Opinion: The GOP Field Supports Israel, Will American Jews Finally Listen?

Saturday, December 10, 2011 - 12:18 PM

Pro-Israeli protesters outside the United Nations in Manhattan. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

For reasons unknown, President Obama celebrated Chanukah two weeks early at the White House Thursday.

Instead of lighting one candle, the president lit all of them as if Chanukah is celebrating its 9th birthday and proceeded to tell the crowd "we never need an excuse for a good party."  Perhaps the president could have found another reason to party on December 8th rather than one of the more important Jewish holidays but, well, it's not like too many Jews are going to call him on it.

It's become something of a tradition for Jews to vote Democrat - and Jews do love their traditions.  Even for this Democrat, Barack Obama, who has been completely disrespectful of Israel, spent a decade listening to an anti-Semitic pastor and jokingly tramples over a celebration of Jewish endurance celebrated at Chanukah, he'll still probably receive a majority of the Jewish vote.

What's interesting is that even with no hope at getting the Jewish vote, conservative candidates stand with Israel consistently and fully.  As I've written on this site before, the reasons for that are clear:

"I'm willing to believe I have some bias toward Israel, but the fact that I'm Jewish and it is the Jewish homeland is secondary to the true reasons I favor Israel. I'm biased toward Israel because it is the only democracy, the only free country, the only healthy, functioning culture in the Middle East.

It is the only place where women have full rights, where religious Jews, secular Jews, Christians, Muslims and atheists live side-by-side and enjoy all the same freedoms and privileges as each other.

It's the only Middle Eastern country where gay people live openly, unafraid of being shunned or killed. It is a land where free speech is encouraged, protest isn't squashed and life is valued. In short, it shares the ideals and values which we treasure in America."

Yet American Jews follow their tradition of voting for Democrats even against their own interests.  This week the Republican Jewish Coalition held a forum where most of the Republican presidential candidates were invited to speak (Ron Paul was not invited).  All of their comments were uniformly pro-Israel, promising support to a country whose very existence is frequently under attack.  Will American Jews listen?

Born in the Soviet Union and raised in Brooklyn, Karol Markowicz is a public relations consultant in NYC and a veteran of Republican campaigns in four states. She blogs about politics at Alarming News and about life in the city with her husband and baby at 212 Baby. She can be followed on Twitter.


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Comments [11]

The Right gives Israel Carte Blanche... This is not the same as supporting Israel. Allowing a friend to do things ultimately detrimental to its own self-interest is hardly supportive. President Obama, many Jewish American Democrats, and Israelis on the left of the political spectrum staunchly support Israel, but know that Israel's salvation lies in peace with its neighbors.

Dec. 27 2011 05:22 PM
Marcello from Brooklyn

For anybody interested in an intelligent article about Israel and their relationship to both the Palestinians and the US, here is one. One that doesn't have to throw in mud at President Obama.
By the way, written by a Jew...

Dec. 15 2011 09:29 PM
Jeffrey toplin from NYC

So many comments seem to infantalize
Israel and Palistine.The Peoples there know more than we do about them.Let them make peace on thier own without US intervention. Do we believe that Republicans in America really care about
Jews? Do they really care about Islamic
peoples ? As an American of Jewish heritage I can see and hear the propaganda. I am tired of all right wing politicians and war mongers from any place who just want my vote by trying to use us. To try to appeal to Likud in Israel is foolish. There are better people there who prefer peace and harmony.Maybe we might find some here too if we look. RJA does not represent ME!!!!!

Dec. 15 2011 05:52 PM
Nick from NJ

"I would say a majority of ALL Jews want peace in Israel, including Netanyahu."

I would say they don't!! The Israelis want to expell the Palestinians from their homes, so no that is not wanting peace. Especially not him (Netanyahu)!! He is engaged in a military occupation of his own country. He makes references to war with Iran. He in no way wants peace, is an upstart, a liar, a bamboozler, and possibly the most dangerous person on this planet. Specifically, if he somehow gets his wish of going to a real, all out, War with Iran, he will turn this world into a dimension of Hell.

The Palestinians are by no means perfect, but Israel has got to DO something, instead of placating and yapping about it, just to turn around and drop bombs in Gaza. That is not peaceful in any way, shape, or form.

Dec. 14 2011 08:34 PM
brad from New York

The idea that Republicans support Israel is INSANE. They support the far right government of Israel and the far right parties of Israel.

None of what they believe is in the long term interest of Israel and it's people. Thomas Friedman lays it out perfectly in the Times today.

Dec. 14 2011 09:19 AM

The notion that the President is somehow anti-Jewish or anti-semitic for holding a Hanukkah celebration early is a little much. Setting aside the fact that the President's first Chief of Staff and lead campaign advisor are strongly identified Jews, it's simply unrealistic to fault the President of the United States for holding a symbolic celebration prior to an actual evening of the holiday. The man has a busy schedule and competing priorities.

KM, please take a moment to research the history of past Hanukkah celebrations at the White House. You may be surprised to find many stories of actual gaffes related to the celebration, including a few by the most recent Republican President.

One day, the right may succeed in convincing Jews that Israel's needs can only be satisfied by the likes of Rick Santorum. Should that day come, don't be surprised if the majority of the Jewish community sides with civil rights and common sense over the supposed needs of the Jewish state.

Dec. 12 2011 12:54 PM
Karol from NYC

I would say a majority of ALL Jews want peace in Israel, including Netanyahu. Can you say the same for Palestinians?

Dec. 12 2011 12:42 PM
Nick from Apartied Free NJ

JP is 100% correct. Also, linking to your own article about "the disrespect of Israel" is pretty terrible as far as supporting your argument. That is the Republican problem.

1. You guys treat all Jews as War Mongering Likudists, which they most definately are not. I would say a majority of American Jews want peace in Israel. Moreso than Netanyahu.

2. Obama is quite good in handling Netanyahu. He and the ruling Likud party are a problem on the international scene. Netanyahu often lies and goes back on his word, making peace talks impossible.

3. Israel is currently practicing an Aparteid style rule in their country. This makes support for them very difficult, no matter what your religion is! If they ended the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and had a more democratic government, I think more people would support them, especially American Jewish families.

Dec. 11 2011 11:10 PM
JP from Westchester County, NY

American Jews are not single-issue voters...

Dec. 11 2011 01:23 PM

Israel can suck it.

Dec. 11 2011 09:51 AM
Ralph from Mahopac, NY

The GOP Jewish Coalition was a farce where the candidates tried to out-pander each other. Are they really going to attack Iran to protect Israel? Are they really going to move the embassy to Jerusalem and so end all future peace talks and negotiations with the Palestinians? Does Newt really think that Palestinians are an invented people derived from the Ottoman Empire, but Israel, derived from a UN mandate is legit? Big talk, but really trying to get Netayhu to negotiate like Obama has been trying to do - that's anti-Israel.

Dec. 10 2011 09:34 PM

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