We have always been involved in campaigns against wasteful and unnecessary military spending, U.S. involvement in unjust wars and the threat of global annihilation due to nuclear war.
Jews have been at the forefront of major challenges to corporate power on behalf of workers, consumers and the environment.
Lieberman's own contribution, in the 1960s, to the civil rights movement and his more recent support for reproductive choice reflect this proud tradition. The rest of his record on Capitol Hill, unfortunately, represents almost a complete negation of the social justice agenda pursued by so many American Jews for the last century.
Lieberman has an ambiguous record on affirmative action and support for public education. He favors big military spending increases and partial privatization of Social Security. He is for "tort reform" - a special-interest scam that will further reduce the public accountability of big corporations by limiting damage awards against them in lawsuits filed by victims of occupational or environmental hazards.
When challenged in the past - from religious quarters - about his positions on abortion or birth control, Lieberman has often used biblical references and Talmudic interpretations to explain and defend his public stands. One wonders what sections of the Bible or Talmud he is relying on to justify being a wholly-owned Senate subsidiary of drug and insurance companies, military contractors and the nuclear power industry - all of which contribute heavily to his campaign coffers?
But Lieberman's corporate connections pale in comparison with his disturbing pronouncements on the role of religion in civic life and his close alliances with fundamentalist Christians. Rev. Jerry Falwell - whose views are so embarrassing to the Bush campaign that he was sidelined at the recent Republican convention - expressed great joy over Lieberman's candidacy. And, in an op-ed in the New York Times, Sen. Sam Brownback (R., Kan.) hailed Lieberman as his "ally" because "we share a belief in universal truths, in a moral order ordained by God and discovered, not created, by man.
"That shared conviction," Brownback said, "often translates into similar ideas of how to improve our laws and our society."
Lieberman is the chair of the Center for Jewish and Christian Values. Its 25-member board includes some of the leading lights of the Christian right, like Gary Bauer, Ralph Reed and Jeane Kirkpatrick.
Lieberman's more recent declaration that "we need to reaffirm our faith and renew the dedication of our nation and ourselves to God and God's purposes" makes him a leading spokesman for an alliance between fundamentalist Jews and Christians that seeks to erode America's separation of church and state. Indeed, if a fundamentalist Christian made such a statement, most American Jews would be up in arms.
In choosing a conservative Democrat like Lieberman, the Democratic Party is once again counting on those in its more progressive wing to vote against the Republicans and for the lesser of two evils. But just as black Americans did not rush to support President George Bush's appointment of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, American Jews should resist the appeal to communal solidarity when it requires that we support someone whose voting record does not reflect the values of equality, justice and peace that have long made the Jewish community such a progressive force in our society.
Fortunately, in this election, there is another alternative for liberal secular Jews. He is also from Connecticut. And his name is Ralph Nader.
Suzanne Gordon writes about politics and health care and is a commentator for Marketplace on National Public Radio. Isabel Marcus is a professor of law and director of women's studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo.