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November 29, 2015 / 17 Kislev, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘Jewish vote’

Wake up Jews!

Friday, September 28th, 2012

No doubt, it’s hard for people to give up their lifelong attachments and identity.  But there are moments in history when a turning point arrives, and those with eyes to see and ears to hear recognize it.  Many Jews have made political liberalism their religion and personal identity and the Democrat Party their unexamined home and comfort zone.  But everything changed early September.

Rarely do modern-day political conventions startle.  The Democratic National Convention, however, was earthshaking and a warning to Jews to wake up.  Democrat delegates decided to stick it to Israel.  We no longer care, they roared, if Israel remains a Jewish state; flood her heartland with millions of so-called Palestinians whose goal is to make the state Islamic.  We will not condemn Hamas for targeting Jewish population centers with rockets.  Jerusalem is not Israel’s indivisible capital but should be divided, like Berlin was.  Such was the undeniable sentiment of the delegates at the Convention.

After objections from outside the Convention, the chairman reinstated support for Jerusalem.  But he was resoundingly booed.  The world saw how those boos far outweighed the yeas.  My fellow Jews, the boos were for you; those boos were for Israel, a successful Israel that sticks in the craw of a leftist, socialist mindset that sees Israel not as the beacon of freedom and accomplishment she is, but as something outside the leftist ideological orbit.  Sure, they will take your contributions and your votes, but they don’t want your Israel, and they expect you to forgo distinctly Jewish needs on the altar of leftism.  We saw not liberalism, but hardcore leftism, and we saw a home where the welcome mat is quite conditional and worn out.

The prophet Daniel saw the writing on the wall.  All too often throughout our history, we Jews, and especially heads of major Jewish organizations, have failed to see the writing on the wall.  We are afraid to see that which is a game-changer, and so we deny events we wish were not happening.  After all, who wants to change the comfort zone?

It was a convention, like the last four years of the Obama administration, reveling in class warfare.  Class warfare, like Occupy Wall Street and other scapegoating calls, has never been good for the Jews.  We are often the scapegoat of those envious.  Knowing this, Ahmadinejad scheduled a meeting with Occupy, a movement endorsed last year by many bigwigs in the Democratic Party and even President Obama himself.  Jihadists and much of Islam want to delegitimize the concept of a Jewish state by tarnishing Jews as “those rich capitalists” unworthy of a state among the community of nations.

Too often, we Jews have been beguiled into believing that Jews in positions of power have our interests at heart.  Debbie Wasserman Schultz is but the latest who would have us think she is “doing what is good for the Jews” when, in fact, she is doing and will continue to do what is good for Debbie and her power base.  Similarly, the heads of the major Jewish organizations have been conspicuously silent — a silence that would not prevail if a Republican were doing the things to Israel Obama is doing.

Job openings are way down; 50% of college graduates, our children, can’t find jobs; and Mr. Obama will continue to weaken national security and thus the safety of our families…and continue to make it more difficult for Israel to survive.  For many, all this is secondary and expendable for their more important agenda of abortion on demand and gay marriage.  How frivolous; how irresponsible!

We can determine what truly is important to a person when he is forced to choose between two values.  Since when is it a Jewish value to condemn Israel to misery just so one can be assured of abortion at any time, under any circumstance?  Most of your grandparents would have chosen Israel over abortion and gay marriage.  As our sages tell us: “The wages of immorality are further immorality.”

President Obama has time to meet with Muslim Brotherhood Morsi of Egypt, who has declared his intention to get rid Israel, but Mr. Obama has no time to meet with Israel’s Netanyahu, whose country is under imminent nuclear threat from Iran.  Israel’s concern about a possible nuclear Holocaust is, for Mr. Obama, dismissed as mere noise, while his delegates at the U.N. on Sept. 24 are ordered to sit and listen to the vile noise of the Holocaust-denier and Iranian Jew-hater-in-chief.  It is clear that Mr. Obama’s underlying sympathy is with the Muslim Brotherhood and its spread and influence around the world.  He is coaxing us to accept Islamic attitudes and norms.  This speaks volumes — to those willing to see the facts as they truly are.

Jewish Groups To Make Presence Felt At GOP, Democratic Conventions

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

WASHINGTON – The same key words and themes will bounce around Jewish events at next week’s Republican convention in Tampa, Fla., and at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., the week after that: “pro-Israel,” “marriage,” “Jewish vote” and “abortion.”

With the exception of “pro-Israel,” however, the content of the sessions will be as different as the cities of Tampa and Charlotte.

The presence of national and local Jewish organizations will be felt at both conventions.

The American Jewish Committee is hosting Jewish-Latino events in both cities – Florida’s substantial Cuban American community trends Republican, while the other Latino communities trend Democratic. Notably, however, the AJC’s only Jewish-African American event – aimed at a community that votes overwhelmingly Democratic – is in Charlotte.

This year there’s an AJC first for a convention: a Mormon-Jewish get-together cosponsored by the Tampa Jewish Federation, a nod to the interest in the faith of the presumptive Republican nominee, former Mass. governor Mitt Romney.

Most of the differences between the conventions have to do with an increasingly polarized polity. Leaders of the Republican Jewish Coalition and the National Jewish Democratic Council agree that the overriding issue is one that will play out throughout the convention, not just in the Jewish forums on the sidelines: the economy.

“American Jewish voters first and foremost are Americans,” said David Harris, NJDC president and CEO. “The things that concern American Jews are primarily the things that concern most Americans, the economy, jobs, everyday kitchen table interests.”

Jobs will also be the core of Romney’s message, said Matt Brooks, the RJC director.

“People are going to be looking to hear about his vision going forward,” he said. “Job creation, getting the economy moving.”

That said, social issues also will feature prominently, particularly among Jews at the conventions.

The Democratic convention platform committee, heeding submissions from a slew of groups that included the Anti-Defamation League and the NJDC, will endorse marriage equality.

The Republican platform frames the concept as an “assault on the foundations of our society”; language that gay Republicans sought that would have urged “respect and dignity” for gays was made vague, recommending instead “respect and dignity” for all Americans.

On abortion, according to the National Journal, the GOP will adhere to its 2008 plank. It declares that the procedure “is a fundamental assault on the sanctity of innocent human life” and has no explicit exemption for rape or incest. Romney has said he favors such exemptions.

The National Council of Jewish Women, which will be present at both events, has reproductive rights high on its agenda and is allying with like-minded members of both parties to promote them.

NCJW also will promote voter registration at both events; it strongly opposes efforts by some Republican legislatures and governors to tighten voter registration, saying that requirements of photo IDs discriminate against minorities and the elderly.

Likewise, both conventions will feature sessions on the perennial question of whether this election will be the one that sees a substantive shift in the Jewish vote.

Brooks, the RJC director, will speak on the topic to reporters. In Charlotte, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) will moderate a panel on the matter; with her will be speakers from J Street, NCJW and Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, which seeks to revitalize neighborhoods.

Republicans have been especially focused this year on moving Jewish votes. Speaking on background, officials in both parties have said that a showing of less than 70 percent for President Obama at the polls would represent a substantive undercutting of his support among Jews. Obama scored 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008, according to exit polls.

Both parties will feature events with “pro-Israel” in the title: The RJC will have a “Salute to Pro-Israel Officials,” and NJDC will have a similar event.

“Pro-Israel” also is likely to be a theme during the prime-time speeches by the candidates and other top officials. Expect each side to depict the other as hapless in defending Israel’s interests.

Jimmy Carter, the former president who has angered Israel and U.S. Jewish groups with his criticism of Israeli policies, will have a prime-time speech at the Democratic convention, to be delivered by video. Some groups, including the ADL and the Zionist Organization of America, have criticized the slot, saying Carter is divisive.

Jews Are Still Liberal, But Obama’s Losing Ground

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

A poll conducted by the liberal Workmen’s Circle and published last week should reassure liberals that their views still predominate in the Jewish community, but it provided little comfort to those hoping President Obama can come anywhere near his 2008 share of the Jewish vote.

The poll showed American Jews are far more liberal than most Americans. They are willing to pay higher taxes, don’t seem to like financial institutions, love unions and favor abortion and gay marriage in numbers that far outstrip the rest of the country.

The respondents also give President Obama a big majority at a time when national polls are calling the presidential election a dead heat.

But despite the effort of the poll’s left-wing sponsor to treat this as a victory for the incumbent, it actually confirms the fact that the president is bleeding Jewish support this year and appears to be falling far short of the share of the community’s vote that he won in 2008.

With the poll showing him getting only 59 percent of the Jewish vote as opposed to the 78 percent he received four years ago, there is no disguising a drastic decline in support for the Democrat.

The Workmen’s Circle attempts to soften the blow by saying if undecided voters broke down the same way decided voters did, it would give Obama a 68 to 32 percent lead among Jews. But that’s an absurd assertion. History shows us there is no reason to believe that is the way undecided voters actually vote.

If anything, in a close race undecideds are more likely to break toward the challenger.

But even if that wildly optimistic supposition were to be borne out, it would still represent a ten percent drop in the Jewish vote for Obama – a result that would have to be treated as a blow to the Democrats and a minor success for Republicans.

If, however, the final results turn out to be closer to the 59 percent figure, Obama would receive the lowest percentage of the Jewish vote in a presidential election of any Democrat since Jimmy Carter.

The pollsters insist, not without some reasons, that Israel does not appear to be a determining factor in the presidential vote. It bears repeating that the vast majority of Jews are not single issue voters on Israel and, like most Americans, will cast their votes based on other issues – principally, the economy.

The pollster’s analysis points out:

Significantly, neither attachment to Israel nor confidence in Israelis vs. Palestinians as peace seeking strongly factor into Jews’ presidential vote decision. This was among the findings of the survey regarding American Jewish attitudes toward Israel.

Obama voters and Romney voters do differ on Israel; Romney voters are more attached to Israel and more confident in Israel’s commitment to peace. However, these differences are totally explained by prior factors like religiosity and political ideology, than are the primary determinants of Obama vs. Romney preferences.

These are fair points but if, as the poll shows, the decline in Obama’s share of the Jewish vote is greater than the losses he is encountering in other sectors in national polls, analysts need to ponder what it is about the president that is repelling a higher proportion of Jewish supporters to abandon his ship than elsewhere. That is a question the Workmen’s Circle prefers not to ask, let alone answer.

Because if, as the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports in its article on the poll, this otherwise heavily liberal population is still steadfast in its support for Israel as well as sympathetic to its current government, it is not unreasonable to suppose that those sentiments have led them to be, at the very least, a bit less favorable to a president who spent his first three years in office picking fights with Israel.

Like the rest of the country, more Jews are disillusioned with the president’s handling of the economy, but is that enough to explain a potential loss of almost a quarter of the votes he received four years ago?

Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com, where this originally appeared. He can be reached via e-mail at jtobin@commentarymagazine.com.

Will Jewish Voters Break Their Democratic Habit In 2012?

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Will the Jewish vote, normally overwhelmingly Democratic, be up for grabs in 2012? That question became a subject of intense debate when a Republican was elected recently to the House of Representatives from New York’s 9th Congressional District for the first time in 90 years.

The district, which encompasses parts of Brooklyn and Queens and is about one-third Jewish, had been predictably Democratic and liberal. But in the blink of an eye it gave the non-Jewish Republican candidate an 8-point victory over the Democrat, an Orthodox Jew.

Public rabbinical endorsements in the district and extensive reportage in local Jewish papers indicated substantial Jewish defections from the Democrats, particularly among Orthodox Jews, estimated to make up about a third of the Jewish electorate there. Since the election, Republican presidential candidates have been ramping up their pro-Israel rhetoric on the assumption that Jews are disappointed with the administration’s Middle East policy, while Democrats are organizing special outreach initiatives in the hope of holding on to their Jewish support.

The just-released AJC Survey of American Jewish Opinion indicates a definite falloff of Jewish support for Obama, although it is not clear that the Republican candidate for president next year can count on a significant shift in the Jewish vote.

Jewish support for Obama began at a far higher threshold than in the electorate at large: In 2008 he received an estimated 78 percent of the Jewish vote while polling 53 percent nationally. Three years later his national approval rating stands at 39 percent, a 14-point drop, while his approval rating among Jews – according to the AJC survey – is 45 percent, a decline of 23 percent but still 6 points higher than among Americans as a whole.

Among Orthodox Jews, who made up 9 percent of the sample, disapproval is much higher, 72 percent.

The AJC poll indicates that the president has retained the support of American Jews on certain issues. A solid 68 percent approve of the way he has handled national security, for example. Yet there has been a striking reversal in Jewish attitudes toward the president’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations. In the fall of 2009, toward the end of the administration’s first year, the AJC survey showed Jewish approval outstripping disapproval by 54 to 32 percent. Now, two years later, disapprovers outnumber approvers by 53 to 40 percent. Among the Orthodox Jews, 81 percent disapprove.

But Jewish disaffection from the president is not confined to Israel policy; Jews share the broader American unhappiness with recent economic trends. In March 2010, an AJC survey had Jewish approval of the president’s economic policies at 55 percent as compared to 45 percent in the general population. Today the Jewish approval rating on the economy is down to 37 percent, about the same as among Americans as a whole.

The latest AJC survey indicates some falloff in Jewish identification with the Democratic Party, which stood at 53 percent in 2009 and is now at 45 percent. However, this has not translated into gains for the Republicans, which stands steady at 16 percent. Rather, the number of Jewish political independents rose in that time period from 30 percent to 38 percent. In the Orthodox sample, Republicans now outnumber Democrats by 35 to 21 percent, with 41 percent identifying as independents.

Looking forward to the 2012 election, the AJC survey matched up Obama with a number of potential Republican candidates and asked respondents to indicate for whom they would vote. Mitt Romney did best in the hypothetical contest, garnering 32 percent to Obama’s 51; Rick Perry garnered 26 percent to Obama’s 54; and Michele Bachmann received 21 percent against 59 percent for Obama.

Since 1928, Democratic candidates for president almost always have received at least 60 percent of the Jewish vote, with many doing far better. Only Jimmy Carter in his 1980 reelection bid did worse, winning a plurality of 45 percent in a three-candidate race.

Do Obama’s numbers in the AJC matchups, all in the 51-59 percent range, portend trouble for him? Not necessarily. Approximately 20 percent of the respondents said they were undecided or unsure about whether to vote for Obama or for any of the named Republicans.

To be sure, there is still a year to go before the next presidential election. Much could happen to change the electoral calculus both in the Jewish community and outside it, whether on the domestic economic front, in the Middle East or elsewhere. Also, other candidates could conceivably enter the race.

Clearly the president faces challenges in attracting Jewish voters, especially the Orthodox. Some are identical to those confronting him with regard to all voters, others specific to the Jewish community. It is far too early to tell if 2012 will be the year that Republicans finally fulfill their long-held aspiration to draw a large chunk of the Jewish vote or if, despite serious misgivings, the tradition of overwhelming Jewish allegiance to the Democrats continues.


Lawrence Grossman is director of publications for the American Jewish Committee.

Obama, Jews And 2012

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
A Gallup poll released last week showed Barack Obama maintaining a strong level of Jewish support. The poll sparked yet another round of newspaper stories and web articles on whether the Republicans have any hope of even a respectable showing among Jews in the 2012 presidential election.
The answer should be drearily obvious, at least based on the historical record.
Democratic presidential candidates first began winning big among Jews in 1928, when New York governor Al Smith, a Roman Catholic of immigrant stock, rolled up 72 percent of the Jewish vote while losing the election to Herbert Hoover.
Jewish support for the Democratic presidential ticket solidified four years later when another New York governor, Franklin Roosevelt, won the votes of better than 8 in 10 American Jews. Roosevelt, whom Jews idolized more than any other politician before or since, went on to win 85 percent of the Jewish vote in 1936 and 90 percent in both 1940 and 1944.
Harry Truman was the next Democrat to benefit from Jewish party loyalty, though his share of the Jewish vote in 1948 slipped from Rooseveltian heights to a “mere” 75 percent, thanks to the third-party candidacy of Henry Wallace, whose left-wing campaign attracted those 15 percent of Jewish voters for whom Truman apparently was not liberal enough.
Whether either Roosevelt or Truman was deserving of such Jewish support is a question most Jews were reluctant to ask until relatively recently. As the late Sidney Zion wrote years ago, Roosevelt “refused to lift a finger to save [Jews] from Auschwitz…. Then, in 1948, the Jews helped elect Harry Truman, who recognized Israel but immediately embargoed arms to the Jewish state while knowing that the British had fully armed the Arabs.”
The Republican share of the Jewish vote – roughly 10 percent in 1940, 1944 and 1948 – improved significantly in the 1950s as Dwight Eisenhower won the support of 36 percent of Jews in 1952 and 40 percent in 1956.
It wasn’t until nearly a quarter-century later that a Republican presidential candidate would come anywhere close to matching Ike’s 1956 success with Jewish voters.
The 1980 presidential election offered a clear choice between a Republican candidate – former California governor Ronald Reagan – who was unambiguous in his support of Israel and a Democrat – the incumbent president, Jimmy Carter – whose record on Israel was problematic, to say the least.
For many Jews who ordinarily voted Democratic, it was Carter’s dismal overall performance as president – as opposed to his perceived tilt against Israel – that made the decision to vote for Reagan a little easier. On Election Day Carter was repudiated by better than half the American Jewish electorate, garnering a mere 45 percent of their votes. Thirty-nine percent of the Jewish vote went to Reagan, with third-party candidate John Anderson polling better than 14 percent among Jews who were sick of Carter but could not take the step of voting for a Republican.
Jews would flock home to the Democratic Party in 1984, preferring the Democratic candidate, Walter Mondale, to President Reagan by a 69 percent to 31 percent margin. (Some voter surveys put Reagan’s support among Jews in 1984 at closer to 34 percent.)
The ’84 election was a strong indication that a Republican presidential candidate, whether incumbent or challenger and no matter how strong his record on Israel, will always lose among Jewish voters when the alternative is a liberal Democrat without any pronounced or well-known hostility to Israel.
   The Jewish vote has, if anything, become more strongly Democratic in presidential elections since the Reagan era. While George H.W. Bush managed to win 27 percent of the Jewish vote in 1988, his aloof attitude toward Israel coupled with his uninspiring performance in office sent his support among Jews plummeting four years later, when he won just 15 percent of their votes.
Bob Dole in 1996 (16 percent) and George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 (19 and 24 percent, respectively) did only incrementally better among Jews.

By 2008, when Barack Obama held John McCain to barely more than 20 percent of the Jewish vote, it was obvious that American Jews were as squarely in the Democratic camp as they’d ever been. Unless Obama replaces Joe Biden with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright as his running mate next year, it’s difficult to see that political fact of life changing in any appreciable sense.


Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

A Question For The Ages

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010
In this week’s Jewish Press front-page essay, Uri Kaufman takes a look at the seemingly unbreakable bond between American Jewry and the Democratic Party. It’s something that’s been pondered, discussed, debated, and written about for decades, and still the question remains: Why are Jews wedded to the Democrats, years after it stopped making any economic or political sense for them to remain in the marriage?
There really is no single answer. The most commonly heard explanation, one routinely offered up in “analysis” pieces by lazy journalists and High Holiday sermons by Reform rabbis, is that the liberalism espoused by the likes of a Barack Obama or a Barbara Boxer comes straight from Jewish tradition – that if Moses were alive today, he’d be a dues-paying members of the American Civil Liberties Union, People for the American Way and the National Organization for Women.
Such nonsense is belied by the fact that the more Orthodox a particular Jewish neighborhood or community, the more likely it is to vote for Republican candidates. Conversely, areas with a heavy concentration of secular and assimilated Jews vote almost without exception for liberal Democrats. If the explanation cited above held any water, the opposite would be true.
Another line of reasoning one encounters is that Jews gravitated to the Democratic Party because it best served their interests. But surprising as it might seem from our vantage point, the Jews who came to the U.S. prior to the great waves of immigration from Eastern Europe tended to look askance at the Democratic Party, which was identified in the popular mind with Tammany-style political bossism, support for slavery, and an agrarian populism that often seemed indistinguishable from the rawest anti-Semitism.
That attitude changed with the arrival of the Eastern European Jews who crowded into the big cities at the turn of the century and quickly learned that their very livelihoods were dependent on the good will of those Tammany-like political machines, which were inevitably Democratic and invariably corrupt.
Although the dominance of the big city bosses was an inescapable fact of life for the new Jewish immigrants, the pressure to vote the party line was felt most keenly in local elections. When it came to presidential politics, Jews were far less wary of voting their conscience.
In 1916, for example, Republican candidate Charles Evan Hughes received 45 percent of the Jewish vote, and four years later Republican Warren Harding actually won a plurality among Jews – 43 percent as opposed to 19 percent for Democrat James Cox and 38 percent for Socialist Eugene V. Debs.
That last figure – nearly 4 in 10 Jews voting for the Socialist candidate – tells a story in itself, one not to be ignored when seeking to understand Jewish voting habits. Many of the Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe came to America with a passionate belief in one form or another of socialism, and those Jews tended to vote for third party left-wing candidates when offered the choice. Though their candidates were, with the exception of some local races in immigrant neighborhoods, roundly unsuccessful, Jewish socialists and communists left a seemingly indelible stamp on the collective political identity of American Jews.
It was in 1928 that Democratic presidential candidates first began polling big numbers among American Jews, as New York governor Al Smith, a Roman Catholic of immigrant stock, captured 72 percent of the Jewish vote. Despite his overwhelming Jewish support, and the equally strong backing of fellow Catholics, Smith carried only eight states against Republican Herbert Hoover and failed to win his home state of New York.
The nascent trend of lopsided Jewish support for Democratic presidential candidates solidified four years later when another New York governor, Franklin Roosevelt, won the votes of better than 8 in 10 American Jews. Roosevelt, whom Jews idolized more than any other politician before or since, went on to win 85 percent of the Jewish vote in 1936 and 90 percent in 1940 and 1944.
And so it has remained, with Democratic candidates routinely winning landslide support among Jewish voters in elections on all levels – municipal, state and federal. The relatively rare exceptions only prove the rule – a John Lindsay, for example, who captured the hearts and minds of liberal New York Jews because, though a Republican, he was more of a liberal than many Democrats, or a Rudy Giuliani, who drew large majorities of the Jewish vote because even New York liberals were sick and tired of the blight and crime that reached their culmination in the Dinkins years.

If anyone has a thoughtful – and preferably original – explanation for Jewish voting habits, please drop the Monitor a line.


Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Bush, Jews And Democrats (Part XI)

Wednesday, January 1st, 2003

There is every reason to believe that had Bill Clinton been on the ballot in the 2000 presidential election, American Jews would have voted in overwhelming numbers to return him to office for a third term.

With the possible exception of Orthodox voters, who exhibited, as the Clinton era drew to its merciful close, an increasing dislike and distrust of the administration’s Middle East policies, Jews were supportive of Clinton in a way they hadn’t been of any American president since they paid collective and shameful obeisance to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the thirties and forties.

To be sure, Clinton had his share of Orthodox supporters right through the end – including one prominent rabbi who appeared on the cover of The Jerusalem Report kvelling like a bar mitzvah boy in Clinton’s embrace and who, even after Clinton left office in disgrace over his pardons of Marc Rich and other persons of dubious repute, continued to try to kasher him in such very public venues as the Letters page of The New York Times.

But it was precisely because Orthodox Jews are generally more hawkish on Israel than the American Jewish community as a whole – indeed, the aforementioned Orthodox rabbi who enjoyed such a close union with Clinton was described by The Jerusalem Report as a “Democratic party activist” and “more dovish on Israeli politics than many Orthodox Jews” – that they were far more likely to sour on Clinton than other Jews.

For most American Jews, however, the Clinton approach to the Middle East was just fine by them. In fact, well before the Oslo accords and the Rabin-Arafat handshake on the White House lawn that was supposed to herald a new age of peace between Arabs and Israelis, public opinion surveys had consistently shown a large majority of American Jews supporting negotiations with the PLO and the creation of a Palestinian state.

Given that reality, the Democratic candidate for president in 2000, Clinton’s faithful vice president Al Gore, was certain to win the Jewish vote by the overwhelming margin to which Democrats had long become accustomed.

Even if Gore felt any misgivings about the way events were transpiring in the Middle East – and there is not the slightest indication that he did – he and his advisers were well aware that there was no political gain to be had from separating himself from the Clinton administration’s Middle East policy. Not when he was certain to receive at least two-thirds and probably more of the Jewish vote no matter what.

Sure enough, candidate Gore gave every indication that he intended to follow the Clinton approach of making nice to Yasir Arafat while ignoring the Palestinian Authority’s failure to abide by virtually every promise it had made at Oslo and afterward.

And since the 2000 campaign was conducted for the most part before the scales began falling off even the most liberal of eyes (Arafat launched Intifada II in late September of that year, just weeks before the election), the policy pursued by Clinton and endorsed by Gore was still viewed by the nation’s chattering class – whose opinions most Jews faithfully echo – as the enlightened way to go.

If there had been even the slimmest of chances that Gore’s Republican opponent, Texas Governor George W. Bush, could somehow capture more than a sliver of the Jewish vote, it was dashed to pieces when Gore, on the eve of the Democratic convention, chose Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, as his running mate.

The excitement of seeing a Jew on a major party’s presidential ticket – of seeing a Jew with a realistic chance of being a heartbeat away from the presidency of the United States – swept through the Jewish community, causing even Jewish Republicans to reconsider their intentions.

(Continued Next Week)

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/media-monitor-70/2003/01/01/

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