Click HERE to see Chairman Cox's op-ed as it appeared in the Long Island Jewish World (pdf).
While most ethno-religious groups have followed the rule that increasing prosperity leads to an increasing identification with the Republican Party, Jewish voters have been a reliable liberal vote for nearly a century; Democratic Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Clinton and Obama all won about 80% of the Jewish vote.
Yet Jewish Americans’ support for President Obama has declined from a high of 83% in 2009 to 54% this fall, and in the recent special election in New York’s 9th Congressional District, Republican Bob Turner split the Jewish vote with Jewish Democrat David Weprin, after winning endorsements from two Jewish Democrats, former Mayor Ed Koch and Assemblyman Dov Hikind, both of whom had also endorsed George W. Bush.
Obama’s treatment of Israel, Democrats’ support for social policies anathema to Jewish tradition and liberals’ desire to transform the American system suggest that Jewish interests are more closely aligned with the principles of the Republican Party.
Ed Koch made it clear that his support of a Republican was meant to send a message to the White House, and characterized the CD 9 race as a referendum on President Obama’s “throwing Israel under the bus.” Indeed, Obama has crafted the most anti-Israeli foreign policy of any President in decades; a recent Jerusalem Post/Smith Poll found that only 12% of Israelis consider Obama to be pro-Israel.
And this at a time when Israel faces its biggest threats since 1973: the growing strength of Hamas and Hezbollah; potential radical Islamist goverments, especially in Egypt, following the "Arab Spring;" a potentially nuclear armed Iran; and an alienated Turkey with an increasingly Islamist government looking for influence in the Arab world.
Obama has pursued his stated goal of putting “daylight” between the United States and Israel by proposing that Israel use the indefensible pre-1967 borders as a basis for negotiation, suggesting that a united Jerusalem is not a part of Israel, and urging Israel “to engage in serious self-reflection,” while making no such demands on the PLO or Hamas, a terrorist organization that denies Israel’s right to exist.
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House last year to repair relations after being chastised by Secretary Clinton over the phone, Obama snubbed him during a negotiating session, declaring, “I'm going to the residential wing to have dinner with Michelle and the girls." Netanyahu was denied the customary joint statement and photo op with the President and was summarily ushered out through a side door.
Prior to his endorsement of Republican Bob Turner, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a prominent Orthodox Jew who has endorsed Republicans including George Pataki, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Grimm, had declined to support fellow Democratic Assemblyman David Weprin after Weprin’s Assembly vote in favor of gay marriage.
While many practicing Jews believe that the teachings of Judaism tend towards political liberalism, Orthodox Jews, those who shape their lives around Jewish religious tradition, oppose the politically correct liberal positions on many social issues precisely because they conflict with Jewish law, which forbids homosexual relationships and permits abortion only to protect the life of the mother.
In the late 19th century, Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe called America “the Golden Land.” As Norm Podhoretz described in his seminal book, “Why Are Jews Liberals?,” the real fortune that awaited Jewish immigrants was the freedom and opportunity that has allowed Jews to prosper in America.
Yet liberals believe that our system, marred (as they would say) with economic, social, and political inequality, needs to be reformed, rejected, or otherwise apologized for. Conversely, conservatives recognize that the values of individual freedom, accountability, limited government, fiscal responsibility and local control have afforded Americans more freedom and prosperity than the world has ever seen.
Nowhere is American exceptionalism more evident than in the history of the Jews in America.
Yet many on the left, manifest in the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd, seek to roll back the freedoms that have allowed generations of Jewish immigrants to improve their standard of living in America.
Even the New York Times admitted that “anti-Semitic signs have been spotted” at “Occupy Wall Street” events, funded by liberal organizations including labor unions and “World Can’t Wait” and “Alliance for Global Justice.” One Zuccotti Park protestor held a sign that read, “Jews Control Wall Street,” and another was quoted as saying “the Zionist Jews…need to be run out of this country.” The Arab American Association held Muslim Friday prayers in Zuccotti Park to demonstrate solidarity with the protestors, who one week prior had received the endorsement of the American Nazi Party, which tweeted, “Our people have joined in many of the protests. #occupywallst.”
I have just returned from Israel, where I visited with the Executive Committee of Republicans Abroad in Israel (RAI), a large and active group whose efforts complimented our own in Bob Turner’s victory in the 9th Congressional District, after which Ed Koch cautioned that Democrats could no longer count on the Jewish vote. If Democrats and liberals continue to assail Israel, promote social policy contrary to Jewish law and attempt to remake the socioeconomic system that allowed Jews to flourish in America, Jewish Americans may in time find a new home with the Republican Party.
Ed Cox is the New York State Republican Party Chairman