Sebastian Gorka and the Truth about Jewish Liberals and American Politics

Sept. 6 2017

In a recent radio interview, the outgoing White House counterterrorism adviser claimed that his pro-Israel positions were the source of much of the criticism directed at him during his tenure. Gorka went on to suggest that the “liberal elements of the American Jewish population have basically become anti-Israeli. It’s the greatest, saddest paradox.” But, writes, Jonathan Tobin, Gorka misunderstands the Jewish left—much as the Jewish left has misunderstood him:

[L]ike all such generalizations, any attempt to describe all liberal Jews as anti-Israel is a slander. Some . . . have turned on Israel and have swelled the ranks of groups critical [of Israel], like J Street, with many others backing anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace that support the BDS movement. But most liberal Jews are still pro-Israel and many play a role in maintaining support for Israel via AIPAC and other groups.

But the avalanche of attacks on Gorka—including many from Jewish sources, some of which were unfair—was real. What was confusing about it, for him, is that he didn’t understand why being pro-Israel cut him no slack from liberal Jews. The reason for their antipathy is no secret. Gorka was an editor at Breitbart.com before his stint at the White House, and he’s returning to the website. . . . Donald Trump’s style is both inspired by and deeply appealing to Breitbart’s readers.

So far as liberals are concerned, that means it’s open season to assail those associated with Breitbart or President Trump. For Gorka, that meant a deep dive into his background as the son of Hungarian exiles. . . . Most of what was discovered was more a matter of guilt by association than proof of anything damaging. . . . The low point was reached when the Forward published a story about his son’s high-school science project. . . . Though the story was withdrawn, the Forward has yet to . . . explain this breach of journalistic ethics. . . .

All liberal Jews don’t deserve to be labeled as Israel-haters, and Gorka’s support for the Jewish state shouldn’t earn him immunity from all criticism. But neither should it have been ignored in a rush to demonize someone who, whatever you may think of his politics, was eager to be an ally of the Jewish people at a time when we can use all the friends we can get. That so many Jews are unmoved by that fact is, as Gorka correctly notes, a sad paradox.

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Is There a Way Out of Israel’s Political Deadlock?

On Tuesday, leaders of the Jewish state’s largest political parties, Blue and White and Likud, met to negotiate the terms of a coalition agreement—and failed to come to an agreement. If none of the parties in the Knesset succeeds in forming a governing coalition, there will be a third election, with no guarantee that it will be more conclusive than those that preceded it. Identifying six moves by key politicians that have created the deadlock, Shmuel Rosner speculates as to whether they can be circumvented or undone:

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