As the JTA news service indicates, Jewish groups and journalists are busy reading the tea leaves and in between the lines for clues of how Alaska’s governor relates to Jews and Jewish issues. The consensus so far is that she has cordial relations with Alaska’s Jewish community of about 6,000 (about as many people as inhabit the town that she served as mayor just prior to becoming governor, 20 months ago); she is generally warm toward Israel but has conservative social views that do not conform with those of most Jews.
Phil Weiss, our blogger “friend,” reacted to John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate with a succession of quick flip-flopping from an initial enthusiasm to opposition, as he learned more. During his short span of excitement for Gov. Palin, he reminded readers that he had registered Republican in 2000 to vote for McCain. (Weiss goes on to note that the Senator McCain of 2000 does not much resemble the Sen. McCain of today.)
Phil Weiss is a left-wing writer who has expressed support for, and joined forces with, elements of the right before. He has written several times for “The American Conservative” (TAC) magazine (co-founded in October 2002 by the rightist firebrand, Pat Buchanan) as have some others who identify either as liberals or on the left. The basis for this left-right alliance has to do with a common opposition to the Iraq war.
As an important thematic corollary, it is also manifested by criticism of Israel, Zionism and/or neo-conservatism as a manifestation of both. Some liberal or left writers who have contributed to TAC, like the Israel Policy Forum’s M.J. Rosenberg, are critical but not opposed to Israel (much like ourselves); others – like Phil Weiss– really are anti-Israel.
Mind you, Phil Weiss has declared in the past that he doesn’t know if he is “anti-Zionist” or just “non-Zionist.” It’s clear from reading his drumbeat of attacks on Israel and Zionists that he is decidedly anti-Zionist.
He is in favor of Jewish assimilationism. This is his right as a personal preference, but it is problematic when this position is presented as the one progressive view – as against “parochial” Jews who insist on sustaining and cultivating Jewish peoplehood, culture or religion as freely-chosen values.
Reinforced by the example of his instant shoot-from-the-hip initial response to Sarah Palin, I suggest that he’s one confused dude. I’d also say, when it comes to Israel and Jewish issues, that he’s as intolerant as he is ignorant.