Decades ago, the sociographer Milton Himmelfarb coined the aphorism that
“American Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans.” And his
words ring as true today as ever. Surveys show that roughly 70 percent of
American Jews intend to cast their ballots for President Barack Obama’s
reelection next month.
Himmelfarb’s quip indicated that American Jews
abjure their economic interests in favor of their liberal values. Certainly it
is true that for American Jews to vote for Obama next month they must act
against their economic interests.
Obama’s economic policies have taken a
huge toll on the economic fortunes of American Jews who invest
disproportionately in the stock market. His nationalization of the college loan
business has given universities impetus to raise tuition rates still further,
thus dooming more young American Jews to start their adult lives under a
mountain of debt. And it isn’t at all clear how they will be able to pay off
this debt since under Obama half of recent college graduates cannot find
Obama’s gutting of Medicare to pay for Obamacare has harmed the
medical choices for older Jewish Americans.
His war on tax deductions for
charitable contributions has placed synagogues, Jewish schools and nursing homes
in financial jeopardy.
So with economics ruled out as a reason to support
Obama we are left with American-Jewish values.
But is Obama really
advancing those values? What are those values anyway? Well, there’s civil
American Jews like those. But Obama doesn’t.
freedom of speech. Obama is the most hostile president to freedom of speech in
recent memory. He has advocated implementing the so-called “fairness doctrine”
for radio to stifle the free speech of his political opponents on talk
He has sought to undermine the freedom of the Internet through
federal regulations and intimidation of Internet companies such as
He has made repeated and outspoken attempts to intimidate
individuals, groups and businesses including Google to bar freedom of speech as
relates to criticism of Islam. He has purged the lexicon of the federal
government of all terms necessary to describe jihad, Islamic radicalism and
terrorism, and so made it impossible for federal employees to examine,
investigate, discuss or understand the nature of the greatest national security
threat facing the US.
Then there are women’s rights. American Jews like
True, Obama has distinguished himself as the greatest ally of
abortion-on-demand ever. He even supported infanticide of babies who survived
abortions when he served in the Illinois legislature. But, we women are a bit
more than reproductive machines.
We also work and raise families. And
Obama’s economic programs hurt women as much if not more than they hurt
Aside from that, there are females who live outside of the
American Jews have long been outspoken champions of women’s rights
around the world. But here Obama’s record is arguably worse than any president
in US history.
Obama has abandoned the women most at risk of gender-based
discrimination, rape and murder – the women and girls of the Muslim world.
Whereas the Bush administration liberated the women and girls of Afghanistan
from the maniacally misogynist Taliban regime, the Obama administration is
negotiating with the Taliban and setting the conditions for its return to power.
If the signature image of the Bush administration’s war in Afghanistan was that
of women voting, the signature image of Obama’s war in Afghanistan is the photo
of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai. This week Yousafzai was shot in the head by the
Taliban in Pakistan for her defense of the right of girls to go to
Then there is the cause of good governance. American Jews like
But here, too, Obama fails to live up to liberal values of clean
politics. Every day seems to bring with it another scandal related to the Obama
This week we learned that the Obama campaign is illegally
soliciting funds from foreigners.
According to a report published by the
Government Accountability Institute, some 20% of visitors to the Obama
campaign’s fund-raising site “my.barackobama.
com” are foreigners, barred
by US law from contributing to political campaigns. So, too, the Obama.com
website was registered by Robert Roche, a US businessman living in Shanghai with
ties to Chinese state-owned companies. Roche is an Obama campaign bundler.
Sixty-eight percent of the traffic on the site comes from foreign users.
Obama.com is currently managed by a Palestinian rights activist in
Finally, there is the cause of Israel and US-Israel relations that
American Jews are assumed to care about.
After the fiasco at the
Democratic National Convention when the widespread antipathy for Israel raging
in the Democratic Party was broadcast on primetime television, the Obama
administration has stopped even trying to hide its contempt for the Jewish state
and its American Jewish supporters.
Whereas the US refused to walk out of
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s obscene address to the UN General
Assembly last month, US Ambassador Susan Rice chose to absent herself entirely
from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s address before the body.
insult to injury, last week Obama appointed Salam al-Marayati to represent the
US at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s annual 10-day
human rights conference. Marayati is the founder and executive director of the
Muslim Public Affairs Committee. As Robert Spencer recalled this week, on
September 11, 2001, Marayati gave an interview to a Los Angeles radio station
accusing Israel of being responsible for the jihadist attacks on the
He is an outspoken supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah.
appointed him to represent America at a major human rights conference.
what is it that drives over two-thirds of American Jews to support Obama? The
only issues that come easily to mind are social issues – particularly the two
flagship causes of American Jews these days – abortion and homosexual
While it is true that Obama shares their positions on these
issues, it is hard to believe that these two issues have become the cri du coeur
of more than two-thirds of American Jews.
It isn’t that it is wrong for
people to support abortions on demand and homosexual marriage. And it isn’t
wrong for people to oppose them. There are reasonable, Jewish arguments to be
made for a woman’s right to abort her unborn children. But there are also
reasonable Jewish arguments for constraining that right. There are Jewish
arguments in favor of permitting homosexuals to wed. And there are Jewish
arguments opposing such unions.
Then there is the relative urgency of the
issues. With the US economy in a rut and American national security increasingly
imperiled, are abortion rights and gay marriage really the American Jewish
community’s top priorities? True, there are some American Jewish fanatics who
are propelled to near violence when faced with opponents of their beliefs. And
they are capable of intimidating a large proportion of their fellow Jews into
toeing their extremist lines. Their intolerance has been on display in all of
its ugliness at synagogues around the US since the start of the election
campaign. In one recent, outrageous incident, one gay marriage partisan managed
to intimidate his congregation on Erev Yom Kippur.
On the most sacred
evening on the Jewish calendar, at Anshe Emet synagogue in Chicago, congregant
Gary Sircus led other congregants in walking out of services when, in keeping
with synagogue protocol (and common courtesy), Rabbi Michael Siegel acknowledged
the presence of US Rep. Michele Bachmann in the audience.
the walkout, Sircus went home and began an online assault on Bachmann and on his
synagogue for extending the outspoken and stalwart supporter of Israel the
courtesy of acknowledging her presence at services.
Sircus wrote a letter
of support to Jim Graves, Bachmann’s deep-pocketed Democratic opponent in her
reelection campaign. In it, he referred to Bachmann as “this evil
Rabbi Siegel did not decry Sircus for his shocking behavior.
Speaking to the Chicago Tribune Siegel said, “I am aware of the fact that our
congregation’s policy in regards to [welcoming public officials to the community
and honoring their presence] clearly caused pain to some members of our
community on the most precious day of reconciliation on the Jewish
calendar. That we regret deeply.”
In a letter of explanation to
synagogue board members, Siegel spoke of the need to welcome visitors even if
they don’t share the community’s “values.” But when did the members of Anshe
Emet take a vote to determine that support for gay marriage is their shared
value? Undoubtedly, Sircus’s success in embarrassing his entire community owed
in part to his willingness to intimidate his fellow congregants with his
moralistic sanctimony on Erev Yom Kippur.
But it isn’t only gay marriage
champions who use intimidation tactics to silence their communities into
conforming with their views. American Jewish Democratic partisans have taken a
leading role in blocking dissenting voices from their midst.
instance, this past May B’nai Emet Congregation in Boca Raton, Florida, invited
Amb. Susan Rice to address the congregation. Synagogue officials not only
rejected offers to have Rice debate opponents of Obama’s treatment of Israel.
They barred community members known for their opposition to Obama from attending
the speech. For these synagogue officials, the idea that their partisan
prejudice might be challenged was simply unacceptable.
To be fair, there
are some American Jews who have been willing to approach politics with an open
mind. For instance, Susan Crown, of the Chicago-based Henry Crown business
empire, has transferred her support from Obama to Mitt Romney. In an interview
with Chicago Magazine Crown explained that she switched candidates last May when
Obama gave his speech calling on Israel to withdraw from Jerusalem, Judea and
Samaria and contract to within the indefensible 1949 armistice lines. Crown said
that her switch was due as well to economic and foreign policy
Crown’s arguments for transferring her support from Obama
to Romney are all rational. On the other hand, the positions taken by the likes
of Sircus and the management of B’nai Emet are emotional and
Unfortunately, the polls indicate that more than two-thirds
of American Jews are with the synagogue bullies at B’nai Emet and with Sircus,
not with Crown.
For 70% of American Jews, party loyalty trumps all of
their conceivable rational interests. For them, partisan loyalty is more
important than facts. They do not want to use independent judgment. They just
want to be Democrats.
The most disturbing aspect of the surveys of
American Jewish voters is not that they are willing to vote for the most hostile
US president Israel has ever experienced in order to remain true to their party.
The most disturbing aspect of the American Jewish community’s devotion to Obama
and the Democrats is that it indicates that the vast majority of American Jews
have abandoned their faculties for independent thought and judgment in favor of
conformism and slavish partisanship. They have rendered themselves