Somewhere on A1A...

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Jewish Cognitive Dissonance

Psychiatrist, Jew and Republican Congressional candidate Irwin Savodnik on the downside of being a Jewish Republican.

One evening in 1996 my wife and I were sitting in a French bistro with a physician and his wife we had known for years. I told them I was entering the Republican congressional primary, and, since we were both doctors and concerned about health care, they might have some interest in the campaign.

We were greeted with a tirade. My friend's face reddened as he screamed that he would do everything he could to see that I was trounced at the polls.

My wife and I were stunned.

"You're a Jew and a Republican," he proclaimed to the entire restaurant. "That's despicable."
We have not spoken since...

...More recently a one-term Jewish congressman from Virginia the only Jewish Republican member of the House Eric I. Cantor, has leapfrogged into the majority leadership, becoming chief deputy whip.

Cantor is a fervent defender of Israel and, unlike his Jewish compatriot in the Senate, Arlen Specter, a self-confident conservative who speaks openly about his Jewishness and his politics in the same breath.

The Republican Jewish Coalition, once a diminutive political presence whose members could barely eke out a minyan in 1985 (the year it was founded), now has 15 chapters around the country, including Birmingham, Alabama, Kansas City and Palm Springs.

Perhaps most importantly, Jews have been willing and able to topple politicians deemed hostile to the Jewish state. Most notably, Atlanta's Cynthia McKinney, and Birmingham's Earl Hilliard learned last year that sympathizing with Palestinian terrorists cost them at the polls. That these were Democratic primaries should not obscure their significance to both parties.

As a psychiatrist and former liberal I can empathize with the struggle inside the Jewish psyche. The values at stake are at the heart of Jewish identity in America, and represent a long and noble collectivist tradition.
Stuck in the middle. Although the Republican cloak is not a great fit and isn't always comfortable, it's better than being smothered by the Democratic quilt put together by too many of the far left, whose interests too often are opposite mine.


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