Is "Five Yeshiva Butchers" Good for the Jews?

Steve Waldman graduated Columbia the year after Barack Obama. His brother Mike was Bill Clinton’s chief speechwriter. So when Steve Waldman declared his suspicion that John McCain would get the highest percentage of the Jewish vote of any recent Republican, with a link that indicated it could put Florida solidly in the Republican column, I took him seriously.*

Via Gary Farber’s ex-girl friend,** I see the Sarah Palin nomination has caused him to recant this, reasoning (correctly, one suspects) that Jews prefer to vote for people they don’t trust instead of people who want them killed:

When Isaac was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment–you can’t miss it.

Or who refer to your most Orthodox members as “butchers.”***

Then I noticed, right out of the corner of my eye, five yeshiva bu[t]chers. Now, that’s the ultra-orthodox young seminary students. Maybe you’ve seen the pictures, you know, with the black hats and the black coats, and the side curls, you know. And they were walking towards us with a look of grim determination on their faces, and I knew we were in trouble….And I’m thinkin’, “That’s it. We’re gonna get martyred right here on the streets of Jerusalem.”

And who then reiterate that you are not the Chosen People until you are Christian:

Our Father in heaven,

We stand before You as a people who’ve experienced Your grace, and we acknowledge that that grace was first extended to our people through Your people, the Jews; that there is not a one here in this room who would know Jesus and serve Him if there had not been a Jew, generations ago, that spoke Jesus’ name to our people. Father, that comes full circle and we wish to extend Your grace back to Your people. And we pray and we ask that as a result of this time here, and as a result of this offering, there will be people among the Jews today who come to say the name “Jesus” with faith.

In His glorious name we pray, amen.

Now Steve Waldman may be—probably is—correct when he says “the standard preaching of many evangelical churches will be frightening to some Jews, just as the standard preaching of many African American churches were scary to whites.” And when he quotes Sarah Palin’s pastor saying, “You either receive the King that God has appointed for all mankind or you reject Him. There’s no neutral ground on that—none,” he clearly takes that as scary rhetoric.

But there is a difference between scary, “yeah us!” rhetoric, and being openly declared second-class citizens, or outright described as “butchers.” Or, as Brad DeLong so aptly put it:

John McCain wants to nominate his friend Joe Lieberman for vice president, is told that he cannot, and so he backs down and instead nominates somebody who takes their children to a church where they teach that suicide bombers in Tel Aviv are righteously executing God’s vengeance on Israel for rejecting Jesus Christ.

*That several people in private conversation have suggested doubts about Obama from a Jewish perspective supports the premise.

**Among other things. She’s also a long-time friend of my wife’s.

***Waldman posts the transcript as “buchers,” but bucher is Hebrew for “bookstores,” and it seems more probable, in the context, that this is a typo.