July 14, 2011

Was Huck Finn a self-hating Jew, or what?

Conscience says to me, "What had poor Miss Watson done to you, that you could see her nigger go off right under your eyes and never say one single word? What did that poor old woman do to you, that you could treat her so mean?...
I got to feeling so mean and so miserable I most wished I was dead.

-- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Chapter XVI

Poor Huck can't stop himself from helping Jim run away from slavery, even though he's been taught that it's wrong. So, naturally (or unnaturally) he hates himself for it. 

Are the majority of American Jews who still support Barack Obama -- and who still support the cause of pragmatic compromise for Israeli-Palestinian peace -- supposed to hate themselves for that? Possibly not. But the effort to convince them they're not good Jews continues. (And I'm not for a minute equating ANYTHING or ANYONE here with slavery, I've just always found Huck's cognitive dissonance to have universal application.)

Some of my conservative friends (genuine on both accounts) have been touting a new "push poll" that sets up questions in such a way that respondents are induced to answer negatively about President Obama's policies regarding Israel. Not surprisingly, their results portray a marked drop in American Jewish support for the President. Aside from the fact that these conclusions are not corroborated by any reliable, independent data, I still have to wonder: What is the purpose of such a poll, which has been designed and weighted specifically to elicit a  preferred response (e.g., "I disapprove of President Obama because he wants to force Israel back to the 1967 borders and to allow all the Palestinians to return...")?

One obvious purpose for such push polls is to boost the political capital of Jewish Republicans and to give them hope that if they just donate a little more, they can help deliver "the Jewish vote" to the GOP.

Also implicit is the warning to the rest of us that we're bad Jews, self-hating Jews or just plain anti-Israel if we support Obama or side with the plurality of Israelis who prefer their government do more to engage the Palestinian leadership. As if to say, "See? All the good Jews are abandoning the Jew-hating Obama and backing Netanyahu's proud fight for Israel's survival -- so what's wrong with YOU!?" Sorry, there's nothing wrong with me, I was just thinking for myself.

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