I don’t normally participate in making fun of anybody’s name: under most circumstances, people do not have control over their names and bravely go through life with them. That said, I must make one example for Jennifer Rubin of Commentary, a persistently hypocritical blog writer on the Contentions site who is little more than – no, nothing more than – a shill for the GOP. Of course, there’s loads of those, what makes her special? As I will explain below, it is the sort of bile in her writing, the incredibly obvious double standards she has for people, that drives me nuts. And someone who spews bile like this and has a last name of Rubin…I cannot resist.
Anyway, Jennifer Rubin has been at the top of the shrieking heap against the Park51 Islamic Community Center, 2 1/2 blocks from NYC. I’m not going to post any of her rants about it as anyone reading this post has heard it all before: the acknowledgment of the “right” to build, but the necessity to be “sensitive” to the 9/11 families [some of whom are Muslim, and others of whom support the project]. Plus, ugly questions about the funding source for the center and the personal leanings of Imam Rauf, the spiritual leader of the Cordoba Initiative, the group behind the project. All of it is bullshit, and further commentary on it by me is a waste of your time.
No, I want to lay before you the sort of character this political marionette is or has become. I don’t know her personally of course, so I can only judge her from her writings. And believe me, judging from her writings, she is a unique character: an anti-Semite who accuses other Jews of being anti-Semites. I do recognize how bizarre this charge is, and how easily it can be turned back on me. But seriously, you must see what I mean to believe it.
I posted before about an article Rubin wrote this past January called “Why do Jews hate Palin?” To summarize, Rubin looooves Palin because Palin loooooves Israel, despite the fact that Palin’s stated position on Israel aligns with fundamentalist Christians and Jews and is a sure path, according to every Mideast expert, to the destruction of Israel as a democracy and a haven for Jews worldwide. Jews hate Palin in droves not because of Palin’s propensity to lie, or be divisive, or to be a dumbass. No, Jews hate Palin because they hate who she is. Palin is sexy, Jews like frumpy. Palin is blue collar and has worked jobs Jews won’t touch. Palin’s child is in the military, Jews never do that. Palin has 6 (or 5) children, Jews never have that many kids [oog, unless their frum, then they’re OK]. Jews read, but they have been misinformed about Palin, who loved to read as a child, and they simply don’t appreciate “instinctual” leadership anyway. O, and Palin has a Downs baby, while Jews love to abort.
If you think my interpretation of her article is extreme, it is not: people who are paid to notice these things for a living say the same damn thing.
To its credit, Commentary publishes readers’ letters, and has the author respond. The letters chosen, of course, are chosen from the milder lot [the practice of any magazine], but the charge remains and Rubin responds:
Other readers…found in my article echoes of anti-Semitic tropes or fodder for anti-Semites, especially with respect to characterizations of “elitism” or “intellectualism.” But there is, I would suggest, nothing remotely anti-Semitic about the observation, supported by Tom W. Smith’s 2005 Jewish Distinctiveness in America: A Statistical Portrait and ahost of other data, that Jews are more educated than the population at large. Nor is there anything controversial in observing that the proportion of Jews in intellectual professions is higher than the proportion of Jews in the population. Simply observing an antipathy felt by a disproportionately well-educated, highly credentialed group for a politician with a different persona and background is not a value judgment on either half of the equation. Rather, it is a candid recognition that Palin and most American Jews simply don’t share a common perspective or life experience.
This is, of course, garbage. Yes, the document she cites goes into the themes she mentions, but there is a huge difference. Smith’s document, at 154 pages, is a carefully written sociological study [and, at the risk of attaining my wife’s ire, I must point out it lacks, despite heaps of table of results backing the conclusions, no decent summary of the statistical validity behind those conclusions] whose validity is does no use here to question. David Harris, the head of the American Jewish Committee who published the survey, says the following:
Why should we care about all of this—other than for “bragging rights” or a parlor game? We care because the numbers reveal an underlying strength of the American Jewish community: Despite our declining share of the overall American population, a high intermarriage rate, and a growing geographical dispersion, Jews have been able to retain a distinctive profile which bespeaks a unique core Jewish identity. Furthermore, Jews have embraced certain broad values, such as belief in the importance of education and in expressive individualism, that seem to have resonance for other Americans as well. Why should we care about all of this—other than for “bragging rights” or a parlor game? We care because the numbers reveal anunderlying strength of the American Jewish community: Despite ourdeclining share of the overall American population, a high intermarriagerate, and a growing geographical dispersion, Jews have been able to retain a distinctive profile which bespeaks a unique core Jewish identity. Furthermore, Jews have embraced certain broad values,such as belief in the importance of education and in expressive individualism,that seem to have resonance for other Americans as well. [Emphasis mine.]
That is, Jewish identity is something of which the American Jewish community should be proud. Further, it is meaningful that American Jewish values have become American values as well.
The importance of this statement cannot be overemphasized with respect to Rubin, whose article bemoans these values because, let’s face it, it makes her an outlier with respect to her hero-goddess Palin. She turns these values on their head as negative and anti-American. That her article was published in Commentary and not the Occidental Quarterly is surreal.
Now, for my cri de coeur
. Peter Beinart, who has stood up and questioned the role of American Jewish leadership in its stewardship of young Jewish Americans’ values, wrote
with regard to the Park51 project:
And oh yes, my fellow Jews, who are so thrilled to be locked arm in arm with the heirs of Pat Robertson and Father Coughlin against the Islamic threat. Evidently, it’s never crossed your mind that the religious hatred you have helped unleash could turn once again against us. Of course not, we’re insiders in this society now: Our synagogues grace the toniest of suburbs; our rabbis speak flawless English; we Jews are now effortlessly white. Barely anyone even remembers that folks in Lower Manhattan once considered us alien and dangerous, too.
To which Rubin, of all people, writes:
As for Beinart’s second paragraph, it is an unfortunate example of the bile that can be splattered on Jews by Jews, with nary an eyebrow raised by elite opinion makers. Had Pat Buchanan, to whom Beinart lately bears an uncanny resemblance, accused Jews of walking with Father Coughlin, or had Al Sharpton (before becoming part of polite liberal company) referred to Jews as “effortlessly white,” I imagine all sorts of elites would be throwing a fit. But now it is par for the course.
I imagine she writes this with a straight face, for she clearly feels she has acquitted herself of the same accusation laid onto her by her intellectual superiors. [I also love her use of the word “bile”.] But all Beinart is pointing out is that the language used by many Jews is exactly analogous to that used by their former tormentors in years past. And Beinart is not the only one to make this observation as well.
So, on the one hand, Rubin uses an anti-Semitic canard to someone who is attacking anti-Semitic language in discourse regarding American Muslims. On the other hand, she is happy to take findings from an AJC report about “Jews” [ill-defined, but I assume they know of whom they speak] and turn them on their head to expose the other-worldliness of those values because they result in a severe dislike of Sarah Palin.
Anyone not lobotomized should only read Jennifer “Bilirubin” Rubin’s yellow journalism with derision.