| Second Thoughts |

Two Jews: A Purim Fantasy

A Sanders-Bloomberg ticket! Dov-Ber and Michoel! Two nice Jewish boys with New York accents

 

I was once asked to give a talk at a luncheon of the Civitans of Atlanta, a very fine organization of the city’s movers and shakers. My Christian hosts were extremely courteous and considerate, even going to extraordinary lengths to make certain I had a kosher lunch.

The Q & A following my talk was far ranging, dealing primarily with Jewish practices and beliefs, about which they obviously knew nothing.

One of the questioners began with the phrase, “with all due respect,” which of course is inevitably followed by something disrespectful. True to form, he asked me, with profuse initial apologies, why it is that so many Jews have been socialists and communists. (This was long before the Bernie Sanders era.) I replied politely but firmly that his impression was erroneous and that he should recheck his facts. A few moments later, another gentleman arose and, protesting that he was only asking for information and not making any statements, asked me if it was true, as he had heard, that so many Jews seemed to control Hollywood, the financial institutions, and the media.

I asked him if he had heard the earlier question about Jews being communists. He said he had. So I asked him, how could Jews be both communists and capitalists? The audience tittered, apparently understanding my point. I then suggested that perhaps these two questions illustrate how certain prejudices — even when they are illogical and contradictory — affect the thinking of even the finest of Americans.

I probably changed no one’s minds at that gathering (an old bumper sticker reads, “Don’t bother me with facts — my mind is made up ”) but perhaps it gave them something to think about during their dessert.

I thought about that encounter as the Democratic presidential primaries heated up in the US. Everyone knows the Democratic Party has become increasingly the home of virulent anti-Semites — three of whom serve in the US Congress. (Nevertheless, over 70 percent of American Jews — almost all of the non-Orthodox — still vote knee-jerk Democratic.) Ironically, two of the serious candidates who vied for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sanders and Bloomberg, are Jews. Granted, Sanders parrots the standard anti-Israel rhetoric — the Israeli government is racist, America should reduce aid to Israel, and other leftist boilerplate — but he clearly asserts that he is a Jew, as does Bloomberg. More notably, they represent the extreme icons of the anti-Semitic catechism: Bloomberg the billionaire capitalist, and Sanders the socialist (though Sanders is worth several million himself; some socialist!). Their campaigns surely provide fertile material for anti-Semitic tropes.

In the aftermath of Purim, consider this fantasy: What would happen if the two of them were to run on the same ticket? This would be the worst nightmare-come-true of the anti-Semites: The Jews are taking over, just as they feared. And this dream ticket might not necessarily be bad for the Jews. It would create total confusion in anti-Semitic ranks as they debate which Jew to demonize first. The ripe, low-hanging-fruit opportunities for vilification would be so multifarious that the ensuing feeding frenzy would be chaotic enough to render the attacks ludicrous.

G-d, it is said, has His Own Divine sense of humor. Yoshev baShamayim yischak, “He Who dwells in Heaven will laugh,” says Tehillim 2:4. What a classic joke to play on a Democratic Party that refuses to challenge the malodor within it. A Sanders-Bloomberg ticket! Dov-Ber and Michoel! Two nice Jewish boys with New York accents, one born in Brooklyn. Forget that the extent of their Jewishness could fit on the head of a pin: They are Jews. What could be a more appropriate punishment for such a political party than to have not one but (gasp) two Jews as its standard bearers?

Biden, move over. The dream ticket approaches. Sanders for president, Bloomberg for vice president. The White House will never be the same. Instead of the annual Easter egg party, prepare for the annual afikomen hunt. Instead of the lighting of the great pine tree, the lighting of the great menorah. Instead of the New Year’s Eve ball, a Rosh Hashanah shofar will sound. The venerable White House chef will have to forget about pâté de foie gras and avocado toast, and will learn the subtleties of chopped liver, knishes, kreplach, and blintzes. And Inauguration Day will become a day of orah v’simchah v’sasson v’yikar, feasting and joy, of sending mishloach manos to one another, and gifts to the needy. Capitalists and socialists will be united, anti-Semites confounded, and America will be great again.

Such is my post-Purim fantasy, with all due respect.

 (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 802)

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