I remember when Al Gore selected Sen. Joseph Lieberman of
Connecticut to be his running mate in 2000. I remember joyfully taping
Lieberman's acceptance speech. I remember the tears in my father's eyes (a
devout Republican) as Lieberman stood above a cheering throng of Democratic
faithful and thanked God for allowing him to reach this time and place.
Now, I never supported Lieberman's run. I never hoped that he
would win -- both my mother and my father voted for George W. Bush (I wasn't
old enough to vote at the time). But I did hope that Lieberman's exposure
could help change the media-created perception of Orthodox Jews as
closed-off-to-the-world, ghetto Jews who could not function in the secular
world. I hoped that Lieberman would provide an example of Orthodox Jewry at
work. Thousands of Orthodox Jews like me hoped for the same thing.
Lieberman let us down.
Shortly after being tapped by Gore, Lieberman withdrew a
longstanding request with the White House that the U.S. embassy in Israel be
moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. After Internet honcho Matt Drudge caught
Lieberman eating and drinking on Tisha B'Av, an important Jewish fast day,
Lieberman downgraded his level of Judaism from Orthodox to the vaguely
Lieberman also contravened the Torah on abortion. During an
interview with Larry King, Lieberman told King that according to Judaism,
abortion is "a matter of personal judgment. And like everything else in
Judaism, ultimately, it's up to each of us to decide what we think is
The Torah forbids abortion except in cases where the mother's
life is endangered, and partial-birth abortion is absolutely forbidden. Once
a large part of the fetus has emerged from the mother, it is against Jewish
law (halacha) to abort the fetus, even if the mother's life is in danger.
The second part of Lieberman's statement, that "like everything
else in Judaism, ultimately, it's up to each of us to decide what we think
is right," is even more abhorrent than Lieberman saying that on-demand
abortion is permitted by the Torah. The point of the Torah is that man must
follow God's law, not his own conscience. Judaism is not secular humanism.
Later in his campaign, Lieberman appeared on the Don Imus radio
program. Imus asked him whether Judaism bans "interracial or interreligious
marriage or dating or that sort of thing." Lieberman answered: "No, there is
no ban whatsoever. Certainly not on interracial. And not on interreligious."
Lieberman said that Orthodox Jews do not intermarry because of a "natural
tendency among a lot of Jews, as there is among a lot of Christians and a
lot of ethnic groups" to "marry within, to keep the faith going." This is
baloney. While Judaism does not ban interracial marriage as long as both
people are Jewish, marriage between Jews and gentiles is completely banned.
Just after the Imus disaster, Lieberman told American Urban
Radio Networks that he would meet Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan, a
virulent Jew-hater who calls Judaism a "gutter religion." Selling his soul
to the political devil, Lieberman said: "I'd be open to sitting and talking
to Minister Farrakhan. It hasn't sort of come together yet, but I look
forward to it." Meeting with Farrakhan wasn't a big step for Lieberman --
after all, he welcomed Palestinian master-terrorist Yasser Arafat to a
National Prayer Breakfast in 1999 and asked the audience to pray for Arafat.
Since Al Gore's decision not to run, Lieberman's sellout has accelerated.
In late December, Lieberman visited Saudi Arabia, Qatar and
Bahrain. Then, he visited the Palestinians. In the midst of the intifada,
while innocent Jews were being slaughtered in their beds, the "Orthodox Jew"
went into Ramallah and made statements supporting Palestinian statehood. He
refused to meet with Arafat because "of the unfortunate record he has put
together." But he did meet with Arafat puppets, including Saeb Erekat and
Following his trip, Lieberman told the press that he received
the "warmest, friendliest and most respectful greetings" from the Arabs and
that his Judaism "seemed to be less a divider and more a uniter." Meanwhile,
the Saudis continue to fund terrorism against Israelis and Americans, and
the Palestinians continue to murder Jews. And the rest of the world thinks:
If Lieberman's OK with it, why should we object?
Lieberman, in portraying himself as an Orthodox/"Observant" Jew,
is seen as the spokesman for Judaism. When he misrepresents Orthodox Judaism
for his own political ends, he does a disservice to Jews and Judaism. For
that reason alone, Jews should turn their backs on Lieberman -- the way he
has turned his back on them.