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February 6, 2016

Oy Vey. The Summer of Jews Behaving Badly

Weiner's mayoral bid took a tumble in the polls recently. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Weiner’s mayoral bid took a tumble in the polls recently. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

It has been a bad couple of weeks for my people.

No, I don’t mean journalists. I mean the Jews.

First, it was Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers slugger who was suspended for 65 games for violating Major League Baseball’s drug program. As the New Republic’s Marc Tracy put it, “Braun used banned performance-enhancing drugs, and then lied about it and impugned the character of his urine collector, and then lied about it some more and in ever more flamboyant manners.”

Technically, according to Jewish law, Braun, who grew up in Los Angeles, isn’t Jewish. His father is Jewish but his mother is Catholic, and the home run hitting outfielder has said that he did not have a bar mitzvah, didn’t observe Jewish holidays and didn’t attend religious services.

But he was inducted into the Southern California Jewish Hall of Fame, has identified himself as Jewish and was quoted in USA Today saying, “I’m extremely proud to be a role model for young Jewish kids.”

Jewish and non-Jewish athletes have cheated before, and they will cheat again. The Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, who isn’t a member of my tribe (or the Tribe), apparently is going to get an even longer suspension — something even Yankee fans are rooting for, since it will help his team get under the luxury tax next year. But Braun’s behavior, including denials, is a blow to those of us who took pride in his accomplishments.

But if Braun has proven to be a disappointment, what is there to say about Anthony Weiner? Are there any words to describe this guy? I’ve heard him described as “sick” and “narcissistic.” I’d add delusional and arrogant, though most of the words I associate with him are unprintable. He, too, is an embarrassment for the Jewish community.

It’s as if Weiner is an addict who can’t live a modest private life of humility. He needs attention. He needs people to vote for him. He needs power. Actually, he needs a punch in the nose.

“I won’t let political pundits influence my decisions,” Weiner said about calls for him to exit the race, apparently not understanding that his inner voice ought to be telling him to slither out of the public square.

Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, who is not Jewish, doesn’t deserve any of the praise or sympathy she has received for standing by her man. By “supporting” his ego trip and delusional goal, she has been an enabler, not part of the solution.

Obviously, Weiner isn’t the only embarrassing, insufferable, ego-driven politician, Jewish or otherwise. Rep. Mark Sanford, for example, isn’t Jewish. But it doesn’t help that the two other current politicians in the news for their past or current scandals — former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and current San Diego mayor Bob Filner — both are Jewish.

Neither one seems to feel the kind of shame and humiliation that both should.  Having a handful of high-profile Jewish politicians in the news in such unflattering ways has to make many Jews uncomfortable.

Even in the area of business, things haven’t been great. While hedge fund founder Steven A. Cohen hasn’t been indicted, his firm SAC Capital Advisors has been indicted by a grand jury on fraud charges.

I always figured that every group has good and bad people, folks worth admiring and those who should be regarded with contempt. There are good rabbis and bad ones, good priests and bad ones, and, yes, good teenagers and bad ones.

I don’t know if other ethnic, religious or racial groups react the way most Jews do. Catholics certainly were outraged at the Church’s sexual abuse problems, but I don’t know if a major concern was how non-Catholics would view Catholics.

Do African-Americans worry about how people who aren’t black will view blacks when blacks commit crimes? Do Asians or Hispanics? I don’t know, but I haven’t read anything or heard anything that suggests that they do.

Many groups seem to adopt a defensive crouch, raising questions about the motives of critics who are not members of their demographic group, and it is certainly possible that Jews are overly sensitive to how non-Jews evaluate them.

Of course, some in the Jewish community immediately turn to the old anti-Semitism defense. And, to be sure, there still are people who are anti-Semitic. But I’ve always thought it a good thing that Jews are especially embarrassed by the misdeed of other Jews, fearing that the behavior sends a bad message to those outside the community.

Self-examination, humility and personal responsibility — not the self-absorption and arrogance demonstrated by Weiner, Spitzer, Filner and even Braun — are things worth encouraging. And that’s something that people in all communities should engage in.

  • guest

    “but I don’t know if a major concern was how non-Catholics would view Catholics.

    Do African-Americans worry about how people who aren’t black will view blacks when blacks commit crimes? Do Asians or Hispanics? I don’t know, but I haven’t read anything or heard anything that suggests that they do.”

    Really?? nothing has suggested to you that blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Catholics are concerned about perceptions of them? I think you must not read or listen at all then.

    • ShawingtonTimes

      Seriously. Black paranoia (about as deep seated as jewish paranoia) is commented on all the time. Cornell West and Tavis Smiley and others make their living based on it. It was recently on display in the pointless/misguided “Black Men and Boys” conference held in Rayburn, and by President Obama recently when he talked about his reactions to perceived reactions from others to him (before he became POTUS) which are based on a mixture of blatant historical good ol boy institutional racism and ignorance, #capitalistmisinformationentertainmentmedia exploitation of minority crime stories to sell ads, and the sad cold hard facts about violence and crime committed by blacks that even the most self righteous African American apologist will admit to (when not in mixed company).

  • Shahzad Latif

    O’ please. Can we keep religion and ‘sports+politics etc.’ separate!

  • nmh

    he who shall judge shall be judged….or something like that.

  • Beirut to Jupiter

    Never occurred to me to think of any of these men as Jewish. They’re aholes. Aholes come in all flavors of religion and ethnicity.

  • 1kygent2

    My doctor is Jewish who saved my life on the other hand, I do believe the media give liberals a pass and a great many liberal politicians are Jews…and when your enabled that way you become self delusional….Why do minorities seem to want to do everything in public?….you don’t see Episcopalians or Methodists acting this I like the UK ..any hint of scandal and the person involved resigns..After all, if their innocent they can always come back..

  • JMH21

    Wow, are we now going to judge people by their religion? Being Jewish has nothing to do with the behavior of these idiots. If sure has put the liberal women in Congress in a conundrum since they have falsely tried to asset that conservatives have some war on women. I guess using women as sex toys does not count in that war and is acceptable when done by a liberal who publicly supports abortion rights, which unfortunately has become their litmus test for supporting women. It is almost laughable.

  • IbrahimHasan

    These are all secular Democratic Jews. No Orthodox or Republican Jews here.
    I am Jewish. Full disclosure.

    • Rob

      I didn’t notice Ryan Braun’s political leanings noted anywhere.

  • A.F. Meincke

    Oy vey, here come the goyim with their stupid views on religions of the world.

  • RBM

    “Do African-Americans worry about how people who aren’t black will view blacks when blacks commit crimes? Do Asians or Hispanics? I don’t know, but I haven’t read anything or heard anything that suggests that they do.” Of course they do. And there is a lot out there that confirms this.

    The comment is most notable because it seems to assume a starkly monocultural existence as the norm. It seems appropriate to clarify that one can even hear thoughts and experiences of some members of these growing parts of the population firsthand. People of many backgrounds are out there, probably even in your neighborhood and place of employment. You are wonderful at what you do, and this is an entertaining piece, but please be more sensible when wading into this kind of territory.

  • AFine

    Regarding the politicians, I think their behavior is less a reflection of their religion and more a reflection that our politics invites and rewards shameless narcissists.

  • Carole

    A Marvelous Quotation by Albert Einstein
    But first ……
    When Paul Newman died, they said how great he was but they failed to mention he considered himself Jewish (born half-Jewish).
    When the woman (Helen Suzman) who helped Nelson Mandela, died recently, they said how great she was, but they failed to mention she was Jewish.
    On the other side of the equation, when Ivan Boesky or Andrew Fastow or Bernie Madoff committed fraud, almost every article mentioned they were Jewish….
    However, when Ken Lay, Jeff Killing, Martha Stewart, Randy Cunningham, Gov. Edwards, Conrad Black, Senator Keating, Gov. Ryan and Gov. Blagojevich messed up; no one reported what religion or denomination they were, because they were not Jewish.

    This is a reminder of a famous Einstein Quote:
    In 1921, Albert Einstein presented a paper on his then-infant Theory of Relativity at the Sorbonne, the prestigious French University .
    “If I am proved correct,” he said, “the Germans will call me a German, the Swiss will call me a Swiss citizen, and the French will call me a great scientis
    If relativity is proved wrong, the French will call me a Swiss, the Swiss will call me a German, and the Germans will call me a Jew.”

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