The Giuliani candidacy has polarized politically conservative Christians and Jews — perhaps less over Rudy’s position on abortion than, more subtly, over a question of emphasis.
Who’s right? The Jewish “neoconservatives,” who make up more than half of Giuliani’s star foreign-policy advisory team (Norman Podhoretz, Daniel Pipes, Michael Rubin, Martin Kramer, and David Frum)? Or Christians, like Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, who would not rule out supporting a third party candidate if Giuliani gets the nomination?
To adjudicate the dispute, I propose an appeal to the part of the Bible on whose authority Jews (like myself) and Christians agree: namely, the Hebrew Scriptures. The Hebrew prophets have a political vision and it is not neoconservative. No one should know this better than the venerable neoconservative elder statesman, Norman Podhoretz.
Some neoconservatives who support Giuliani do so in spite of their clearly pro-life views on abortion. But they must feel that his position on “Islamofascism” (as Podhoretz in his current book calls the threat of Islamic radicalism) outweighs any opposition over classic culture war questions. The neocons, in other words, emphasize foreign over domestic policy.
Not so for a substantial portion of the Christian conservatives who gathered at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit, in Washington, D.C. this month. They emphasize the suite of pre-9/11 culture war issues, abortion above all. Whatever else there may be to say in favor of Giuliani’s willingness to take the anti-terror offensive to Iran’s doorstep, these Christian conservatives would emphasize the domestic over the foreign.
To judge from his excellent 2002 book The Prophets, Podhoretz takes the Bible deeply to heart. A radio host who’s also Jewish told me that after a warm and stimulating broadcast interview with Podhoretz, the older man spontaneously blessed him with the ancient Hebrew priestly blessing, given by Jewish parents to their children on the Sabbath eve (Numbers 6:23-27). When I heard that story, I got choked up.
It’s relevant to ask, then, if Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel would shelve moral questions like abortion, in order to pursue an aggressive defense against Islamic enemies.
In The Prophets, Podhoretz hammers away at one great theme: the prophets and their struggle against idolatry. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah had, as their overriding goal, the freedom of the Jewish people from a tendency to revert to idolatry and paganism.