Jews, the Labor Movement, and the Underlying Poison of Nationalist Militancy

Abolish Child Slavery in Yiddish, 1909
"Abolish Child Slavery" in Yiddish, 1909

Jews were pioneers of Labor reform in the United States, most famously for women workers. It is this legacy in particular that still leaves most of the grandchildren and great grandchildren of these folks voting Democrat despite their extraordinary financial success, much to the chagrin of successive Republican presidents.

There are divisions emerging between Jews on these matter, of late, however. Not surprisingly, the leading militants siding with Israel’s most violent policies are also the most opposed to labor rights, such as Sheldon Adelson. Adelson is one of the most extreme influences on American Jewish establishment politics today. This comes as no surprise to me. Moral bankruptcy in Israel’s treatment of Palestinians goes hand in hand with selfishness in labor relations. This is why the poison of the Occupation must go, so that, in addition to doing the right thing, Jews can recapture the proud political traditions of their ancestors and stand up to those who claim to defend the Jewish community but are just corrupting it.

There is no way past the challenges we face until each sub-community of the United States faces up to the problems of its own community. Just as the Jewish community must face up to its own problems, so must others. It is the same in the Middle East. Honest self-assessment is the key to positive change.

Which Side Are We On? Jews Lead Fight For and Against Key Labor Bill
By Nathaniel Popper

labor movement

…The changing times are evident in the debate about a current piece of legislation that could be the biggest change to labor law since the days when [Bernard] Marcus’s father was working as a carpenter. The Employee Free Choice Act, which was introduced in both the House and the Senate in March, would change labor law from the 1930s in order to make it easier for unions to organize workers.

Today, as in the ’30s, there are a number of influential Jewish union leaders supporting the legislation. But unlike in the ’30s, a few Jewish voices have surfaced as among the most influential opponents of the legislation. Marcus is frequently mentioned among the leading voices opposing the free choice act. In a famous phone call discussing the legislation with other business executives, he said, “This is how a civilization disappears.” That echoed the words of another child of poor Jewish immigrants, Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and Jewish philanthropist who told The Wall Street Journal that EFCA is “one of the two fundamental threats to society,” along with Islamism.

Read more here.

© Marc Gopin