October 2007

Top Stories
• Jewish Silence on Iraq
• Progressive Jews Act
• Ulpan 101
• Strategy Vs. Terrorism
• Crimes On Democracy
• Jews Choose Dems
• Too Early To Pander
• NJDC Blasts Moran
• German Workers
• Letters to the Editor

In Their Own Words
• Rep. Duncan Hunter

Networking Central
• Mitzvah Food Pantry 

Raising A Mensch
• Conceptual Detour

• Jews Paint By Number
• Israeli Politicals Confs.
• Akiba Name Change
• Citizenship
• Okinawa High Holidays

Living Judaism
• Soferet

The Kosher Table
• Singapore Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant

Free Subscription

Past Issues
2008 J


    Email This     About     Subscription     Donate     Contact     Links     Archives  

Results of the 2006 National Election Pool's exit poll of Jewish voters in various Senate races.
News and Opinion

Democrats speak for Jews' not-so-silent majority

-- Ira N. Forman

When it comes to politics, America's Jewish community is both savvy and sophisticated. Neither party "owns" our loyalty, and neither party can count on knee-jerk support from American Jewry on Election Day. It is because of our sophistication as a community that American Jews continue to vote for Democrats in overwhelming numbers. Quite simply, the Democratic Party is far and away the party most closely aligned with Jewish values on issues both foreign and domestic. In his recent commentary in the New Jersey Jewish News ("On the crucial issues, the GOP trumps Democrats"), Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, attempts to make the opposite case. He argues that "more and more Jews are recognizing that the issues of critical concern for the Jewish community are in line with Republican positions." If ever there were a perfect example of wishful thinking, this most certainly is it.

One need only look at the numbers. According to the authoritative public exit poll for 2006, only 12 percent of Jewish Americans voted for Republican candidates for Congress that year — a historic low. George W. Bush's 22 percent of the Jewish vote in 2004 was significantly lower than the 30 percent to 39 percent Republicans regularly won in the 1970s and 1980s. While anything can happen in politics, as things stand today there is every reason to believe that Democratic candidates will earn overwhelming support from Jewish voters in 2008. Why? Because of where Democrats stand on the issues. Brooks tries to build a case that "the issues of critical concern for the Jewish community are in line with Republican positions," but the evidence simply is not on his side.

Every major study of Jewish public opinion — ranging from the American Jewish Committee's 2006 study to media polls to polling we've conducted at the National Jewish Democratic Council --- suggests that Democrats lead on virtually every domestic issue among Jewish voters. Perhaps this is why Brooks dedicated little more than a sentence in his piece to domestic matters.

The truth of the matter is that Jewish voters care about issues such as education, health care, the environment, protecting seniors, protecting children, Social Security, civil rights, civil liberties, gay and lesbian rights, reproductive choice, energy independence, stem-cell research, and maintaining a strong wall between church and state.

When Republicans attempt to ban funding for stem-cell research or debate who is sufficiently antichoice during presidential debates, Republicans lose Jewish votes.

Instead of talking about any of the vital domestic issues, Brooks dedicates most of his column to Israel. In so doing, Brooks and other Republicans who attempt to turn Israel into a partisan wedge issue do the community a major disservice.

Make no mistake, Democrats and Republicans alike are committed to the safety and security of Israel. Even conservative columnist Bill Kristol and the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Dan Burton, have said there is no real difference between the two major parties when it comes to Israel.

Brooks attempts to nitpick specific examples of Democratic actions he finds objectionable. Using his logic, you could build an equal case for Republican weakness on Israel based on the House Republican Leadership's support for an amendment that would have reduced aid to Israel by millions or its opposition to the foreign aid appropriations bill that included billions for Israel. One could also point out the Bush administration's ties to the Saudi government or its refusal to work seriously toward reducing our dependency on Middle East oil.

It is also worth noting that, in its analysis of the new Democratic-led Congress, reporting by JTA suggests that support for Israel appears to be more secure than the previous Congress, which was led by Republicans. Every major Democratic and Republican presidential candidate supports Israel. No matter what happens in November 2008, we will all but certainly have a president who understands the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Brooks' false concerns about Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) are little more than partisan gamesmanship. The best way to judge a candidate's support for Israel is his or her voting record. Since Obama entered the Senate, his record on Israel and security issues has been impeccable. In fact, he's currently leading the way to pass legislation that would promote divestment from Iran --- legislation that is currently being blocked by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL). Indeed, all the major Democratic candidates --- Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, and Richardson --- have strong voting records in favor of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

By all recent accounts, Jewish voters are trending even stronger toward Democrats. Some conservative pundits paint this trend as evidence of stupidity on the part of our community (the "masses are asses" theory of politics). These pundits are wrong. American Jews largely support the Democratic Party and its candidates because, on an array of issues foreign and domestic, Democrats reflect the positions of the vast majority of Jews.

Did you enjoy this article?

If so,

  • share it with your friends so they do not miss out on this article,
  • subscribe (free), so you do not miss out on the next issue,
  • donate (not quite free but greatly appreciated) to enable us to continue providing this free service.

If not,