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The presidential election of 1928 is seen by most political historians as something of a demarcation line in the history of Jewish voting loyalties. It was in that election that the Democrats first began polling landslide numbers among American Jews, as New York governor Al Smith, a Roman Catholic of immigrant stock (whose campaign manager happened to be Jewish) captured 72 percent of the Jewish vote.
Why are Jews still wedded to the Democratic party, years after it stopped making any economic or political sense for them to remain in the marriage? It's a question one hears often from bewildered non-Jews and Republican Jews (Democratic Jews - i.e. the vast majority of American Jews - seem oblivious to the question, let alone any possible answer).
The front page story in last week's Jewish Press ("Israelis Sing Bush's Praises") - coming as it did almost simultaneously with the release of a Gallup poll that, on the surface at least, seemed to dash any Republican hopes that American Jews might be warming to the GOP - inspired a batch of letters and e-mails from obviously intelligent readers who just don't get it.
A few items of interest as the Monitor catches up after a break from the regular routine: Reporting on the defeat of Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney in an Aug. 20 Democratic primary, the Prince of Palestine, aka Peter Jennings, once again exhibited his bias and unreliability on all matters pertaining to Israel.
The responses are finally slowing to a trickle, but the columns on Israel's friends in the media certainly elicited plenty of feedback from readers. Here's a sampling, followed by the Monitor's very own Media Friends Top Ten list (as distinguished from the earlier two lists which reflected the votes of readers).
The responses are still coming in to last week's Top 25 (alphabetical order) listing of "Media Friends" of Israel as nominated by the Monitor's faithful readers. Most of you who've e-mailed or faxed your reactions agree with most or all of the names, though a number of readers were livid over the appearance on the list of long-time radio host Bob Grant (see this week's Letters to the Editor section for a taste of their wrath).
A hundred and thirty four. As in 134. Not submissions - those numbered close to a thousand (951 when we stopped the count, with more still coming) - but names. It quickly became obvious that the Monitor had some serious whittling down to do if this Media Friends List was going to work at all.
This week the Monitor concludes its extended look at the anti-Israel proclivities of "60 Minutes" stalwart Mike Wallace. As we've noted in our earlier installments, Wallace has always displayed a palpable ambivalence - some would say that's too charitable a word - when dealing with Jewish issues, never more so than when he downplayed the plight of Soviet Jewry in the 1980's and Syrian Jewry in the 1970's.
"You and your friends won't like what you'll see on my program in a couple of weeks," Mike Wallace told an acquaintance in Jerusalem in November 1990, referring to a forthcoming "60 Minutes" report on the Temple Mount riot staged by Palestinians earlier that fall.
As the Monitor reported last month, veteran "60 Minutes" hatchet man Mike Wallace has, after a brief respite, resumed his familiar role as one of the media's most consistent Jewish critics of Israel. During a number of interviews in recent months Wallace seemed to go out of his way to inject an anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian perspective into the conversation, most notably during a May 22 chat with Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution.
For the best indication that President Bush's June 24 White House speech indeed amounted to what several Israeli officials described as the most pro-Israel statement ever made by a sitting U.S. president, one need look no further than the reactions it stirred in the American punditocracy.
The Monitor will return next week to the subject of veteran Israel-basher Mike Wallace. This week, though, with yet another horrific suicide bombing in Jerusalem, it seemed more relevant to focus on the fanatical hatred inculcated in Palestinian young people by their elders.
Readers will recall that a few months back the Monitor had words of uncharacteristic praise for Mike Wallace, who had just conducted an interview with Yasir Arafat that was far more skeptical than the fawning media treatment usually accorded the Palestinian leader.
Hold the presses for an unusual burst of candor from Newsweek assistant managing Editor Evan Thomas. "The incredible alarm everybody has about how Bush should have known - all of that is baloney," Thomas acknowledged last weekend on the panel discussion program "Inside Washington."
The Monitor is still trying to catch up with some of the more striking examples of media bias in the coverage of Israel's recent anti-terrorist operations in the Palestinian areas. Topping this week's list is the insufferable Ted Koppel and his separate interviews with Ariel Sharon and Yasir Arafat, both of which aired on the May 1 edition of ABC's "Nightline."
Once again the Monitor is forced to change course and shelve some already delayed comments on media coverage of Israel's recent anti-terror military operation. We'll get back to Peter Jennings and Ted Koppel next week, but right now there can be no topic for discussion other than The New York Times and the travesty it has become.
As those of you who've been paying attention know, the Monitor has been trying to make up for a brief absence by catching up with some of the more objectionable American media coverage of recent events in and around Israel. We'll return to that task with next week's column, which should, hopefully, bring us up to date.
Where to begin? The Monitor certainly picked the wrong two weeks to take a long-delayed respite from the rigors of media watching. It's been an extended and extraordinary period of idiocy and advocacy masquerading as objective reporting, so rather than focus on one or two particularly egregious examples of media bias, the Monitor will hopscotch this week and next over a variety of observations in something close to stream-of-consciousness fashion.
It happens every time: Let Israel bomb empty office buildings of the Palestinian Authority and the mainstream American media will for the most part restrain from pouncing - and point to that restraint as "proof" of their even-handedness. But let Israel take military action on a fuller scale and the wolves not only pounce, they devour.
They say if you live long enough you'll see everything, but that doesn't mean you won't need the smelling salts this week. Sit, don't stand, because the Monitor is compelled to defend the Anti-Defamation League and its national director, Abraham Foxman, against some outrageous statements made by Toward Tradition and its president, Rabbi Daniel Lapin.