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Jewish right

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The term Jewish right refers to Jews who identify with or support right-wing or conservative causes. The Jewish right is not a monolithic designation. Its application ranges from advocacy of religious morals to conservative politics.

Jewish religious values and conservatism

Several movements in Orthodox Judaism can be seen as similar or at least amenable to certain forms of conservatism. For many to most Orthodox Jews Jewish principles of faith contains belief in a "transcendent moral order", continuity, a tradition of oral law, and requires new statements be compatible with a holy book. These values can be seen as compatible or similar to certain forms of conservatism.


Enlightenment and Emancipation

By the late eighteenth century the Jewish Emancipation efforts tended to occur more among the secular, liberal and left ends of the political spectrum. In relation to this was the Haskalah movement which emphasized Enlightenment values among Jews. The European and American right, in this era, tended to support tradition and that primarily meant Christian tradition. Hence religiously orthodox Jews also tended to be at a disadvantage in right-wing or conservative politics so many to most early Jewish conservatives/right-wingers were converts to Christianity. This led to the Jewish left tending to be a larger and possibly older movement. Hence in the United States in the 2000s Jews were underrepresented among self-described "conservatives."[1]

Nevertheless, by the close of the nineteenth century, Jews, including those who remained in Judaism, became more common among conservatives. In the US, for example, Julius Kahn was elected as a Republican who advocated military preparedness while in Britain Frank Goldsmith was a Conservative Party member of the Jewish faith.

Anti-communism and Fascism

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In the twentieth century many politicians of the right-wing shared a hostility toward Communism and this hostility had some supporters in the Jewish community. This came either because they viewed Communism as a threat to their religion, society in general, the economy, or all three. In Britain Harold Soref was a member of the Conservative Monday Club and opposed to Communism. Austrian/American Ludwig von Mises opposed Communism on economic grounds and, if not precisely right-wing, became a noted figure to many on the Right. In Germany, apostate Lev Nussimbaum had an extremist hostility to Socialism and Communism, favoring monarchism and converting to Islam.

In Italy a noticeable minority of Jewish Italians supported both Benito Mussolini and Fascism. It is estimated that in 1938, the year antisemitic laws began in Italy, 10,000 Italian Jews belonged to the Italian Fascist Party.[2] One of the most significant was Aldo Finzi[3] who became a member of the Fascist Grand Council before breaking with Fascism in strong terms. A more "loyal" example was Ettore Ovazza who had been involved in the March on Rome and in 1935 founded the Jewish/Fascist paper La Nostra Bandiera. Despite the unwavering nature of his Fascism, and his staunch Anti-Zionism, in 1943 he would be massacred by the Nazis.[4]

Revisionist Zionism, religious Zionism, and the Israel right

The more nationalistic faction of Zionism, Revisionist Zionism, had some right-wing elements. One of their ideologues, Abba Ahimeir, was influenced by Oswald Spengler and wrote about Fascism. This relates to forms of right-wing politics in Israel that are nationalistic and in some cases expansionist. Yisrael Beiteinu may contain influences from this stream of thought.

Other right-wing parties in Israel have a more religious orientation and are influenced by forms of Religious Zionism. The Jewish National Front states "Torah of Israel is the primary source of human morality"[5] although it states openness to secular members.[6] In addition the National Union (Israel) coalition contains Renewed Religious National Zionist Party.

Among the more militant groups Kach and Kahane Chai had some supporters outside Israel, but has since been banned.

United Kingdom

Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield is one of the most known names in British conservative history and although not Jewish by religion, was of Jewish origin and proud of his Jewishness. In the period of Thatcherism, the Conservative Party courted the British Jewish community. The then Chief Rabbi, Immanuel Jakobovits, was a close ally of Margaret Thatcher and some of Thatcher's cabinet members were Jewish, such as Keith Joseph and Nigel Lawson.[7] Recently Michael Howard was leader of the Conservative Party for two years.

United States

Several Jewish philosophers and politicians would be important to the history of the American Right in the United States. Frank Meyer was a co-founder of the National Review and noted for Fusionism that mixed libertarianism with conservatism. Ralph de Toledano was also an earlier figure for the magazine and wrote for The American Conservative in his final years. Irving Kristol is sometimes seen as a founding figure for neoconservatism. Although not conservative themselves several American advocates of anarcho-capitalism, like Murray Rothbard (a disciple of von Mises), were Jewish and influential on elements of the right.

By the 1980s Jewish conservatives and right-wingers began to have more organization. In 1985 the Republican Jewish Coalition formed. The group's policy platform objectives include terrorism, national security, United States-Israel relations, US policy concerning the Middle East, immigration, energy policy, education, affirmative action, the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, adoption, crime, taxes, welfare reform, faith-based initiatives, health care, Medicare reform, Social Security reform and government reform.[8] Jewish conservatives include former US Senator Norm Coleman, former US Senator George Allen, NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg , and congressman Eric Cantor. Others include radio talk show host Mark Levin, Michael Medved, Ari Fleischer, Scooter Libby, talk show host Dennis Prager, former Head of the Fed Alan Greenspan, and radio talk show host Michael Savage (commentator)

See also


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