Tea Party Invites Concerns
Tue, 10/05/2010

It’s no secret that Americans are furious about an economy mired in unemployment, a federal deficit that will burden our children and grandchildren, big money lobbying run amok and political paralysis in Washington. This year’s Tea Party insurgency reflects those legitimate concerns.

But history teaches that such movements — leaderless, unstructured and built on a foundation of rage — can turn to scapegoating and vilification, with Jews being a traditional target.

So far, anti-Semitism has not emerged as a major thread in today’s Tea Party tapestry. Still, there are reasons for concern. Traditional extremist groups and anti-government “militias” have received a boost from the movement; scapegoating of minorities and racism have sometimes emerged at Tea Party events. The Anti-Defamation League has issued warnings about infiltration by white supremacists.

Reining in inefficient government programs and wasteful spending is a worthy goal. But our community also values a government social safety net that protects the nation’s most vulnerable citizens — a safety net that is now in jeopardy, thanks to reckless decisions by leaders in both parties.

Militant anti-government action and radical economic ideologies are not helpful as we seek practical answers to complex problems.

We are also concerned about the impact of the Tea Party surge on Israel. While some Tea Party leaders have been forthright in expressing their support for the Jewish state, this is a movement defined by domestic issues, and there are tinges of old-fashioned isolationism at its fringes. This is no time to abandon our foreign obligations. If the Tea Party veers more in that direction, it could represent a threat to our own security and the security of our allies.

America’s problems are complex, and finding solutions will require smart, well-informed leaders in Washington making sound decisions and seeking genuine compromise.

Clearly, today’s leadership has failed in many areas, with Democrats and Republicans sharing the blame. That alone is a good reason for anger. But rage rarely produces constructive solutions.

To the contrary: democracy depends on a rational, informed public making good choices. And this year more than ever, we need knowledgeable and sensible political leaders capable of rising above ideology and rank partisanship to help guide us through these dangerous times. We understand the anger of the Tea Partiers and share much of their frustration. But we hope their concerns can be channeled into more constructive political avenues.

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In other words - tea parties might be stupid weirdos. They might advocate policies we don't agree with. They might lack a unified program. But we don't care about that - what is really horrible, that someday, sometime, somehow in the future, even if there is no indication of it now, they might hurt... minorities. And that's why we all need to shut 'em up ASAP! I propose we inspect every house member on the subject of his, her or it capability to hurt minorities in the future. May be we should develop a scientific theory - if your head has such shape, you might hurt minorities, if not - you might be just an anti-semite. So that we would know whom to vote for.
The generic concerns expressed in this editorial are real but my up close and personal contact with the so-called Tea Party movement shows little basis for such concerns as yet with this movement. The why is simple: Tea Partyers demonstrate not so much anger as concern. And the power they are finding as a group relives tension, it does not increase it. Basically what I am saying is that we Jews need only fear the Tea Party to the extent we have had to fear America and its people. And no country on earth, IMO, has given us so little reason to fear.
I have to express my concern about your empirical, alarmist and opinionated editorial on the Tea Party Movement. Read your own comment: "So far, anti-Semitism has not emerged as a major thread in today’s Tea Party tapestry. Still, there are reasons for concern. Traditional extremist groups and anti-government “militias” have received a boost from the movement; scapegoating of minorities and racism have sometimes emerged at Tea Party events. The Anti-Defamation League has issued warnings about infiltration by white supremacists." This is a representation of YOUR political agenda equating the Tea Party Movement to "extremist groups" and "anti-government militias"!!! The original Tea Party originated as a protest due to Taxation without Representation. Today only 51% of households in the USA pay Income Tax... Obviously the other 49% will continue voting for continuity of entitlements and "re-distribution of wealth". The principle of the Tea Party is consistent with fiscal responsibility and accountability by the population, the representatives in Congress and the White House. Implying a potential anti-semitic sentiment is playing the "racist" card with substantial lack of morality and ethics.
Yossi, While I agree with your assessment of the alarmist nature of this editorial, I would also share a word of caution. Any group that appears to stand as a rebellion against an establishment will, by its nature, unfortunately attract fringe players who are often narrow minded, bigoted, and sometimes dangerous. While the same can definitely be said for the far left, which clearly attracts more than its share of anti-Israel, anti-Semitic "pro-Palestine" nut jobs, a close reading of many of the blogs and comments of "supposed" tea party supporters show the same anti-Semitic, often racist tendencies. I use the term "supposed" because, as with the left wing groups, these "supporters" are often extremists who see an opportunity to latch onto something that is potentially good, and ride it for their own warped agenda. With regard to your comment regarding the number of tax paying households, I'd be interested in seeing where you get your statistics (the 51%/49% statistic particularly). I'm self-employed, and thus pay more than my fair share of taxes (double SS contribution and a higher tax bracket than if I could find work with a company), and yet I support many of the "entitlements" (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, unemployment compensation) which the tea parties seem to rally against. I do agree with the principle espoused by many tea party supporters that government spending, both on a federal and state level, is out of control, but I feel that a rational conversation discussing ways in which to compromise to reign in spending would be more effective than staging counter rallies appearing like a bunch of angry mobs (again, both on the right and the left). Sadly, I would argue that one of the greatest problems facing our nation today is that we are fragmenting, clinging to extreme political ideals instead of finding compromise solutions to solve our problems. In saying this, I blame both the right and the left. I'd gladly support rational candidates who would govern from the center to find solutions, but sadly, the new candidates being supported by the tea party movements (e.g. Joe Miller, Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, Sarah Palin etc), are so radical (for example proposing eliminating Social Security and Medicaid rather than reforming them) they are really no better than those who are already in office who have lost touch with the common people. Again, with regard to the racist and anti-Semitic accusations, I would agree that the underlying movement of people towards the tea parties is neither, but that they have attracted these elements, like moths to a flame, just as the more liberal movements have done. Sad that we can't find a non-radical middle ground.
You'll find much more anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment at your average leftist demonstration than you ever see in a Tea Party get together. Tea Party demonstrations look more like school picnics by comparison. There are fringe opinions and groups represented at just about any public gathering, and to single out the Tea Party is silly. And where is all this 'militant anti-government action' you speak of? You see a lot more of that at your average G8 meeting than at a Tea Party rally. People are understandably angry at the level of indifference and arrogance shown us by the folks in DC who have been shoving unpopular spending programs down our throats for the past several years, increasing dramatically under the new management. The debt they're piling up for us to pay off, with no discernible improvement in...well, anything, is appalling, and causes a lot of us to feel rage and no small amount of fear for our kids' futures. Yes, anger and rage are not enough to govern wisely, and there is the risk that people elected on that premise will, in their anger, inadvertently tear down institutions that serve us well and provide structure for society. But honestly, how much worse can these Tea Party activists be than the current idiots we have in Washington?
You're 110% right!
This is an essentially ignorant, and even stupid editorial. The Tea Party movement is about reducing the size of government, reigning in spending, cutting taxes, etc. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, intrinsically anti-Jewish about it. Might there be some anti-Semites at a Tea Party rally? Well, might there be some anti-Semites at a Democratic Party convention? There is far more evidence of anti-Semitism, e.g., a uniquely focused hatred of the Jewish State, in the left wing zoo of the Democratic Party then there is in the Tea Party movement.
I am an Jewish leader in the Tea Party movement since its inception. It might surprise you to know that in the recents months, our Jewish numbers have grown considerably. None of the Jewish Tea Party members, have expressed your concerns. Jewish concern regarding Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israel sentiment centers around leftists groups, whose rallies and radical positions have awakened the most liberal among us. We do agree on the state of our country and our Republic does depend on rational and informed voters. However you need to look more closely at the progressive left when you suggest channeling the public into more constructive avenues. A pictorial comparison of the recent 8/28/10 rally to the 10/2/10 rally is hard to deny. There is do doubt the majority of Americans, including the Jewish community, would feel more comfortable within the framework of the Tea Party, which supports Fiscal Responsibility, the Free Market System, and the Constitution than they would within the Communist Party USA.
Merylee, Your comment that "there is no doubt the majority of Americans, including the Jewish community, would feel more comfortable within the framework of the Tea Party.....than they would within the Communist Party USA" is fascinating. Fortunately, the Communist party is this country has not run any major candidates for office, and certainly has no members who hold office. As far as members of the Jewish community feeling comfortable within the framework of the Tea Party, there are some things we might embrace (fiscal responsibility, free markets, a proper reading of the Constitution as the living document it was drafted to be). However, there is much about the Tea Party that flies in the face of many long-held Jewish values, values such as Tzedek (justice toward all people), Chesed (kindness and compassion), and Kavod (honoring others). The Tea Party's embrace of many socially conservative values of the Christian right also fly in the face of Jewish tradition. Instead of standing for the principles of caring, though, the Tea Party movements come across as standing for the principles of selfishness, greed, and disregard for others. I truly wish there was a message of caring from them, but alas, its not to be found.
Greed, selfisness???? Correction the tea party members are fed up with the arrogance, spending and the governing against the will of the people! As far as a communist holding office, you really don't have to look any further than the oval office and all the Czars! How clueless and blind you be!
Not sure what arrogance you're referring to. As to the spending, I understand this to be one of the premises of the Tea Party, and agree that much needs to be done to reign in spending excesses by both parties (the TARP bailouts and the billion dollar wars were gifts from George W., while the unsuccessful economic "stimulus" and the ridiculously overbroad health care reform are gifts from the Democrats and the current administration). The problem I see with the Tea Party movement is their apparent total lack of concernfor helping those who are in need, are unable to qualify for or afford health insurance, or have been forced from their homes by the mortgage collapse of 2008. In addition, much of what they are protesting as "governing against the will of the people" (such as the appointment of Justices whose interpretation of the Constitution differs from the narrow-minded read of activist judges like Scalia, Thomas et al) is the will of the people who voted, by large majority, to elect the current administration to office. Just as an example, less than 50% of the American People (and a smaller percentage of Jews in this country) support allowing the government to interfere in a woman's right to choose what is in her best interest when she discovers she's pregnant, yet many ultra-conservative tea party supporters act as if this is a mandate from "the people". As to your last comment, and the comment of the post to which I originally responded, it continues to amuse me how the far right uses such drastically conflicting political philosophies as "communist", "socialist" and "fascist" to describe an administration they obviously loathe. Any student of political science can tell you that each of these philosophies differ greatly (and that none truly describes what is essentially an extremely liberal Democrat administration currently in power.
Wow Sam, your devotion to the Democrat party is mind-boggling. If they are such paragons of equal justice for all, etc, etc, how do you explain these little factoids? According to the latest published DOJ hate crimes statistics (2008), incidents/victims included following: Total religious = 1606 incidents 65.7% (1055 incidents) were anti-Jewish // 7.7% (124 incidents) were anti-Muslim Total ethnic = 1148 incidents 64% (735 incidents) were anti-Hispanic Total racial = 4704 incidents 72.6% (3415 incidents) were anti-Black Rough US population stats (various sources but close enough for these purposes) JEWS : 6.49 million MUSLIMS : 2.45 million* HISPANICS : 46.9 million* BLACKS : 37.6 million [* include only those here legally] So-- There are only 2.6 times as many Jews as (legal) Muslims in the US, yet hate crimes against Jews occur 8.5 TIMES MORE OFTEN There are more than 7 times as many (legal) Hispanics as Jews in the US, yet hate crimes against Jews occur 1.5 TIMES MORE OFTEN There are nearly 6 times as many Blacks as Jews, yet hate crimes against Blacks occur only 3 times more often Given this, where is the outcry from your party? The President bows to the Saudi king but snubs Netanyahu He supports the Ground Zero mosque but not building in Jerusalem The President sends money abroad to help with the rebuilding of mosques, but never synagogues He decries anti-Muslim sentiment but not anti-Jewish sentiment (outside of a few photo ops or speeches to Jewish groups The President condemns Arizona for wishing to enforce laws against illegal immigration He sues Arizona to ensure against 'profiling' he says but where is his voice in support of Israel and on...and on...ad nauseum Forgive me, Sam, but from where I sit, in the eyes of your party, Tzedek, Chesed and Kavod seems to apply to EVERYBODY EXCEPT JEWS. Need more convincing? Earlier this year, both houses of Congress sent 2 LETTERS IN SUPPORT OF ISRAEL. The first set went to Hillary and the second went to the President. The actual signature lists are available but the breakdown is as follows: HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: [Total membership 435: 255 Democrats/178 Republicans] Hoyer/Cantor letter to Hillary signed by --170 OF 178 REPUBLICANS = 95.5% --160 OF 255 DEMOCRATS = 63% !!! Poe/Peters letter to Obama signed by --172 OF 178 REPUBLICANS = 96.6% --166 OF 255 DEMOCRATS = 65% !!! In other words, MORE THAN ONE-THIRD OF THE ENTIRE DEMOCRAT CAUCUS DID NOT SIGN EITHER LETTER SUPPORTING ISRAEL SENATE: [Total membership 100: 59 Democrats (including two Independents who caucus with Democrats and 41 Republicans] Percentages were similar for Boxer/Isakson letter to Hillary...signed by --38 of 59 DEMOCRATS = 64% --39 of 41 REPUBLICANS = 95% Improved slightly for Reid/McConnell letter to Obama signed by --46 of 59 DEMOCRATS = 78% --40 OF 41 REPUBLICANS = 97.5% So put down the Kool-Aid Kiddo, get online and do some original research. And, oh yes, you might want to start checking out the 'charitable specifics' of Obamacare. Google 'Sentenced to Death on the NHS' -- a brief letter to the UK Telegraph. Then go to lancet.com (a very prestigious medical journal) search out and read Ezekiel Emanuel 2009 paper and comments. (Although I am QUITE CERTAIN that you know more than I on this subject -- since people such as you normally believe you do -- I did live in England for 15 years and had two children there. Yes, my children and I were eligible for the NHS 'benefits, yet strangely, I decided to eschew that privilege.) More 'pause for thought'? The UK is moving toward decentralizing the NHS--perhaps you should research this too.

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