I get asked this question from time to time, usually from conservative Christians who want to be friends with Israel, and don’t understand why American Jews aren’t friendly to them in return. There are also those cases where it seems that some of Israel’s worst enemies are from the Jewish community itself (e.g., George Soros, Noam Chomsky, Neturei Karta). Finally, I have heard some declare that reform/liberal Judaism is little more than a front for the Democratic Party; one wag called those congregations “Democrats with holidays.”
Fortunately, I have not run into liberal Jews as often as I should have, considering that Florida has the second largest Jewish community in the United States. Most of my Jewish friends have been right-of-center politically. For instance, the closest synagogue to my Orlando home belonged to Chabad Lubavitch, definitely not a liberal sect. If I happened to drive near it on a Saturday, I stood a good chance of seeing the rabbi and his family walking outside, and I would give them a friendly beep of my car horn. Twice I visited there, and I must admit I felt more at home there than in any other synagogue, even the one that used my church’s building for services in the 1980s. And then there are websites like Jewish World Review and Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s Toward Tradition, which tell the world that the “Religious Right” is not for Christians only.
Still, it perplexes me that so many Jews continue to vote Democratic and support liberal causes. I’m old enough to remember when Zionism was considered a liberal political cause, but with anti-Semitic groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Neo-Nazis all but extinct in modern-day America, being pro-Israel has now become the conservative thing to do, while most of today’s anti-Semites, like Cynthia McKinney, are on the left end of the political spectrum, not the right. And not just me; in 2005 Julia Gorin, a Jewish columnist, wrote a piece called Dumb Jews, where she questioned the intelligence of Jews like the ADL’s Abraham Foxman, who seems determined to alienate the one group that still wants to be friends with the Jews, evangelical Christians, because he sees Christianity as more dangerous than Islam. Well, somebody had to do it; if a goy like me wrote an article with a title like that, I’d be called an anti-Semite for sure.
Today on FreeRepublic.com, I happened to find a conversation concerning a statement Bill O’Reilly made, where he declared that liberal Jews are the last major constituency that still reads big-city newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post. Well, there the question also came up: “In this day and age, why are there any liberal Jews?” A Jewish “Freeper” named Alexander Rubin gave the best answer to the question I have heard yet. Quote:
1. Jews generally live long. A lot of the original FDR voters are still around, and unsurprisingly, still vote democrat, thinking its still 1933.
2. We’re damn stubborn. In fact, the only description of Jews in the Book is that we are “stiffnecked”.
3. Commitment to social justice, combined with a confusion of social justice and socialism. Hence the saying that Jewish Americans earn like Japanese and vote like Puerto Ricans.
4. Emphasis on education. And we all know universities are liberal indoctrination grounds. Although the impact seems to be weakening. Particularly for Jews, who have come under attack for supporting Israel and faith.
5. Respect for elders. Seriously, this is a big one. Older members of the family can sway people considerably.
6. Faith has weakened for Reform and many Conservative Jews. Meaning many now see themselves as liberal before Jewish.
7. Blue staters. A majority of Jews (maybe not a HUGE majority, but a sizable majority nonetheless) are urban blue staters, and I guess its partially a cultural thing there.
8. Traditionally, the Democratic party has been (or at least been seen as) generally pro-Israel. This is changing.
9. A strange and shameful love affair with Clinton. *sigh*
10. Denial. “This is just a fad. It will pass.”
11. Traditional fear of Christians and conservatives. Traditional sources of persecution. Long cultural memory means there is a very serious cultural aversion to these things, even if things are genuinely different now.
Unquote: For any Jewish or Christian friends reading this, I hope it helps to improve understanding between the two communities.