Monday, November 08, 2010
Jews, Democrats And 'Progressives'
Joshua's Army member Barney K. is puzzled.
He sent me a link to a piece in the Daily Beast by Left wing shill and noted 'anti-Zionist' Eric Alterman entitled, Jews Snub The GOP, Again and writes: "I personally don't understand why the most pro-Arab, blatantly anti-Israel POTUS is still getting such high marks from Jews", and asks for my two agorat on the matter.
Fine by me.This may end up being a bit long,however.
First, let's recognize that while the midterms were definitely a referendum on Obama and his policies, he was not on the ballot.Had this been a presidential election, it remains to be seen how much Jewish support he would actually get.
Now with that said, let's look at Alterman's piece.According to him, Jews voted Democrat by a 66 to 31 percent margin. His source? A J-Street poll!
To say the least, anything put out by J-Street (and Alterman, for that matter) can be assumed to be somewhat..umm...slanted, shall we say.
But let's go on. Alterman uses this poll to make the case that Israel is no longer important to American Jews as an issue. Is he right?
First, let's look at his exit poll numbers themselves. The only other poll I could find was from the Republican Jewish Coalition. It used a far larger sampling than J-Street's and came up with a GOP Jewish vote ( depending on the race) of between 31 and 35%.For the sake of argument,let's call it slanted in the other direction.
Let's split the difference. Any way you slice it, the Democrats have lost between 12 and 15% of the Jewish vote since Prez Zero ran in 2008 when he reportedly got 78%.That's a significant if not decisive erosion in a mere two years.
In actuality, neither poll is likely to be accurate because of the nature of exit polls themselves. The people who conduct exit polls admit that their interviewers tend to be young, and more likely to conduct interviews with certain voters than others (over- representing Democrats and liberals).Such people are also more inclined to speak with interviewers.
Observant Jews, especially the Orthodox overwhelmingly vote Republican.Ask yourself - how likely is it that Orthodox Jews would allow themselves to be interviewed by an exit pollster, or have an exit pollster show up at their polling place in Crown Heights or Williamsburg, Monsey or Skokie, compared to a pollster appearing to interview more Left-leaning Jewish voters on the upper West Side of Manhattan or some affluent firmly Democratic suburb? The answer is, not much.
I think it's safe to say that the Democrats lost between 12-17% of their support among Jews. And since Orthodox Jewish woman have one of the highest birth rates in America and are far less involved with abortion on demand and gay marriage than their secular and non-religious Jewish brethren who are having far less children, that's a trend that will continue over time.
Ah, but what about Israel? Rather than look at J-Street's sub-sample of exit polls, let's look at results. The first indication that Alterman is indulging in wishful thinking is simply to note that pro-Israel candidates won out overwhelmingly in districts that were competitive, especially if they had a substantial Jewish population. Florida 22 is a good example, where Lt. Col. Allen West wiped the floor up with Leftist Democrat Ron Klein. They also won out decisively in Red States and even in a number of Blue Ones, like Illinois and New York.
My buddy Omri over at Mere Rhetoric did a neat little statistical survey of how J-Street's endorsees did in districts that were even remotely competitive this year.
All three J-Street Senate candidates lost and out of the competitive House races, J-Street's candidates lost 11 out of 12 races, with three still to close to call. The one race they won, NY23 had the Republican vote split between a GOP and Conservative party candidate. And the other nine races J-Street endorsees won were in massively safe Blue districts.
To summarize, while for many Jews Israel was not the primary issue it weighed in their voting. Especially when the anti-Israel group J-Street reared its ugly head.
That said, let's go back to Barney's original point -why do so many Jews continue to vote Democrat as the party becomes less pro-Israel as it moves further Left? Several reasons.
First, a brief caveat - not all Democrats are anti-Israel. Nita Lowey, Chuck Schumer, Jane Harmer and Gary Ackerman all come to mind as Democrats who have bucked the Obama administration when it unfairly came down on Israel.
We can also eliminate many Jews, a fair amount of them elderly who vote Democrat out of sheer habit. While many of them may vote for their local down ticket Democrats no matter what, Israel remains important to a significant percentage of them, especially the older ones - and that percentage will not be voting for Obama in 2012, should he run.
Nevertheless, it is a fact that anti-Israel - and let's be honest, anti-Semitic- rhetoric now has a mainstream home in the Democrat party, especially among self-styled 'progressives'.So why would the 'progressive' agenda receive so much Jewish support?
Frankly, there are a lot of Jews who no longer identify as Jews, strictly speaking. Their actual religion is secular Leftism. This goes back, believe it or not to the early days of Marxism and socialism,when many Jews in Europe and later on in America were suffering under the yoke of anti-Semitism in spite of their best efforts to be accepted in their respective societies. They embraced this doctrine because it was anti-religion,or so it appeared. Without religion, they subconsciously reasoned, there would be no further basis for the daily hatred and alienation they faced. It is worth noting in this context that Karl Marx was a self-hating, apostate Jew who wrote many fiercely anti-Semitic articles over the course of his career.
This resonates today in an interesting way that many self-styled progressive Jews themselves are unaware of. Judaic philosophy, like Christianity stresses the individual and his or her choices,or free will as theologians term it.Marxism and socialism stresses the collective, with the individual merely a cog in the machine.
That, by the way, is one of the points of affinity between Islam and the Left, because Islam also stresses the collective and the submission of the individual.
For many Jews who embrace the 'progressive' mindset, the very existence of Israel is an embarrassment. It is a nasty bit of old time nationalism in an ideology that embraces 'solidarity' and a New World Order where such tiresome concepts are put to rest under the banner of the UN. Not only does the necessity of a strong and powerful Jewish State as a haven for Jews in a world that has demonstrated its hostility and even murderous intent towards them more than once escape them, it serves to single them out once again amongst their 'progressive' brethren.
Is it any wonder that the most vicious condemnation of virtually everything Israel does to preserve its security and nationhood should find its harshest critics among Jewish 'progressives' on the Left? Is it really a mystery that outspokenly pro-Israel Christians like Sarah Palin and Pastor John Haggee should come in for special vilification? It shouldn't be. 'Progressive' Jews need to prove their bonifides to their philosophical comrades .
It is in essence a Jewish Stockholm Syndrome, as many 'progressive' Jews have gotten to the point where they shows signs of loyalty,identification and attachment to those who ultimately mean them no good.