Analysis: Jewish backing for Obama good for Israel

Let us all now join together in helping Obama in his efforts to assure Israel’s security.

US President Obama at a campaign rally 370 (R) (photo credit: Jason Reed / Reuters)
US President Obama at a campaign rally 370 (R)
(photo credit: Jason Reed / Reuters)
President Barack Obama won reelection by a significant majority of the electoral college. The Jewish, pro-Israel Democratic vote helped him in Florida, Ohio and even Virginia, but he might have won at least some of those battleground states without Jewish support.
Even those Jews who berated Democrats like me for supporting President Obama’s reelection, must now realize that our support for the president will be good for Israel over the next four years. Recall what former Secretary of State James Baker, who served under the first George Bush, reportedly said in the early 1990s: “F––– the Jews, they don’t vote for us.”
Well that’s no longer true. Today, Jews vote for both parties. Nobody is ignoring us. Every rational candidate knows that they and their party must earn our votes in every election.
This is not to suggest that Jews as a group are single issue voters.
Most Jews care deeply about Israel’s security – as distinguished from Israel’s settlement policies. They also care deeply about social and economic issues. The difference is that most Americans, regardless of religion, are united in support of Israel’s security, but divided about social and economic issues. It is critically important that support for Israel’s security remains a bipartisan issue, and never becomes a wedge issue that divides voters along party lines, as it has in some European countries.
It is true that there is more division about Israel’s security within the Democratic Party than within the Republican Party.
More Democrats than Republicans oppose Israel on a wide range of matters, as was evident by the loud booing from some delegates to the Democratic Convention when the Democratic Party changed their platform to include a positive reference to Jerusalem.
I, and other Jewish Democrats, helped to get that change made, just as we repeatedly helped to marginalize those anti-Israel elements within the Democratic Party.
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The fact that those anti-Israel Democrats are trying to use their influence against Israel is a good reason why Jewish Democratic supporters of Israel must remain within the Democratic Party to keep fighting the good fight, just as Jewish Republican supporters of Israel fought the good fight against Patrick Buchanan and other right wing Israel-bashers within the Republican Party.
Barack Obama will be the president of the United States for the next four years. That is the reality. It is also the reality that I and others who support him will have his ear over the next four years.
We will not always agree with every position he takes on Israel, and he will not always agree with every bit of advice we offer him.
That is the nature of democracy and governance.
But it is a good thing that he was reelected with significant Jewish, pro-Israel support. And it is a good thing that support for Israel’s security remained a bipartisan issue, and that President Obama’s reelection is not seen as referendum over support for Israel. A referendum that Israel would have lost if some Jewish supporters of Israel had been successful in turning this election into a false litmus test over Israel.
Israeli political leaders should not try to influence the outcome of American elections, any more than American political leaders should try to influence the outcomes of Israeli elections. Both nations, steeped in the traditions of contentious democracy, should elect leaders who serve the interests of their people. In my opinion, the interests of both Americans and Israelis are well served by a strong and enduring alliance between two great democracies that have common interests in a peaceful and secure resolution of the Middle East conflicts than endanger the region and the world.
Let us all now join together in helping President Obama in his efforts to assure Israel’s security, to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and to help bring about a secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians.