THESE OBAMA skeptics recall a similar time, 1973, when Israel also faced extermination. Prime minister Golda Meir had miscalculated Anwar Sadat’s willingness to go to war and decided against a first strike against Egypt. The Arab nations attacked in October 1973, and within days Israel was facing defeat.
The Israelis went to president Richard Nixon with a request for a massive infusion of arms. The Defense and State Departments squabbled. Our European allies, who feared an oil embargo (and would refuse us bases to refuel our planes), inveighed against it, and the Soviets blustered. Many on Nixon’s staff wanted to deny the request, or offer only token assistance. Don’t antagonize the Arab states, they counseled.
Nixon persisted and, according to some accounts, doubled the amount of aid Israel had requested. Riding herd on the bureaucrats, Nixon repeatedly intervened to push the transports along. Informed about a dispute regarding the type of air transportation, Nixon at one point exclaimed in frustration: “Tell them to send everything that can fly.” Over the course of a month US airplanes conducted 815 sorties with over 27,900 tons of materiel.
Israel was saved due to this massive infusion of military aid. Meir referred to Nixon with enormous affection for the rest of her life. Nixon, despised by many in the US, was hailed as a hero in Israel. And Nixon (who had garnered a minority of the Jewish vote in 1972) received little or no political benefit at home for his trouble, leaving office the following year.
-Jennifer Rubin, “Why more Jews won’t be voting Democrat this year”
16 thoughts on “Quote of the Day”
This Jew will not vote for John McCain. From all the polls I have seen, there will still be a large Jewish vote for Democrats…oddly, though Jews have done well in America, and usually under those circumstances, voters in such groups move to the GOP, this has not thus far been the case with Jews. The Jerusalem Post, very right of center, may be doing some wish fulfillment in that piece. I do know that a right of center Israeli blog I was a part of, continues to badmouth Obama and any and all Democrats. Again, the polls suggest that Jews will be mixed in their voting but support the Dems.Florida, and the elderly, will (for Jews) go to McCain, mostly.
Nobody ever accused Jewish voters of being smart.
No Republican will get much of the American Jewish vote no matter what he does. American Jews, with the odd exception, are left of center, and will vote for the Democrats. That is pretty close to being an Iron Law of American politics. They will come out in large numbers for Obama, for the same reason.
Also, the implication that American Jews should have had “gratitude” to Nixon for defending Israel is absurd. Nixon was always and still is a hate-figure on the American Left. His actual behavior is nothing in the face of the mythical monster. And, in any case, gratitude is not, never is, and cannot be a meaningful factor outside of person-to-person relations. It is not operative in politics, nor in business, where what you can do to me and for me, to help me or hurt me, today and tomorrow, are all that matters. This is all to the good. A perpetual invocation of some purported good conduct in the past is just as baseless, and even contemptible, as the perpetual invocation of past grievances.
Lex, I don’t think that anything you just wrote invalidates my initial comment.
And despite your constrained view of gratitude, I continue to feel gratitude toward Nixon. He saved Israel and his memory deserves to be honored for doing it. It’s no different from our honoring of Churchill (among others) for saving western civilization in 1940-45.
If other people don’t recognize or care about these facts it’s their problem.
Jews voted democrat, even after they made good, because for most of the 20th century the Democrats stood more for an open, merit based society (in the northeast where the Jews clustered) as compared to the Republicans who still relied on old boy networks and social exclusion. Republicans used to be less exclusionary towards Christians of various ethnic groups than they were towards the non-christian jews.
As this dynamic changes, Jewish loyalties can change. As the democrats fall deeper and deeper into victim identity politics, the economically successful jews become an obvious target for resentment. Anti-semitism is already rife among african-americans and it is spreading within academia. Eventually, the democrats will become nothing but blocks of feuding identity blocks eager to stigmatize the successful. As this becomes more and more prevalent, jews will abandon the democrats.
I predict that than an Obama presidency will see several anti-semitic scandals. He simply as to many people close to him who hold such views. When they occur, democrats will fill the media going to absurd extremes to justify the anti-semites just as the once defended Clinton. Jews will see this and migrate away from the democrats.
Since the 60’s we’ve been undergoing a cultural evolution wherein the right becomes more and more identified with meritocracy and the left more and more with identity. Jews know that they thrive under meritocracy and perish under identity politics. They will jump ship.
Our sense of fellow-feeling is in part one of gratitude. If we aren’t grateful for good deeds than we lack something as humans. This should be true in the Berlin airlift as well as the gratitude we can feel for a language and a tradition of law that enlarges our lives.
The power of The Lives of Other People is the example of loving kindness and fellow feeling expressed in small acts and in art that, first, the Stasi bureaucrat comes to understand as part of life from viewing the writer, and then, the writer, blocked and unable to write, finds, prompting him to write again again when he discovers the self-sacrifice and quiet heroism of the Stasi officer who has lost all to protect him. Clearly, both express gratitude for the other.
I don’t think we need to endlessly support British policies or continually repay France for Lafayette’s help. But if we don’t recognize that at an important moment they stood by us, then I think we are a lesser country than I think we are.
Shannon: From your keyboard to God’s modem. I hope you are correct, but it’s been decades since the Democrats embraced identity politics and since the Republicans stopped being a country club, and so far the evidence doesn’t support your hypothesis.
Ginny: Thanks. Your last paragraph puts it better than I did.
There is a lot of inertia in politics. It can take 30 years ( a generation and a half) or more before these changes sink into the electorate. However, it may only take one crystalizing event to trigger a cultural avalanche. For example, the abandoment of the Democratic party by middle-class whites in the south began not with the 1964 civil rights act but with the dirty trick of the Democrats in 1968 in not seating southern delegates at the convention.
I think one blatant anti-semitic act from a member of an Obama administration would trigger an landslide in jewish support.
“…I continue to feel gratitude toward Nixon…”
But that is neither a necessary nor sufficient basis to vote for a Republican for anything. It has no impact on your voting behavior. And someone who despised Nixon would not vote for the Democrats for that reason, either.
Gratitude to a political party is meaningless, anyway, since they are just bags of factions which morph over time seeking the political center so it can win elections. One of them is more likely to match your particular views over time more than the other, but that is because it exists to appeal to voters up to and just over the edge of the perceived center, and one of them will inevitably fit you better. That’s what it is there for.
“Jewish loyalties can change”
Shannon, I have a lot of Jewish friends, and I am finding that they are energized and excited about Obama. The liberal project of bringing Black people into the mainstream of American life has been a huge deal for American Jews for many years. Electing a Black president will be perceived as a huge liberal victory, without regard to whether he is marginally better for the security of Israel, which is an issue American Jews tend to be pacifistic about, anyway.
“They will jump ship.”
Not on this election. They will stay faithful Democrats.
“I don’t think we need to endlessly support British policies or continually repay France for Lafayette’s help. But if we don’t recognize that at an important moment they stood by us, then I think we are a lesser country than I think we are.”
Being aware of the history is one thing. But the “they” and the “us” changes over time. The Bourbon France of Lafayette’s day was composed of people who are all dead now, and who were very different from the “French” of today. A better way to look at this is to see that in recent decades the policies and interests of the USA and Britain, and to a lesser but still significant degree of France, have coincided. These countries have a shared stake in a particular kind of international order. We keep ending up being allies, despite lots of animosities and discord, because we do have deep, common interests. Trying to understand and articulate those is a more fruitful way to think about our shared efforts in the last century than any invocation of “gratitude” in politics, which is, bluntly, a weak hand to play. You can look at the same facts, analyze them from a different angle, and make much more effective arguments, if you appeal to rational self-interest.
“…one blatant anti-semitic act from a member of an Obama administration would trigger an landslide in jewish support.”
The soft bigotry of low expectations will cushion any such pronouncements as merely folk-expressions based on bad historical experiences, which the well-intentioned liberal Jewish person will want to overcome by even more efforts to be helpful and understanding.
In other words, anti-semitic acts from an Obama administration will lead only to more ardent support form Jews, to show their loyalty and the error of the anti-semitic comments.
Lex, you are correct about the Jewish Left’s likely reaction to anti-Jewish gaffes on the part of a Democratic administration. The liberal Jews will rationalize it away, or complain briefly and then forget about it. It will be like the feminists and Bill Clinton.
However, you continue to miss the point about the gratitude issue. The point is that Obama is not likely to be a reliable supporter of Israel and other small US allies, because he is personally weak, irresolute, has the wrong values, doesn’t understand the facts of geopolitical life, and generally cannot be counted on to make the right decisions in exigent circumstances. In these respects he resembles strongly George McGovern (though McGovern is, I think, a man of better character than is Obama). That’s the point of Rubin’s thought experiment: it’s unlikely that a President McGovern would have resupplied Israel or would have done so in a timely and effective way, as Nixon did. And it seems likely that a President McCain would make the right decisions in a similar situation, and that a President Obama would not. That’s why it’s important to remember Nixon. Too many American Jews are leftists before they are Jews, and really don’t care much about Israel except to the extent Israel fulfills their need to believe in a far-away country of exceptionally high official morality (needless to say, they are disappointed).
For Jewish voters to say, in effect, we will happily vote for George McGovern again, is to me shocking and symptomatic of a kind of political insanity.
I don’t miss the point about gratitude. Your further comments are a realistic political analysis, without any baggage about gratitude.
People, not just Jews, who support Israel, should probably vote for McCain for the reasons you enunciate. American Jews, whatever they profess to believe about Israel, will certainly vote very enthusiastically for Obama, in nearly universal numbers. “… a kind of political insanity …” That is a phrase that characterizes much Jewish political behavior, to this non-Jew’s way of thinking, for most of the 20th Century. Since I like my Jewish friends so much, I cannot find this fault endearing, since it is a form of suicidal insanity, by means of wishful thinking.
Appreciation comes from a strong sense of self and a certain courage, as well as respect. Spending an inrdinate amount of time with people from another small country has made me appreciate certain attitudes from our leaders. On the other hand, Chirac’s “now would be a good time to be quiet” and Kerry’s “coalition of the bribed” indicate an inappropriate pride; manners are not policy, but they are indictive of policy. And these signal a policy in one case that turned out to be quite happy to take oil-for-food money and in the other quite ready to slam our allies for partisan gain.
In case anyone is still reading this thread, as an American Jew, I want to confirm what Lexington Green and Jonathan say about Jewish voters. Nothing – not even renominating Jimmy Carter for president again (he’s still eligible!) – would reduce the Jewish vote for the Democratic presidential nominee below 60%. Due to Obama’s skill at telling people what they want to hear and the enthusiasm of the mindless young, Obama is likley to do quite a bit better than that with the Jewish vote this year.
I would note that, for most actively religious but non-Orthodox Jews, there is no conflict between being a good Jew and being a good leftist/Democrat. The liberal denominations of Judaism (including “Conservative” Judaism, from which one might once have expected more) have “reinterpreted” the moral teachings of Rabbinic Judaism to conform almost exactly to the dictates of the cultural left. Thus, for example, support for abortion rights is not just a position held by most Jews, but is put forward by Jewish organizations (excepting only the Orthodox and those focused exclusively on Israel) as an expression of Jewish “ethics.”
(Digression: Why this has occurred is an interesting question in cultural history for those, like myself, who see little basis for equating historic Jewish moral values with the contemporary left. I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that, when the walls of the ghettoes came down about 200 years ago, European Jews had no developed and living philosophical tradition of their own to draw upon.)
In any event, the Jewish identification with the left has nothing to do with the perceived self-interest of American Jews, and thus cannot be challenged by rational, fact-based arguments addressed to self-interest.
Israel presents a challenge for those who equate Judaism with a leftist view of the world. Obviously, the overwhelming majority of American Jews say they support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and to defend itself. However, non-Orthodox American Jews and their organizations increasingly identify with the Israeli far-left (represented by the Meretz Party and the more extreme parts of Labor), which sees every breakdown in the “peace process,” and nearly every flare-up of terrorism, as Israel’s fault. At best, “mainstream” American Jews and Jewish organization identify with the implicitly defeatist “centrist” Israeli politicians, like current PM Ehud Olmert and former PM Ehud Barak, whose main goal is to appease Western demands (such as those now being made by Condolezza Rice) that the Israeli-Arab conflict be seen as being placed on the road to a “solution,” no matter how clear it is that the Palestinians are not interested in any solution that leaves Israel intact as a Jewish-majority state. Once again, the non-Orthodox organizations that interpret Judaism for American Jews (few of whom have any significant Jewish knowledge of their own) not only can easily persuade their constituents that support for a “peace”-oriented Obama administration is not only consistent with being a loyal Jew, but will also suggest that such support is a demand of Judaism itself.
If you want verification of some of the foregoing, take a look at the Jewish Federation weekly newspaper in any metropolitan area with a large Jewish community.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, DJF.
Jennifer Rubin’s (no near relation) reasoned comments need one correction: Obama’s “passive resignation/indifference” is more accurately characterized by the psychiatrists’ phrase “passive aggressive.” Such individuals attach themselves to others whose ranting serves to express their own feelings, without having to own up to any visible hostility. Obama’s apparently down-to-earth speechmaking style reminds me of the care taken by Soviet Cold War operatives to lard their conversation with American slang, especially in conversations with press or U.S. intelligence personnel…
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