Why are so many Jewish people in the West (and some Israelis) so liberal?

Regularly I am asked by Christian friends why Jewish people, especially in America, are often so liberal in their ideology and politics. Gentile believers in the nations tell me they cannot understand why so many Jews in the West support philosophies and movements which not only seem fundamentally contrary to biblical values, but are also potentially harmful to Jews. These believers, many of whom care deeply about Israel and the Jewish people, are understandably troubled. They see disproportionate numbers of Jews in America (and elsewhere) not only supporting but helping lead globalist, woke, LGBTQ, pro-abortion, secular atheist and other leftist movements suppressive of biblical values and policies. Some Christians in the US tell me — with genuine sadness — they find it increasingly difficult to maintain Messiah-like love for Jewish people who so vehemently advocate against God’s ways.

I understand the dilemma. I am a former Jewish American liberal and attorney with a university degree in political science and sociology, but by grace, an Israeli Yeshua-follower and prayer leader. I offer below at least some of the main reasons why Jews in Western nations shun conservative values and causes. My list of reasons is not exhaustive and it does not aim to defend or justify leftist-liberal positions. The list is merely to help evangelicals understand the way many Western Jewish people think. It focuses on the US but applies, in varying degrees, to Jews in other nations, including the minority of highly left leaning Israeli Jews.

Ten Reasons Why Many American (and Other) Jews Are Leftist-Liberal

  1. The historical experience of Jews in America and elsewhere predisposes many to care deeply about, if not identify with, minorities they perceive as marginalized or oppressed. When Jews first immigrated in large numbers to the US around the turn of the 20th century, most were poor and many worked under oppressive conditions in so-called “sweatshops.” In addition, antisemitism, both subtle and overt, has always been part of the collective Jewish American experience. As a result, many Jews have consciously or unconsciously seen themselves as a potentially marginalized or suppressed minority. Therefore, they have generally opposed any marginalization of what they perceive to be the civil or personal rights of almost any minority group. This includes, for example, those identifying as LGBTQ. Through much of US history, the left leaning Democratic Party has appealed more to those who identify as poor or as part of an oppressed or or marginalized minority, thereby attracting Jewish people.
  1. The Jewish principle of tikkun olam (“repairing the world”) is a rabbinic concept derived from the Torah. It teaches us to extend practical acts of compassion and justice toward the needy or marginalized as a high priority. This principle, which in itself is right and good, can become so high a priority that it clouds discernment of biblical righteousness and justice. In seeking to save the world apart from its Savior, advocates of tikkun olam can undermine free market democracy with unsustainable, leftist public policies.
  1. Collective Jewish consciousness of the historical experience of slavery in Egypt, revisited every year at Passover, predisposed American Jews to identify with, and actively participate in, the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. To be sure, co-laboring with African Americans for their civil rights was good and right. But it also strengthened the American Jewish community’s embrace of progressive, liberal and US Democratic Party values and goals.
  1. Many American Jews harbor a conscious or unconscious fear of government policies which they perceive (rightly or wrongly) as legislating Christianity or potentially making Christianity the law of the land. This fear stems from our long history of government mandated antisemitism and persecution in other, so-called Christian nations. Often this fear is expressed as anger, rebellion and/or highly muddled thinking — and therefore goes unrecognized as fear. Sadly, most Jews in the US do not understand that genuinely Christian values are also genuinely Jewish values.
  1. American Jews as a whole do not really know what Jewish biblical values actually are. They may religiously observe some or many Jewish traditions. But very few read and study the Torah or the Tenach (Old Covenant) for themselves. If they attend synagogue, they may sit as spectators watching a rabbi and listening to a worship leader (chazan). They may pray liturgical prayers from a prayer book in synagogue, but prayer is usually not an expression of wholehearted leaning into God. Sadly, many have substituted liberalism for biblical Judaism.
  1. Satan is a deceiver and the father of lies. The overwhelming majority of extreme liberals and progressives in America and elsewhere are Gentile. We would consider most, or perhaps all, to be sadly uninformed or deceived about God, His Word and His ways. Highly liberal or so-called “progressive” Jewish Americans are no exception. Like their Gentile counterparts, they need the Lord! Notably, Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews in the US and elsewhere who study and know God’s Word tend to identify as conservative. They continue to embrace traditional Judeo-Christian values, and in the US, are increasingly aligned with the Republican Party.
  1. For many decades, the phenomenon of the so-called “self-hating Jew” has been recognized by the conservative, global Jewish community. A self-hating Jew is said to be one who has internalized antisemitism to the degree that he or she despises his or her own Jewish identity and heritage. Self-hating Jews reject biblical Jewish values, including the God of the Jews. Usually they quietly assimilate into the secular world. But sometimes they publicly advocate vigorously against Judaism, Jewish values and especially, the Jewish state.
  1. Many American Jews have come to believe outrageous distortions and deceptions about Israel propagated by anti-Israel movements. They may resent and shun identification with the Jewish state. Others are unconsciously defensive about any affiliation or alignment with Israel. Still others consciously feel duty-bound, as Jews, to denounce Israel’s existence as a defensible Jewish state. An example is the increasingly influential and leftist “J Street” organization, funded in significant part by the notorious Jewish atheist, George Soros. Sadly, such Jewish leaders and organizations unwittingly curse themselves according to Genesis 12:3. They desperately need our prayers.
  1. Repeatedly in the Hebrew Scriptures, God cautions Israel against seeking to become like other nations. But ever since our sojourn in Egypt, we have been tempted to conform to the ways of the world. Today, many Jews in the West (and some in Israel) are tempted to seek the same wealth, power, social status and sensual satisfaction as most Gentiles. Conformity with the world lulls many toward secular liberalism.
  1. American Jews are often highly liberal because they have not been awakened (yet?) to the potential for extreme antisemitism looming on the horizon as a result of the leftist liberalism they so strongly advocate.

Satan’s plan is to turn God’s two covenant peoples, Christians and Jews, against each other. The majority of Jewish Americans – unlike many Israeli Jews – do not yet recognize that Jesus-loving evangelicals are Israel’s staunchest allies. Meanwhile, God’s plan is for American Christians to stay steadfast in Messiah-like love for the Jews, despite their ideology, and for Jews to be provoked by that love to come to faith in Yeshua (Romans 11:11). God is converging His two covenant peoples into one new humanity, His end times, bridal remnant ekklesia.

This does not mean that aliyah is not God’s will for American and other Jews. It does mean He desires for aliyah to take place on favorable terms, fostering a relationship between Israel and the West that aligns with His Word, blesses both peoples and glorifies His Name. Let’s faithfully pray and joyfully labor toward that end!

This article originally appeared on Light of Zion, September 20, 2022, and reposted with permission.