By Norman Berdichevsky
A lead editorial in a Florida Jewish community newspaper last week 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, enlightened 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.
He 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 dangerous and 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.
It is an example of understatement and avoiding any uncomfortable facts in the nth degree that still refuses to call a spade a spade (no pun intended) and presents a grotesque picture of how many Jews continued to be affected by what I call an inherited disease (Liberalism) but not a incurable one. Clearly, what is also meant to be understood “between the lines” is a call for continued Jewish support for the Democrats.
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.
It was as if the editorial writer had simply been deaf, dumb and blind to the last 40 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 business.
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.
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?
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.
As I pointed out in a previous article it (see “2012 – A Turning Point for the Jewish Vote”, February 29, 2012, Florida Political Press) the 78% figure 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 anti-Semites 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 to 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.
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 strangle hold 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.
Under Democrat President Wilson, his dismissal of Blacks from federal jobs, apathy to deal with lynchings, restrictive immigration policy, the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan in the South and the notorious ‘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.
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 Jesus and the New Testament to the Christian faith.
It is no accident that Martin Luther King (a life-long Republican and a supporter 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 fellow white citizens in the cause of equal rights for his people.
It is all the more fitting that the Democrat Party will ultimately sink under the weight of its double rejection of God and Jerusalem. Dr. Julio Gonzalez has eloquently and correctly forecast total demise for the Party that has engaged in this suicidal death wish (Requiem for the Democrats, December 6, 2012).
Norman Berdichevsky is a native New Yorker who lives in Orlando, Florida. He holds a Ph.D. in human geography from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1974) and is the author of The Danish-German Border Dispute (Academica Press, 2002), Nations, Language and Citizenship (McFarland & Co., Inc., 2004), Spanish Vignettes; An Offbeat Look into Spain’s Culture, Society & History (Santana Books, Malaga, Spain. 2004), An Introduction to Danish Culture (MacFarland, 2011) and The Left is Seldom Right (New English Review Press, 2011). He is the author of more than 200 articles and book reviews that have appeared in a variety of American, British, Danish, Israeli and Spanish periodicals such as World Affairs, Journal of Cultural Geography, Ecumene, Ariel, Ethnicity, The World & I, Contemporary Review, German Life, Israel Affairs, and Midstream. He is also a professional translator from Hebrew and Danish to English and his website is here.
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