Jews Will Not Abandon the Democrats, Even as the Democrats Abandon Them
The quip among Jewish Republicans about President Obama’s trafficking with anti-Semites was that he was so popular with American Jews that had he nuked Tel Aviv, he would have lost no more than 30% of the Jewish vote.
The affinity for American Jews for the Democrat Party has long been a political curiosity. The distinguished essayist Milton Himmelfarb observed that in America, Jews had attained the socioeconomic status of Episcopalians, but for some reason they continued to vote like Puerto Ricans.
Nothing seems to dissolve the sinew that ties Jews to the Democrats. President Obama’s association with the anti-Semitic Rev. Jeremiah Wright brought a collective yawn. Photos of Barrack Obama embracing the Rev. Louis Farrakhan, who compared Jews to termites, did not concern them.
The anti-Semitic diatribes of the so-called “Squad” have been dismissed as a minority voice among the Democrats that would be easily controlled by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The House resolution condemning boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel was showcased for having been passed, while ignoring that of the 17 votes against it, 16 came from Democrats.
The positions on Israel of Democratic presidential hopefuls Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders should send chills up the spine of the Jewish community, but they do not. Warren and Sanders would cut off aid to Israel and unless Israel returns to what Abba Eban appropriately called the Auschwitz Borders.
On college campuses, Jews are forbidden access to the marketplace of ideas unless they parrot leftist newspeak. The Arab/Israeli conflict is described in mythical terms of colonialism, ignoring that the Arabs ethnically cleansed Jews from Jerusalem and the territories, and by the end of the 19th century, Jerusalem was a Jewish, not a Muslim city.
The faux colonial model is the product of leftist intellectuals, an oxymoron because scholarship and ideology are inherent contradictions. It is leftists that perpetuate the banality of the activist scholar so eagerly embraced in what once passed for higher education.
Much of the Jewish community either buys into this or ignores it. Given a choice between preserving their Jewish identity or embracing the ideology of the left, many Jews would prefer to be Democrats than Jews.
President Franklin Roosevelt’s abandonment of Europe’s Jews is rationalized as a three-term, popular president’s inability to control his own Department of State. Roosevelt was a racist and an anti-Semite. He incarcerated loyal Japanese who subsequently proved their patriotism and courage on Europe’s battlefields. His incarceration order was a function of his own phobia of Asians and was protested even by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Roosevelt abandoned the Jews for similar reasons.
Jews have bought into the Democrats’ obsession with President Donald Trump as a racist and anti-Semite. Trump, whose daughter is an observant Jew and who has Jewish grandchildren, is labeled an anti-Semite. In contrast, hatemonger Al Sharpton is honored in a New York synagogue during the recent high holidays, and Congressman Hank Johnson’s allusion to Jews as termites, invoking a medieval and Nazi stigma resurrected by the Rev. Louis Farrakhan, barely causes concern.
The future of Jews in the Democratic party is already written in the workings of the British Labour Party, which is infused with a virulent anti-Semitism enhanced by its leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Dame Louise Ellman, who has been a vocal critic of Corbyn’s venomous anti-Semitism, faced an ouster vote, which the local party members scheduled for Yom Kippur eve, the holiest night of the Jewish calendar. The timing was hardly coincidental. Ellman eventually quit.
It is facile to dismiss the current anti-Semitism within the Democrat Party as the rantings of a few peripheral members. The Democrat Party is moving left. It is increasingly oriented toward making decisions based on the ideology of intersectionality, meaning that professed victims of the white patriarchal oppressor must share a common political outlook.
Ironically, within this ideology, Jews, historically the most oppressed people enduring the world’s oldest hatred, are part of the privileged classes, and Muslims, no matter how many countries they control or how they oppress women and their own people, are victims.
It will not end well for the Jews. The British Labour Party is transmitting that message. Will Jews recognize their political self-interest before it is too late? Those of us who think that if Barack Obama had nuked Tel Aviv, he would have lost far less than 30% of the Jewish vote, think otherwise.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a distinguished fellow with the Hyam Salomon Center.