Shakespeare’s King Lear is vain, proud, self-indulgent and yet, insecure. He expects his three daughters to not only love him unconditionally—but their affection for him must go above and beyond the ability of a human to love.
When professing their “love” for him—two of his daughters tell him exactly what he wants to hear—despite having no love for him at all. Cordelia, his third and youngest daughter, loves him dearly and would gladly sacrifice her life for him. But after she describes her filial love and nothing more, Lear takes offense, effectively disowning—or canceling her.
King Lear’s loyal followers warn him that his evil daughters are betraying him and that in turn he was betraying Cordelia—but he is too vain and proud to heed their advice. Instead, he banishes his closest advisor.
Naturally, when he relinquishes control of his kingdom to them, his two “loyal” daughters turn on him almost immediately.
King Lear’s court jester—the Fool—harangues Lear constantly about his error. But since he is simply a fool, Lear neither heeds his advice nor punishes him. The Fool sees how wrong Lear is, how he has seriously wronged those that truly love him and how wrongly he judged those that hated him. He saw a man that was beyond redemption. In one simple sentence, he says all that it is necessary to say about a man that has done what the King has done: “I had rather be any kind o’ thing than a Fool, and yet I would not be thee.”
Near the end of the play, finally reunited with Cordelia, King Lear acknowledges his error and begs for forgiveness—which Cordelia dutifully provides, before succumbing to the punishment her enemies inflicted on her.
Moments later—Lear dies too, from a broken heart. Just prior to his death, he learned the truth about love, his friends and his enemies, but it was too late.
Which brings us to the curious situation of American Jewish Leftists.
For decades, political theorists have tried to understand why so many American Jews support causes and politicians that actively work against their interests.
As Milton Himmelfarb once observed, “Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans.”
Perhaps it is as simple as one of the themes in King Lear: insecurity, vanity and self-indulgence, which have ironically led Jews to do “good” in order to be “loved.”
These emotions are so ingrained that they prevent Jews from seeing the truth about friends and foes that is so obvious to most disinterested observers.
The outspoken anti-Semitism among some Democrat politicians, Leftist leaders, college professors, students, the legacy media, and Hollywood since the Hamas October 7 attack on Israel have made clear the intentions and alliances of Leftists.
Jews are the enemy of the Left because they are often highly educated, financially secure and likely to reside in safe communities. They tend to live bourgeois lives: work hard, raise families, and care for aging parents.
And traditionally they also tend to support the existence and the thriving of the single Jewish state on planet earth—the State of Israel. Jewish Leftists, in my view, accept Leftist gripes and complaints about racism, capitalism and American wrong-doing, in part to achieve acceptance by the “downtrodden,” but also to satisfy their vanity and insecurity—because after all they may be successful, but being seen as a “moral citizen” by their neighbors and gaining acceptance by the people in their social circles is equally as important.
Even before Israel was so viciously attacked, Leftists have not been shy about promoting anti-Semitism.
However Leftist Jews and non-Jewish Leftists of good faith did not pay attention.
Prior to October 7, the Leftist focus on intersectionality had magnified the intensity of Leftist anti-Semitism but apparently did little to change the thinking of Leftist Jews.
For decades there was ample evidence that Jews had chosen the wrong side: from Jesse Jackson (Hymie Town), to Al Sharpton (Freddie’s), Crown Heights Riots, to Jimmy Carter, to Barack Obama (Reverend Wright, daylight between the US and Israel), etc. the specter of anti-Semitism was on full display for years.
These eruptions were sporadic but the evidence was clearly visible. And yet, many Leftist Jews irrationally imagined that they needed to fear traditional White, Christian Americans—which seems rather ironic now, considering that following October 7, the greatest advocates for the Jewish people other than Jews themselves have been Conservative American Christians of all races.
It is only when Lear’s treacherous daughters’ turn him out onto the stormy heath after dark—putting his life at risk—that Lear reluctantly recognizes where his daughters’ allegiances stood. Will October 2023 be the month that Leftist Jews recognize that their Leftist allies are actually hateful enemies?
King Lear learned, too late, of his fatal mistake, but he did learn. Although his honest daughter perished due to his moral blindness, before she died, he was able to repent and she forgave him just prior to his own death.
Leftist Jewish Americans could benefit from their own King Lear-like reckoning.
Were they loved by their fellow Leftists or merely tolerated as useful idiots for the value that they provided?
Were they revered by Leftists or did they revere themselves for their “courage” to join that group?
Is their intolerance for American Conservatives justified or based on a false understanding of reality and morality?
Will the Leftist reaction to the October 7 atrocities be sufficient for them to learn the truth about socialism, identify politics and Islamic fascism?
The outpouring of grief among Conservatives of all faiths for Israelis and American Jewry especially when contrasted with the hate spewed by Leftists should be sufficient to awaken Leftist Jews from their dream and ensure that others do not think of them as the Fool thought of Lear: “I had rather be any kind o’ thing than a Fool, and yet I would not be thee.”
Jeffrey Keltz is a retired Information Technology professional and now spends his time cycling and studying politics, history and economics.