I was asked “why do Jews vote Democratic?” Often I am asked this question, after all: Democrats don’t support Israel, and Republicans do.
That’s not quite right, but more on that in a moment.
There are many reasons why Jews are Democrats, and stay Democrats even in the face of Obama’s rude treatment of Israel.
The reasons Jews are overwhelmingly Democratic include: tradition, anti Semitism, FDR and World War II, and Judaism itself.
Let’s deal with one stereotype: “All Jews support Israel”. It just isn’t true. There are many very religious Jews who don’t support Israel based on Judaism itself. Their belief is Israel may only be established by The Messiah, and David Ben Gurion was no Messiah.
For them the State of Israel is a poser, a pretender, illegitimate created by an unholy political alliance, and an enemy of Judaism?
While there are other Jews who think the whole idea of “Chosen” is hogwash, and all Israel does is set up another Holocaust; and Israel should be relegated into the History Books, because a Jewish Homeland has always been, and always will be, a problem.
Their view of dealing with the problem is to not support Israel, forget the notion of Chosen, and to practice their brand of Judaism which is to remember traditions, and forget “chosen” and oppose a Homeland.
Those types of Jews are often viewed as self loathing, by many.
When Jews immigrated to the USA in substantial numbers, primarily to New York from Germany, Jews often encountered anti Semitism, and were relegated to low paying jobs, often in New York’s Garment District.
To counter business owners who wanted to exploit cheap Jewish labor, trade unions were formed by Jews, and in large numbers, Jews entered the American Labor Movement; not exactly a hotbed of Conservative thought.
What do liberal parents often raise? Liberal children; so the children of children were taught liberal thought is correct thought, from Mother’s womb, to their graves.
In the 1930’s, New York Jews started hearing of families disappearing in Nazi Germany. They went to President Roosevelt, the former Governor of New York, who listened to their stories of things going on in Germany.
FDR told them he would love to do something about Hitler, but the Republican Party at the time were isolationists; and in addition to isolationism, were cozy with Charles Lindberg, a Hitler apologist and National Hero, who supported Hitler.
Germans were and are to this day, the largest ethnic group in America, and the GOP pandered to them. It wasn’t only Lindberg who was influential with the GOP; industrialist Henry Ford, a notorious anti-Semite, whose writings on the topic are used to this day by anti-Semites to support their hatred of Jews, was very influential in the GOP.
His book The International Jew is second only to Hitler’s Mein Kapmf, in preaching Jewish hatred. The welcome mat was not out for Jews.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, FDR was only able to include war against Hitler because he had tied Germany and Italy to Japan as The Axis Nations.
Had he not made that tie, the Declaration of War would have been only against the Japanese.
Post World War II. In addition to all the goodwill the Democratic Party had built with Jews over the past 75 years, is about to pay off for the party. My Father was a Republican, living in a Republican town in the Midwest.
When we would go to see friends of the family in Chicago, we were told NOT to mention politics, and under no circumstances, mention Republicans.
It was OK in our little town, but in the big city, with big city Jews, it was suicide to mention the word “Republican” unless with a sneer.
My Father told me of the debate about establishing Israel after the war, and how the world was shocked at the inhumanity of Germany, Italy, Occupied France, and Austria directed at Jews.
America knew something must be done. The British were not in favor of establishing Israel, but had become America’s junior partner in Foreign Policy; and therefore followed the US in recognizing Israel. The USA didn’t “lead from behind”, in those days.
Again, it was a Democrat, Harry Truman who recognized Israel, further pulling Jews deep into the party.
It wasn’t until Richard Nixon and his appointing Henry Kissinger, a Jew, to high office things began to change between the GOP and Jews.
More change during Reagan, although at times our relationship with Israel was strained, the “Religious Right,” as it was called back then, fundamentalist Christians who had found their political voice, were conservative, and viewed Israel as not only our ally, but we had a religious obligation to aid, and protect Israel.
For Jews, this was a shock: it was like when you were a kid, and you were forced to kiss your ugly cousin, just because your parents said you had to because she is family. You didn’t want to do it, but you were thankful for family.
Lastly, within Judaism, there is a Hebrew term “tikkun olam” which literally means “repairing the world”.
In Judaism it is the spiritual purpose of life: to do well works, good deeds, and to help those who need help to have a better life. So that fits with the whole Democratic Party goal of social programs.
In effect, it is government putting a Jewish spiritual obligation to work. Now as conservatives we are aware many of those programs fail, and fail badly, and the best way to help someone is with a JOB, but that said, there are times people need some assistance they can’t provide for themselves, and there is a difference between a safety net (conservative) and a way of life (liberal).
Liberal Jews seem to think conservatives are heartless Marie Antoinette’s. Conservative Jews often think our Liberal Brothers and Sisters are trying to pass off their obligation as Jews, to the Government.
What is going on is the attitude is changing. There are more of us who are conservative, and our numbers in the party are growing.
In fact, the Democratic Party is terrified Jews are bailing on the party, because many are bailing on the party, but not just because of Israel.
Jews are not single issue by any means. We are fully assimilated into America, and participate in a host of issues, Israel being one of them. However, the reception by the GOP of Jews coming into the party isn’t always warm.
There is an element of the GOP which is not thrilled to have us, and in fact is just as bigoted as they ever were.
Ron Paul and his ilk dislike Jews with intensity, to the point of being anti Semitic. There would be more come over if it were not for him, and his bigots.
There is a lot written on the subject, and if you would like to know more, please see:
Source: Bob Schneider