Friday, April 25, 2008

Obama and Israel
Mike Rappaport

Over at Powerline, they write:

Gabriel Schoenfeld reports on the latest Obama foreign policy adviser who turns out not to like Israel very much. Add Joseph Cirincione to the list that includes Samantha Power, Robert Malley, Merrill McPeak, Zbigniew Brzezinski , and his spiritual adviser Jeremiah Wright. (Obama, of course, loves Israel; he's just unlucky with his advisers).

I wonder what percentage of the Jewish vote Obama will get.  My guess is that it will be the lowest of a Democratic candidate in many years, if not in several generations.

The only one of my relatives who I know supports Obama is someone who holds fundraisers for Barbara Boxer and is not, shall we say, the brightest bulb in the pack (nor as you can tell one of my favorite relatives).  Some other of my relatives, some pretty liberal, regard Obama as possibly antisemitic.

My view is that Obama surrounds himself with leftists and others who are at the least strongly anti-Israel.  Wright certainly seems antisemitic.  And Obama seems awfully tolerant of these attitudes.

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Mike Rappaport


The Jews - as a group, on average, however you want to phrase that - are pretty smart people. I would think that they would be able to see through this crew. But they also vote Democratic almost reflexively, and I suspect that a majority would still vote for Obama - albeit a smaller majority than the Ds normally get from them.

Posted by: krome | Apr 25, 2008 8:58:39 AM

Nothing lasts forever. I doubt that the strong support for Israel that has been coming from Rep's and right of center for years, and the sea change of open antipathy from the hard left, has escaped notice. I suspect that it will not be too many year until we see a massive movement of Jewish support for the R's. It'll look just the same as the way the D's lost the southern democrats. It might be this election.

Posted by: Hrolf | Apr 27, 2008 10:44:01 AM

Nothing lasts forever. I doubt that the strong support for Israel that has been coming from Rep's and right of center for years, and the sea change of open antipathy from the hard left, has escaped notice. I suspect that it will not be too many year until we see a massive movement of Jewish support for the R's. It'll look just the same as the way the D's lost the southern democrats. It might be this election.

Posted by: Hrolf | Apr 27, 2008 10:44:52 AM

Any Jew that votes for Obama is either completely ignorant of his associations or is the self-loathing type.

Posted by: Sam | Apr 27, 2008 11:01:38 AM

Why do "Jews ... vote Democratic almost reflexively" ?
(Forgive my ignorance - I'm English, so I'm probably missing some US context here.)

Posted by: Freddy | Apr 27, 2008 11:27:59 AM

Amitai Etzioni, the Israeli-American sociologist, noted a good while ago that American Jews live like WASPs and vote like Puerto Ricans. Perhaps it's a genetic throwback to the days in Eastern Europe when socialism was thought to be some kind of solution. I bite my tongue sitting at the dinner parties of very prosperous friends on Fifth and Park avenues when they talk politics as if they were a week away from the lines for a soup kitchen. And if they don't realize the party of Carter and Obama has no great use for Jews, other than for large donations, they are wearing self-imposed blinders.

Posted by: ossian | Apr 27, 2008 12:10:08 PM

I wish this were true. But I'm not so sure. The crazy identification of Jews w/ the Democratic Party reminds me of a battered wife who sticks w/ her husband for "love." Jews simply love the Democratic Party. It goes back to Roosevelt. They decided he was "good for the Jews" and, for the non-Orthodox, the Democratic Party became their religion.

Posted by: Park Slope Pubby | Apr 27, 2008 12:36:58 PM

Freddy - Being Christian myself with many Jewish relatives and friends, I would guess that it's the perception that the Republicans are heavily influenced by evangelical Christians who are seen by many Jews as inherently and intractably anti-semitic (much the same way blacks see Republicans as inherently racist). I have talked to older Jewish relatives that fled Hitler's Germany and who later converted to Christianity who have said that it was very hard to overcome their deeply held distrust of the Christian religion in general, especially after WWII. Some Jews blame Hitler's being a Christian with much of his irrational hatred towards them (though his "Christianity" was a very unique and original one) and, until Jonah Goldberg's book came out, Hitler has always been referred to as a right-winger (as in, he would probably have been an evil conservative/Repug if he were American). The embrace of Israel on a wide scale is rather a recent phenomenon in the US even though US policy has always been supportive of Israel. What's changed is that much of that support is now found in the Christian and evangelical communities. It is very sad to see the blatant anti-semitism appearing on the Left, including from a former president. Maybe some Jews will find the Right a more comfortable home for them in the near future.

Posted by: inmypajamas | Apr 27, 2008 12:47:50 PM

Actually, there is still a lot of anti-semitism among evangelical Christians. Unfortunately for the blinkered secular Jews of the American left and their antique paranoias, this base of evangelical anti-semitism now consists almost entirely of black people - and Jimmy Carter.

Posted by: Dick Eagleson | Apr 27, 2008 1:00:05 PM

The Jews I know who support the left are obsessed with issues
like global warming. What is that about?

Posted by: bc | Apr 27, 2008 1:09:12 PM

I know a few evangelical Christians, none are anti Semitic to my knowledge. They all know I'm Jewish and I'd likely have picked up some sign if they were.

We Jews as a group just don't seem to be very bright. We continually vote for people who have expressed antipathy to issues which should be important to us. My brother in law, a long time Democrat coat holder and donor, is reluctantly thinking about voting for McCain. But only if Clinton doesn't get the nomination. Like Bill Clinton was good for Israel.

Don't we ever learn?

Posted by: Gary | Apr 27, 2008 3:14:18 PM

I read that the roots of Jewish liberalism go back their roots in Eastern Europe and Russia. Read about the Russian revolution or Czarist Russia, and you may learn about such things. As one friend explained, his family brought socialism along with their luggage when they immigrated. Or would that be baggage? I don't know, but his explaination helped me understand the history of the situation.

Posted by: hoodie in teh south | Apr 27, 2008 4:43:13 PM

As a Jewish recent convert to the Republican party, I would say it has more to do with the source of Jewish liberalism. The demography of Jewish voters is much the same as Obama voters: educated and upper income, especially professionals in law and medicine. These groups are liberal as a result of an education system that instills liberal values from post-modernist relativistic thinking as an almost shadow religion.

I don't think anyone of my generation keeps anything in their baggage from the "old country." Three generations removed, I haven't heard a single story about socialist values from Eastern Europe. Mostly, my older relatives did not want to talk about their experiences. Rather, I remember the professors in my Ivy league school who graded on adherence to the cultural and moral relativism they peddled as if it is absolute truth. I remember the endless sensitivity awareness training and political correctness. It reinforces the natural inclination of the Jewish religion toward social sensitivity, of remembering the downtrodden amongst you. There is a tremendous resistance to abandoning the lessons of your college youth, even when it runs counter to your other interests. The perception remains that the Democratic party is the party of social justice.

That is why upper income people overwhelmingly support Obama, he is the embodiment of their intellectual post-modernist values, even though he will raise their taxes and reduce economic growth potential. Jews see enough of concern in Obama's associations with anti-semites to throw their support to Clinton. But they will not repudiate their indoctrinated academic values by considering McCain.

I hope that Jews will one day start to see that they may not abandon the Democratic party, but it increasingly is abandoning them. But talking to my co-religionists, that is not imminent.

Posted by: Michael | Apr 27, 2008 7:03:42 PM


1. The primary reason why American Jews can continue supporting and openly anti-Israel Democratic party is because they believe they can rely on the Republicans to continue supporting Israel no matter what.

2. Frankly I do support Israel because Israel is a fellow democratic nation and an ally. But the fact is that Republicans have never gained anything from supporting Israel. In purely political terms the continued support of Israel is a losing proposition.

Posted by: memomachine | Apr 27, 2008 8:33:56 PM

Jews supporting left-wing government are like Jews building the Pharoah's palace--even if they succeed in building it, it's highly unlikely they'll be allowed to live in it.

Posted by: Protagonist | Apr 27, 2008 11:28:25 PM

Good and knowledgeable posts, representing disparate but no less true understandings of Jews and politics.
There is one more, which I could not quite make myself, but have heard from the occasional conservative Jew in describing their own relatives, and that is there are two things which provide an exception to Jewish liberalism--marriage to blacks (no secret), and actually voting for one as President, regardless of politics. Perhaps we shall see.

Posted by: james wilson | Apr 28, 2008 9:58:59 AM

I wonder how many people are going to wake up realize that if the cast their vote in the usual manner, they are probably voting for someone who hates them?

Posted by: Richard of Oregon | Apr 28, 2008 10:26:13 AM


It was Milton Himmelfarb, not Amitai Etzioni, who made the comparison of Jews having WASP incomes and Puerto Rican voting records.

Howard Hirsch
Chairman, Lyon County Republican Party
Dayton, Nevada

Posted by: Howard Hirsch | Apr 28, 2008 9:55:57 PM

What a bunch of garbage. Ask Maimon if he knows some smart Jews who support Obama.

Posted by: BAM | Apr 29, 2008 9:11:54 AM