This is meant to be an astute and penetratingly deep inquiry into a somewhat irreconcilable political reality. Here is the question: Are we nuts?
In the last presidential election, 71% of Jewish voters in the United States voted Democratic. That means we voted somewhat overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton, which raises the same question — are we communally cracked or what?
The Democratic Party leadership has made it clear that they feel it is right to treat the issue of Israel rather cavalierly and dispassionately. My sense is that they know that the majority of American Jews will always be with them, support them, and vote for them on the matter of their social agenda, whether they are supportive of Israel or not.
Perhaps you did not notice, but, of late, things have gone a bit too far. A member of Congress recently pointed out that there are currently 63 freshmen in Congress, but somehow only the three virulently anti-Israel or anti-Jewish freshmen are dominating all the media attention and have apparently managed to steer the party to the extreme left.
Being on the left these days means that you need to be a critic of everything Israel. You must be opposed to the Trump policy on Israel, you have to be a proponent of a divided Jerusalem, and you have to advocate for the withdrawal of 600,000 Jewish residents from their homes in Judea, Samaria, and East Jerusalem.
Why do these people have to be moved — forcibly, if necessary — out of their homes? One reason only: Because they are Jews. This policy has broad support among today’s Democrats.
For some reason the majority of Jews still vote for them unashamedly, and maybe unthinkingly as well. Talk news programs bring this up all the time: Why do so many Jews vote for Democratic candidates, especially under current circumstances?
The best answer, as is our custom, is really another question: What do you mean by “Jews”? This issue is not something that the media, news stations, journalists, or reporters can understand. From out there, it seems that there is not too much credibility assigned to the idea of Jewish diversity. That is one of our communal strengths and weakness. Some of the leading Democrats, such as Nadler, Schiff, Lowy, Blumenthal, and others, are Jews, adding to the confusion.
The idea that we are all one might be true, but it usually only happens when we are facing a serious crisis.
Only the enigmatic American Jewish community can cheer President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city while at the same time advocate for the creation of a Palestinian state with half of Jerusalem as the capital.
If you would like to know how this is possible, you would need to examine the policies of your typical Democrat in Congress. It was President Obama who said at an AIPAC conference before being elected that he was for an undivided Jerusalem, but later explained that what he meant was that he did not want to see a wall or a fence cutting the city in half.
So why are a majority of Jews in this country voting for people who spit in the face of an issue that, on some level at least, is very dear to a large number of Jews here in the U.S.? I believe it might be that we are just ill-informed or ignorant of these vital issues. Many are voting Democrat because their parents and grandparents voted for Democrats and it is just a tradition.
At the other end of the spectrum are members of the Jewish community who can split the way they think politically. They will say that they support President Trump on Israel, on the economy, on how he is handling Iran, and so on. But at the same time, these same people will tell you that they cannot bring themselves to vote for President Trump because they are troubled by some of his past — mostly personal — experiences.
I cannot help but wonder how it is that these same people are bemoaning Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss. Why aren’t they also saying that they could not bring themselves to vote for her because of some of the things in her past?
But what about the person you buy coffee from on the way to on the way to work? Do you know how they treat their spouse or their children or their parents? If the coffee is good and you like it and feel that you cannot start your day without it, do any of those things really matter? Perhaps it does to some, but not others.
To be clear, there are some fine Democrats in Congress. They are good thinkers, people of principle who are not simply or exclusively part of a power- and popularity-seeking machine.
Democratic voting Jews are being encouraged by campaigns such as those from Jexodus and RJC to leave the Democratic Party and vote for candidates who support what is best for Israel. We will see in 2020 what kind of impact or success they may have. Hopefully, it will make a difference.