I had the pleasure to interview Nachman Mostofsky, the Director of Government Relations & Policy Communications at the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI). Mostofsky walks the halls of Congress lobbying to strengthen policies that are based on the Judeo-Christian values that the USA was founded upon. It was a very enlightening and eye-opening conversation.
Jewish Values in Washington
Mostofsky raises some interesting points on the importance of his work.
First of all, Mostofsky states that most of the Jews who go to Washington to lobby Congress in the name of “Jewish values” are progressive Jews lobbying for policies that the progressive movement in the Democratic party support. They lobby Congress for policies that support government intervention and funding on various social issues, including gay rights, transexual rights, abortion, now the Green New Deal etc. However, while Judaism is all about compassion and looking out for the downtrodden, it does not necessarily support the “progressive”
At the same time, most Congressmen and women only see conservative Jews lobbying for Israel, but not on domestic issues.
When Mostofsky walks through the halls of Congress lobbying policies that are connected to Jewish values, like lowering taxes, Congressmen are surprised because until meeting Mostofsky, all other lobbyists who were Jewish lobbied for higher taxes, based on their “Jewish values”.
While Judaism and the Torah definitely include core values to take care of the downtrodden, Mostofsky explains why a system with lower taxes actually helps the downtrodden more than a system with higher taxes, and how it is all connected to the Torah.
Jews, Capitalism and Socialism
There are anti-semites on the left who say that the Jewish people are capitalist pigs, running the world economy and we are to blame for the ills of capitalism and the world. There are anti-semites on the right who say that the Jewish people are socialists and want to control the world. They are both wrong. There are individual Jews who are rich capitalists while there are plenty of poor Jews and individual Jews who are socialists. However, the crux of both of their arguments is that the Jewish people “control” the world, and they are both wrong.
Regarding Judaism and a state’s economic policy, Judaism does not directly espouse either. Judaism is about personal responsibility. A person is supposed to be responsible for himself and for taking care of others. Judaism does not have a set of rules for a state on how to rule, but any and all components of a state should be based on that same principle of developing personal responsibility and allowing each and every person to have the opportunity to take personal responsibility.
Case in point, the Jewish state of Israel began as a socialist state, since many of its founders espoused socialist ideology. Today, however, Israel is more of a capitalist country, even though it still holds on to some policies with an economic safety basket for the less fortunate.