The Lieberman Nomination
“He who honors the Torah will be honored by all men.”
Al Gore’s selection of Sen. Joseph Lieberman as Vice-Presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket has a number of implications for us.
The first of these is that this country has moved so far on the road to equality and democracy that Jewish Americans are now included in the mainstream of public life. When this country first became independent, democracy was allotted only to white, Protestant men. In fact, even that was then, in 1789, when George Washington became out first president, a major victory for equality. Prior to that year a number of colonies would not permit anyone not a Puritan to live there. Catholics were particularly affected by this attitude although Jews were almost excluded from living in Nieuw Amsterdaam or New Amsterdam when they came to that city from Brazil in 1654. The expansion of democracy in this country is therefore the most important social movement this country has experienced over two hundred years.
Women were not allowed to vote in this country until Wisconsin permitted this in 1890 and the U.S. finally agreed in 1920. Before 1965, very few blacks were ever permitted to vote. Then the voter registration drives of the late 1960’s changed all that.
Public office was almost entirely the province of white Protestant men
until the 1970’s. Yet today we have a large number of black mayors in American
cities, there are a good number of Representatives who are black or female and
there are two Jewish female senators from California, and a number of Jewish
representatives and senators from states with very few Jews. One of these is
Sen. Joe Lieberman from Connecticut.
His selection as the running mate of V.P. Gore also means that we Jews
need not hide our Judaism. Hate mongers despise all Jews, even those who have no
Jewish affiliation. Decent people admire those who stand up for their beliefs
and live by them. Therefore we have every reason to “make no bones” about
who we are. This is the second lesson learned from the sudden prominence of Sen.
A third lesson learned from Lieberman is that it is entirely possible to
be a professional politician and remain honest. The word politician is often
used to mean “crook”, “liar” or “deceiver.” All that does not apply
to Sen. Lieberman any more than it applies to everyone in public office.
Then there is this: He who lives by the teachings of Torah need not fear
nor worry about getting involved in adultery, alcoholism, drug addiction,
criminal activity and a whole litany of self induced “tzores” that plague so
many of us. Lieberman really exhibits this in his entire life style.
Lieberman teaches us one more things. If you want to “make it” in
this country you can do that. Including your “yarmulke.” Let us give up the
“culture lag” which preaches to this day that Jews cannot enter this or that
occupation because of all that “anti-Semitism”. That phrase is disgusting ipso facto as we are neither the descendants of Sem nor speak a
Semitic language. We speak English and we need not permit ourselves to fail in
advance because we heard that such and such anti-Semites don’t like it if we
work there or live here. Deal with hatred when you see it. Don’t look for it.
Finally, the selection of Sen. Lieberman tells the world that there is
one place on earth where ability, decency and experience count for more than
religion, ethnicity, origin or even money. Our Arab brethren could use the
example of the Lieberman candidacy and ask themselves if they may not want to
live in peace with their Jewish neighbors. They may even want to contemplate on
the historical facts that all who have persecuted the Jewish people are no more.
The Roman Empire is gone. The Spanish Empire is no more. The Russian Empire and
its successor the Soviet Empire are no more. Germany is a middle sized, not very
important country in central Europe. Poland is hardly mentioned in world
affairs. All who have persecuted Israel are no more or are shadows of their
former glory. But the United States is the only world power today. The mightiest
country in all the history of mankind. The country where 5 million Jews live in
equality and freedom and where Joseph Lieberman of Bridgeport is a Senator and a
candidate for the Vice-Presidency. Bonis exemplis, magis impetramus, quam bonis verbis. So said the
Latins. So say we: A good example is a
greater achievement than good words.