American Jews and the Democrats: A Fragile Relationship
As I have written about before, I was raised in a house full of Democrats. My father was well know for beginning a political judgment with the phrase “Right thinking people know that ….” and then express his opinion on the subject at hand. He was a good man, my father, but he had his opinions and in his own words, “Even when I’m wrong, I’m right.”
So I was brought up to believe that the Democrats were the good guys and the Republicans? Well, not so much.
American Jews today are facing a growing quandary. How to continue to support the Democrats, when they are increasingly showing anti-Semitic bias? When Democrat Congresswoman from Minnesota Ilhan Omar declared that American Jews suffer from what she called “dual loyalty” because they support the state of Israel, she was not censured for her remark, even though she herself could be accused of the same thing, given her outspoken support for what she calls “Palestine”.
And when she charged fellow Congressmen, the Jewish ones, with financially supporting the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, (“It’s all about the Benjamins, baby”), the House began to craft a bill against anti-Semitism. It began with good intentions, but by the time it was brought to the floor for a vote, it had added bias against “African-Americans, Native Americans, and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and immigrants.” It was a total evasion, because it didn’t address the core issue.
This was not about a general anti-victim, feel good bill. It began as a targeted attack, against Jews, by a Muslim, speaking in her official capacity as a Member of Congress. What she said was reprehensible, and what they did was equally reprehensible, because it completely ignored the issue at hand: that a Member of Congress had used traditional anti-Semitic language against American Jews. The fact that Omar is a Muslim is not incidental, it is central to the issue. Yet the bill created a false equivalency that made it irrelevant.
There is a war going on in this world. For reasons that continue to defy me, the majority of the Muslim world, now nearly two billion strong, is uniformly anti-Semitic, even though the Jews in the world number less than fifteen million. How could the larger Muslim population possibly consider Jews to be a threat? How could they be worth worrying about at all? And yet, here we are, talking about Muslim anti-Semitism in the U.S. Congress!
Historically, Jews still sing the praises of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, although he sent a shipload of 937 Jewish men, women, and children, all refugees who were fleeing from the Nazis, back to Europe, where many of them died in the Nazi death camps. He also left many thousands of Jews to die, when he refused to bomb the rail lines that carried cattle cars jammed with Jews to the concentration camps.
Yet liberal American Jews despise the memory of Ronald Reagan, who helped to free 3,000,000 Soviet Jews from the Kremlin’s anti-Semitic, domestic policies to freedom in Israel and the United States.
American Jews have also failed to recognize that it was the Democrat party, even the one I grew up loving, which was responsible for segregation in the post-War South, for the Jim Crow laws, for the Ku Klux Klan, and for all the resistance to integration that occurred after the civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed.
And, oh by the way, their favorite President of all time was Barack Obama, who called for Israel’s return to the dangerous and unsustainable boundaries of 1967. And who, in 2016, during the run-up to the national elections in Israel, funneled $350,000 to a group called One Voice Movement, whose mission was to interfere in the elections, in order to defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom Obama openly hated and tried to humiliate more than once.
The Democrats were more than willing to go after Donald Trump over false allegations relating to election interference, but no one in Obama’s administration was ever held accountable for interfering in Israel’s election.
Unlike Obama, President Trump has demonstrated his support for Israel in many ways, not the least of which was to keep his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move our embassy there. Through his appointment of Nikki Haley as UN Ambassador, he put a strong and definitive voice to stand up for Israel in a body that regularly voted solidly against the tiny state. Yet, despite all this, the Jews have not, by and large, supported Trump.
And there’s just one more thing: the love of Jewish Americans for Martin Luther King Jr. is legendary, but no one seems to remember that King was a Republican.
In 2017, the last year for which the numbers have been fully analyzed, the FBI reported that the overall rate of hate crimes in the U.S. rose by 17%. Some 900 of those were attacks against Jews. That represented almost 60% of all religion-based hate crimes, which rose by 37% over the previous year. On the other hand, according to the report, anti-Muslim hate crimes fell by 13 percent, to 273 or less than 20% of the religion-based hate crimes for the year.
The growing anti-Semitism in America are an indication that we are facing a future of very un-American crime against a small, but significant portion of our population.
So Jewish Americans face a quandary. Jews have been consistently and resoundingly Democrats for generations. In recent years, as much as 74% of America’s Jews have backed the Democrat party. And now, it seems, the Democrats are turning their backs on this small slice of loyal supporters.
So American Jews have some difficult choices to make. How can they leave the Democrats, to whom they have been so loyal for so long? But, on the other hand, how can they continue to support them when the Democrats are turning a blind eye to the growing anti-Semitism springing up around the country and even in Congress?
To those of us who have attempted to learn from history, the answer is clear. We only need to look back at the rise of the National Socialist Party in Germany – the Nazis – in the 1930s to see where this might lead.
To the statement, “It can’t happen here”, the only answer is that the Jews of Europe said that too.