"Vice-President" Joseph Lieberman

Professor Paul Eidelberg - Jewish Press (NY)


Justice4JP does not endorse or oppose any candidate in the Presidential elections. Justice4JP does however see it as our responsibility to the public to reveal how any candidate's position on the Pollard case is a reflection of that candidate's commitment to the truth, or alternately a reflection of his willingness to subvert principles of honesty, justice, and fair play to political goals. See Justice4JP Aug. 16 Media Release.

If Senator Joseph Lieberman is truly an orthodox Jew, then he would know that what is good for Israel is good for mankind in general, and for the United States in particular. The question is: Would Senator Lieberman act consistently with this position should he become America's next vice-president--one heartbeat, as it were, from the presidency?

Consider: An orthodox Jew regards the Torah as the ultimate source of Truth and the Paradigm of how man should. He also believes that Israel is the Torah-bearing nation chosen by God to enlighten mankind. We should then expect our orthodox Jewish "vice-president" not to advocate policies that violate the teachings of the Torah, or that impair Israel's God-given mission. Which is to expect more of the orthodox Mr. Lieberman than of any past prime minister of Israel!

But unlike Israeli prime ministers, Mr. Lieberman will be subject to the separation of religion and state, which will make his orthodoxy quixotic if not impossible should he become vice-president. Keeping kosher and not travelling on the sabbath and other Jewish holy days hardly exhaust orthodox Judaism. For example, every morning our orthodox Senator Lieberman utters a number of prayers, including one that blesses God "Who releases the imprisoned."

Now, while God is a God of Justice and Mercy, He wants Jews especially to be exemplars of justice and mercy. If you are wondering why Jonathan Pollard languishes in jail, unjustly and cruelly imprisoned for fifteen years, so does Professor Angelo Codevilla, a Catholic, who has repeatedly called for Pollard's release, while Senator Lieberman, an orthodox Jew, opposes this simple act of justice and mercy.

Mr. Lieberman may be an orthodox Jew, but he is also a politician; and though he may shine in comparison with other politicians, there are certain hard facts that may trouble his orthodoxy should he become vice-president. One such fact is this: The United States sells billion's of dollars worth of arms to various Arab states technically at war with Israel, above all Saudi Arabia. What posture will "vice-president" Lieberman take on such arms sales? No doubt he will not say, as Billy Carter once said: "There's a helluva lot more Arabs than Jews." But will he oppose president Gore's inevitable policy of supplying sophisticated military hardware to Israel's enemies?

Another conundrum. Gore, like Clinton, Bush, and even Ronald Reagan, will pursue the Oslo policy of "territory-for-peace" (as would George Bush). But this policy inherently places Israel at a disadvantage vis-a-vis its Arab neighbors. Now suppose Gore's vice-president is asked at a press conference: "Mr. Lieberman, what is your position regarding Oslo?" Even if he says nothing more than "no comment," this orthodox Jew will betray the God of Israel. Alternative may be expected of him? Resign? Absurd! The only other alternative is to bend over backwards and support his president lest our orthodox Jewish "vice-president" be accused of "dual loyalty." Has he not opposed the transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem? But this is not all.

As "vice-president elect," Lieberman will have to take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. This is consistent with Jewish law (dina d'malchuta dina), which requires Jews to obey the laws of any foreign government under which they may live (so long as the laws do not violate their basic rights). However, certain American laws, such as those governing homosexuality and full-term abortion, conflict with Jewish law. As a matter of conscience and constitutionality, Mr. Gore will have no difficulty in upholding these laws. Will Mr. Lieberman, if asked, take issue with his president?

Thoughtful Jews may therefore have reason to fear that both Israel and Judaism itself will suffer if Senator Lieberman becomes America's next vice-president. Recall Henry Kissinger. How proud Jews were when he was appointed Secretary of State! How Israel would benefit, they thought, from his appointment! Yet Kissinger the Jew deliberately delayed the military resupply of Israel during the Yom Kippur war, contrary to the wishes of then Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, a gentile.

Incidentally, when Kissinger was sworn in as Secretary of State (on the sabbath), he placed his hand on the King James version of the Bible! (His father, an orthodox Jew, was not present at the swearing-in ceremony.) Of course Kissinger, unlike Lieberman, is not orthodox. Lieberman's orthodoxy, however, will make his being a Jew all the more conspicuous.

I therefore ask: In the inevitable tensions or perceived conflicts of interest between Israel and the United States, will "vice-president" Lieberman be more Jewish or more American? If more Jewish, may this not arouse anti-Semitism? If more American, may this not make a mockery of orthodox Judaism?

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