Time for Jewish Voters to Wake Up

Within the minds of pollsters and pundits, an individual’s identity is of little consequence; each voter is viewed simply as a component of monolithic voting block that is identified by religion, ethnicity or a combination thereof. Whether analyzing election results or predicting them, the monolith theoreticians ascribe a candidate’s success or failure to “the Catholic vote”, “the Hispanic vote”, “the black vote”, the “evangelical vote” or any number of the other voting blocks they have identified.

To accept that voters cast their ballots according to the monolith in which they are placed is to deny that these voters think independently and have unique priorities. But to accept the monolith theory is to accept as reasonable, the idea that one person will have the same values and expectations as others simply because he or she shares an ethnic or religious background.

On the other hand, sometimes “monolithicist” theory is eerily close to being a precise reflection of actual election results. Such was the case in the 2008 presidential election. According to some pollsters, approximately 76% of “the Jewish vote” was cast for Obama. Even if that percentage is grossly optimistic, it begs the question of why any person of the Jewish faith would vote for a candidate who was clearly anti-Israel and supportive of Israel’s enemies.

The easy answer is that many Jews have had a long-time affiliation with the Democratic Party. That affiliation dates back decades, to a time when Republicans were often viewed (on some occasions with a fair amount of accuracy) as being anti-Semitic. Many Jews see themselves first and foremost as members of a faith that has been persecuted for thousands of years. As such, they have an affinity for, and feel a connection with, members of other minorities who have also been victims of prejudice.

The fault in that logic is the assumption that being a victim of persecution or discrimination forges a bond with other victims who are persecuted for unrelated reasons. It does not. The root of all discrimination is socio-economic difference. While the discriminator many identify race or religion as the objectionable aspect of a particular individual, his or her true antagonism arises from fear– fear that a person of a particular description is a threat to his or her social or economic status.

The stereotypical attributes of one monolithic group rarely have much in common with those of another. Consequently, one group may fear and disdain another as much—or more—than the general non-monolithic population. That’s a concept that Jewish voters must accept, and any doubters need look no further than Obama’s latest assault on Israel. Here we have a Democrat, who was overwhelmingly supported by Jewish voters, putting forth a proposal that is not merely harmful, but potentially devastating to Israel.

Some liberals do understand that Obama’s proposal, which calls for Israel to surrender all of the areas captured in its war of 1967, (except for land swaps) will erode the Jewish monolith. Whether they truly care about Israel, or are simply posturing to minimize the effects of a backlash is another matter entirely. Ed Koch, former mayor of New York City is one long-standing Democrat who gets it. Koch has stated he’s ready to break with his party in the next presidential election as a result of Obama’s Middle East policies.

New York senator Chuck Schumer also gets it. He has been critical of Obama’s position on Middle East affairs in the past. A staunch supporter of Israel, Schumer, like many Democrats is now between the proverbial rock and a hard place. If he backs Obama’s latest plan, he loses the support of New York’s Jewish voters; if he objects to Obama’s latest foot-in-mouth escapade, he risks repercussions within his own party. (Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.) Although Schumer has been openly critical of Obama’s Middle East agenda in the past, he has yet to make a statement about the administration’s most recent proposal.

That may bring Schumer’s primary allegiance into question, but there’s no doubt as to Obama’s. This isn’t the first time he has thrown Israel, and consequently Jewish voters under the bus and it won’t be the last. Voters of all faiths should remember that in 2012. In abandoning Israel, Obama has turned his back on yet another ally. How many more can we afford to lose?