The Prophet Isaiah warned the Jews that those seeking their destruction would emerge out of their own
midst (Chapter 49, verse 17). The prophecy has come home in spades
in recent years, in a wave of anti-Semitism among Jewish Leftists
that has accompanied assaults against Israel. For many years, assimilationist,
Jewish leftists have served as fig leafs for anti-Jewish bellicosity
and anti-Israel aggression as collaborators with anti-Semites. These
are folks who essentially hate their own people and so support anti-Semitic
bigotry and belligerence throughout the world, all in the name of
promoting "peace and justice." While they are better seen as a psychiatric
phenomenon than a political one, they nevertheless do enormous harm
and play a destructive role in the current Middle East crisis that
must be properly understood.
One of the
more amusing pastimes is watching how the myriad instruments of
the Israel-bashing media keep discovering the novelty of Jewish
leftists who justify anti-Semitism and even Arab terrorism. Their
serendipity knows no boundaries when discovering Jews who justify
PLO atrocities and insist that Israel is to blame for everything
wrong with the world. In reality, self-hating Jews promoting a "Blame
the Jews" ideology have been around for thousands of years and go
back at least to the Hellenistic Age, and probably even earlier.
Anti-Semites have always utilized them voraciously. After all, if
even these "Jews" are convinced that the Jews are a greedy and evil
people, surely it must be so. Jewish anti-Semites, like gentile
anti-Semites, generally do not concede that they are bigots. They
insist that they are íonly" anti-Zionist and really want only the
best for the Jews, which just happens to include the total capitulation
of Israel to Arab fascism.
Of the countless
such Jewish Uncle Toms, "Tomming" it up for the Jew-bashers of the
world, perhaps the best known in the United States is Michael Lerner.
Lerner made the evening news early in the first Clinton Administration,
when Hillary Clinton briefly considered promoting Lernerís New Age
"politics of meaning," a sort of generic liberation theology, whose
deity is the Idol of political correctness. The "politics of meaning"
was nothing more nor less than the advocacy of the leftís political
agenda mixed with a shtikele of Hillarycare, superficially
dressed up in religious slogans and symbols. Under the "politics
of meaning," all prayer is replaced with self-indulgent endless
repetitions of the mantra "loving and caring" and assertions that
all those who disagree with the Left are greedy and selfish.
Jewish world, Lerner is better known for serving as editor of the
flaky Far-Left Tikkun magazine, a sort of a mix between a
nominally-Jewish Rolling Stone and Z Magazine. "Tikkun"
means "repair" and refers presumably to the concept in Judaism of
"repairing the world." The only problem is that, characteristically,
"Tikkun" is completely misrepresented by Lerner and his people.
It has nothing to do with politically correct "social justice,"
as they insist, but rather with the battle against paganism and
the submission of the world to Godís will. In other words, the pursuit
of PC paganism a la Tikkun is the exact opposite of the traditional
Judaic concept of "Tikkun."
Tikkun Magazine presents its readers every month with a roll call
of shallow leftism, mixed with New Age touchy-feely recreational
"compassion" and peace posturing. It uses the word "healing" the
way most people use commas, usually in the sense of "spiritual healing"
(whatever that is), but is not averse to offering pop medical tips
without a license.
Tikkun seeks to serve as a nostalgic fossilization of Sixties counter-culture
and New Left radicalism. Last fall Tikkun Magazine insisted
that the US respond to the September 11 attacks (which it calls
the September 11 "disturbances") by feeling Osama bin Ladenís pain.
It has repeatedly advocated psychedelic drugs use and proposes transcendental
meditation as the solution to Middle East strife.
serves as the flagship for Lernerís pseudo-Judaic cult movement,
calling itself the Tikkun Community, which has a handful of "synagogues,"
the largest located in San Francisco. Since Lerner can be counted
on to support the Arab position on the Middle East with perfect
consistency, he has become the darling of much of the anti-Israel
liberal media. He regularly writes Israel-bashing Op-Eds for the
Los Angeles Times and for other outlets and has appeared
in the New York Times, where he complained about being victimized
by a witch-hunting anti-progressive conformist Jewish community.
Naturally, Lerner sticks to the line that he is only opposed to
Israelís current policies, not to its existence, and if he happens
to "understand" and rationalize the mass massacres of Israeli civilians
by Arab terrorists, this has nothing to do with him wishing Jews
harm. The campus protesters who took to the streets to support bin
Laden also claimed that they possessed not a smidgen of anti-Americanism.
piece claiming he had been subjected to threats of violence appeared
in the Los Angeles Times (May 18, 2001), and was widely cited
and reported. But Lernerís word on the existence of such threats
is not exactly ironclad or inscribed in stone tablets. The Philadelphia
Inquirer a few years back reported that letters to the editor,
in Tikkun, agreeing with Lernerís articles, were in fact
being written under false names by Lerner himself!
is introduced in his columns and at events as a Rabbi, and he signs
his columns and his electronic postings as "Rabbi Lerner." In fact,
it should be emphasized up front that Lerner is not and never has
been a Rabbi, and virtually no one outside the Tikkun cult acknowledges
him as being any sort of clergyman. He did briefly take some courses
in the 1960s to prepare him to be a Jewish Sunday School teacher.
But he has no Rabbinic training and was never ordained as a Rabbi
by any Rabbinic training seminary or institution. He claims that
he was "ordained" when three mysterious unnamed "Rabbis" placed
their hands upon his head, while perhaps wishing for The Force to
be with him, but no Rabbi and no one outside the Tikkun movement
would recognize this "ordination" as kosher.
his political career back in Berkeley in the 1960s, where he was
active in several leftist groups and in the "movement." In one of
the finest reminiscences of the day, David Horowitz describes Lernerís
wedding, which he attended, in his book "Radical Son":
cake at his wedding was inscribed with a Weatherman slogan:
Smash Monogamy. Soon he and his wife had a child, and the young
family went east. When the couple separated shortly thereafter,
mother and son went to live in Boston. Lerner, however, returned
to Berkeley. "Michael," I said, "how can you leave your son
in the east to come to Berkeley? He needs you." Without hesitation,
Lerner answered: "David, you donít understand. I have to
be here. Berkeley is the center of the world-historical spirit."
Lerner also made me understand that drugs were central to the
consciousness of the Movement. On discovering that I had never
taken LSD, he was incredulous: "You have to take LSD. Until
youíve dropped acid, you donít know what socialism is."
Lerner migrated to Seattle, where he served as commissar of the
thuggish Far-Leftist Seattle Liberation Front (SLF). In a February
22, 1970 interview in the Seattle Times, Lerner predicted
that he would be fired from his academic post (as visiting assistant
professor) at the University of Washington because "I dig Marx,"
and that "three years from now I donít expect to be alive. Iím too
public a person." At least one of these predictions came true when,
in March, the philosophy department voted against renewing Lernerís
appointment due to his lack of serious credentials, and so the university
joined a long list of bogeymen whom Lerner claims have persecuted
him because of his politics. Earlier, Lernerís Seattle Liberation
Front joined with the Black Student Union to invade six university
buildings and brutally beat at least fourteen instructors and students
who did not heed their "strike order." (Lerner, if we can judge
from newspaper photos, remained at a safe distance, bullhorn in
hand.) State Senator James Andersen, (later a state supreme court
justice) described the firing of Lerner as being based on the fact
that the taxpayers were "fed up to their ears with paying Lerner
to teach violence."
It was at that
time that Lerner began his lifelong habit of threatening to sue
anyone and everyone who criticizes him or disagrees with him (and
FrontPage expects to receive such a threat momentarily); all this
from a person whose claim to fame began with membership in the Berkeley
Free Speech movement. When Slade Gorton (then state attorney and
later Senator from Washington) described Lernerís Seattle Liberation
Front as "totally indistinguishable from fascism and Nazism," Lerner
threatened suit. When the New Republic revealed that Lernerís
sister had been placing personal ads in magazines to try to get
her brother dates, Lerner and sister threatened to sue. (Lerner
seems to have a long history of dating problems; in a letter widely
circulated on the Internet, Lerner writes an
appeal to friends to find him dates, but only with
Ashkenazi or European women, a bit of racism he has yet to explain.
Edward Alexander from the University of Washington wrote an expose
of Lerner, the latter sent threatening letters to numerous Jewish
newspapers and magazines, warning they would be sued by him if they
printed the piece. (The classic and authoritative analysis of the
Lerner career is still the book written by the same Alexander (The
Jewish Wars: Reflections by One of the Belligerents, Carbondale:
Southern Illinois University Press, 1996, especially pp. 141-51).
Professor Alexander has described Lerner as "a kipah (skullcap)-wearing,
rotund beard-plucker of vaguely írabbinicí appearance who could
always be relied on to blame Israel and not the Arabs for the absence
of peace, and to liken Israeli defense against Palestinian Arab
violence to medieval Christian mobs . . . organizing pogroms against
the whole Jewish community."
that all he wants is peace and justice in the Middle East, Lernerís
prescription for achieving such is essentially the same as Yasser
Arafatís. He demands that Israel return to its 1949 borders and
forego all forms of self-defense. Even though the bulk of Palestinians
have not lived under Israeli "occupation" for many years, such occupation
is still the justification in his eyes of Palestinians perpetrating
atrocities. The only permissible response by Israelis to being butchered
by Palestinian terrorists is to offer them endless appeasements
and make sure that Israeli soldiers refuse to serve their country.
Lerner has never seen an act of Arab terrorism that he does not
rationalize, nor an act of Jewish self-defense he is willing to
In short, despite
his protests that he just wants a secure Israel in a peaceful Middle
East, when it comes to specifics Lernerís views on Israel are indistinguishable
from those of Edward Said. (Said is more outspoken about his desire
to see Israel destroyed.) Indeed, Said himself has been a featured
speaker at some Tikkun events. When Commentary Magazine
printed an expose of Saidís having fabricated his own autobiography,
Saidís background] "is as obscene as the attempts by various
Holocaust revisionists to argue that many of the Jewish refugees
were not really victims of the Holocaust but merely self-interestedly
escaping a war zone."
As in all forms
of anti-Semitism, Arab hatred of Jews is all the Jewsí fault according
to Lerner, just as hatred of the US is all Americaís fault. Lerner
has suggested that all Jews spend Yom Kippur atoning for their mistreatment
and oppression of Arabs. When the PLO lynched and mutilated two
Israeli reservists, Lerner rationalized the Palestinian
atrocity. He believes that the Jews "earned anti-Semitism"
of the Arabs by "oppressing them."
When the US
invaded Iraq, Lerner at first waffled, but eventually came out solidly
against the US military campaign against Saddam and also opposed
economic sanctions. Instead, he suggested resolving the Persian
Gulf problems by forcing Israel to withdraw from all of its
"occupied territories." He blamed the 2001 attacks on the US by
bin Laden on American attempts to hoard the worldís resources and
promote globalization. When the anti-globalization hooligans tore
up Seattle, Lerner compared them with the Maccabee heroes of Hanukka.
He sees himself
and his Tikkun cultsters as full-fledged participants in
the anti-globalization, pro-communism, anti-WTO movement that regularly
trashes Western cities. Lerner writes:
"The contemporary form of domination does not require colonial armies or imperialist
interventions. The free market allows for the concentration
of wealth and power in the hands of the few, and those few are
in turn are able to dominate elections and dictate government
policies around the world. Their allies in government created
the World Trade Organization to extend their power further in
countries whose democratic processes have put environmental,
labor, and human rights constraints on the reckless pursuit
of profits uber alles."
The Marxist Pacifica Foundation distributes tapes of his talks.
organized support for and raised money for Israeli Marxists and
fellow travelers organizing mutiny, insubordination and refusal
to serve within the Israeli military, and has regularly granted
them space in his magazine. As it turns out, his efforts failed.
When Israel invaded the Palestinian terror strongholds in April
2002, Israeli reserve units had rates of soldiers reporting for
duty of MORE than 100% (meaning people not even called up were showing
this past Passover that all Jews devote their traditional Seder
meal to bemoaning the oppression of the Palestinians by the Zionist
"Pharaoh" (his term). The same Palestinians used the occasion to
murder 28 people at a Seder in Israel.
From the comfort
of his sofa in the yuppie bourgeois Berkeley Hills, he preaches
to Israelis under attack that terror cannot be fought militarily,
but rather only with Gandhian non-violence and the politics of meaning.
He has long supported sanctions and boycotts against Israel to force
it to capitulate to the Arabs. He considers Arab terrorists to be
his writings are routinely carried by the publications and distribution
lists of Islamic fundamentalists; the sorts of people who support
bin Ladenís attacks on the US.
long cultivated a special close relationship with Cornell West,
who was until recently professor of Black Studies at Harvard before
tangling with the current administration there. Together they co-authored
several books and articles, including "Blacks and Jews: Let the
Healing Begin," and long ago agreed that anti-Semitism among black
Americans was obviously all the fault of the Jews, and that most
Jews are racists. In his view, "The Jewish community is racist,
internally corrupt, and an apologist for the worst aspects of American
capitalism and imperialism."
written, "Black anti-Semitism is a tremendous disgrace to Jews;
for this is not an anti-Semitism rooted in hatred of the Christ-killers
but rather one rooted in the concrete fact of oppression by Jews
of blacks in the ghettoÖ. An earned anti-Semitism." Who says there
are no Jews that Louis Farrakhan likes? Lerner and West have in
recent days been marching shoulder-to-shoulder in rallies in support
of Palestinian terrorism, and if David Montgomery of the Washington
Post (April 12, 2002) is to be believed, they even seem to make
a habit of accompanying one another into the menís room.
Since the 1960s
Lerner has denounced the leaders of the American Jewish community
as "fat cats and conformists." He originally launched his Tikkun
magazine in an attempt to create a counter-cultural anti-Commentary
In the 1960s,
he participated in a symposium entitled "In All their Habitations"
printed in Judaism Magazine (Fall of 1969), in which
he said, "Shut down the synagogues so that Judaism may have a chance."
In the same article, he denounced Zionists for being too friendly
to the United States and not friendly enough towards the Soviet
Union. He also compared Huey Newton to Moses, since "both justifiably
killed an oppressor."
on the Middle East conflict differ little from those of the Hizbollah.
His opinions of America resemble those of Noam Chomsky, another
anti-Semitic leftist of Jewish ancestry. "Rabbi" Lernerís attitude
towards American Judaism may be summed up by his statement, "the
synagogue as currently established will have to be smashed."
I guess a bit like monogamy.