President Truman holds the Torah presented to him by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, the first president of Israel, May 25, 1948 (Photo: Bettmann Corbis)
Why are American Jews abandoning the Obama administration in such large ways lately? Following the news this year, you would never know that over 800 rockets and mortars were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip? The WSJ weighed in yesterday with two op-eds on Israel. This first excerpt is from one entitled, Israel Under Fire:
If this incoming fire were landing in Texas from Mexico—or in southern Spain from North Africa—it would be a major story. Instead, the world has largely ignored the attacks while obsessing over a possible Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran is a principal arms supplier to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which operates out of Gaza and is responsible for many of the recent attacks. Iran’s war against Israel, in other words, has long been underway.
Could it be that President Obama simply does not care? That is my position. But hey, I’m not Jewish and I’m not the POTUS, so my opinion doesn’t really matter much at all. But a prominent Jewish American’s opinion matters. For those who don’t know this fact, Sheldon Adelson was a major contributor to the Gingrich campaign and later to Romney for their policy positions on the state of Israel. Mr. Adelson penned a great opinion piece in the Journal entitled, I Didn’t Leave the Democrats. They Left Me — Excerpts:
When members of the Democratic Party booed the inclusion of God and Jerusalem in their party platform this year, I thought of my parents.
They would have been astounded.
So why did I leave the party?
My critics nowadays like to claim it’s because I got wealthy or because I didn’t want to pay taxes or because of some other conservative caricature. No, the truth is the Democratic Party has changed in ways that no longer fit with someone of my upbringing.
One obvious example is the party’s new attitude toward Israel. A sobering Gallup poll from last March asked: “Are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinians?” Barely 53% of Democrats chose Israel, the sole liberal democracy in the region. By contrast, an overwhelming 78% of Republicans sympathized with Israel.
Nowhere was this change in Democratic sympathies more evident than in the chilling reaction on the floor of the Democratic convention in September when the question of Israel’s capital came up for a vote. Anyone who witnessed the delegates’ angry screaming and fist-shaking could see that far more is going on in the Democratic Party than mere opposition to citing Jerusalem in their platform. There is now a visceral anti-Israel movement among rank-and-file Democrats, a disturbing development that my parents’ generation would not have ignored.
President Truman holds the Torah presented to him by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, the first president of Israel, May 25, 1948.
Another troubling change is that Democrats seem to have moved away from the immigrant values of my old neighborhood—in particular, individual charity and neighborliness. After studying tax data from the IRS, the nonpartisan Chronicle of Philanthropy recently reported that states that vote Republican are now far more generous to charities than those voting Democratic. In 2008, the seven least-generous states all voted for President Obama. My father, who kept a charity box for the poor in our house, would have frowned on this fact about modern Democrats.
Take, for example, President Obama’s adopted home state. In October, a nonpartisan study of Illinois’s finances by the State Budget Crisis Task Force offered painful evidence that liberal Illinois is suffering from abject economic, demographic and social decline. With the worst credit rating in the country, and with the second-biggest public debt per capita, the Prairie State “has been doing back flips on a high wire, without a net,” according to the report.
Political scientist Walter Russell Mead summed up the sad results of these findings at The American Interest: “Illinois politicians, including the present president of the United States, have wrecked one of the country’s potentially most prosperous and dynamic states, condemned millions of poor children to substandard education, failed to maintain vital infrastructure, choked business development and growth through unsustainable tax and regulatory policies—and still failed to appease the demands of the public sector unions and fee-seeking Wall Street crony capitalists who make billions off the state’s distress.”
At times, it seems almost as if President Obama wants to impose the failed Illinois model on the whole country. Each year of his presidency has produced unsustainable deficits, and he takes no responsibility for his spending.
Whenever President Obama deplores the wealthy (“fat-cat bankers,” “millionaires and billionaires,” “at a certain point you’ve made enough money,” and so on), it tells me that he has failed to learn the economic lessons of Illinois, and that he still doesn’t understand the vital role entrepreneurs play in creating jobs in our society.
As a person who has been able to rise from poverty to affluence, and who has created jobs and work benefits for tens of thousands of families, I feel obligated to speak up and support the American ideals I grew up with—charity, self-reliance, accountability. These are the age-old virtues that help make our communities prosperous. Yet, sadly, the Democratic Party no longer seems to value them as it once did. That’s why I switched parties, and why I’m now giving amply to Republicans.
Although I don’t agree with every Republican position—I’m liberal on several social issues—there is enough common cause with the party for me to know I’ve made the right choice.
It’s the choice that, I believe, my old immigrant Jewish neighbors would have made. They would not have let a few disagreements with Republicans void the importance of siding with the political party that better supports liberal democracies like Israel, the party that better exemplifies the spirit of charity, and the party with economic policies that would certainly be better for those Americans now looking for work.
The Democratic Party just isn’t what it used to be.
American Values: “In God We Trust” — “Liberty” — “E Pluribus Unum”
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