Despite a shared heritage, successful careers with the White House, and even similar physical features, Stephen Miller and Jonathan Greenblatt receive different treatment by Jewish leadership.
By Ray McCoy
There is a legend, unproven as many are, that when he heard that George Washington had surrendered his military commission to Congress thereby submitting the army to civilian control that Britain’s King George III declared that “if he did this he would be the greatest man in the world.” Certainly, there are many deep differences between our first president and the current one Donald Trump, who has at times been analogized to the rowdy populist Andrew Jackson.
In an America awash in materialism and sanitized corporate-approved “greater good” values, the elements of leadership are often supposedly taught in seminars. However, it is a mistake to conflate management and administration with leadership. Managers and administrators can give direction and make decisions, but they do not necessarily require any vision as a leader does. Whether one agrees with Donald Trump’s vision and leadership, it should by now be apparent that the top levels of Jewish American organizations are populated not by leaders but rather by viceroys and branch managers.
The latest firestorm over Trump’s grandiose, but apparently tongue-in-cheek claims to being “the chosen one”, his sparring with the four hard-line leftist Democrats known as “The Squad”, as well as his statement that Jewish Americans that vote Democrat are being disloyal to Israel and their own community, are more evidence than ever of this. Rather than call for a real political discourse within the Jewish community in order to address a real shifting of political winds in both parties concerning Israel (among other issues), they are acting like firefighters trying to defend the supposed milquetoast, inoffensive, soccer mom-friendly, reduced-fat yogurt image of conventional wisdom within the Jewish community. The funniest statement, written in the name of “An American Jew,” was put out by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington that made a bid for non-partisanship but included “I am the descendant of immigrants and see America as a nation of immigrants.” How can these “community leaders” claim to speak for an entire community when they won’t even sign a statement in their own name, but rather issue it in the name of an anonymous generic Jew? The answer is found in the Four Myths of the fictional leadership of Jewish America.
The Myth of Representation
There is such a wealth of Jewish American organizations that see themselves as leaders that they remind one of the marketplace from The Life of Brian. Everywhere there are prophets preaching from various podiums to small crowds with increasingly underwhelming messages in different refined accents. But as much as they want, the leaders of the ADL, AJC, AIPAC, URJ, Workmen’s Circle or any of the 51 members groups of the “Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations” cannot hide the fact that they are deluded and detached from the reality on the ground, and have been for some time.
Maybe in the 1910s when the ADL was founded in the wake of the Leo Frank trial, there was a need for a representative group to advocate on behalf of the poor and downtrodden recently-arrived Jews from Eastern Europe and Russia. However, in a 2016 Pew Research survey, it was found that 44% of Jewish households had an income above $100 thousand, higher than any other religious denomination. In entertainment and media, Jewish figures have been and continue to be integral contributors and senior voices for over a century, whether it was in Hollywood, print, or broadcast journalism. Major political intellectuals of Jewish origin in the US-run the gamut from Marxists Emma Goldman and Noam Chomsky to libertarians and objectivists like Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, and Murray Rothbard. The would-be community that these leadership organizations purport to represent is too eclectic and diffused in its interests to be accurately represented.
The Myth of Non-Partisanship
Frequently, and as recently as two weeks ago, Israel advocates and sympathetic Jewish commentators lament that bipartisan support is being lost. The idea that the “leadership organizations” represent all Jews regardless of partisan affiliation is ludicrous, but for the sake of brevity, I will focus on the so-called watchdog Anti-Defamation League. In October 2018 the ADL issued a bulletin called “The anti-Semitism lurking behind George Soros conspiracy theories.” Soros is a Hungarian-American financier known to fund activist groups that are opposed to sovereign nationhood across the world, including in the USA, Hungary, and Israel among many others. However that same year they included in their Mainstreaming Hate media report a blurb alleging that White House senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, another Jew, is part of a hateful and racist anti-immigrant leadership coalition along with then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Also in 2018 the ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt personally recorded a video for NowThis condemning the use of the word “globalist” in the context of Trump’s joking with retiring economic advisor Gary Cohn about his own globalist views. The fact that Cohn’s replacement was Larry Kudlow, another Jew, was apparently irrelevant to Greenblatt. Neither was NowThis’ own history of hosting what amount to infomercials for the anti-Israel BDS movement. For those that are unaware, NowThis does not claim to do impartial journalism but rather openly brags that it “profiles, features, and reports on modern activists, the current political resistance, and new movements sparking change in the world today.”
So to review the ADL will:
- Defend a wealthy mega-donor (Soros) who is in fact actively hostile to Israel and his own Jewish identity against any criticism on the basis of it being anti-Semitism.
- Condemn the senior Jewish advisor to the president who is Jewish as an anti-immigrant bigot and yet ignore the antagonistic press against him as a “troll” that often does assert his Jewish heritage.
- Be offended on behalf of Trump’s own advisor because the word “globalist” is conflated with Jews while working with activist media organizations that are in their own editorial policy supporting an anti-Israel activist movement that the ADL often criticizes as anti-Semitic.
The Myth of Civility
Supposedly, this is all done in order to protect the interests of American Jews as a whole. The ADL has never had a good record of being a non-political defender of civil liberties, but it has only gotten worse under Greenblatt, who is a former Obama White House aide.
The truth is that while there remains an overwhelming majority in the Jewish community voting for Democrats, the consensus on what it means being a Democrat has shifted significantly in the past few years. The current batch of party presidential candidates ranges from corporate pawns (Joe Biden) to burnt-out 60s radicals (Bernie Sanders) to draconian inquisitors (Kamala Harris) to climate change doom prophets (Tom Steyer). I apologize if I left someone out, but there’s a different representative for each personality disorder in the gallery. To put it a different way, Democrats are proposing to replace the “bad crazy” (Trump) with one of the “good crazies.” And not only this but if you are Jewish and feel otherwise, you’re part of the problem according to them:
- During the 2016 campaign, Jewish liberal activists started the #WeveSeenThisBefore campaign and picketed Trump Tower, and they took umbrage when Trump’s nominee for US Ambassador to Israel called their organizations epithets like “kapos” and “morons.” A kapo is a name used for Jewish inmates in concentration camps who acted as field enforcers for Nazi guards.
- None of the same organizations spoke out in 2018 when The Verge co-founder Joshua Topolsky called conservative pundit Ben Shapiro “the Jew who helps other Jews onto the train.” Vox’s response was that Shapiro himself had called Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Soros kapos. The irony is that Soros did indeed assist the Nazis in collecting Jewish property during the war.
- In 2017 Vox gave a platform for Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman to invoke the Jewish identity of Trump’s daughter and son-in-law Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner by calling on them to resign or tell Trump that they “will sit shiva for him.” For those that don’t know shiva is the traditional Jewish week of mourning for the dead or for those that betray the family.
- The same Michael Chabon delivered a 2018 speech at the rabbinical ordination at Hebrew Union College (the rabbinical academy for Reform Judaism) to condemn Israel and call for Jewish intermarriage.
- Barack Obama awarded the National Medal of Arts to Jewish playwright and gay rights activist Tony Kushner in 2013. Kushner called the establishment of Israel “a mistake” and accused the Jewish state of “ethnic cleansing.” He later called the Trump presidency “the Hitler mistake” at the 2018 Academy Awards in response to Robert De Niro’s “Fuck Trump” declaration.
- Washington Post opinion columnist Dana Milbank, himself Jewish, claimed in October 2018 that “Trump’s America is not a safe place for Jews” after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. But Milbank never said the same thing about “Obama’s America” after the 2014 Overland Park JCC shooting.
- On July 10 Halie Soifer, the executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, called Trump “the cancer” in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal. To be fair, the Journal published a counterpoint by Larry Greenfield, a fellow at the Claremont Institute.
- In March the Boston Globe published an opinion piece called “A shocking number of Jews have become willing collaborators in white supremacy” by SI Rosenbaum in reaction to the testimony of Trump’s turncoat attorney Michael Cohen. Cohen had invoked his own Jewish heritage during his remarks to the House Committee on Oversight as part of his supposed tell-all on Trump. Rosenberg didn’t seem to care that Cohen was going to jail for, among other things tax evasion, campaign finance violations, and perjury for previous testimony before Congress.
The Myth of Integrity
The pattern described above shows the shambles that Jewish American “leadership” is in. The majority of organizations and leaders skew to the left, so they have no issue invoking Jewish identity when convenient in order to impugn the character of anyone that runs afoul of their conventions. The leader of the largest so-called watchdog group voices his views on a platform promoting anti-Semitic messages. Why then do parents, educators, religious clergy, and other authority figures wonder that their youth are being recruited to vociferously anti-Israel groups like IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace?
In response to the tectonic movements on the American political landscape with respect to immigration, gun control, freedom of speech, and yes even Israel they are committed to toeing the line with the establishment liberals of the bygone Obama era. Like Greenblatt, many senior members of the Obama White House team like chief of staff Rahm Emanuel were Jewish. Jonah Goldberg, today an avowed NeverTrump political orphan, in 2010 referred to a similar issue during the exposure of the until-then secret liberal media network known as JournoList.
“Oh, and – surprise! – it turns out that the “O” in JournoList stands for “Obama.”
In 2008, participants shared talking points about how to shape coverage to help Obama. They tried to paint any negative coverage of Obama’s racist and hateful pastor, Jeremiah Wright, as out of bounds. Journalists at such “objective” news organizations as Newsweek, Bloomberg, Time, and The Economist joined conversations with open partisans about the best way to criticize Sarah Palin.”
Many of the journalists in question were Jewish, and unsurprisingly few of them were given anywhere near the amount of criticism that Miller or other pro-Trump Jews have had to face from the likes of the ADL. This was despite the fact that one of the main efforts by the group was to stifle discussion of Obama’s anti-Semitic pastor Jeremiah Wright. Rather than hold accountable the members of this web, led by the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein (who went on to found Vox) and criticize them for the incestuous relationship between a partisan media and politicians, most of the Jewish “leadership” organizations ignored the phenomenon.
Now that the media has enlisted publicly to oppose Obama’s successor, there is an outcry and a need to emphasize that the identity of Jews and Israel cannot be politicized, when that has been the routine up until now. These “leaders” are more committed to their personal relationships, public image, access and career prospects with the political party many of them used to either promote or work for than they are to the community that they supposedly lead. Very fitting for an obedient follower, if one thinks about it.