There has been a ton of talk and ink spilled blasting Obama on his horrendous approach to the Middle East in general as well as his not so good relationship with the State of Israel. It was particularly highlighted by the recent article by Michael Oren in the Wall Street Journal, titled “How Obama abandoned Israel“. As an active member of the Republican Party locally here in Michigan, I get asked all the time the following question, “We are much more pro-Israel than the Democratic Party, how come Jews don’t vote for us?” It seems like a really easy question. Of course, the answer is not as easy. While I firmly believe Israel’s security is crucial to the world and American interests, it is not the only issue that Jewish voters look at.
The Jewish vote is made up of 5000 years of wandering, persecution, education, history, up, downs and everywhere in between. Even the most Reform Jew, still upholds certain Torah virtues. In particular, care for the stranger as you were once strangers in Egypt. This value is applied most notably in American voting to social issues. Even the most Republican voter still has a part that wants the government to ensure that the truly vulnerable in society do not fall through the cracks.
When dealing with Israel as a voting issue, please keep in mind that it is exactly that, one voting issue. Unless something catastrophic is done to the state by one party, the Jewish vote will view it as a 60/40 for the Republican Party. Also note, that the US Congress and Senate have always been pro-Israel and do not play games with it’s security.
But the Israel topic takes a weird turn for Evangelical Christian Republicans. The reason the question about why Jews vote Democrat bothers them so much is because, many of the evangelical voters are one topic voters. The easiest example of this is abortion. They will not vote for a candidate who is not strictly Pro-Life. This itself is something that is very different for Jews, since Tanach itself is filled with gray. They cannot fathom any person who doesn’t hold the same strict views with Israel.
Further complicating the matter more is that most American Jews view themselves as American. For example, my grandfather earned a purple heart in the Philippines serving in MacArthur’s army during WWII. He was was born in Chicago, Illinois. My other grandfather came to the United States and made money owning a beauty supply store. My point is that while my love for Israel is deep, my love for the United States is at least equally is deep in different ways. This country has afforded my family opportunity and escape from Europe as well succeed as equal citizens the same as everyone else, but keep my religion. I don’t think I am unique at all this regard.
Does Israel matter to American Jews, Yes; But not always from a voting stand point.