As contemporary progressivism has turned increasingly hostile toward the Jewish state, Jewish religious freedom, and in some instances even Jews themselves, Eric Cohen and Aylana Meisel point to a better alternative. In a wide-ranging essay that calls upon American Jews to embrace conservatism, they see an especially important lesson in the current fight against anti-Semitism:
In the progressive mind, the struggle against anti-Semitism is often universalized into a campaign against all hatreds, all prejudice, and all forms of discrimination. Rather than focusing on the concrete threats to modern-day Jews and how to confront them in the real world, liberal progressives pursue a utopian goal that paradoxically tarnishes all forms of ethnic, national, and cultural particularism, since loving one’s own too much is the first step toward diminishing “the other.” . . . When, however, Jews come to see themselves as simply victims or simply aggressors, they are no longer able to stand up for themselves as Jews.
Without question, Jews should continue to mobilize . . . against those who attack them. . . . And they should decry right-wing anti-Semites and left-wing anti-Semites with equal vigor. But in the end, the only real answer to the permanent plague of anti-Semitism is Jewish pride: the enduring belief that Jews have a special purpose in the world, a sacred heritage to preserve, and a heroic history to continue. Without this moral self-confidence, the Jews will diminish themselves, and the anti-Semites will win without even firing a shot. . . .
The primary Jewish responsibility today—and the greatest gift that Jews can offer the world—is to defend Jewish civilization against its many detractors, at home and abroad. American Jews have a crucial role to play in this great project, both in sustaining vibrant Jewish communities in the United States and in strengthening American support for the Jewish state. To succeed, Jews will need to reform their political philosophy. For far too long, the “political stupidity of the Jews,” as Irving Kristol provocatively put it, has undermined Jewish interests, Jewish values, and Jewish continuity. The progressive worldview has long since turned against Israel, turned against traditional religion, turned against the very idea of national pride—and so Jews should oppose progressivism itself, even if they identify with certain specific positions within the liberal worldview.