Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Neoconservative ? Jewish Conservative

Make what you will of Jay Michaelson's latest in the Forward on conservative Jews and the religious right—after skimming, I found it a mix of sloppily recounted old news and half-baked analysis. Truth be told, I couldn't really get past the assertion at the top where, after describing the Old Right's exclusion of minorities, Michaelson wrote, "That began to change 50 years ago, whenneoconservatism—that is, Jewish conservatism—began to take hold." A minor quibble, but: No, no, no. Neoconservatism and Jewish conservatism are not the same thing. And if Michaelson's ire was directed at neocons, he's only helped inoculate them from criticisms by conflating their ideology with "Jewish conservatism."

The movement's been shaped by right-wing Jewish thinkers, no doubt, who sometimes invoke some aspect or another of Jewish identity as they see it. Neoconservatism, though, is not a Jewish political movement; rather it's an American one (with adherents in the U.K., Canada, Australia and elsewhere). Usually identified with using military might to pursue interests, the movement's otherwise no monolith: neocons disagree on things like utopian democracy promotion or Straussian machination. Many Jewish conservatives seem to be neocons, but not all—see: Dov Zakheim, a Jewish conservative from a hawkish-realist bent that, unlike contemporary neocons, understands the limits of U.S. power.   Read the entire article

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