Truth and Relativism

The latest reports from the media show that Democrats are very critical of Israel today, and Republicans are very supportive. How can it be that one's political allegiance determines one's position toward Israel?  As the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, you can have your own opinions, but you can't have your own facts. If this disagreement between Democrats and Republicans were truly a controversy for the sake of Heaven, it would certainly not be divided between Democrats and Republicans. So what is the source of this controversy?


Real name
William Berkson

William Berkson replied 3 weeks 6 days ago

Rabbi Elkins, because Israel is one of those topics that regularly descends into a hot, fruitless 'Who is the bad guy' discussion, I'll try to follow my own advice here, and ask you for clarification. I see a lot of complexity here, because the latest Democratic nominee for President said she was a strong supporter of Israel, and most Jewish voters in New York agreed with that when she ran for Senate. Previously, Obama and Netanyahu evidently detested each other, but Obama supported Israel's military security with money and reportedly the closest security cooperation ever. And you have most Democrats saying they are Israel supporters, and a few championing the Palestinians, while insisting they support Israel's security. So when you talk about "Democrats" and "support" what do you mean?

Incidentally, the picture is also complexity on the other side, as while most Republicans give unqualified support to Israel, there are actual anti-Semites running for office on the Republican side, including some who are openly anti-Israel. While the Republican Party has denounced most of these, it is supporting Cory Stewart—who has praised noted anti-Semities—for Governor here in Virginia. Here is the story from the ADL on the sorry story of anti-Semites running as Republicans. 

So I fear that if we are not more specific about what "support for Israel" means, who we mean by "Democrats" and "Republicans" this discussion won't be for the sake of heaven. What specific issue do you want to focus on? What specific evidence concerns you? 

Deborah Lipstadt from her Ted talk

The Sages talk about the importance of truth, and proper conduct in pursuing it. But they don't talk about relativism, which is a more modern doctrine. The idea of relativism is that what is true is relative to a person's culture, or group, or even to individual experience. There is no universal or objective "truth", but only truth for my group and for yours. This is sometimes presented as a healthy doctrine that promotes tolerance. Each person is entitled to his or her own view, and no one has a right to challenge him or her on it.