The Supreme Court’s Jewish Gentile

Feb. 16 2016

“‘When there was no Jewish justice on the Supreme Court,’ Antonin Scalia told me, ‘I considered myself the Jewish justice.’” Thus opens Nathan Lewin’s remembrance of his lifelong friend and sometime legal sparring partner, who died this past Saturday. Not the least striking quality of the great Catholic jurist, Lewin remarks, was his “admiration for Jews and Jewish learning”—a fact that “explains the frequent references in his opinions to the Talmud and other Jewish sources, and the significant number of Orthodox Jewish law clerks he hired.” Lewin concludes:

There is universal agreement that Nino Scalia was brilliant, amazingly articulate, and a real mensch. There is strong disagreement, however, over the side he chose in ideological battles. Scalia is, of course, an Italian name. If one writes it with Hebrew letters, there are two possible—albeit squarely contradictory—ways of writing Scalia. One is to use the letters sin, kaf, lamed, which are also the root of sekhel: Hebrew for “wisdom.” The other is to use the Hebrew letters samekh, kuf, lamed, which are the root sakol, meaning “to stone.”

Some praised Nino’s wisdom; others were ready to stone him. But all must concur that he was a great man, that the United States he loved is greatly diminished by his loss, and that he greatly revered Jews and Jewish tradition.

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More about: American law, History & Ideas, Jewish-Catholic relations, Judaism, Law, Supreme Court

Zionists Can, and Do, Criticize Israel. Are Anti-Zionists Capable of Criticizing Anti-Semitism?

Dec. 12 2018

Last week, the New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg defended the newly elected anti-Israel congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, ostensibly arguing that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism aren’t identical. Abe Greenwald comments:

Tlaib . . . has tweeted and retweeted her enthusiasm for terrorists such as Rasmea Odeh, who murdered two American students in a Jerusalem supermarket in 1969. If Tlaib’s anti-Zionism is of the Jew-loving kind, she has a funny way of showing it.

Ilhan Omar, for her part, once tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” And wouldn’t you know it, just because she believes that Zionist hypnotists have cast global spells masking Israeli evil, some people think she’s anti-Semitic! Go figure! . . .

Goldberg spends the bulk of her column trying very hard to uncouple American Jewishness from Israel. To do that, she enumerates Israel’s sins, as she sees them. . . . [But] her basic premise is at odds with reality. Zionists aren’t afraid of finding fault with Israel and don’t need to embrace anti-Zionism in order to [do so]. A poll conducted in October by the Jewish Electorate Institute found that a majority of Americans Jews have no problem both supporting Israel and criticizing it. And unlike Goldberg, they have no problem criticizing anti-Semitism, either.

Goldberg gives the game away entirely when she discusses the discomfort that liberal American Jews have felt in “defending multi-ethnic pluralism here, where they’re in the minority, while treating it as unspeakable in Israel, where Jews are the majority.” She adds: “American white nationalists, some of whom liken their project to Zionism, love to poke at this contradiction.” Read that again. She thinks the white nationalists have a point. Because, really, what anti-Semite doesn’t?

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel & Zionism, New York Times