Tuesday, June 8, 2010

American Jews switching to the Republican Party?

            A blog watcher has directed me to "The Power Line" on several occasions, so I decided to subscribe.  Here is an interesting article suggesting that Obama is losing Jewish support, and that Jewish support for the Republican Party is on the rise: http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2010/06/026488.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+powerlineblog%2Flivefeed+%28Power+Line%29
            And here is another article (a symposium), a bit more ambivalent, entitled "Obama, Israel & American Jews: The Challenge -- A Symposium: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/viewarticle.cfm/obama--israel---american-jews--the-challenge-a-symposium-15449?page=all
            The responses of the 31 Jews in the symposium are illuminating, and I'm not going to do them justice with my brief comments; however I'll quote a bit and comment a bit anyway.  Consider this from Morris Amitay"What with all the other challenges Obama faced, who could foresee how quickly he would disparage Israel while moving toward the imposition of a U.S. plan? When the president linked the failure to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the loss of American “blood and treasure,” he stepped over the reddest of lines. Israel should not take the president’s growing hostility too personally, though; witness Obama’s demeaning treatment of other allies—none of whom, however, is threatened with genocide.         
            The president’s inept handling of foreign affairs is the result of a misguided worldview combined with an abysmal lack of experience and highlighted by his scant résumé. For political leaders to succeed in Washington, it is not necessarily about what they know, or even whom they know—but where they have been. In dealing with international issues, President Obama simply has not been there. And humility not being one of his strong points, Obama is displaying the arrogance of power by dealing harshly with friends while seeking favor from our enemies."
            Peter Berkowitz says,  "American Jews are predominantly progressive, and like President Obama, they largely subscribe to a progressive interpretation of world affairs. Unfortunately, the progressive assessment of Israel and of Middle East politics is based on a reckless illusion that thwarts worthy progressive goals and undermines vital American interests. 
            "The illusion is that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land is the root cause of instability, violence, and war in the region. If only Israel were to withdraw from the West Bank and ease restrictions on the Gaza Strip, then, progressives contend, a democratic and peaceful Palestinian state would emerge. This would placate restive Muslim populations throughout the Arab world and enable the international community to concentrate on other matters, including Iran.
            "The illusion prevents progressives from grasping what our allies in the region see clearly. Not only Israelis but also Sunni Arab states across the Middle East—from Kuwait, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia in the Gulf to Lebanon and Egypt along the Mediterranean—view the Islamic Republic of Iran’s sponsorship of Islamic extremism and pursuit of nuclear weapons as the chief threat to their interests and the great menace to the maintenance of international order.
            "The progressive illusion antedates Obama’s presidency. The learned and the political classes throughout the United States and Europe subscribe to it, the Arab press promulgates it, and the United Nations holds it as an article of faith. By affirming it through deliberate, public, and one-sided imposition of pressure on Israel to make concessions in advance of negotiations, the Obama administration has baffled and demoralized Israelis, pulled the rug out from under Palestinian moderates, lent legitimacy to the demonizers of Israel around the world, and given Iran a windfall of precious time to promote terror and develop nuclear weapons."
            COMMENT:  Not everyone in the symposium has utterly given up on Obama, but they all seem concerned about his direction in regard to Israel. 
            One needn't accept the idea that Islamism is a potent anti-Western ideology to be concerned about Israel's plight.  The "Islamist Threat" may be too theoretical for some, but Berkowitz draws attention to the very tangible threat coming from Iran, and the Jews of Israel aren't the only one's worried about it.  The Sunnis and Shiites have been killing each other for centuries, the former killing rather more than the latter.  Knowing this history, as they all do, many of the Sunnis are viewing Shiite Iran's growing strength with a good deal of apprehension.  Is all forgiven, as Khomeini once attempted to advance -- right before being attacked by the Sunni Saddam Hussein -- or will Iran's influence be turned inevitably against Sunni nations as well as Israel?  Berkowitz has taken his eyes off of Israel to look about him in the region -- something we should probably all do from time to time. 
            What does it all mean to American politics?  I thought the words of Jeff Jacoby a good summation: "To be sure, in 2012, Obama isn’t going to duplicate the 78 percent of Jewish votes he drew in 2008. But will American Jews turn away from him en masse? Don’t bet on it. 'F--- the Jews,' Obama’s advisers can tell him. 'They’ll vote for us anyway.'"

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