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A Jewish Contract with America

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Publication Date: May 1995

Publisher(s): American Jewish Committee

Author(s): Jack Wertheimer

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Politics (Campaigns, lobbying, and pressure groups)

Keywords: Political Behavior; Jewish Organizations; Church and State; Public Policy

Type: Brief

Coverage: United States

Abstract:

The author notes that normally, when the representative organizations of a small minority emphatically back public policies that are just as emphatically rejected by the majority of American voters, there is some internal soul-searching about the wisdom of the minority's positions. Yet, he argues that any such mood of introspection has been noticeably absent from the organized Jewish community since November 1994, when a new Republican majority came to power in both houses of Congress on the basis of a Contract With America. That "contract," among other things, runs counter to the fundamental approaches of Jewish public policy, with its decades-long tradition of endorsing government spending on social problems and its unquestioning faith in the proverbial "wall of separation" between church and state. But instead of pondering the sagacity of a position so out of sync with the mood of the country, the established organizations, after recovering from their stunned disappointment at the election results, have pledged themselves to combat the Contract With America. Remarkably, there seems to have been no debate about whether such an unbending approach is really good for American Jews.

In Commentary Magazine, vol. 99 no.5, pp. 31-35 (May 1995).