In recent years, “neoconservative” has become a term of abuse referring to the supposed cabal that brought about the Iraq war… The term “neoconservative” used to be deployed more descriptively, to refer to liberal anticommunists who, having failed to halt the leftward drift of the Democratic Party, came in the 1970s to feel more at home on the right, where they took it upon themselves to battle Soviet expansionism abroad and anti-Americanism at home, and to fault the overreaching social programs of the Great Society.
In recent years, more than a few angry critics have insinuated with malicious intent that neoconservatism is an intrinsically Jewish school of politics and ideas. True, Jews are disproportionately represented in neoconservative ranks. But the same might be said of the ranks of communism, socialism, and liberalism to say nothing of the ranks of lawyers, doctors, financiers, and comedians.
Ruth Wisse & Seth Lipsky
Given the laws of Leviticus, the laws of kashrut, the boundaries of the Sabbath, the commands of humility before God, can anyone really think that Judaism itself is not conservative — that it doesn’t have a deeply conservative view of the human condition?
Neoconservative positions too often conflate spreading democracy with defeating America’s enemies. This undermines American moral resolve. Recent losses of civil rights, such as those embodied in the Patriot Act, are inimical to the cause of democracy, yet neoconservatives often defend these losses as part of the sacrifice Americans must pay for self-defense.
Growing up as the only hearing child in a deaf family meant that I had a unique sense of sound. While my mother, father, and two sisters were profoundly deaf, my home was not necessarily filled with silence.
Jacob Heilbrunn, They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons (New York: Doubleday, 2008), 320 pp., $26.00.
Reviewed by Sean R. Singer
Is there a connection between Judaism and neoconservatism? Between Judaism and liberalism? Does the detail & extensiveness of Jewish law suggest that Judaism is inherently conservative? How do our religious and political thinking help us address evil?