Jewish Democrats: Open your eyes and your mind

A new legion of anti-Israel Democrats in the US threaten the Jewish state.

US President Barack Obama and Chuck Hagel 390 (photo credit: Jim Young / Reuters)
US President Barack Obama and Chuck Hagel 390
(photo credit: Jim Young / Reuters)
American Jews love Democrats. Our devotion to the party dates back to the early 20th century, which is also the last time a Republican candidate for president acquired more than 40 percent of the Jewish vote. Warren G. Harding, the 29th US president, captured the hearts of 43% of American Jewry in 1920. Since that first election after World War I, generations of Jews have been raised to vote Democrat – view Republicans as evil – resulting in a blind devotion to the “D” next to the name on the ballot.
The number of “Democrats only” Jews in the voting booth grew with the community’s fondness for presidents Franklin Delanor Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. But today’s party is much different, taken over by progressive ideals that view Israel as an extension of American imperialism. While they claim to still support Israel’s right to exist, their concern for the Jewish state’s safety and survival is questionable – continuously criticizing efforts to defend themselves – demanding land for peace that never comes. A “blame Israel” mentality dominates the movement, which has a tight grip on the mindset of the majority of self-declared Democrats.
According to a December poll by the Pew Research Center, only 41% of Americans who identify themselves as Democrats support Israel over the Palestinians. The same survey revealed that 70% of Republicans side with the Jewish state. This trend is not new. Since 2001, Gallup polls have shown similar numbers of Democrats supporting Israel, while amongst the GOP; support has grown, with the differential gap being over 35% at times.
There is no doubt that today’s Democratic Party is no longer the party of FDR and JFK. Today they are the party of George McGovern and Jimmy Carter. A harsh reality American Jewry refuses to recognize.
In 2008 a minority of Jewish voices, along with friends in the Gentile community, warned that those who influenced and advised then senator Barack Obama did not have an interest in the safety and security of Israel and the Jewish people. Still, those voices were shunned despite the overwhelming evidence that included Mr. Obama’s anti-Semitic spiritual leader, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and a national security team that included anti-Israel advocates Zbigniew Brezinski, Robert O’Malley and Samantha Powers — crucial factors that were dismissed by 78% of the community on Election Day.
More recently, Jewish Democrats refused to believe their own eyes and ears when delegates at the Democratic convention voted down recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. When the party leadership realized the negative implications of the measure not passing, they ignored their own convention rules and passed the amendment. The passion against the revision was disturbing unless you are a Jewish Democrat living in denial.
Simply put, the majority of American Jewry refuses to believe that any politician with a “D” next to their name could be a threat to Israel or the Jewish community. Overwhelming support by Republicans is dismissed as being faith based, so that is deemed “for the wrong reasons.”
I can’t rationalize that one either.
This past Election Day, Jewish voters showed some sign of open-mindedness as Republican candidate for president, Mitt Romney, garnered nearly 50% more Jewish votes than John McCain did in 2008. Still, our community, by overwhelming numbers, remains blind supporters for “D” on the ballot.
But after four years of undeniably deteriorating relations with Israel and one foreign policy blunder after another, President Obama is embarking on a path that will bring US/Israel relations to an all-time low. He recently called Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a “political coward” through surrogates and has emboldened the enemies of Israel and the Jewish people.
The nomination of Charles Hagel for Secretary of Defense and John Kerry for Secretary of State reveals that Obama has failed to learn from his previous foreign policy mistakes. Moreover, he is sending Tehran a message that the United States is not serious about stopping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
The selection of Hagel is being celebrated by the Iranian media and defended by Jewish apologists at J-Street. There could be no more solid confirmation of a threat to Israel than if both the Iranian government and J-Street are in agreement.
I’m not going to embark on Hagel’s disdain for the Jewish State. Pro-Israel groups have made that case. I’m more concerned about his competence. Hagel joined Kerry in 2003 to vote against the Syrian Accountability Act. Designed to hold Syria accountable for its support of terrorism and its occupation of Lebanon, Obama’s nominees for Secretary of Defense and State were two of only four senators to oppose the legislation. Kerry would go on to make five trips to Damascus – calling on Israel to return the Golan Heights and praising Bashar al-Assad – calling Syria “an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region.”
Sixty thousand dead civilians later – it’s hard to say Hagel, and especially Kerry, just got it wrong. It’s just as difficult to understand why the president has confidence in the judgment of these men.
It is important for me to point out that I am not calling on American Jewry to start voting Republican. On the contrary, my hope is that no political party or politician can take our support for granted because of the letter next to a name on a ballot. American Jewry must embrace the 21st century – open their eyes and mind – so the 20th century won’t repeat itself.
Paul Miller is a principal of Pauliegroup LLC, a Chicago-area new media and political consulting firm. You can read his opinions and observations at