Just before the Minnesota caucuses, one of the nation’s ten or so largest Reform Jewish synagogues, Minneapolis’s Temple Israel, cosponsored a political speech by Kitty Dukakis at the synagogue’s regular Friday evening sabbath service.

Temple Israel is typical of many synagogues around the country where liberal Democrats are regularly endorsed from the pulpit. The fondness of Jewish leaders for liberal politicians, of course, extends far beyond being a captive audience. It is hardly a secret that Jewish contributors generously finance liberals aspiring to high office. The Jewish establishment’s ties to liberal politics have a long history. But today there is no reason for Jews to indiscriminately support liberals, whatever justification there may have been in the past. Of all the nation’s ethnic, religious, and interest groups, the political behavior of the Jewish leadership is the least consistent with its community’s interests, and is often perversely inimical to them.

One would think that American Jewry’s special political concerns (shared by most Christians as well) would be the preservation of a strong Israel, together with a militarily powerful America, Israel’s only ally, and a rejection of bigotry and religious discrimination at home, with opportunities based solely on individual merit. Those are not the policies of the politicians Jewish leaders idolize.

The media has given extensive coverage to the generous support Greek Americans have given to Dukakis. There has been less coverage of the substantial help he has gotten from Jewish liberals. Many in the established Jewish leadership have not only given financial and philosophical support to Dukakis, but are actively working on his campaign. Hyman Bookbinder, the American Jewish Committee’s chief Washington spokesman and congressional lobbyist, serves on the Dukakis campaign staff! At a recent Jewish leadership meeting. Bookbinder boasted that Dukakis will garner as much as 85 percent of the Jewish vote.

That notwithstanding, Dukakis subscribes to the conventional liberal foreign policy dogmas of unilateral American disarmament, sympathy for communist and terrorist regimes in the Third World, and increased deference in foreign policy to the dictates of the United Nations, despite its infamous “Zionism is racism” resolution and other anti-Semitic slanders.

In fact, even before Jewish audiences, Dukakis has declined to give so much as token lip service to concerns over the security of Israel. He has refused to rule out his acceptance of a Palestinian state ruled by the PLO. (Bookbinder views the creation of a PLO stronghold with similar insouciance.) Dukakis wants to turn over responsibility for a Middle East settlement (along with the resolution of other international issues) to the UN General Assembly.

It goes without saying that the left’s objectives are not good for Israel. Although in this election year Dukakis and other liberal politicians are more circumspect, Democratic Party activists are increasingly vocal in their hostility to Israel. Several state Democratic conventions this year adopted resolutions demanding the creation of a PLO state, and polls indicate that more than 70 percent of the Democratic National Convention delegates favor the establishment of a Palestinian state in part (or all) of what is now Israel. In any Dukakis administration, Jesse Jackson is probably going to have great influence, which means Jackson may soon be able to hug Yasser Arafat from a position of governmental power.

Many important liberal Jewish leaders found Dukakis insufficiently liberal and backed Jackson this year—despite his “Hymietown” remarks and his assertion, during a trip to Israel yet, that he is “sick and tired of hearing about the Holocaust.” In his 1988 campaign, the “reformed” or at least sanitized Jackson attacked Israel again, this time for supposedly invading Angola along with South Africa. No liberal Jewish leader has challenged Jackson for this fabrication.

On the contrary, the New York president of the American Jewish Committee, R. Peter Straus, was outspoken in his praise for Jackson during the New York primary. Dukakis was the big winner among New York’s Jewish voters, but Jackson amassed almost as many Jewish votes as did Albert Gore, the only Democratic candidate who backed Israel’s opposition to the creation of a PLO state.

The most important Jewish apologist for Jackson, though, is Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, which purports to represent more than half of America’s Jewish population. In a recent article for the leftist Jewish journal Tikkun, Rabbi Saperstein admits that Jackson “still manifests a disturbing discomfort with Jews.” Nevertheless, he ascribes Jackson’s anti-Semitism only to “an unnuanced analysis” and places the blame on an unsympathetic Jewish community for “failing to respond” to Jackson with “tangible and meaningful expressions of appreciation and encouragement.” This, said Saperstein, “increasingly disappointed and frustrated” Jackson.

Much of the liberal drumbeat for an international conference on the creation of a PLO state comes from Jewish leaders. Last winter Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, vice president of the World Jewish Congress, and Rabbi Wolf Kelman, vice president of the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly, founded a group calling itself the Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East. Among the luminaries associated with this outfit is Louis Farrakhan. The group’s executive director is the Middle East representative of the American Friends Service Committee, an organization which has loudly and consistently supported leftist movements around the world and has equally consistently opposed Israel’s actions in self-defense. Not to be outdone, Albert Vorspan, director of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations’ social action program, wrote a “courageous” let-it-all-hang-out piece in the New York Times Magazine in which he violated confidences and censured Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and those American Jews who support his policies. Also getting into the act were hundreds of Jewish liberal activists, led by Hertzberg and the editors of Tikkun, who have purchased full page advertisements in leading newspapers proclaiming their demands for the “immediate” establishment of a PLO state, regardless of the consequences for Israel.

The eagerness of the established Jewish leadership to embrace accepted liberal wisdom often reaches dual heights of hilarity and self-destructiveness. Jewish women’s groups and united funding organizations around the country (which pressure middle-class Jews to contribute for the stated purpose of helping community members in need) recently sponsored and financed a series of speeches by an obscure Israeli feminist activist, Alice Shalvi. Shalvi calls Israel’s miraculous victory in the 1967 Six-Day War a “terrible turning point of the blunting of a Jewish moral sensibility.” The “aggressive tendencies” it engendered, according to her, have led to an increased abuse of Israeli women. Shalvi, and presumably the liberal leaders who promote her, believe that Israel’s defeat of those who threatened a second Holocaust not long after the first one “runs counter to our deep sense of justice.”

The disdain of the established Jewish organizations for their obligations to American Jewry extends beyond the security interests of Israel to what should be the issue that troubles them the most—the continuing plague of anti-Semitism. While the liberal Jewish leadership is now engaging in a frenetic campaign to stamp out JAP (Jewish American princess) jokes (which largely originated with Jewish males), it has been impotent or worse in dealing with contemporary society’s most frightening manifestation of anti-Semitism—the veritable epidemic of it among the black nomenklatura and intelligentsia.

Black politicians in Chicago have launched an extremely vicious and concerted anti-Semitic assault. In a recent ruckus over a satiric painting of the late mayor, Harold Washington, black aldermen and appointees vehemently maligned Jews in general—though the painting was done by an art student who was not Jewish. A disciple of Louis Farrakhan named Steve Cokely, formerly a close aide of current Mayor Eugene Sawyer, has called Christopher Columbus “a Hispanic Jewboy” and charged that a conspiracy of Jewish doctors “who inject AIDS into blacks” has produced and spread the disease. Far from repudiating Cokely, black politicians have rallied behind him. The chairman of the city’s Commission on Human Relations, of all people, declared that the idea of a nefarious worldwide Jewish conspiracy against blacks has “a ring of truth.”

The silence of Michael Dukakis and the “new” Jesse Jackson (a Chicago resident) on this explosion of anti-Semitism among black Chicago Democrats has been deafening. But the reaction of the liberal Jewish leadership has been no better.

In contrast to their vigorous action on the JAP joke front, the Jewish organizations have tried only to appease these blacks, calling for a “dialogue” between the defamers and the defamed. The regional director of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League even publicly chastised Rev. Andrew Greeley, the Roman Catholic priest and author, for saying that Jews should be “terrified” at the intensity of black anti-Semitism in Chicago.

As a matter of fact, the liberal Jewish leadership itself bears more than some of the blame for the descent of Chicago politics into its present savagery. The machine of anti-Semitic loons now running Chicago would never have come to power but for Jewish support. In 1983 Harold Washington won his first mayoralty election only by the smallest of margins over Republican attorney and ex-legislator Bernard Epton. Epton had overwhelming support from all white groups except from the city’s Jewish voters. Despite the fact that Epton himself is Jewish, liberal Jewish leaders abandoned him in favor of the putatively more “liberal” Washington, who was able to edge out Epton only because of his votes from upper-middle-class Jewish residents living on the shores of Lake Michigan and in the University of Chicago area.

Dukakis passes another liberal litmus test in supporting affirmative action quotas, by which qualified persons are denied jobs and admission to schools in favor of less capable members of preferred racial and gender groups. Jews are not included in these groups. The Jewish community has suffered particular harm from quotas: for most of this century, the nation’s toniest educational institutions used quotas for the explicit purpose of excluding intellectually able Jewish applicants. Still, liberal Jewish leaders are zealous advocates of affirmative action. One of the chief gripes the American Jewish Congress and the National Council of Jewish Women had against Judge Robert Bork was his refusal to embrace reverse discrimination as holy writ.

The political hypocrisy of the established Jewish leadership may reach a dubious zenith on the issue of intermarriage. For a long time intermarriage has been a bête noire with rabbis and Jewish organizations. Nevertheless, Jewish liberal activists have lionized Jewish Kitty and Creek Orthodox Michael Dukakis for their chicly “ecumenical” marriage. One gushing New York rabbi campaigning with Mrs. Dukakis before the New York primary likened her to the biblical Esther, the Jewish wife of a Persian king. Just a few months earlier, however, these same folks—including a major New York liberal Jewish weekly and officials of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the American Jewish Congress—were reviling Supreme Court nominee Douglas Ginsburg for, among other things, his marriage to a woman who was not born Jewish. At around the same time. Reform and Conservative rabbis were officiating with a priest at the wedding of New York governor Mario Cuomo’s daughter to a Jewish groom who agreed to raise their future children as Catholics. The explanation for this seeming incongruity is that the Dukakises and Cuomo are certified liberals, while Ginsburg is perceived as a conservative. To many Jewish leaders, intermarriage is a vice or a virtue depending upon the politics of the parties involved.

All of this obeisance to the fashionable opinions and personalities of the political and intellectual left embarrasses and actively harms American Jews. The real American Jewish community has put off for too long an agonizing reappraisal of the scandalous political activities of those who are only ostensibly acting on its behalf. At the very least, synagogues should not be in the business of using religious services to endorse candidates—any candidates.

The Jewish rabbinical and lay leadership regularly accuses the Christian right of confounding religion and politics. It is doing at least the same thing itself, only on behalf of liberal politicians and issues. The lesson is obvious. The established Jewish leadership should abandon its political pretensions and return to, or begin, serving the religious and other needs of the Jewish community. Otherwise, American Jewry should look for new spiritual and secular leaders.