analysis and very interesting.

    Thank you, TM. Since I said forty-seven things, as usual, I am not sure what you are thanking me for, but I am grateful.

  • I am not selling anything but the Pope has just made a speech, in French, which, coming from him, sounds pretty good for Israel and for the US. It is not the PC stance. This is not as easy as it sounds!!! He and his personnel are in the middle of the conflict in a very physical sense, and are not armed. Lots of other people around Europe are not saying these things. (They may be a tad frightened, the lions. And they ARE armed.)

    For what it is worth, here is a link:

    Just saying. Ben-David was wondering who allies might be. Life is weird. Who would have thought?

  • Ben-David,

    What a pity the Muslim community can’t be more like the religious Jewish community with its aversion to corruption, tax evasion (never ever!), and abhorrence of government welfare programs.

  • But you get to keep your hands. Kelsey, have an ice cream. I just did.

  • Kelsey, enough of the unsubstantiated religious-bashing. How do you know religious Jews are any much more corrupt than other Jews, or any group within any other religion for that matter? Do you have some inside information no one else does?

  • They are likely more corrupt that is, those who cannot keep up the bar, those who cannot live the holy life for real. So then the question is, how useful is religion for most. Is it just a shiny package for most, w/out any real substance. This is anyway what many of us think, those both in and out of it.

  • It is better to be a wistful idealist than a cheerful hedonist.

    Good news does not make headlines. You know, if it bleeds, or steals, it leads.

    Does that produce a representative picture? No.

    Doing your best is very highly valued by the Jewish G-d. It’s not like at work, where all that matters is results.

  • “Mariella here, live from ____!!! The Shmecklestein family are all right. Mr. Shmecklestein is an honest man and faithful to his wife. His relationship with G-d is a little vague, but they do talk regularly. When his youngest child was sick recently, he did pray especially well. His wife is occasionally frazzled, but managing. She talks to G-d when the kids are asleep, and she is not, which occasionally happens. She is basically grateful to Him. Back to you, Louisa!!!”

    Ratings soar!!!!!