Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why American Jews are Democrats. An Answer? Perhaps.

Originally posted by Maggie at Maggie's Notebook

I somewhat frequently ask why American Jews vote Democrat. It has been a puzzle for years, and after 9/11, there seemed to be some hope that the Jewish vote would lean to the conservative side. It was a shortsighted, and perhaps naive hope.

I was perusing the posts over at Instapundit last night and found a piece by Ellen W. Horowitz - Justifying and Deconstructing Hagee and Ourselves. Ms. Horowitz characterizes Pastor John Hagee's recent and controversial "rhetoric" as the

...magnanimous political, humanitarian, and even theological support that the Jewish state is receiving from Pastor Hagee and the American evangelical community.
as well as attributing Hagee as "a well-intentioned, very generous and determined philo-Semite," but goes on to say:
That being said, we Jews need to remain vigilant because it is an historic truism that philo-Semitism can be a mere hair away from anti-Semitism, and when the church and Christians make sweeping and bold moves towards reconciliation – and Jews reciprocate in turn - sometimes things can go terribly wrong. So the Talmudic formula of “respecting and suspecting” would seem to be the wise approach.
I must admit that I Googled around for the definition of "philo-semite." Wikipedia says:
Philo-Semitism or Philosemitism, is an interest in, respect for, and appreciation of the Jewish people, their historical significance and the positive impacts of Judaism in the history of the western world, in particular. Within the Jewish community it also includes the significance of Jewish culture and the love of everything Jewish. The word is not new, but it has recently (ca. 2000) become a significantly growing phenomenon in the modern world. It is characterized (among other things) by an interest in Jewish culture and history, as well as increasing university enrollment by non-Jews in courses relating to Judaism (including Judaism, Hebrew and Jewish languages)[citation needed]. A Philosemite is one who substantially subscribes to, or practices, any of the above.

Philo-Semitism has been the subject of a series of books and journal articles (see partial listing below). The rise of philo-Semitism has been met by a mixed response among world Jewry. Some warmly welcome it and argue that it must lead Jews to reconsider their identity. This viewpoint has been expressed by the leading liberal Jewish publication The Forward (Editorial, 10 November 2000):

Others reject philo-Semitism, as they feel it (like its apparent opposite anti-Semitism) implicitly gives a special status to Jews. This contradicts the traditional goal of Zionism to make Jewry "a nation among nations." Daniel Goldhagen, Harvard scholar and author of the controversial Hitler's Willing Executioners, argues that philo-Semites are often closet anti-Semites. His detractor Norman Finkelstein agrees. The thesis is that Jew haters feel a need to talk about Jews, and with anti-Semitism no longer being socially acceptable they must instead make exaggerated positive statements. understanding that supporting Israel can be either a good thing or a bad thing (???), what really caught my attention was the back-and-forth bantering of two commenters - two Jewish gentlemen - regarding Christian proselytizing or "missionizing," and the monies that may flow to the Holyland from Christian organizations, specifically John Hagee's Christians United for Israel (CUFI). One of the commenters views this as "Zionist Christian support" and wants no part of it:
...we can live without their donations some of which I am convinced go towards missionizing, directly or indirectly.
This commenter (the one not wanting Christian support) mentions a book written by "a sort of relation," A Match Made in Heaven by Zev Chafets. In reading through an interesting review of this book, there's this:
“Jews are Democrats, Israelis are Republicans.”
Okay. Now I'm beginning to "get it." American Jews vote Democrat because their American friends (or not) attempt to bring their Jewish friends to Jesus. It makes more sense than the explanation I usually get: American Jews vote Democrat because "American Jews have ALWAYS voted Democrat and ALWAYS will." That's not much of an answer considering today's ever-present Islamic threat to annihilate Israel. Most of us could, rather quickly, get-over an old and harmful habit, when faced with extinction, but perhaps it is just easier to spite Christian "persecution" and pull the lever for a Democrat.

After a long, long time digesting this Instapundit post, I'm wondering if it is actually possible, in this day and time, that American Jews are simply frustrated at, or angry about, Christians attempting to convert them? And so they vote Democrat?

If this still isn't making a point with you, voting Democrat supports Islam. Voting Democrat supports Hamas, voting Democrat supports Syria, voting Democrat supports Iran (Speaker Pelosi claims that some of the success of the Iraq surge "is the goodwill of the Iranians - they decided when the fighting in Basra would end..."), voting Democrat supports the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision granting Constitutional rights to terrorists (in this case, Islamic terrorists) - who may have been complicit in bringing down the World Trade Towers, and if not complicit, would have been if they could have been. Voting Democrat demands that America remain tied to middle-eastern oil ($$$ flowing to Islamic countries - not comforting to those Republican-thinking Israeli's, I think). Did I mention that voting Democrat supports Hamas?

Do Jews ever attempt to tell their Christian friends that the Messiah has not yet come? Of course they do. I'm not angry about it, though.

The Horowitz piece, and the comments, are far more intricate than my focus in this post. To be clear, one commenter points out: "Jews and Israel need help now and Christian evangelicals are giving that help now. Jews should be embracing these Christian evangelicals. That does not mean embracing Christianity." Author and commenters: well-worth the read - please do read them.

Others talking about the Jewish view of John Hagee and Christians United for Israel:
Daniel Pipes: John Hagee, the Holocaust and Me: Thinking About Allies
Anglicans for Israel - The Rise of CUFI,
Jews on First: Leader of Reform Judiasm Discourages Cooperation with Christians United for Israel

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,


  1. You bring up some interesting points Maggie. But something I didn't find in your post or the other posts you point out is, the American Jewish community is pretty much a "colectivist community". Let's be honest here. American Jews funded the Bolshevik Communist Revolution, that over-threw Christian Czarist Russia.

    Sure American Jews love Israel,and most of them hold dual citizenships with the country. But they don't love it, in a way thats almost cult like, like Hagee and a lot of Evangelicals do.

    And I will be the first to say, I pray for their conversion to Christianity. Tell me one Catholic who doesn't. But if you talk to most Evangelicals, they will tell you that they don't do that anymore. And of course, "they are Gods chosen people" gets tossed out. Which just shows me that they truly don't believe in the New Covenant that Christ Jesus brought.

    Thats all I really have to say, I won't get into the whole "Democrats support so,and so". Thats a bit childish. And no, I'm not a Socialists or Anti-Semite or any other moronic terms you might feel like pinning to me.

  2. Excellent article Maggie and the question of why American Jews overwhelming vote Democratic should concern every conservative. In addition to Jewish fears and suspicions about Christian motives to support Israel, and Jewish repulsion to well-meaning Christian attempts at conversion, there are a number of other reasons why American Jews don’t vote conservative.

    1. The great majority of American Jews live in New York City and folks are naturally more liberal in New York.
    2. A large number of American Jews are Jewish in name only, are agnostic, so they don’t practice their Jewish faith. They are no more interested in the fate of Israel than the average non-Jewish American.
    3. Groups that have been historically targeted minorities such as Blacks and Jews tend to be more communal in outlook and experience. Communalism resonates with the socialist left and eschews the “rugged individualism” of most conservative Americans.
    4. American Jews are more highly educated than the average population and their left-coast educations reflect that liberal bias.
    5. Jews tend to be highly suspicious of right-wingers and think of racists like David Duke when they see the word “conservative.” They easily dismiss anti-Semites on the left like Louis Farrakhan because they actually believe that his ilk represents a small minority within the Democratic party.

  3. Traditional Judaism has been dissolving for quite awhile. If not for the insistent militarism of the Middle East, the same thing would happen with American Muslims. That being said, many American Jews do not consider themselves targeted by Hamas, Al Quaida, jihadists and others because they don't actively practice their faith. Those who do, frequently avoid politics. It's almost like whistling in the dark with the assumption that a mere gesture will keep away the bogey men. What is reality is that in at least one instance on the Achille Lauro, Americans of Jewish descent were specifically targeted and with the danger of cells existing here the renewed anti-Semitic activity in Europe and rising Muslim population perhaps the liberalism of the ethnically Jewish people will be challenged. But then remember, many Jews refused to see the danger in the rise in German nationalism prior to WWII-and that turned out badly.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. This blind Jewish support of the left also puzzled me. Back in 2006 in my article If Hitler ran as a Democrat Jews would vote for him I noted that Jews voted for a Muslim Congressman and against a Republican Jew. Some of it might be Jewish cowardice hoping that Muslims would take note of the act and spare Jews when it comes time for the next Holocaust which of course will not spare any non-Muslim.

    BTW, I am an Atheist Jew who is profoundly pro-Israel. I know many very-very religious Jews who are opposed to the State of Israel. Belief in God does not signify how one feels about Israel.

  6. RegularRon,
    You also have some interesting points here, and I would never call you a Socialist or Anti-Semite from anything you have written here.

    I think your point about Hagee and Evangelicals is spot-on.

    I pray for everyone to have a heart that is accepted by God. I am stunned that Evangelicals express a lack of prayer for any human being, AND have no belief in "God's chosen people." I know many, many Evangelicals and have never heard this.

    I do not think it is childish to examine why anyone supports liberal or conservative issues. We must do this. We are in the throes of electing the leader of our country, as well as of the Free World.

    To not think about it is to deny 9/11, in my opinion.

    Maggie's Notebook

  7. ellen k,
    I think your observations are quite correct.

    I posted on the Achille Lauro last year and it is often googled and visited. It is surprising so many years after that horrific murder.

    Maggie's Notebook

  8. Bernie, when I read The Chosen - that was my first awareness of Jews against a "State." It was fascinating and answered a few questions for me, at that time, long ago.

    You are so right that a belief in God is not an indicator of support for Israel...or standing up for what is right, what is human decency, what is not brutal and inhumane.

    Islam - at least the Islam that the non-Muslim countries see, should be the driving force for support of any Democracy.

    In my opinion, we do not see that support from American Jews at our ballot boxes.

    Maggie's Notebook