Zionists fail the secularism test

Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, November 12:

The endorsement by Pat Robertson of pro-abortion candidate Rudy Giuliani this week is widely seen as a sign that the evangelical Christian vote, which has scared the bejesus out of a lot of people in blue states for the last 30 years, is losing its monolithic power. Yay!

But I want journalists to start talking about the religious left– the Israel lobby– and its effect on the Democratic party and our foreign policy. For the lobby also has a strongly religious component, and it’s more important now than the religious right.

One reason journalists don’t talk about the religious left is that we blue-state Jews are a completely familiar quantity in journalistic culture (unlike the Christian right, which has horns) and we Jews have been among the champions of secularism: the separation of the religious and political spheres. And if you’re a secularist, well–you can’t very well be a religious voter, can you?… 

This idea is simply not very well examined. The problem in the Israel case is that a lot of people who behave like good secularists, decrying the influence of the anti-gay-rightsers in the Kerry vote in the heartland in ’04, are themselves voting or giving money on the basis of a politician’s support for a religious state, overseas. I’ve run into sophisticated liberal New Yorkers who go haywire about the evangelical vote then tell me that the Bible gives the Jews a passport to the Holy Land. Sorry, that ain’t secularism. And some secular Jews who loudly proclaim that they don’t believe in God come out with a devotion to Israel that verges on the religious–especially when you consider that oftentimes they’re talking about a place they’ve never been to.