Steve King goysplains how anti-Semitic Jewish Democrats are

[UPDATE: The original title of this post referred to Steve King’s comments as “Jewsplaining.” As King is not Jewish, “goysplaining” is more accurate. The title has been updated to reflect this.]

On Friday, Iowa Congressschmuck Steve King told Boston Herald Radio that he’s frustrated at how anti-Semitic so many of American Jews are:

Here is what I don’t understand, I don’t understand how Jews in America can be Democrats first and Jewish second and support Israel along the line of just following their President…

…anti-Semitism is a component of this and just plain liberalism is another component. I mean the president wants the world to be, he thinks somehow he can force the world can be the world he myopically believes it is.

In an interview with Buzzfeed on Sunday, King doubled down:

“I think many of them no longer have ties to Israel,” said King. “They are secular, they are Democrats by political affiliation and by their nature they are leftist.”

“Many are leftists first,” he said.

He added, “those who regularly go to synagogue…” support Israel. “That’s not the case with those who align themselves with the political left.”

That’s some pretty epic goysplaining, even for King. In asserting that “real Jews” hold the same racist, nativist, anti-Democratic sentiments toward Palestinians that he holds for immigrants, and that that’s what constitutes “support” for Israel, King exposed how little he, an evangelical Christian, knows about American Jews and American Jewish culture.

As Kaili Joy Gray wrote last year:

Here is one truth upon which many of us could probably more or less agree: Jews do not need to be told how to Jew. The secular ones, the orthodox ones, the “Hey, I go to shul on the High Holidays” ones, the uber-hawkish-like-some-kind-of-white-evangelical ones, the every-other-kind-of-Jew-who-can-Jew ones. We all Jew in our own way. We certainly don’t need advice on how to Jew from evangelical schmucks (that’s Jewspeak for stupid penis)…

As I’ve written before, a lot of Jewish people in America, myself included, place a particular emphasis on the “ish” with respect to their faith. According to a 2013 Pew survey, 23 percent of all Jews and over a third of Millennial Jews don’t believe in God, so King is onto something when he says that some of us are secular. And seven in ten Jews identify as Democrats, so King’s also right when he says that lots of American Jews are liberal.

But American Jews aren’t “Democrats first and Jews second.” As their name implies, they are Americans first and Jews second. When J-Street polled the Jewish electorate just before Election Day in 2014, they found that American Jews’ priorities lined up pretty well with the rest of the country. Only eight percent picked Israel as their top issue. The top three? Economy, healthcare and the social safety net. Go figure.

King complains about these facts as if they’re a problem, throwing around the words “secular” and “liberalism” as if secular, liberal Jews are doing Judaism wrong. They aren’t. With respect to the way each views hierarchy and oppression in society, liberalism and Judaism line up really well: If your people spent literally thousands of years as an persecuted minority, you’d be all for a system of government that protected against majoritarian tyrannies. As the Jewish Journal noted when they analyzed the Pew survey:

The poll shows that even among the irreligious, Jewish identity is intertwined with feelings of obligation to society and remembrance of how Jews have been persecuted. Jews worry about the underdogs, who are on the difficult road that they, their parents or grandparents traveled.

That probably has something to do with why Jews were the religious group most likely to say that homosexuality should be accepted in society, with roughly 80 percent support.

And, not for nothing, Israel has (excellent) socialized healthcare and (heavily regulated) taxpayer-funded abortions.

But it doesn’t matter what Jews actually believe, because Steve King’s stance on Israel has very little to do with Jews. Instead, it has everything to do with evangelical Christians’ apocalyptic hope that if only we can get all of the Arabs out and all of the Jews in, then Jesus will come back and teleport him to heaven.

Of course, all of the Jews get left behind in this story, which doesn’t sound all that much like “support” to me.

Regardless, this explains why evangelical Christians are way more “supportive” of Israel than American Jews. They are twice as likely to say that Israel was given to the Jews by God, and while six in ten Jews believe that a two-state solution is possible, 50 percent of evangelical Christians do not. This being the case, Steve King’s frustrations over where Jews come down on Israel says less about Jews and more about him.

Seemingly forgotten in all of this is America’s official position in favor of a two-state solution, a position that recently-reelected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flipped the bird to during the overtly racist tail end of his campaign. In guaranteeing that there would be no Palestinian state so long as he was in office — a statement that he’s tried to Etch-A-Sketch away since winning — Netanyahu has done massive damage to the peace process, as no one has any reason to take him seriously at the negotiating table.

King’s defense of Netanyahu’s nativism doesn’t hold sway with the majority of American Jews who support a two-state solution; it just proves that he’s an evangelical Christian first and an American second.

It also makes him a schmuck.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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