Betting on the wrong horse

It was a risky gamble for Democrats.

They’ve just been branded the “anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish” party by the President of the United States (who ironically, up until recently at least, hasn’t had such a consistent record on distancing himself from bigotry either).

I guess the Dems probably saw that coming.

Assuming they felt that by categorically distancing themselves from anti-Israel & arguably-anti-Semitic rhetoric of their young firebrands, they’d risk angering their progressive base, so they chose to remain “pareve” on the issue instead.

However, they were undoubtedly aware of the flip-side, that the reverse would surely serve to fire up their opponent’s base. They also surely foresaw their move as a decisive step away from center and into more extreme-left territory.

Historically, centrist US politics offered bipartisan support for the Jewish State. Omar has challenged that paradigm.

Seems as though the Dems are wagering that she’s right. They are betting that the center is moving away from Israel. I question the prudence of that gamble.

A 2018 Gallup poll revealed that American support for Israel is at its highest since the early 1990’s with 74% of Americans having a favorable view of the Jewish State. Interestingly, 83% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats have favorable views of Israel. On the other hand, when asked whether one sympathizes more with Israel or Palestinians, only 49% of Democrats sympathized more with Israel compared to a whopping 90% of Republicans.

Clearly, Democrat leaders see declining sympathy for Israel among their ranks at less than 50%, so they opted to keep their Israel-averse base happy.

While that might preserve their own party’s status quo, it might not have been such a wise idea for 2020.

How do they see themselves appealing to a general population of Americans, 74% of whom view Israel favorably, when they are now easily identified as the “anti-Israel” party?

How do they propose to attempt to woo voters from across the aisle when a staggering 90% of Republicans are sympathetic toward Israel?

How do they imagine they’ll appeal to independent voters, 72% of whom view Israel favorably?

That’s a heck-of-a-lot of Americans with “foreign allegiances” (sic).

Omar’s remarks (and the Dems’ decision to tolerate them) sure remind me of Hillary’s “basket of deplorables” comment. Be careful before putting all your eggs into one basket. Remember that you might be effectively distancing a significant portion of the electorate by doing so!

I’m no gambler, but if the 2018 Gallup poll means anything, it sure seems like Dems are betting on the wrong horse (pun intended). Or they’re putting the cart before the horse. Perhaps it’s not too late for them to change horses midstream, but I wonder whether the horse is irretrievably out of the barn and galloping off in search of more Israel-friendly pastures. All horsing around aside, this Democratic decision seems like risky business indeed.

It’s a rough time for Jewish Democrats. I do not envy their precarious position in the party of Roosevelt.

Something’s got to give. Perhaps it’s time for a mass exodus of Jews to join me out here in center-field as independents. Shall we call it “Jexit?”

Independence is befitting for Jews anyhow. In Leviticus, the Torah instructs us to be independent.* Surely we ought to be free from codependency on any political party or human enterprise, especially from one that’s apparently throwing Israel under the bus in the name of progressiveness and political expediency.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to remind my Democratic representatives in Congress that 2020 is right around the corner.

I suspect that in 2020, they’ll come to regret their leadership’s ill-advised decision in hindsight.

But as they say, only hindsight is 2020.

Notes:
*  25:10 “וקראתם דרור בארץ לכל יושביה — Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the Inhabitants thereof,” also inscribed on the Liberty Bell in front of Independence Hall, Philadelphia, as an enduring motto of US independence. See also Leviticus 25:55 and Kidushin 22b: כי לי בני ישראל עבדים עבדי הם, ולא עבדים לעבדים — “the children of Israel are my servants,” and not servants of servants.

About the Author
Michoel Green loves teaching & writing. Ordained in NY, he has over twenty-five years experience in Jewish outreach & education. Formerly a rabbi in Poway, California and Brisbane, Australia, he currently directs the Chabad Center in Westborough, Massachusetts. A published author, he blogs and lectures widely on themes pertaining to Torah and contemporary thought, with special emphasis on the final Redemption and its unmistakable signposts in current times.
Comments