Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.
Although the presidential election is still several days away, it is safe to say that Democratic candidate Barack Obama has secured the lion’s share of American Jewish votes.
While some Republicans had spoken optimistically of Sen. John McCain matching, or even exceeding, the nearly 40 percent of Jewish votes that Ronald Reagan received in 1980, it was wishful thinking to expect Jews to forgo their longstanding commitment to the Democratic Party.
Conservatives may dismiss the persistent affection of the majority of Jews for the Democrats as being rooted as much in nostalgia for Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman as in the merits of their successors. But Republicans know too well that Jews are second only to African-Americans in their dogged refusal to vote for anyone but a Democrat.
Chief among the reasons why Republicans have failed to create a political realignment was that their wedge issue – support for Israel – is not the only item on the list of Jewish concerns.
Domestic issues, particularly those related to the separation of church and state, and social issues, such as support for abortion rights, are seen as matters of profound personal concern. On a deeper level, most Jews have traditionally interpreted Judaism’s imperative for social justice as a mandate for liberal politics. Conservatives may jibe, not without justice, that the faith of liberal Jews can be defined as the Democratic Party platform with holidays thrown in, but there’s no denying the power of these ideas.
That said, Republicans were poised to make some gains. McCain’s strong stands on Israel and Islamist terror gave the GOP reason for hope. Also helpful was the victory of Obama, a virtual political unknown, over Sen. Hillary Clinton, who had strong support among Jews. And Obama’s long association with a radical anti-Semite like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright troubled many voters.
By late September, however, GOP optimism fell victim to the panic on Wall Street. But more important in sounding the death knell, at least among Jews, was the Sarah Palin factor.
Though Palin’s presence on the ticket has energized the Republican base, her identity as a social conservative and evangelical Christian had the opposite effect on most Jews, because their views on domestic matters run contrary to hers. The hostility she has generated among liberal Jews, especially women, is visceral and nasty. There’s little doubt she is going to cost McCain some Jewish votes.
So, no matter who is sworn in next January, the Democratic dominance of the Jewish vote will almost certainly remain unshaken. Unfortunately, that has already led a few pundits to jump to some unjustified conclusions.
In an essay titled “Obama’s Jews” in the October issue of Harper’s, Bernard Avishai, an Israeli who is a strong critic of the way American Jews fervently support his country, states his belief that the unwillingness of Jews to vote Republican, despite the GOP’s supposed superior record on Israel, means they are indifferent to such appeals. He blithely assumes this Democratic majority is sticking with its party’s candidate precisely because it has rejected the mantra of down-the-line support for Israel.
Ironically, his view seems to echo the laments of Jewish Republicans, who fear the vote for Obama means Jews no longer care about Israel. That is a particularly bitter reflection for them, because conservatives have long held that, sooner or later, American Jews would switch parties because they were bound to eventually conclude that the Democrats were inherently unreliable on Israel.
It is no secret that there is a large element of the American Left that is inherently hostile to Israel and Zionism. They wield proportionally more influence among Democrats than that portion of the American Right that is similarly hostile to Israel (think Pat Buchanan). To the extent that any Democrat can be identified as a clone of former president Jimmy Carter, whose view of Israel as an apartheid state has thoroughly discredited him as a mainstream figure, the Republicans do gain.
Yet as the results of 1980 proved, when Jewish voters are presented with a Democrat perceived as hostile to Israel, they will vote for his or her opponent. In that election, Carter (whose animus toward Israel wasn’t nearly as pronounced as it has since become) received a record low Jewish vote.
About the Author: Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com, where this first appeared. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Is not Israel’s policy of “territory for peace” with Arab leaders criminally irresponsible?
Israel must develop it’s truthful message to be as clear & simple to comprehend as the Arab’s lies
2 basic aspects of Aristotelian thought remarkably like Jewish thought: “Involvement” & “Purpose”
It shakes our sense of justice when allegations against a famed role model are covered up or ignored
Feiglin: Only true liberty will allow us to genuinely connect to our Jewish identity.
The silver lining with early elections is the chance to change the current dysfunctional government.
The Holocaust Educational Trust Ireland informed the host he could not say “Israel or Jewish state”
It’s fascinating how sources attain the status “traditional,” or its equivalent level of kashrus.
The West needs to ensure Russia understands that aggression comes at a significant cost.
What benefit is a learning experience that leaves kids confused,disillusioned&harms self confidence?
Girlfriend and double cop-killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley apparently was influenced by Islamic extremism.
We see pictures of mosques, monuments for terrorists, illegal schools, and hundreds of apartments being built on Jewish land without repercussions. We are losing Jewish property, so it is up to us to protect it.
Thus, despite the increasingly serious problems for the mayor arising out of the current anti-police protests, Mr. de Blasio apparently will be cut no slack by those who seem to be aiming for a significant role in running the city from the streets and who will do whatever they can to prevent their momentum from ebbing.
Anti-Semitism has returned to the mainstream of European society and Israel has become its focus.
One of the key talking points by apologists for Hamas in the current conflict is that it isn’t fair that Israelis under fire have bomb shelters while Palestinians in Gaza don’t have any. Among other factors, the lack of shelters accounts in part for the differences in casualty figures between the two peoples. But somehow […]
How will all this end? Hamas seems to think it will be Netanyahu who will blink first.
Nothing short of a stroke that will decapitate the leadership of this group will convince the Arabs that Hamas has made a mistake.
Z STREET will have the ability to compel IRS officials to testify as to their practices and produce all records.
“Death of Klinghoffer” opera frames the issue as Israel’s existence being the real crime.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/dont-misinterpret-jewish-support-for-obama/2008/10/29/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: