The jewish case against Joe Lieberman

Posted: Jan 15, 2003 12:00 AM
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 ingenuous "Observant." 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 right." 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 Abed Rabbo. 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.