Where liberal and conservative Jews differ is where each group thinks the greatest danger to the Jews lies. Jews on the Left are certain that the greatest threats to Jews come from the Right. Conservative and centrist Jews believe that dangers to the Jews can come from the Left, from the Right, from Islam, from a renewal of Christian anti-Semitism, indeed from anywhere, but that at this moment, the world's Left is far more an enemy of the Jewish people than the world's, not to mention America's, Right.
When liberal Jewish columnist Frank Rich of The New York Times wrote recently that tea partiers had engaged a "small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht," he meant it. Kristallnacht ("Night of the Broken Glass") is widely considered the opening act of the Holocaust. In November 1938, in the course of two days, tens of thousands of German Jews were arrested and deported to concentration camps; scores of Jews were beaten to death; 267 synagogues were destroyed; and thousands of Jewish-owned businesses were vandalized.
Why would a New York Times columnist use the term when talking about American tea partiers?
Because when Rich and most other Jews on the Left see Right-wing non-Jews, they see swastikas. It is an inversion of the famous scene in Woody Allen's film "Annie Hall" in which the WASP character is depicted as seeing the Woody Allen character as a Hasidic Jew. Most American Jews on the Left -- like Leftist professors on college campuses -- inhabit an insular universe, where regular, let alone intimate, contact with conservatives, especially Christian conservatives, is almost non-existent.
Last week, another Jewish liberal, Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., in attacking the tea partiers, specified "white Christians" as people who fear members of all other religious and racial groups. And this past September, Grayson, referring to Congress not having passed health care legislation, said on the floor of Congress, "I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven't voted sooner to end this Holocaust in America." In Grayson's view, 12 percent of Americans not having health insurance constitutes a "Holocaust."
Another liberal Jewish commentator for The New York Times, Linda Greenhouse, who teaches at Yale Law School, likened the situation of illegal immigrants in Arizona to that of the Jews of Nazi-occupied Denmark. As if being deported to Mexico for illegally entering Arizona is comparable to being sent to Auschwitz for being a Danish Jew.
The liberal Jewish former-columnist of the Boston Globe, Ellen Goodman, wrote in 2007, "Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers ..."
Another Jew on the Left, George Soros, said at the Davos conference in 2007, "America needs to follow the policies it has introduced in Germany. We have to go through a certain de-Nazification process." As Martin Peretz wrote at the time in The New Republic: "He believes that the United States is now a Nazi country. Why else would we have to go through a 'certain de-Nazification process'? I defy anybody to interpret the remark differently."
And Seth Meyers of "Saturday Night Live" asked, referring to the new Arizona law, "Could we all agree that there's nothing more Nazi than saying 'Show me your papers'?"
These are only a few examples.
Jews who compare conservative Americans -- tea partiers, global-warming skeptics, supporters of Arizona's illegal-immigrant law, former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, conservative Christians -- to Nazis and the Holocaust not only smear decent Americans -- who, as it happens, are far more pro-Jewish and pro-Israel than most Americans on the Left -- they also cheapen the horror of Nazism and the Holocaust.
But in the closed world of the Left generally and of the Jewish Left specifically, there is an Auschwitz under almost every conservative bed.
As a Jew who has devoted much of his life to fighting anti-Semitism -- from being sent by Israel to the former Soviet Union to aid Soviet Jews, to writing a book on anti-Semitism ("Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism"), to serving on the board of directors of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum -- I have always found any trivialization of Nazism and the Holocaust offensive. That Jews would do this -- to fellow Americans, no less -- and solely in order to serve their Left-wing politics is worse than offensive. It is immoral.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”