No Ethnic Vote is Cast in Stone – Not Even the Jewish One
by Norman Berdichevsky (October 2012)
A lead editorial in a Florida Jewish community magazine that appeared simultaneously with the opening of the Democrats’ convention in Charlotte in early September walked the narrow tightrope of not openly supporting either the Republican or Democrat candidates but instead sought to make a strong case that “Jews Should Vote with Religion in Mind” arguing that after all, "self-interest" should be the best policy and that both Jewish wisdom and pride suggested that Jews should vote for candidates who don’t just say what they want to hear but are indeed committed to an unbreakable bond with Israel as a close ally.
The author demanded that Jews should abandon the habit of taking a candidate’s statements purely at face value but that deeds should match words. Specific mention was also made that Jewish Americans need to tell the presidential candidates that the ever more likely situation of a nuclear armed Iran for both Israel and the United States “must be addressed accordingly.” In addition, Senator Joe Lieberman was singled out for praise for having proudly embraced his Jewish identity.
This is an example of colossal understatement and avoiding all uncomfortable facts in the nth degree that refuses to call a spade a spade (no pun intended) and presents a grotesque picture of how many Jews continued to be affected by their affection for the political Left - what I call an inherited disease (Liberalism) but not an incurable one. Clearly, what is also meant to be understood “between the lines” was the author’s call for continued Jewish support for the Democrats.
Although the editorial pretended not to take sides but leave the decision to the readers, it went on to “remind” the readers of "important information," i.e. that 78% of Jews voted for Obama in the 2008 election and that Jewish support for the Democrats in 2008 election are “consistent with the Jewish vote in presidential elections for the past century” proving again the best definition of insanity is that repeatedly doing the same thing over and over again will not lead to a different result.
The editorial was a few days too early to witness at least half the delegates at the DNC in Charlotte roar a defiant “NO” to reinstate the party platform language of 2008, that Jerusalem is, and will remain the capital of Israel testifying to the strength of such views within the party in spite of the open chicanery of the voice vote presented as constituting a two-thirds majority. Never before at any political convention has any comparable act told the viewing and listening audience that at least half a major party’s delegates hold Jews in contempt and trample upon their most cherished sentiments. Stalin would have been proud!
It was as if the editorial writer in the community magazine had simply been deaf, dumb and blind to the last 45 months of the Obama administration, the cold shoulder shown to Prime Minister Netanyahu, the failure to enforce sanctions against the mullahs from the beginning, the abandonment of millions of Iranians demonstrating in the streets of Iran’s cities as well as the recent declarations, obfuscations and euphemisms by White House spokesman Jay Carney to refuse to answer the simple question “What is the capital of Israel?” The answer would not have required any practical policy regarding the timing of such a move but simply a factual answer which can be provided in any atlas, i.e. the site where Israel’s government carries out its official business and where all foreign diplomats must visit, even if their embassy is located in Tel Aviv.
No mention was made that President Obama has never visited Israel and that a simple visit there would have sent a much more powerful message to the Iranian mullahs than abstract warnings about “red lines.” Similarly, the writer did not think it newsworthy to mention that Mitt Romney had just been to Israel including a visit to Jerusalem which he correctly identified as Israel’s capital and that even Russian Prime Minister Putin had visited Israel just a month ago and met with Prime Minister Netanyahu – in the capital.
What could have prevented President Obama from taking 2 days out of his schedule any time in the past year to have made a visit to Israel which would have produced a win-win situation for him, shoring up his support among Jewish voters and a practical warning to prevent the realization of the oft-repeated threat by Ahmadinejad to wipe Israel off the face of the earth?
The 78% figure frequently referred to by Democrat apologists as if it were The Holy Grail, is based on entry or exit polls whereas many Jews are reluctant to identify themselves as conservatives and risk peer pressure. In many synagogues, there are both rabbis and congregants who have a knee-jerk reaction to political issues denigrating conservatives and Republicans as reactionaries or antisemites, yet even if the real figure is “only” 70%, it is tragic and signifies the Jewish vote is of little strategic importance in the pocket of one party, a fact that is undeniable and proven beyond a shadow of a doubt in Charlotte.
The fact that the proud Senator Lieberman whose nomination on the Democratic ticket in 2000 caused waves of ecstatic jubilation among many Jews, also refused to support Barack Obama in 2008 and spoke at the Republican National Convention in support Senator John McCain is ignored. Most American Jews continue to be oblivious to the fact that the most outstanding, talented Jewish individuals in public life uniformly saw the obvious dangers of an Obama presidency and warned against: Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer, former White House Press secretary Arie Fleischer, Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Joshua Muravchik, columnist and editor of the Weekly Standard Bill Kristol, political analyst and former campaign advisor to President Bill Clinton, Dick Morris, Editor of Frontpage Magazine, David Horowitz, National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg, author of Liberal Fascism, Senator Joe Lieberman, author and columnist Dennis Prager, writer Monah Charen, author of Useful Idiots, Dianna West, author of The Death of the Grown-Up, editor of Commentary Norman Podhoretz, author Hillel Halkin who now resides in Israel, journalist and writer Bernie Goldberg, Ronald Radosh, author (Divided They Fell: The Demise of the Democratic Party, 1964-1996. New York: Free Press, 1996), film producer David Zucker and comedian Jackie Mason.
Even those prominent Jews who argued strongly for Barack Obama in 2008, former Mayor of New York City, Ed Koch, the country’s most well-known trial lawyer Alan Dershowitz, Republican congressional candidate Rabbi Shmuely Boteach, and publisher and editor Mortimer Zuckerman, have since removed the Obama stickers from their cars and are now pleading ignorance or betrayal.
The Democrat world-view that still holds an anachronistic stranglehold on many Jews has to be reminded that no ethnic vote is cast in stone, that Jewish support for Republican or Fusion candidates like Jacob Javitz and Fiorello La Guardia turned its back on the corrupt Democratic Tammany political machine in New York in the 1940s and 50s. Jews, from the time of the first post-Civil War election until 1932 traditionally voted Republican or even Socialist rather than for the party identified in large parts of the country until the 1960s with Sunday “blue laws,” discrimination against blacks, and segregation.
Even as late as 1948 American Jews were still sufficiently sober and proud to give a deserved slap in the face to the Democrats in the run up to the presidential election of 1948 in spite of their idealization of FDR. By early 1948, Truman had been cowed by his State Department advisers to abandon the partition proposal for Palestine and were preparing to announce that U.S. preferred “international trusteeship”– meaning no Jewish state.
White House adviser Max Lowenthal urgently warned Truman that if a Jewish state were proclaimed without U.S. recognition, Republicans, the left leaning American Labor Party and the newly formed leftwing Progressive Party under former Vice President Henry Wallace would lead a chorus of protests and capture the Jewish vote. The administration would pay a high political price in Jewish votes for it is especially important in the upcoming presidential election. Truman received crucial phone calls from Bronx Democratic leader Ed Flynn and former New York governor Herbert Lehman, warning about the electoral repercussions in New York if he abandoned the Jews. A Congressional vote in the Bronx had already unseated a veteran Jewish Democrat to fill a vacant seat and Truman realized he had to make good on his original pledge of partition and recognition of Israel.
Under Democrat President Wilson, with his dismissal of Blacks from federal jobs, apathy to lynching, restrictive immigration policy, attendance at a special festive showing of the racist film Birth of a Nation in the White House, sympathy for the Ku Klux Klan and promotion of the notorious sedition laws (‘red scares’) in which thousands of East European and Jewish immigrants were deported and imprisoned for their stand against American entry into the war, caused a revulsion among Jewish voters. In 1920, they threw out two Democrat Jewish congressmen and elected 10 Republicans and two Socialists to Congress. This information that no ethnic vote is cast in stone hasn’t yet been absorbed by Jewish dinosaurs who can swallow any insult and proclaim that black is white or that Jewish values mean same sex marriage and unlimited abortion as long as the democrats have proclaimed that it is “progressive.”
Many Jewish liberals whose identity had been stamped three generations ago by their grandparents under FDR, continue to picture themselves as enlightened and the true inheritors of the mantle of Jewish concerns for “social justice,” followed Obama wherever he led, rather than view the candidates with an open mind. This election will see the pot boil over for those Jews who need no more evidence. They will have to face up to taking the cure or remain partners in their own demise as an influential and respected community.
It is of course, non-Jews who can most clearly discern this. Whatever exceptional respect Jews have enjoyed has stemmed primarily not from winning Noble Prizes but from the close association in the minds of most American Christians that the Jews imparted much of their high ethical code, moral values and beliefs in the dignity of all people through Christ and the New Testament to all humanity.
It is no accident that Martin Luther King (a life-long Republican and a strong friend of the State of Israel) was animated to appeal to non-violence and the words of the scriptures from the Old Testament to convince his white fellow citizens in the cause of equal rights for his people. What would the Reverend King have done at the DNC in Charlotte were he still alive?
He would have told the nay-sayers that they have rejected their own dearest heritage and that generations of Christian clergymen and statesmen from Disraeli through Sir Winston Churchill and President Harry Truman came to advocate the Zionist cause. Without their help and encouragement there would indeed be no Israel today - "a world without Zionism" as the Iranians would like to contemplate. Israel cannot be undone and not just because of the heritage of the Bible alone.
As early as February 1941 in spite of the wholehearted desire of the American Protestant establishment not to risk involvement in World War II, Reinhold Niebhur spoke out convincingly through the journal he founded “Christianity and Crisis” and sounded a clarion call of warning about Nazism. Its final goals were not simply the eradication of the Jews but the extirpation of Christianity and the abolition of the entire heritage of Christian and humanistic culture.
This is the only kind of “World Without Zionism” that the Iranian and many Arab leaders long for. Niebhur based his views not on any literal “Evangelical” interpretation of Biblical promises but the essentials of justice for the nations and also called for some form of compensation to those Arabs in Palestine who might be displaced if their own leaders refused to make any compromise possible.
Liberal Jews who cannot be dissuaded from their narcotic like support of the Democrats take refuge in spurning Israel to feel comfortable with the “Progressive” camp or recall that their major interest is really in furthering what they think is “social justice,” linking it to the traditional Jewish concern for “Tikkun Olam” (Repair of the World). In this regard they are mistaken and have accepted the contemporary Hollywood ultra-liberal Reform interpretation that Jewish tradition and the Biblical injunctions of the prophets promoted what they think are “progressive” social and economic policies. As argued cogently by biblical scholars not in the thrall of apologizing for the Democratic Party and author Hillel Halkin in his article “How Not to Repair the World” (Commentary magazine, July, 2008), the expression “Tikkun Olam” is not the automatic Liberal agenda on social and economic policy so fondly embraced by a majority of the Jewish electorate – including abortion, feminism, pacifism, opposition to gun rights, affirmative action, environmental conservation, etc.
On almost all these issues, observant Jews are fundamentally at odds with the Secular/Liberal Jewish majority. Basically, the thrust of Tikkun Olam is in the opposite direction…. “For the Sake of the Public Interest” rather than “Repairing the World.” It was this concept that was cited by many rabbis in the Middle Ages when they ruled that Jewish communities should not rescue Jewish captives taken by pirates if it meant paying an excessive ransom. To do so would actually encourage more attempts at kidnapping and put the entire community at greater risk.
Indeed, several varying concepts are embraced under the terms “Tikkun Olam” but the predominant one that emerged from the two great failed revolts of Judea against Roman rule in 70 and 135 A.D. that ended Jewish independence for almost two thousand years, was the fundamental need NOT for prophetic utopian visions but the necessity for laws, authority, routines, and organization to prevent future wild and unrealistic messianic fervor.
Likewise, appeals to Jews by Democrats committed to higher and higher taxes for the “common good” ignore the many rabbinic rulings and Old Testament’s definition of charity as a purely voluntary act and that its highest form is from an anonymous donor to an anonymous recipient. Taxation to support the priestly class was the tithe - a flat tax of 10%, NOT a progressive one! Their scant knowledge of both the Bible and Talmud is, as could be expected, derived from supporters of a wholly secular Democratic platform.
Some prominent American Jews, particularly among those who cannot escape the trance they have inherited as “progressives” and are essentially secular and ultra-critical of capitalism and American society with its underlying Christian values, have developed a new kind of psychological self-hatred to exhibit a disassociation from the State of Israel and their religious heritage. They are upset over the close Israeli-American friendship and wish to be absolved from the heinous charge that they once may have actually subscribed to a sense of Jewish solidarity when that meant only solidarity with victimhood – the Jews as eternal martyrs.
Now, that Jewish solidarity is politically incorrect and Israel is so resented as a successful and prosperous society by so many among the world’s poor and “oppressed,” they must seek compensation and expiation from their fellow “progressives” by identifying with the prevailing winds of antisemitism disguised as anti-Zionism. What has changed over the past 40 years is that many prosperous and decadent Europeans and Americans feel embarrassed by the Israelis' gallant defense of their homeland against great odds.
Sixty years after its founding, Israel has become an outcast among the nations and the Jews a pariah people once again. How did this occur? From Darling of the Left to Pariah State, subject to continual venomous attacks coming from those who consider themselves “progressive“ and “morally sensitive,“ i.e. the mainline churches, university faculties clamoring to boycott and “disinvest“ from Israeli owned companies, the media elite and those on the Left side of the political spectrum to which, at least half the Democrat delegates in Charlotte, roared their approval.
The Diaspora Jewish critics of Israel easily see its many flaws (both real and imagined) among which, the worst is that Israel, like America is a “privileged” society, enjoying wealth amidst a world of misery. Why should American Liberal Jews renounce their previous worship of the Hollywood Celebrity Cult of “cool” as proclaimed in dozens of Woody Allen movies? This fitting idol of the Jewish Cultural Left (there is a statue in his honor in the Spanish city of Oviedo) granted an interview to the Spanish newspaper, Vanguardia, on May 17, 2010 Allen stated “I am pleased with Obama. I think he’s brilliant. The Republican Party should get out of his way and stop trying to hurt him. It would be good…..if he could be a dictator for a few years because he could do a lot of good things quickly.” This from the man who is a major critic of Israel which he has never visited, made a career out of ridiculing Jewish tradition, mocked his parents and changed his name, and married his former wife’s adopted daughter.
A majority of Jewish voters are either unconcerned with the increasingly low moral image of the Party’s politicians and candidates and party hacks (David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, Elliot Spitzer, Richard Blumenthal, and Anthony Wiener). Collectively these five represent some of the worst in American politics. Both Joe Lieberman and former Democratic governor/senator of Georgia, Zell Miller told the Democrat party faithful the same message when they supported George Bush and John McCain - the Democratic Party is a national party no longer! For many Jews, still in a time warp of the 1930s, the message is only slowly beginning to penetrate.
It is all the more fitting that the Democrat Party will ultimately sink under the weight of its double rejection of God and Jerusalem. The result so far of record high Jewish support for 2008 Democratic standard bearer Barack Hussein Obama (the subject of considerable pride and boasting by ultra-Liberal Jews and reform rabbis) is markedly worse racial tension, the most dismal economic situation in the country since the depression, abandonment of Israel to its fate (probably a good thing for Israelis to know once again they must dependent wholly upon themselves), worse relations with our most important European NATO allies and most likely a steep rise in antisemitism on the part of those who see the highly visible Jewish advisors who surround Obama (just as the Far Left saw the Jewish “neo-con advisors” to President Bush as responsible for the Iraq war).
“If Jews need to know their own interests as well as the interests of others, they also need to know the art of politics as well as the books of the Torah. They need, in short, to live in this world, not in the world of the politically utopian or the religiously messianic.” (the final paragraph in What is the Use of Jewish History by Lucy Davidowicz).
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