November 05, 2006

Why, despite everything, Jewish-Americans keep voting for Democrats

Folks, this Election Day, November 7, 2006, vote Republican, not Democrat. Here's why, in an article from Joel Engel dated 2004:

For nearly 60 years, since the birth of Israel, American Jews have faced accusations that they care more about the well-being of their ancient homeland than of their home. Well, barring some unforeseen circumstance, the canard of dual loyalty should be retired forever on November 2, 2004. On that Tuesday, Election Day, up to 80 percent of American Jews will pull the lever for John Kerry, thereby proving that they not only do not care about Israel's well-being, but that they don't mind making common cause with people who wish them ill. Or worse.

The evidence is overwhelming that acceptable anti-Semitism has moved from right to left on the political continuum, and that its philosophical home now resides in the Democratic party, which has become less the party of liberals than of leftists. Even before Al Sharpton stood as a presidential candidate last year, Democratic politicians genuflecting for black votes--Al Gore, Bill Bradley, and Hillary Clinton, for example--often trekked up to Harlem to kiss his ring. And yet, this was a man who in previous years had either led or instigated two anti-Jewish demonstrations, one in Crown Heights and one in Harlem, which together resulted in the deaths of eight people. Does that matter to Democrats and John Kerry? Apparently not. Sharpton was rewarded with a choice slot at the Democratic National Convention, something that is impossible to imagine being given to the likes of former Republican David Duke, whose incitements have frankly born far less blood than Sharpton's.

Put aside his disgraceful role in the Tawana Brawley hoax. The fact that Democratic candidate Sharpton never had to answer questions during primary season from either the press or the other contenders about his anti-Semitic statements (to wit: "diamond merchants" whose hands bear "the blood of innocent babies") should tell Jewish Democrats something important about their party. It should tell them that anti-Semites have found safety in numbers.

Partial proof of that was on display in a VIP box at the Democratic national convention, where two other prominent guests were seated shoulder to shoulder: Jimmy Carter and Michael Moore. Considering their on-the-record statements, it's not terribly difficult to imagine them leaning close during breaks to compare notes on Jewish conspiracies and the world's locus of evil, Israel.
Carter's antipathy toward the Jewish state is well-documented, as is his affection for Arab dictators, especially Yasser Arafat. This is a man who endorsed the results of the sham 1996 "election" that transformed Arafat from self-appointed "chairman" to "president" of the Palestinian Authority, while he continues to suggest that President Bush stole Florida and therefore the 2000 election. (Remember, too, that Carter recently ratified anti-American Hugo Chavez's election in Venezuela under dubious circumstances.) Last year's Nobel Peace laureate once confided to historian/biographer Douglas Brinkley how eager he'd been to meet Arafat (another laureate!) for the first time--and why he felt such an affinity for the terrorist leader. He believes that Arafat truly wants peace and that Ariel Sharon truly does not. He considers it self-evident that the whole of the West Bank and Gaza belong to the Palestinians, a bias evinced by his insertion of "the" before the word "territories" in his written discussion of United Nations Resolution 242, though "the" had been specifically and deliberately excluded from the resolution's wording in order to demonstrate that all permanent borders are to be negotiated in good faith. No wonder his Carter Center receives substantial funding from Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, at a speech in Liverpool early this year, Moore informed his adoring audience who the world's real villains are: "It's all part of the same ball of wax, right? The oil companies, Israel, Halliburton." That statement sheds light on why he tried to prevent Fahrenheit 9/11 from being shown in Israel, and is congruent with both his speech denouncing the Israeli "occupation" at a 1990 Washington, D.C. demonstration, and his refusal that same year to attend a screening of his film Roger and Me in Jerusalem unless and until Israel met his demand to withdraw from "Arab lands." Moore has also suggested that we could solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by giving the Palestinians $4 billion worth of advanced weapons. Most egregious, though, was his dedication in the book Dude, Where's My Country? to Rachel Corrie, the pro-Palestinian activist who was killed while impeding a bulldozer sent to find and destroy tunnels used by the Palestinians for weapons smuggling. (Corrie was once photographed burning an American flag at a West Bank demonstration.)

You might think that the Democratic party, which receives 70-80 percent of the Jewish vote and a ridiculous amount of political cash, would have meted out at least verbal spanks to Moore and Carter for their anti-Israel animus. But both men, like Sharpton, remain among the adored--unlike, by contrast, the late Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey, a liberal who was banned from the 1992 and 1996 national conventions because of his stance against abortion. Which leads inexorably to the conclusion that Moore and Carter accurately reflect their party's mainstream.

GIVEN THAT, it's no mystery how the far left has been able to hijack college campuses that used to be seedbeds of civil rights activism--much of it famously led and organized by liberal Jews. Now, under the politically correct cover of Palestinian rights, Jews find themselves lumped in with religious Christians as acceptable objects of revulsion, leaving squishy-left Steinbergs and Goldbergs to wonder what's happening as antiwar, anti-Bush demonstrations rapidly morph into anti-Israel, anti-Jew hatefests. San Francisco State, Duke, Berkeley, and Columbia (whose growing anti-Semitism in the classroom is now the subject of a short film) are only a few of the many schools where Jews have glimpsed the mob mentality of Kristallnacht.

Even individually, college-age anti-Semites feel comfortable enough these days to note publicly, as Duke senior Philip Kurian did recently, that those pesky over-achieving Jews are something of a problem. Inspired by Duke's hosting of the radical Islamist, pro-terror group International Solidarity Movement (to which Rachel Corrie belonged), Kurian unashamedly referenced "the powerful Jewish establishment" and "exorbitant Jewish privilege in the United States" before reaching the crux of his letter to Duke's newspaper the Chronicle: "It is well known that Jews constitute the most privileged 'minority' group in this country. Among the top 10 universities, Jews enjoy shocking overrepresentation."

Note the ironic quotation marks around the word minority, though Jews add up to barely 2 percent of the country's population (one-fifth of 1 percent of the world's); and the word overrepresentation as opposed to "disproportionate representation," whose use would have at least acknowledged Jews' work ethic and devotion to achievement. And then there was "shocking."

But instead of widespread outrage, condemnation, newspaper confiscations, demonstrations about hurt feelings, suspension, expulsion, and even prosecution, which are generally what follow when similar bile is directed at protected "minorities" on campus, Kurian's sentiments earned him nothing more than opprobrium from bloggers generally hailing from the right--Gentile bloggers, mostly. Liberal Jews themselves said little, much as the National Organization for Women fell silent during the Clinton era when the president was proved to be a serial groper; that "D" after his name inoculated him against charges that were similar to--if not more serious than--those that brought the wrath of feminists down on poor Senator Bob Packwood, who had the misfortune of playing serial tonsil hockey with an "R" after his name.

THEREIN LIES the explanation for why American Jews refuse obstinately to accept that the Democratic party's train, which they've ridden since FDR (whose reputation among Jews was less earned than awarded), is now carrying them toward some perilous destination. Sadly, by the time they realize that Harry Truman and Scoop Jackson have given up their conductor seats to Michael Moore and International Solidarity, it'll be too late to get off.

American Jews' allegiance to Democrats is nothing less than a religion. And conversion is considered a sacrilege.

If you ask even the most secular Jew, one who stays home to watch baseball on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, to convert to Christianity--say, in order to marry a shiksa--he'll likely recoil. It's a visceral thing, hatched in the belly eons ago.

So, too, is the notion of pulling the lever for dirty anti-Semite, racist Republicans. That's the catechism. No matter that Republicans booted out David Duke and Patrick Buchanan--or that both of them would find plenty of fellow travelers in today's Democratic party. Catechism states that only Democrats can be authentic liberals.

WHICH IS WHY, once upon a time, it would've given Jews (and all Democrats) pause to hear support for their candidate uttered by the likes of Arafat, Kim Jong Il, and Mahathir Mohamad, the former Malaysian prime minister who endeared himself to billions last year when he opined that "Jews run the world by proxy." Today, such observations are irrelevant to the more important goal of turning George W. Bush out of office. Typical is the email response of a Jewish friend to whom I'd forwarded a Charles Krauthammer column predicting that Kerry will sell out Israel: "Which leaves us . . . Ralph Nader? What folly!!!!" Same with a Jewish woman whose only reaction to every argument on the same subject is to quote chapter and verse from the New York Times editorial page--the bible of liberal Jews.

In their worldview, words are more important than outcomes, especially when those words are uttered by Democrats. Thus, Bill Clinton's can't-we-all-just-get-along peacemaking that relied on the exaltation of Arafat is far preferable to George W. Bush's support for the terror-reducing fence and insistence on new Palestinian leadership--though the former caused the deaths of a thousand innocent Israelis, and the latter has saved innocents on both sides and brought closer the possibility of Palestinians giving up terrorism entirely--which will, of course, bring peace. Instead, Jews circulate angry emails about the lack of Jews in the president's cabinet, as if Clinton's Jewish Agriculture secretary somehow canceled out the shame of Yasser Arafat's permanent White House parking space.

To borrow longshoreman-philosopher Eric Hoffer's phrase, Jewish Democrats are "true believers"--every bit as unquestioning of their faith as evangelicals are. (A year after the Six-Day War, Hoffer had a premonition: "As it goes with Israel," he said, "so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the holocaust will be upon us.") And yet they fear evangelicals' unshakeable support for Israel on the grounds that it's biblically based, which is the equivalent of refusing to accept your dog back from the guy who found him after he admits doing it only for the reward. "I fear this presidency," claimed a Jewish man I know, "more than I fear any Arab, Muslim, or al Qaeda terrorist." (This was the same man who emailed me his outrage at there being no Jews in Bush's cabinet.)

Why won't Jews who plan to vote for John Kerry take the senator at his word, and consider the ramifications, when he says that he wants to refract his foreign policy through the prism of the United Nations and the European Union? Nearly one third of the United Nations is comprised of Islamic states, which helps to account for why Israel has been targeted by a relentless barrage of condemnatory resolutions--as well as the disgraceful ruling in the International Court of Justice against the anti-terror fence.

As for Europe, birthplace of anti-Semitism, the European Union publicly wrings its hands over dead Palestinian terrorists but not dead Jewish children and mothers, insisting that there will be peace when Israel withdraws from all so-called Palestinian lands; and if that pullback to the "Auschwitz borders" should someday result in Israeli Jews being driven into the sea, then good riddance. In the unvarnished words of Daniel Bernard, French ambassador to Great Britain, Israel is "a shitty little country" inhabited by "those people" who are putting the world "in danger of World War III."

"F*** the Jews," Republican James Baker snapped during Bush 41's reign more than a decade ago. "They didn't vote for us anyway."

Right he was. And if only 20 percent of them vote for Bush 43, American Jews won't need James Baker--they'll have done it to themselves.

For a supposedly smart people, we can be awfully stupid.

Joel Engel is an author and journalist in Southern California.