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.

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time to write a good response. BTW, puzzled is my middle name. Take care. Barney.

Rosey said...

Thanks for taking a swipe at it, but I am no wiser for reading it. I have friends and former classmates, who are self-hating, liberal Jews. The only explanation that rings true is the habit of voting Democratic all their life. But it still makes no sense to me. Of course if you hate yourself...maybe that explains it.

I have never been to Israel (though I plan to go before I die) but even as a nonreligious Jew, Israel lives in my heart, and I hate those that bash it, including the Anti-Semite in Chief, the media elites, the whole UN & etc...

yzernik said...

I hate to admit it, but J Street is probably correct about US Jews. They will continue to support anti-Israel, left-wing candidates. Fortunately for Israel, Jews are a small percentage of the US population, so their votes don't have much of an impact. I think it would be more interesting to see an analysis of how the Hispanic community votes, because they have a larger voting block and they are probably more open-minded.

Anonymous said...

Good analysis on your part. There are a few things that you did miss however. The Jews of the US feel safe. The majority of them have never dealt with overt anti-Semitism in their lives and they believe it to be a sickness of the past.While their children may experience an anti-Semitic professor here and there in college the majority do not bother to take classes where that is even an issue and they do not become involved in politics while on campus.Also the majority of this country's Jewish youth do tend to attend certain colleges, again where there is strength in numbers.

The reality is that the biggest problem facing most Jewish Americans is how to deal with the economy. It is not that they do not care or disassociate themselves from Israel, but Israel is seen as a strong nation economically and militarily. Most here do not see Israel in need of their full time attention when they themselves may not be able to pay their own bills.

As far as Sarah Palin and Rev Haggee are concerned...the evangelical Christians do not gain respect from the vast majority of the Jewish Community, not because they are pro-Israel, but for the reason that they are pro-Israel. The fact that most Jews see these evangelicals as pro-Israel to bring about the rapture or the conversion of the Jews to Christianity is part and parcel of how the Jewish community views this segment of the population. So they deride fundamentalist's support as false and insulting. The truth of the matter is, that the Palins and Haggees of the world need to get their reasons for supporting Israel out in the open alot better.

Of course, as with everything there will always be more opinions in the Jewish community than Jews on every issue, so why should politics be any different.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hi Y'all,
Rosey, what you're reacting to is a gut knowledge that Israel is important as a haven for the Jews, even if we may not need it here in America. The Jews from Ethiopia,Russia, Yemen and the rest of the Muslim world could tell you about that.

TLOS I don't see J-Street as being correct.Most Jews will not support openly anti-Israel candidates, as seen by J-Street's 'success'. My own mother, a very Left leaning Jewish FDR Democrat-for-life will not be voting for Obama next time out if he runs, and she isn't alone.

There will always be a certain amount of Jews who lean far to the Left, for the reasons I gave. But over time, that trend is going to correct itself.

Vis a vis Latinos, many non-Mexicans (Cubanos and Cubanas, f'rinstance) tend to vote conservative and pro-Israel, like Senator Marco Rubio, who is an outspoken friend of the Jewish State.And as Mexicans become more integrated into America and get homes, jobs, businesses and families, they likewise begin to shift, especially the ones who become Mormons or Evangelicals.I've seen the numbers.

It might interest you to know that Pastor Hagee's group, Christians United For Israel(CUFI) does considerable Latino outreach, yet another reason to toss some shekels their way if you can.

IP, two things. First of all, Jew hatred has become much more common than it was say, a decade ago. Part of it is the increased influx and influence of Muslims, and part of it is the Leftward shift of the Democrats. I know a lot of Jews who 'woke up' upon seeing the attitude of the Left and the media coverage of the Intifada.Some people, of course, prefer to live in a bubble.

As for Jews worrying about conversion,that comes almost exclusively from the Jewish, secular Left and they are simply wrong, at least when it comes to Evangelicals.

You should know that I do a lot of work with pro-Israel Christians, including CUFI and for them to try and convert a committed Jew would be scripturally and religiously untenable. It simply would not be considered for the vast majority of Evangelicals, as I know first hand.

Read Isaiah to find out why.

The problem with Pastor Hagee and Sarah Palin for most Jews on the Left has a lot more to do with these Jews' embrace of the Leftist Sacrament of abortion on demand and same sex marriage then it does religion, IMO.

The stuff about the Rapture ( which few if any have read, let alone the Torah) is simply a convenient talking point.


Puzzled is my middle name said...

I don't understand your comment about Isaiah, and I have read it. Please explain.

Freedom Fighter said...

That chapter of scripture says that when Moshiach(the Messiah) comes and G-d's kingdom is realized on earth, Hashem will judge the nations according to how they have treated the Jewish people...Isaiah 2:3

Isaiah 33 specifically promises G-d's judgment on those who attack Zion, and so does Isaiah 41:8-13, verse 11 and 12 in particular.

49:6 calls Israel a 'light unto the nations' and Genesis 12:3 says that G-d will 'bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee, and IN THEE shall all the kindred of the earth be blessed.'

Lots of other stuff in Jeremiah,Hosea, etc.

In the New testament, there's Matthew 25:41-46, which says that G-d will separate the nations like sheep and goats according to how they have treated the Jews.

Romans 2:28-29 has a similar message.

There's more, but that will do for starters.