Fair enough. But those criticisms do not explain the president’s unpopularity among American Jews. He captured less than a quarter of the Jewish vote in 2004, and his approval ratings among Jews now is minuscule.

I will grant his critics their right to dislike him. After all, he isn’t with them on federal support for embryonic stem cell research, the Iraq war, environmental regulations, abortion rights, gay marriage and civil liberties for terror suspects, to name a few.

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But most of all, he was a Southern evangelical Republican. Given that, I suspect there was nothing he could have done to win over the Jews.

To his critics, his leadership on Israel and anti-Semitism was quaint and one-dimensional. They took it for granted. But they should not be so casual with a friend.

President Bush was more Zionist than many Israelis, more mindful of Jewish history than many Jews. He was not wrong to think that way, and we American Jews can be thankful at least for that.

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