I know many of my Orthodox friends who identify as liberal may not like what I am about to say. But I am all about Emes – the truth as I see it. For the record I do not identify as either liberal or conservative. (In the context of this post I mean socially conservative - not fiscally conservative.) I have taken positions on some issues that can be seen as liberal and on others that can be seen as conservative. I base my views on my religious perspective on some issues and on simple common sense on others. I do however admit to leaning conservative most of the time. It therefore is hard to pin a political label on me.
This does not mean that I promote an Orthodox Jewish agenda for the United States. (Although I do promote a little more of a common sense agenda). I am more than grateful to this country for living up to its credo of religious tolerance. And do not wish to force my beliefs on anyone else. But when it comes to expressing my views on what I think is right or wrong, I am going to tell it like it is from my perspective as an Orthodox Jew and my common sense. That is what is behind every post I do.
As a rule, I believe that on social issues the views expressed by the political right and left are generally determined be how much value one places on biblical teachings. Using gay sex as an example - social conservatives who see the bible as their guide will oppose gay marriage. Gay sex (male to male anal sexual intercourse) is forbidden by the bible. Liberals tend to not look at the bible at all. They instead look at humanistic values and devalue the biblical prohibition against gay sex. They therefore see nothing inherently wrong with gay sex and equate it morally and ethically to heterosexual sex.
How can an Orthodox Jew be liberal, as some define themselves? I think they have to put an asterisk next to the world liberal when describing themselves. Using the above example - they will make arguments like the following: What we believe should not influence what a secular government does in service to an citizen’s civil rights. But even they must admit that as a religious matter gay sex is an act forbidden by the Torah. They are liberal up to a point.
There may be some on the extreme left of Orthodoxy that are so ‘compassionate’ that they will twist the Torah admonition against gay sex as not applying to gay people. They will say that Oness Rahcmana Patrei – God absolves individuals that sin because they are forced to. The ‘force’ in this case being a sexual orientation and natural sex drive that ‘force’ the individual do engage in gay sex. Thus overturning the actual sin in the vast majority of cases where it is practiced leaving only to the rare instances where gay sex is done by heterosexuals. (Kind of ridiculous if you think about it - but I digress.)
Liberals believe they are more compassionate than conservatives because of such ‘reasoning’. I don’t think that’s accurate. I believe that conservatives are just as compassionate, but understand that their religious beliefs override any compassion they might feel.
The same kind of thinking divides how they look at Israel and Jerusalem. Conservatives understand that the bible cedes title of Israel to the Jewish people. It was a promise made by God to each of our three patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Bible believing Christians and Jews know this and believe it.
They also believe the biblical narrative that Jerusalem was conquered by King David. And his son King Solomon built the Holy Temple there. And that Jerusalem is the place where God chose for that.
Fir Orthodox Jews Jerusalem is constantly in our thoughts. Throughout our 2000 year exile we have prayed for its return into our hands. Social conservatives (which is comprised mostly of bible believing Evangelicals) read the same passages in the bible and realize that Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish people. That’s why they were the ones that actually urged the President to declare it Israel’s capital. And they have been cheering his decision ever since.
Liberals ignore what the bible says. They take the humanistic approach and see 2 peoples, Jews and Palestinian Muslims claiming the same city as their own holy capital. That makes any declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital unfair. Making matters worse is the fact that Israel is seen as an occupying force that has taken land away from the indigenous Arabs that have been living there for centuries. Humanists (liberals) who do not take their values from the bible see Israel bullying those Palestinians – always painting Israel in the most negative light regardless of the facts.
The mainstream media is humanistic and therefore liberal. They do not value the bible as a guide to modern day ethics or morality. They see a suffering underdog being subjugated by a powerful oppressor that uses its power in unethical ways in order to maintain their oppression of the downtrodden. They are sympathetic only to the underdog which they see suffering unjustly.
That is why the mainstream media reporting on the President's decision to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has been mostly negative. All you hear is how the US overturned decades of US policy; destroyed the ‘peace process’; and has thrown the Mideast into turmoil. Hardly a word about the the 70 year reality of Jerusalem being the capital of Israel. Or that the President was only implementing a law passed by the vast majority of congress decades ago. And reaffirmed it 6 months ago. And that nothing on the ground has changed because of that declaration. The media reportage has only played into the hands of the protesting Arabs. All because they believe they are far more ethical and moral than the bible.
It is one thing to be worried about the reaction (that is actually happening) because of the President’s declaration. I expressed that same concern. But to paint it as entirely bad without one positive word is biased and irresponsible. But unsurprising because of their liberal humanistic bias that dismisses the the bible completely .
I realize there might be exceptions to my assessment of liberal versus conservative. I also realize that my liberal friends will disagree. Furthermore (as I’ve said more than once) I have taken liberal positions on some issues myself. Not because I have had a sudden surge of humanistic compassion. But because my religious beliefs have guided me and is some cases simple common sense has guided me. Which is for example why I support keeping abortion legal for religious reasons and why I support gun control for common sense reasons.
That is the long and short of it. I maybe wrong, but don’t see a better way of understanding liberal versus conservative values.