Latest update: July 1st, 2013
David Litwack: It’s the Democrats
For the past several years, whenever anyone asked me which American political party was best for Israel, my answer was: both. Even AIPAC, in the weeks before the 2006 Congressional election, stated that both parties are equally good for Israel. This of course has been and will continue to be ignored by the Republican Party, which attempts to use Israel as a wedge issue in the Jewish community.
In the 2004 presidential election, the Republican Party ignored John Kerry’s impeccable pro-Israel voting record, and his 100% rating by AIPAC, and waged a vicious ad campaign of lies and distortions that painted Kerry as being anti-Israel and weak on terrorism. Simultaneously, the Republicans characterized President Bush as the best friend Israel has ever had.
To this day, the Republican Party continues to push an image of Democratic leaders and the Democratic Party as being anti-Israel, and it will continue to do so into the next election cycle and beyond.
Unfortunately for the Republican architects of the demonization of the Democratic Party, the Bush administration has a Pinocchio problem. Most Jews are no longer listening to the drivel coming out of the mouths of Bush and other Republican leaders. They, like other Americans, cannot help but be distracted by the humongous red nose that keeps getting longer and longer with every lie told about Iraq, the Justice Dept., Valerie Plame, al Qaeda, etc.
Instead, Jewish Americans ask themselves questions like: Is Israel any stronger after years of Republican control of Congress and the Oval Office? Is Al Qaeda any weaker? Is Iran, Hamas, or Hizbullah any less of a threat to Israel? Is Saudi Arabia less anti-Semitic or anti-Israel? Is it any harder to obtain the materials to make a dirty bomb in the U.S.? Are America’s borders any more secure? Is the U.S. military any stronger?
Did anyone notice that in late June of this year, the House Republican leadership instructed its members to vote against the foreign aid bill which provides $2.4 billion to Israel and has long been a top legislative priority of the pro-Israel community?
I’ve changed my mind. The next time anyone asks me which party is best for Israel, I’m going to say the Democrats are. I won’t stop there, though. I’ll also add that we’re the best party for America and American Jews.
And for those in the American Jewish community who still want to believe Pinocchio, I have a suggestion: Contribute to your local Republican legal defense fund. After all, all the good trial attorneys are Democrats – and they don’t give Republican discounts.
Maury Litwack: No, It’s the Republicans
Jewish Democratic politicians quickly become infected with a contagious flu called “clarification” whenever they are asked to define their political stance on Israel. They proudly wear their huge bleeding-heart badges like every other liberal until the subject of Israel comes up. As soon as Israel is mentioned they move their badges from the far left side of their blue jackets to the far right side in order to “clarify” how their foreign policy positions differ from those of non-Jewish liberals.
This clarification is necessary because many Jewish liberals quietly hold a conservative perspective on foreign policy. In political circles, those who hold such opinions are referred to as “hawkish,” because they view our enemies and Israel’s with distrust and hostility. Sadly for Jewish liberals, such a position places the average Jewish Democrat squarely in the moderate Democratic camp, nowadays a solid minority within the Democratic Party.
You would think a constituency as important for Democrats as Jewish liberals who are hawkish on Israel would have a powerful impact on the party. Remarkably, the opposite is true. And it is the continued waffling of Democrats in power – Jewish and non-Jewish – on many important foreign policy issues that makes large numbers of rank-and-file Jewish Democrats uncomfortable with the party line.
So why do so many Jewish Democratic politicians who rooted for Nancy Pelosi’s ascension, and who believed John Kerry would make a good president, suffer from the clarification malady? Because they recognize that to be considered truly liberal, they often must take ambiguous positions on Israel. They therefore seem to be most comfortable dealing with softball questions such as: How can the UN mediate peace in the Middle East? What role can Syria play? How can we better understand Hamas?
About the Author: David Litwack has more than 30 years’ experience in politics; from 2003-2007 he was national director of development for the National Jewish Democratic Council, the national voice of Jewish Democrats. Maury Litwack, David’s son, is a political consultant and executive director of The Conservative Coalition for Israel (www.conservativesforisarel.com). The Litwacks’ website, Relatively Political (www.relativelypolitical.com), features their differing views on current affairs.
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