Powered by WebAds

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Jewish love affair with Democrats ending?

Roger Simon suggests that the Jewish love affair with the Democratic party may be coming to an end as a result of the Obama administration's callous treatment of Israel.
Is the Jewish love affair with the Democratic Party about to end? I know many will be skeptical. And they should be. But I suspect something is brewing. This kind of excessive and weirdly paternalistic attitude to the state of Israel, directed so clearly from the top, seems to come out of a kind of unexamined personal animus. The long record that Obama has of friendship with virulent enemies of Israel has not gone unnoticed.

Whatever the etiology, group love affairs with political parties cannot help but be self-destructive. They may begin in a burst of mutual admiration but they will almost always devolve into a self-destructive “taking for granted” that could only work to the benefit of one party (if that). The love affair between African-Americans and the Democratic Party has been similarly useless for blacks. In the forty years I have lived in Los Angeles, I haven’t noticed life getting significantly better in South Central, a region of the city in which Republicans are about as scarce as killer whales.

This doesn’t mean I think Jews or blacks or anybody else should become Republicans. They should think for themselves and even change sides when it’s advantageous. For Jews, Obama’s behavior is indeed a “teaching moment.” The bizarre over-reaction to a minor incident in Israel should serve as a wake up call.

Will it? It won’t be easy to tell at first. The coming AIPAC meeting in Washington, at which Clinton and Netanyahu will speak, will undoubtedly contain a certain amount of nice-nice talk. But beneath the surface sands are shifting. We shall see if this morphs into a tectonic plate.

And then there’s Iran.

If only....

First, for most American Jews - and certainly for most non-Orthodox American Jews - where a candidate stands on Israel is very low on the totem poll of issues. It's after health care, immigration reform, abortion rights, federal spending - you name it. If Israel were a priority, there was enough information out there about where Obama really stood. Consider this from a JPost editorial published in July 2008.
All US administrations since 1967 have pushed Israel to trade land for peace and opposed Jewish settlement in the West Bank. However, on April 14, 2004, President George W. Bush wrote to prime minister Ariel Sharon: "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the Armistice Lines of 1949..."

We asked Obama whether he too could live with the "67-plus" paradigm. His response: "Israel may seek '67-plus' and justify it in terms of the buffer that they need for security purposes. They've got to consider whether getting that buffer is worth the antagonism of the other party."

Without that "buffer," the strategic ridges of the West Bank that overlook metropolitan Tel Aviv and the country's main airport would be in Palestinian hands. Eighteen kilometers - or 11 miles - would separate "Palestine" from the Mediterranean, the narrow, vulnerable coastal strip along which much of Israel's population lives.

While Obama promises to dedicate himself, from the "first minute" of his presidency, to solving the conflict, his apparent sanguinity over an Israel shrunk into the 1949 Armistice Lines is troubling. Half the Palestinian polity is today in the clutches of the Islamist rejectionists in Gaza. If the IDF precipitously withdrew, the other half, ruled by the "moderate" Ramallah-based leadership, would quickly fall under Islamist control. And that is something no American president would desire.

Obama's position on territorial compromise, in part, may be a consequence of Israel's abiding inability to achieve a consensual position regarding those areas of Judea and Samaria it feels must be retained under any peace accord, and then to assiduously explain that position internationally.

But he sounded surprisingly definitive in his outlook on this immensely sensitive issue - more so, indeed, than did McCain when we interviewed him in March - even though he was making only his second visit to Israel. He owes it to Israelis and Palestinians - and to himself - to return here for a deeper look.
We're still waiting for him to return. But reading that editorial from two years ago, is anyone surprised where Obama has tried to push us? (I should hasten to add that I had already decided Nobama in a post published in February 2008). Did it stop any Jews from voting for him? 76% of American Jewry voted for Obama when he was quite plain about what he would do to Israel. Here's something from that February 2008 post:
"Of course Obama has plenty of Jewish supporters and there are many Jews around him," Hoenlein said. "But there is a legitimate concern over the zeitgeist around the campaign."

He also cited the fact that Obama has criticized his rival, Democratic candidate Senator Hillary Clinton, for her vote in favor of including the Iranian Republican Guards in the list of terror organizations.

The U.S. Jewish leader warned the American presidential campaign could signal a shift toward declining U.S. support for Israel.

"Support for Israel is at an all-time high, [but] our polling suggests that as broad as the support is, it is also thin, and most Americans see Israel as a dark and militaristic place," he said.

He termed the current election season "transitional" and said that it "could bring about a shift in the political life."
Israel just isn't the priority for American Jewish voters that Simon assumes it is. Here's another data point.
According to the American Jewish Committee’s 2008 edition of its annual survey of Jewish opinion, conducted in September, a majority of Jews, 54 percent, wanted the presidential candidates to “talk more” about the economy. By contrast, only a tiny fraction, three percent, wanted to hear more about Israel. Similar evidence of the relative electoral unimportance of Israel comes from a survey taken by J Street, which asked likely Jewish voters to check off the two issues, from a list of thirteen, “most important for you in deciding your vote for President and Congress this November.” Fifty-five percent chose the economy, 33 percent the war in Iraq, 15 percent energy, and 12 percent the environment. Just 8 percent chose Israel.
And it gets worse. The young generation, which doesn't remember a World with no Israel and doesn't remember the Holocaust, worries even less about Israel.
A study published at the beginning of November by Steven M. Cohen of Hebrew Union College and Samuel J. Abrams of Harvard University entitled “The Diminished Place of Israel in the Political Thinking of Young Jews” burrows even more deeply into the phenomenon. “Among those 65 and over, 54 percent rate ‘high’ or ‘very high’ the Israel-Palestine conflict as a consideration in determining their vote for Obama or McCain,” Cohen and Abrams write. “This figure comes in contrast with far lower levels among younger non-Orthodox Jews: 39 percent among those 35 to 54 [years old], and just 29 percent among those under 35.”

Not only are Jews less concerned with Israel and its fate than they were in the past, but as the election came closer, they expressed far less concern about Obama’s stance toward Israel than they had during his primary contest with Hillary Clinton. According to a Gallup analysis in March 2008, she had the better of him with Jewish voters by a margin of 48 percent to 43 percent.
So are they really going to leave the Democratic party over Obama's Israel policies?

Finally, it's not the Jews who bring about American support for Israel. It's Evangelical Christians. So from Israel's perspective, if American Jewry abandons the Democratic party because of Obama it would likely have little effect on support for Israel.

I wish American Jews would punish the Democrats for Obama's treatment of Israel. But I'm sure not holding my breath waiting for it to happen.


At 7:29 AM, Blogger yzernik said...

You should not be so quick to accept the narrative that younger Jews are detached from Israel. At my university, I have noticed that pro-Israel groups are more active, more aggressive, and less apologetic than they were 2 or 3 years ago. There are also polls that show that younger Jews voted for Obama less than older Jews. http://www.forward.com/articles/14481/

J Street and Obama promote this narrative as a means of intimidating and discouraging the Jewish population.

If American Jews were more educated about their own religion, and there were less "half-Jews" and "quarter-Jews", then this would also increase the support for Israel in the Jewish community.

At 4:29 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

I was very heartened to read what M said.

The US Gov is mainly concerned for its oil supplies.

But the US has also created myriad ways of producing energy:eg burning rubbish. And other ways to run cars, ie hydrogen, that does not lead back to oil-powered energy.

If arab countries did not have oil no one would give a fig for them.

Al Gore never dares to mention the pollution caused by gasoline, but witters on about "carbon dioxide"!

He is a vile hypocrite: humans and all other animals BREATHE OUT CO2!

All plants BREATHE IN CO2 and BREATHE OUT OXYGEN for us!

All people, young and old, must work to remove oil money from the terror equation: send islam back to where it belongs; in the Stone Age!


Post a Comment

<< Home