Do American Jews remember or care about the clearly anti-Israel bias at the party’s presidential-nomination convention in 2015? Or the nomination of a slew of candidates who are so anti-Israel as to be verging on anti-Semitic?
I was reading yesterday that 74% of American Jews intend to vote for the Democratic Party in November’s mid-term elections. Far be it for me, a Canadian, to tell Americans how to vote, but I have to ask the question: How on earth do three-quarters of Jewish-Americans come to the conclusion that the Democratic Party is a better choice than the Republican Party?
I am a strong and vocal Zionist so I do tend to look at all political questions through the prism of the impact on Israel, and in that respect, there is no doubt that when the Democrats were in power from 2008-2016, the American administration was no friend to Israel. The Iran agreement that did nothing to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, voting against Israel at the U.N., blaming Israel for the lack of progress towards peace, spending scads of money to try to influence Israel’s elections, exhibiting blatant hostility to Israel’s democratically-elected leadership; all of these policies and practices were damaging to Israel’s interests and that means they harmed the interests of Jews everywhere.
But forget about history, what about the current Democratic Party’s attitude towards Israel? Do American Jews remember or care about the clearly anti-Israel bias at the party’s presidential-nomination convention in 2015? What to think of the election of Keith Ellison, with his lengthy history of anti-Israel sentiments, to the vice-presidency of the party? Or how about the nomination of a slew of candidates who are so anti-Israel as to be verging on anti-Semitic? Let’s not forget as well the Democratic Party’s embrace of Linda Sarsour with her long history of supporting terrorism against Israel, or the deafening silence from Democrats in response to Lewis Farrakhan’s most recent venomous comments about Jews.
Contrast that with the Republicans’ unequivocal and robust support of Israel: moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, being a strong and consistent supporter of Israel at a hostile United Nations, refusing to pour any more money into the coffers of the corrupt and terrorist-supporting Palestinian leadership and respecting and working side-by-side with Israel’s government.
If one is still in doubt about the Republicans’ exponentially more supportive position towards Israel, note that when the Gallup organization asked Americans in early 2018 who they supported in the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, 90 percent of respondents who identified themselves as Republicans supported Israel. Only forty-nine percent of Democrats favored Israel. You would think that this poll result alone would cause even the most committed Jewish supporter of the Democratic Party to reconsider their position.
Democratic Party vs. Liberal Issues
But let’s put aside the Israel issue for a moment. Jews in America are overwhelmingly liberal in their political orientation which inevitably means supporting the Democratic Party. But is the current Democratic Party the more capable or dependable defender of the usual liberal issues of equal rights, helping the disadvantaged, promoting greater access to health care, etc.? I would argue that the current state of the American economy (substantial and sustained growth, lowest unemployment in decades, greatly improved economic conditions for minorities, highest business and consumer confidence in recent history) suggests that the Republican Party’s policies are producing just the types of outcomes to which liberals aspire, unlike the stagnation and worsening situations across demographic and racial lines witnessed during the Obama era.
Finally, one cannot dissect America’s political landscape without considering the Trump factor. Many American liberals are appalled by President Trump’s personal demeanor, but no more than conservatives were repulsed by Bill Clinton’s sexual peccadillos and Barack Obama’s animus towards America’s allies.
The bottom line is that any election is about far more than one individual, even if that individual happens to be the President of the United States. In the case of the U.S. mid-term elections, it is evident that any American Jew who cares deeply about the State of Israel or about the future trajectory of the United States needs to seriously reconsider their reflexive support of the Democratic Party.