To discuss issues relevant to the large and growing world of young Frum families and singles who are fully engaged in the Olam HaTorah and Olam HaZeh. You take your career, learning, family (or dating) and play seriously (not necessarily in that order.) You are nervous about the anti-intellectual trends that you see in your community while being proud of being part of the Torah renaissance in our generation.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Frum Jews and Republicans

How did all Frum Jews become card-carrying shock troops for the Republican Party? If you criticize George Bush or the war in Iraq in shul, you won't hear the end of it! I understand that there is an affinity towards Republican 'traditional values' amongst frum folks, but what does that have to do with running a country, or mis-running a war. But that is another topic for another day. We should all remember that the Republican Party is a political party and like all parties that get too much power, they become less interested in ideals and more interested in consolidating their power. The best government is divided government - if there is a Democratic president like Clinton - it was great that there was a Republican congress to keep him honest (so to speak:) and now with a Republican president, we would all be better served with a Democratically controlled Congress.


  • At 11/28/2005 12:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A Democratic congress would prevent Supreme Court nominations like Alito which many frum Jews favor.

  • At 11/28/2005 8:58 PM, Blogger J said…

    Not necesarily. But even if true, so what? That is just one issue. Don't Frum Jews want a fiscally responsible president? One who will fight the war on terror and not the war in Iraq? A split government would keep the president and his administration honest.

  • At 11/30/2005 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Most frum jews I know support the war. One of Israel's greatest threats was taken out of the picture. Most terrorists are going to Iraq and it has become the main focus for al-qaeda.

    A split government would also not help stop spending, and it would only force the President to conceed to even more pork barrel projects to the DNC and the RNC.

  • At 12/01/2005 10:40 PM, Blogger J said…

    imho opinion you are 'soser' yourself on your first point. If Iraq is not just becoming a focus of al-qaeda, but a training ground as well as recruitment center. None of this bodes well for Israel or America or the world. A contained and humbled Sadam - which is what we had right before the war - is much safer situation for Israel.

    In your next paragraph you claim that split gov't will only force the government to spend more. History has not borne this out. There is much more pork and waste now then there was when there was divided government - either with Reagan and a democratic house, or with Clinton and a republican house. Things are totally out of control on the spending side.

    I am not advocating that frum jews should become democrats. i am pointing out that republicans are politicians, not 'malachim'. A republican ganav or a republican incompetent is still a ganav and/or an incompetent - even if they say all the right things about gays, abortion, 'left wingers' and 'security.' And an honest and competent Democrat will be a lot better for the country, even if their ideology is 'wrong' regarding gays, abortion, etc.

  • At 12/02/2005 12:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Al Qaeda has made Iraq the focus of most of its resourses and attacks is because Iraq has great strategic value. The US can not afford to let it become a terrorist state. A Democratic Senate (Winning the house seems politically impossible right now) will not really help win the war. What can they do as a majority that they are not doing already as a minority.

    Saddam according to the intel at the time was not humble or contained. He fired scuds at Israel in 91 and helped support the families of suicide bombers, and started numerous wars in the reigion.

    The war is not over and Iraq could become a democratic muslim nation that is commited to fighting terrorism. That would be huge victory for Israel and the US.

    A split congress in the 90's restrained spending because the house republicans were in the opposition and the democratic president wanted to increase spending.They preached small gov't and were elected on that platform. When in the opposition one can afford to be extreme and uncompromising(take Sharon during the Barak years as an example). The deomcrats on the other hand, have never advocated cutting the pork or spending; rather, they wish to increase it. A divided house will only limit spending when one side wants to limit it. However, here both sides want to increase spending so it will only force the GOP to compromise and spend even more money.

    There is also no doubt that an honest democrat is better than a courrupt republican. However, the democrats have not demonstrated to be any better.

  • At 12/05/2005 11:58 PM, Blogger J said…

    Your raise some valid points in your last post - but you reveal your knee-jerk Republicanism at the same time.

    Here are some counter-points:
    1) replace the word 'terrorism' with 'communism' and 'Iraq' with 'Vietnam' and your post sounds like Lyndon Johnson defending that stupid war.
    2) You go back to '91 to show that Sadam was not contained. Instead go back to 2002 and remember that he let the inspectors back in, was pretty much going along with almost all of what Bush was asking him for. The inspectors found nothing, but the Bush-ites all pooh-poohed. (While we are at it, lets take Bill Clinton to task for bombing Iraq in '98 in response to Sadam's foot dragging on inspections, and then he goes back to Monica-gate and forgets all about following up and demanding the return of the inspectors!! You see, I am willing to spread the blame wherever it belongs, because I am not on either the Republican team nor the Democratic team, like you are, my dear friend)
    3) You dream of a democratic Iraq, built on the model of the following list of democratic arab states ____________________ (fill in the blank, I dare you! :)
    4) Have you forgotten Bush's prez debate with Gore in 2000 where he (correctly) derided the concept of 'nation building' as being (correctly) unrealistic.
    5) Your point about corrupt democrats having no incentive to cut spending is well taken. But one could argue that they would do it as a campaign issue. but you do have a valid point.

  • At 12/05/2005 11:59 PM, Blogger J said…

    I am enjoying our debate, but would appreciate if you wouldn't stay 'Anonymous'. Granted my real name is not 'J', but at least I can be 'mavchin bein Anonymous and Anonymous' and know that I am talking to different people or the same people.
    Kol Tuv!

  • At 12/06/2005 9:52 AM, Blogger CM said…

    I think you have forgotten the original point. How will a Democratic senate help win the war in Iraq or bring about more responsible gov't?

    What program will they advocate cutting? Farm subsidies, military spending, social security,homeland security, ethanol, welfare? All of these are issues no side is willing to take on.

    What can they do about Iraq that they are not doing already as the minority?

    As for Iraq. Iraq is situated in one of the richest oil regions of the world. If Al-Qaeda were to gain control it would be a disaster. Al-Qaeda would have billions of dollars at its disposal to wage war on its enemies. An Al-Qaeda Iraq could wage war on moderate Muslim states it neighbors with who are also rich in oil. It could and probably would inspire revolutions in neighboring countries and would get support(This happened in Cambodia with the Khmer Rouge). Also the next generation of Iraqis would be mentored under Al-Qaeda.

    I don't see how we can lose this war and really win the war on terror? You argue some valid points on the past and how we got into the war. (for an opposing view you should read "the threatening storm" by kenneth pollack were he makes the case for going to war). But it doesn't change the facts. You have to explain how Iraq is like Vietnam.

    And yes a democratic Iraq is possible. Turkey has had a rough road but shows if you take a hard line against terror a modern society is possible.Yes dissent is suppressed and other liberties are stifled but as they move to join the EU they are tackling with these issues.
    Also Afghanistan is also moving forward and some former soviet republics are also making progress. You also forget that Iraq has the worlds superpower helping become a democracy. Most Arab nations don't. I believe its possible and we will likely win. Will it be costly yes, but it is necessary.

    As too being a knee-jerk republican you may very well be right, but I tend to be very libertarian on social issues.

  • At 12/07/2005 12:00 AM, Blogger J said…

    Too much to counter here, but let me tackle a few:

    1- I am happy that you admit to knee-jerk Republicanism :) this is half the refuah. If you just remember that you don't work for the Republicans, they work for you. And therefore you don't have to defend any of their policies or any of them who have allegations of wrong doing against them. ONce you obtain this freedom for yourself, you will not believe how liberating it will be - you can then actually listen to both sides of a debate!

    2- What to cut? Hmmm. Lets start with the Transportation Pork Bill. Then we can move on to the Medicare Drug benefit. Then we can trim programs accross the board like Republicans are supposed to do.
    3- Al Qeida is not trying to take over Iraq. They don't try to take over anything. They are the weeds that grow where there are cracks and no landlord to uproot them. The Taliban where not Al Qeida. They hosted Al Qeida and got burnt for it (correctly - as the prez did say - with terrorits if you host them you roast with them {or something like that :)} So you are fearing the wrong thing. The rebels there want us and anyone they consider our puppets gone.

    If this was part of the war on terror, then we should bomb Fallujah and any area that supports the uprising.

    4- YOu can't bring Turkey as an example of an arab democracy - because a) they have their own history of Westernization that they brought on themselves (under Attaturk in the early 20th century) and b) the repressively (b'h:) suppressed Islam in their country for many years. This has enabled them (for now) to resist the destructive weed of radical Islam.

    We are losing the war on terror because we are too busy fighting a stupid war in Iraq which has nothing to do with the war on terror.

  • At 12/07/2005 3:15 PM, Blogger CM said…

    You again ignored the main point. How will a democratic congress help. They are not advocating cutting any of the major programs. Do you seriously believe the demovrats will vote against seniors?!

    What else is Al-Qaeda doing in Iraq besides trying to take over? If America leaves normal Iraqis will be faced with a choice support Al Qaeda or support an Iraqi gov't that has shown that so far to be unable to protect it supporters. Which would you chose?

    Bombing Faluja will kill many innocent people. I believe it was Abraham who told God that killing the innocent and guilty together is wrong. And God agreed.

    Most of Al Qaeda is now based in Iraq. Zarqwai is the new bin ladin. Iraq is the war on terror.Where else is there a strong prescence of Al-qaeda.

    Turkey was introduced to westernazation by attaturk and Iraq is being introduced by Bush. In the end history will show which one of us is right.

    In the meantime how will a democratic congress help? The dems won't pull out or restrain spending.

  • At 12/13/2005 10:47 AM, Blogger J said…

    While we argue about this stupid war in Iraq, Iran gets stronger and stronger and there is nothing that we can do about because we have spent all of our physical and diplomatic assest in Iraq.

    1- Dems and the deficit: No they won't vote against seniors, but some democrats like Lieberman will vote against pork like in the highway bill and most will vote against tax cuts for "the rich". They will protect their constituency just as the repubs protect theirs, but maybe (i am not saying that it will happen) they will take more seriously the fiscal responsibility that the Republican Congress has not taken. If for no other reason than the fact the American People WANT them to - and thus they can get votes as the 'responsible' party - as Clinton did in '92 and Gingrich did in '94.

    2- If Iraq cannot defeat the Iraqi insurgency, then we need to get out. If the Iraqi people want their freedom they need to fight for it. Freedom cannot be handed to you. Would you want your children in the US army to bring 'democracy' to Iraq? I think not.

    3- I don't know how you can know that Al-queda is mostly in Iraq. They are doing a fine job blowing up people all over South East Asia, and are flexing their muscles in Afghanistan again.

    4- how will the dems do Iraq better? I don't know. But I do know that any solutions requires a start and realistic assessment of the situation. Bush and Co. do not have this. So I have no faith in them.

    5- >> Turkey was introduced to westernazation by attaturk and Iraq is being introduced by Bush.

    This is an incredibly false and dangerous assessment. Becuase you are forgetting one teeny, weeny point: Attaturk was a fellow Turk! and Bush is an American trying to impose from the outside! If you know anything about Arab mindset, u would realize that this is not a paralel situation.

  • At 12/13/2005 4:18 PM, Blogger CM said…

    Democrats on the deficit: While your right they would support ending tax cuts I am not so sure it would be good for the economy. (Cuting taxes pro and con is an economic question not a political one, just bec you raise tax rates does not mean you will increase revenue) While there are principled senators like Sen Coburn and Liberman they are the minority. See this link:

    Nothing will change with a democratic senate besides raising taxes and what you wrote about the frum poverty level is surprising since we would be the hardest hit by them.

    Iraq: They can not defeat the insurgency yet. It needs time and if they are intent on winning we will have to reinvade and start all over when another 9/11 happens.

    I personally would not want my children storming the beach on D-day either but what needs to be done needs to be done.

    Al-Qaeda: I base my opinions mainly on news reports. one, that Bin Laden is no longer in control(Pakistans Ambassador among others). The fact that fighters are going to Iraq and not Afghanistan or elsewhere . The fact that Zarqawi began to send people to other countries like Jordan and reports that he is trying to build cells outside the country.

    Most of the attacks like indonesia and bagladesh are from reigional groups not really gaining support from anyone but the locals.

    Dems on War: Most democrats say stay the course. A senate can't change anything either, they don't need to be the majority to make assements or anything else they can do it now.

    Turkey: Iraqis will decide if they want democracy, but in order for it to have a chance there has to be institutions in place(judiciary, military etc). Your point about Attaturk is valid but that does not mean he won't be succesful. Only time will tell.

    What about the Arab mindset? Anything American is bad, and the devil. Arab countries have embraced western ideas and vice versa. Why are the Afghans basicly willing to move forward with democracy, and so are many shiites and kurds in Iraqs. It is the minority sunni(and they may vote) that compose the insurgency. It would be just as wrong to claim to know the jewish mindset by studying some elements in orthodox judaism.

  • At 12/13/2005 5:16 PM, Blogger CM said…

    Here is a link that basicly argues the points I am making on Iraq (just with facts and sources.)

  • At 12/20/2005 1:44 PM, Anonymous observingjew said…

    You make some good points.

    I think in some cases it's due to some frum Yidden becoming addicted to right-wing talk radio like Limbaugh, Bob Grant and Curtis Sliwa, and absorbing what they hear on the air. That is a significant issue in and of itself that could use separate treatment.

  • At 12/20/2005 11:41 PM, Blogger J said…

    U truly live up to your name! Home run!
    When I was in Yeshiva, all the bochurim who listened to the radio swore allegience to Rush Limbaugh. And felt that he espoused Torah true values (I guess we didn't learn the Gemara which identifies yidden as bayshonim, Anuvim and Gomlei Chasadim - bashfull, humble and lovers of kindness).
    YOu have inspired me to post on this topic. Stay tuned...

  • At 12/21/2005 1:18 PM, Blogger J said…

    Editor's Note: The gemara actually lists "Rachmanim, Bayshanim, V'Gomlei Chasadim" as the inherent attributes of Jews (Merciful, Bashful and Loving Kindness.) this came to me this morning in the 'beis haMerchatz' and I felt very guilty about thinking about a Gemara in such a place.

  • At 12/21/2005 7:43 PM, Anonymous observingjew said…

    Some frum identify with such radio hosts, because they stand for many things that we support (though not always). However, the manner in which they act, is antithetical to our values. The shouting, putdowns, harsh rhetoric, name calling and the like, is not our way. Some people are so blinded by their support for Israel and conservative values that they overlook those problems. But that is wrong.

    Additionally, they don't always support us, and, even when they do, the question is how deep that support is, and if it's only tactical, to get votes.

    So I think that we should keep some distance and not get overly enamored with them, to the point of joining fan clubs and becoming their cheerleaders. We could see them as allies on some issues, but should not fool ourselves to the point of believing that our ideas and positions are identical always. We have to be careful not to pick up and start imitating their rough styles as well.

  • At 12/21/2005 8:59 PM, Blogger J said…

    observingjew, if you where nearby, I would give you a hug! You are so on the money on this issue.

    I am stupified at times how so many bnei Torah can listen to this stuff and not be turned off by the grossness, total lack of midos and derech eretz, the mean-spiritedness of the hosts, etc.

    But you are right. They are so happy to finally have folks in the 'media' who defend traditional values that we share with them. Also, the spirit of cynicism prevades in many Yeshivas - cynicicism vis a vis the outside world, secular culture, (YU:), etc. So the cynicism that talk radio hosts dole out vis a vis liberals is not foreign (unfortunately.)

  • At 12/21/2005 11:33 PM, Blogger CM said…

    Talk radio was primarily used to package conservatism to the masses. Most people do not have the time to read up on most issues nor will they really benefit even if they do. Therefore, they will base most of their opinions on emotions, sound bites etc. Presidential debates sum up national issues into a minute or less. Talk Radio has made, in my opinion, many people conservative instead of liberal. While it's a regrettable situation, I would rather that these people be conservative than liberal. Therefore, I like talk radio because without it people would not suddenly begin to think clearly about issues or debate them. Rather they would simply buy into the opposing view who uses the same tactic.

    However, You would be making a mistake if you think most frum Jews have been bamboozled into conservatism. Conservatism advocates many policies that frum Jews support. Jews like talk radio because they agree with the host,not because the host convinced them. If you want frum Jews to change their mind you must give reasons why these policies are bad.

    Also, why is it that people are always saying we should distance ourselves from our closest supporters. The main argument is that they have an agenda. Yes, but so do we. The right is in tune with frum Jews more then the left. Therefore, it makes sense to join with the right. On vouchers, taxes, Israel, moral issues(like Schitah),the right lines up very well. Do we agree on every issue. No, and when we don't we say so. For example, the OU told Bush that Jews have no problem with Stem cell research. When Bush makes an error regarding Israel he is attacked (when he forgot to mention the suicide bombings). Most frum Jews already know what they believe in and select their allies accordingly.

  • At 12/22/2005 12:35 AM, Anonymous observingjew said…

    "this came to me this morning in the 'beis haMerchatz' and I felt very guilty about thinking about a Gemara in such a place."

    I believe it says somewhere that if a talmid chochom was miharheir divrei Torah be'oness in a place where he shouldn't, he is potur. I think that means that if someone who thinks alot about Torah, gets a Torah thought in a place where it's ossur, as long as he doesn't dwell on it, he shouldn't worry. I guess it's like seeing something you shouldn't gaze at on the street, e.g. in the summer. If it comes to you and you weren't looking for it, you're not to blame, but you shouldn't dwell on it.

  • At 12/22/2005 12:54 AM, Anonymous observingjew said…

    J - thanks for the nice words re what I wrote re the frum and talk radio. It is something that bothered me for some time and something I have thought about. I even once wrote something about it years ago. Actually, I once had some personal interaction with one such host and I saw that he wasn't the great tzaddik and oheiv Yisroel that some made/make him out to be. I think it is mostly a problem with the more right-wing frum, and as you go leftward, it lessens or disappears.

    The right-wing frum have been marginalized for so long, that when they hear some of those hosts, they feel accepted and part of a mainstream. The delicious feeling of being accepted blinds them to the other problems. Al kol pishoim tichaseh ahava, as it says in Mishlei. Also, the fact that they don't see the hosts, just hear them, makes it easier to idealize them, sorta like with online relationships when people sometimes romaticize and idealize things. Truth is, it happens with tv too actually, but maybe it's even easier when you don't even see the person.


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