Monday, April 26, 2004

So, the conference yesterday. (The Jewish Policy Center, an affiliate of the Republican Jewish Coalition, speaking on Jews and conservatives.) Some quick hits unrelated to actual content first:

-Came in the back door of the Park East Synagogue (which, to be honest, is nowhere near Central Park- there was even a "Park East" Laundry or something nearby). I always wondered about the Russian Embassy's proximity, as the JDL used the synagogue to lay siege to the embassy in the early 70's. Alas, it's not out back or front. There's a building that looks like it may once have been the embassy a bit down the street, but it's not now. Ah well.

-The shul itself could use some work. I'm just saying. (To be fair, it is over 100 years old.) Also, they gave out yarmulkes. What is this thing about making people wear them in shul when there are no prayers? Some old-fashioned thing, I guess. Funniest things? The woman next to me put one on, and "Dr. K," the loon from Fabiani, was sitting there with one too.

-They claimed they didn't have my name, and I had to sign in. Of course, I had called and reserved and all. More to the point, I was looking over this guy's hand, and I saw my name was there. That annoyed me. I have no idea why they did that. I also didn't meet the person I came to see, but that's because it was so crowded. The sanctuary was packed. I had no idea there were that many conservative/Republican Jews in New York (even allowing for many of them being curious liberals). And most- vast majority, I think- weren't Orthodox, whereas you'd expect the opposite.

So, complaints over, on to the conference itself. It was, in fact, quite good. A couple of intros (the rabbi, the chairman) and straight to it. Michael Medved MC'ed, and he's pretty good. The panelists were John Podhoretz, Steve Emerson, David Horowitz, and Michael Ledeen- all-stars, every one. If I have one nit to pick, it's that they focused too much on terror and Israel- but let's be honest: Terror (and war) is the number-one issue today, and this, not economics and social conservatism, is what's going to win Jews (those who care about being Jewish, not the self-hating leftists) over to the conservative side. I expected Horowitz to focus a bit more on leftistism in general, and I wasn't disappointed, as he wove the connection between liberalism and weakness on terror and Israel together very well. Medved took on the role of devil's advocate in asking each of them questions, and he's a firecracker.

The questions were pretty good too. (Usually at things like this, people can be ridiculous.) One person finally asked about how, if one is opposed to the Gaza plan (like yours truly), one can support Bush's support for it. I think they handled it well, but didn't pin down the answer I gave below (they sort of circled around it): Is Bush supposed to be more Catholic than the Pope? If Sharon (and a "big right-winger" at that) comes to him with a plan, who's he to argue?

Speaking of that, who the hell is Marvin Schick? Come to think, what the hell is the Jewish Week? Let me explain: Mr. Schick is a rich dude, and thus, under Jewish community rules, is allowed to mouth off about stuff. Alas, the Jewish Week, that fine piece of newspaper (well, it would be if there was no writing on it), only ran his column every other week, and maybe dumped him. So Schick now buys a half-page in that paper every week, and airs anything that pops into his head. Needless to say, he thinks he's God's gift to the world and is the greatest authority on everything.

So this week, he goes off about the Gaza plan. Naturally, he thinks it's great. Oh, and if you don't, well, you have no right to, because you live in galus. (Never mind that many Israelis don't.) He's pretty snide on that last point. He thinks it's great on security (logic would say otherwise, but we can argue there), but mentions not a word about religion, about God-given land, and so on. This is a common malady among non-Zionist Orthodox. Because they're not so excited about the State to begin, they don't really have an issue with giving it up. Makes me sick.

Anyway, to get back to the conference: I guess my ideas are so far-out on this topic, I realize that most others don't hold them. So when non-Orthodox Jews such as some of the panelists here, or Sharon, or Bush, are less than Kahanist, I can't really blame them. Doesn't mean I'm not opposed to this plan, but I'm being realistic in my expectations of people.

Overall, quite a good time. I left before the last questions to head up to Inwood for Dixon and Paul's housewarming. They have a nice apartment in a co-op. The neighborhood (never been there before) is interesting, too: Houses and buildings, a park, the rivers...they have a nice view from their roof terrace. Nice people, too- not just them, but the company, of which there was a bunch. And that, and ironing shirts, was my Sunday. I didn't stick around in the city for the QM2 (or for Daniel's thing), as it was cold and wet and I didn't even have a jacket. Ah well. PZil, that lucky gal, watched from her office, or so she planned.

Ahhh. In a situation of not knowing if someone is angry I'm not writing, on the one hand, or, more likely, is happy I'm not. And I'm too scared it's the latter to risk correcting the former. A wimp, I am.

A funny/sad article from the Yated to post, just to wrap things up. Come to think, many of the items on that site fall into that category. Ah- and looking it over, I see they roll out the old "Israel isn't yehareig v'al ya'avor" canard. It's depressing. I guess it's best to stay away from it.

Whew. I sound like a bundle of joy on this blog. Would it surprise you to learn that I'm really a pretty jolly guy?

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