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Jews and Republicans

It seems to me that when Jewish conservatives aren't busy throwing around accusations of anti-semitism against people who suggest their views may be distorted by their feelings about Israel, they spend a lot of time in the tradition of today's Anne Bayefsky column for NRO suggesting that American Jews should base their votes entirely on the basis of Bush's Israel policy.

But, obviously, there are other issues in play in this election, just like in all the others. Ultimately, Jewish loyalty to the Democrats seems know more mysterious than white evangelical loyalty to the Republicans. If Bush wants to run as the candidate good Christians should vote for because he himself is a good Christian and governs based on Christian principles and his consultations with Jesus, then it's hardly surprising that Jewish people will be unenthusiastic about him. Even on Israel and even if you agree with everything Bush has done in this regard so far, if you believe that Bush's Israel policy is being guided by his Christian faith then you don't have a great deal of reason to be confident in its soundness over the long haul.

On more conventional issues, the case is even clearer. Bush supports the creation of a "culture of life" whose content is specifically grounded in Christian theology. He supports a Federal Marriage Amendment whose foundation, again, is his Christian faith. It's not -- or at least not only -- that Jews disagree with Bush's policies on these issues, but that the process by which he reaches these unpalatable conclusions is grossly unappealing to non-Christians.

This is all compounded by the larger self-presentation of the conservative movement in America whose rhetoric is dripping with disdain for the entertainment industry, the legal profession, academia, book learnin', large cities and their inhabitants, cosmopolitanism, and the media. These are, however, all things associated with Jewish American life. And, indeed, their prominence in conservative rhetoric has its causal origins in the anti-semitism of an earlier period of American life. Though in the modern there's been a switch in the symbolic referent and the point is to associate liberalism with homosexuality and effeminacy (see also the inane "toughness" debate on national security) rather than Judaism, its no surprise that such rhetoric continues to lack appeal to the majority of American Jews. Now as it happens, I happen to know perfectly well that the conservative elites who run the Republican Party are nothing like the knuckle-dragging hick illiterates GOP politicians like to portray themselves as, but said self-portrayal was a deliberate (and reasonably effective) political strategy and one of its natural costs is to turn off Jews.

October 21, 2004 | Permalink


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What are you doing posting, MY? Aren't you about to be on AA?

Posted by: MattB | Oct 21, 2004 2:30:14 PM

Well, I've been hearing recently that the Asian-Americans are positioned now to replace the American Jews as intellectual elite. I suppose this means that the Jewish-Americans are slowly but surely turning into hicks and rednecks. If so, then why shouldn't they vote Republican? And what are the stats on Asian-Americans voting patterns?

Posted by: abb1 | Oct 21, 2004 2:32:03 PM

One could also point out that 2 former chief rabbis of Israel, Avraham Shapira and Mordechai Eliahu, have urged their followers to stop accepting money from evangelical groups so even some of the highest ranking Jewish religious authorities dislike the association of Jews with evangelicals.

Posted by: Dan the Man | Oct 21, 2004 2:32:26 PM

A few sites have noted today that Bush and Kerry are distant (9th twice removed) cousins. See:


Far be it from me to out the President but I'd like to note that this means that Bush has Jewish relatives. I know, I know, cheap and tawdry, but I'm not a good man.

Posted by: ahab4516 | Oct 21, 2004 2:38:12 PM

Listening to you now on Air America Matt, with Al Franken

i like your class of not blowing a rectum to announce the fact, or feign passe.

You're just there. Sounding good. Not that I agree with it all. I admire your ability to talk without taking a breath :)

Posted by: AndrewBB | Oct 21, 2004 2:38:53 PM

Pity the Jewish Republicans, who have a president whose policies they like -- but now have four years worth of execution to contend with.

Many of us who want a secure Israel thought a pre-emptive strike on Iraq might be a good thing. We didn't reckon with the possibility that the administration was too busy listening to voices in its own head to plan for victory. What was supposed to be a demonstration of American strength became a demonstration of American weakness.

Policies, it turned out, are less important than implementation.

As Jonathan Mark wrote in the New York Jewish Week, the pro-Bush Jews play a heads-I-win tails-you-lose game: Bush's words are signs of sincerity, and his deeds that fall short are reflections of necessity; Kerrys words and deeds are just pandering.

Again, as someone who is inclined to take candidate's views on Israel quite seriously when little else is at stake -- as it seemed in 2002 -- I'm very disturbed by people falling for the "I love Sharon" rhetoric and not looking at the deeds.

That's why American Voters for a Secure Israel (http://www.secureisrael.com) is this year endorsing John Kerry. Those of you who have hawkish friends or relatives leaning toward Bush because of the Israel/war on terror issue might want to send them our way.

(Those of you who are pacifistic, multilateralist appeasers, however, should vote for Bush, who in the next four years could put an end to dreams of American Empire once and for all!)

Posted by: David Heyman | Oct 21, 2004 2:42:20 PM

"... know more mysterious ..." ? Ouch :)

Posted by: K | Oct 21, 2004 2:43:51 PM

Orthodox Jews are Republicans because evangelicals are Zionists. Atheist "Jews", Apostate "Jews", assimilated "Jews"., and self-hating "Jews" are Democrats because they support the Muslim terrorists.

The Rogue Jew

Jews For Bush

Jewish Task Force

Posted by: Modern Crusader | Oct 21, 2004 2:44:53 PM

I am an athiest Jew. I'm also relatively assimilated, at least compared to my immigrant grandparents. I just looked up the definition of apostate and I don't think I'm one, though there's room for disagreement.

I wholeheartedly and without reservation condemn Muslim terrorists.

Posted by: ahab4516 | Oct 21, 2004 2:56:13 PM

Great post Matt. I completely agree - the Republican party has not positioned itself in a way to be attractive to most American Jews. I also think their attempted "outreach" marketing solely Bush's Israel policy is somewhat insulting, if perhaps well intentioned.

I wouldn't mind seeing a post from you, perhaps titled "Jews and Democrats," about your criticisms/views of the right-wing accusations (See Modern Crusader, above, for a quick example) to potential problematic issues for Jews within the Left side of the political spectrum - from Cynthia McKinney, to Jim Moran to anti-Semitic attitudes in a portion of the anti-war movement, etc.

Posted by: SoCalJustice | Oct 21, 2004 2:56:20 PM

Modern Crusader:
Those websites are scary! The Jewish Task Force site it really scary.

From the caption on a photograph of Rabin: "Self-hating Jewish Marxist Yitzchak Rabin pays his respects to Egyptian Muslim Nazi dictator Anwar Sadat's Cairo tomb"

From a photo of Carter and Sadat: "Sadat with the left-wing, Jew-hating peanut farmer Jimmy Carter at the Pyramids in Egypt".

Wow, that is over the top.

Posted by: eric | Oct 21, 2004 3:03:58 PM

at first i thought modern crusader was merely an idiot, but now i realize that he is a very, very sick person, and an anti-semite to boot.

Posted by: howard | Oct 21, 2004 3:37:32 PM

Inez Tennenbaum and Rus Feingold are self-hating Jews? Neither runs from their Judaism, in fact, many Democratic politicians wear it as a badge of honor.

Posted by: heh | Oct 21, 2004 3:47:04 PM

...2 former chief rabbis of Israel, Avraham Shapira and Mordechai Eliahu, have urged their followers to stop accepting money from evangelical groups...

Nice to see they're still keeping kashrut: no pork.

Posted by: Barry Freed | Oct 21, 2004 3:47:06 PM

What's a "self-hating Jew"?

Isn't that any Jewish mother's son?

Posted by: Barry Freed | Oct 21, 2004 3:47:52 PM

Think that's scary? Check out Modern Crusader's site:

"Dedicated to the defense of America and the Holy Land from the Satanic Saracen horde of hateful Arab Muslim Sand Nazi terrorist infidels. Our long term goals are the sacking of Mecca, the defiling and final destruction of the Kaaba idol, and the creation of a Zionist State with Mecca as it's capital."

Posted by: lemuel pitkin | Oct 21, 2004 3:59:09 PM

"the Republican Party are nothing like the knuckle-dragging hick illiterates GOP politicians like to portray themselves as"

The dude does have a way with words. But probably needs to visit Texas more often.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Oct 21, 2004 4:05:22 PM

I thought Tenenbaum remained Christian--her husband is Jewish.

I don't think the fact that Bush arrived at a whole lot of proposals through his Christian faith makes him any less attractive to me as a Jew. I don't mind people arriving at proposals through religions different from mine; if Bob Riley decided that true Christianity required fixing Alabama's tax system, good for him. The anti-intellectualism is a bigger thing--as is the anti-coastalism. I mean, what religion is disproportionaltely represented among New York and Hollywood liberals?

I also don't think that the fact that inhabitants of Jordan and Pakistan dislike Bush is necessarily a reason for supporters of Israel to like him, as Bayefsky seems to think.

SoCal--quickly: Those are fairly marginal figures. McKinney got bounced in a primary (and is coming back because Majette quixotically ran for Senate), Moran got stripped of his leadership posts, and the Bay Area loonies may not even be registered Democrats.

Posted by: Matt Weiner | Oct 21, 2004 4:10:44 PM

Wow is that JTF hate site scary. And everything in it a lie to boot.

I love the little bit about how Hitler's Mein Kampf is the second best selling book in the Muslim world after the Koran.

I lived for several years in an Arab/Muslim country and for shorter period of time in another. I've also travelled in that region a lot. I'm a graduate student in Islamic Studies and I always check out the bookstores, and not in a casual way either, I'll end up in back rooms reading every single title on hand in hopes of finding the occasional rare gem.

Not once have I ever seen a copy of Mein Kampf, in Arabic translation or any other language.

Posted by: Barry Freed | Oct 21, 2004 4:17:34 PM

Matt W.:

Fair points, but I still see why some people think those issues deserve attention and shouldn't be minimized. I'm fairly sure most of the Bay Area Loonies aren't registered Democrats - just part of the "Anybody But Bush" crowd. However, I think that's part of the discussion about in which party Jews feel at home.

Barry Freed:

I am not at all defending any of M.C.'s sites or the thoughts on them - I haven't read them, nor do I really want to. Most of what's been excerpted on this thread is scary enough.

But, having said that, according to Wikipedia:Mein Kampf was an influential text among the Arab Ba’ath Party activists. An Arabic edition of Mein Kampf has been published by Bisan publishers in Lebanon. It ranks on the best-seller list among Palestinian Arabs.

I don't know if that's true, btw, and it obviously doesn't speak to the larger Arab world.

Posted by: SoCalJustice | Oct 21, 2004 4:52:17 PM

I'd be shocked if George W. Bush doesn't have several Jewish in-laws without getting anywhere as far out as the ninth circle of cousinship. He was even engaged to a Jewish woman briefly.

Dean, Kerry, Gore, Clark all have significant intermarriage in their families.

Posted by: Brittain33 | Oct 21, 2004 5:00:18 PM


Not having ever been to occupied Palestine, I'll wait till I have or I have inquired from someone I know whose accuracy, integrity and judgement I trust.

The very idea though, that there's some kind of a problem with publishing an Arabic translation of Mein Kampf I find to be a bit of a red herring.

Afterall, that book is one of the most impartant books of the 20th century as far as it's historical impact is concerned. Why then, shouldn't there be a translation of it published in Arabic? Or, for that matter, Chinese, Swahili, or what have you.

That fact alone indicates nothing.

(In that vein, there were a hella lota books about the Freemason Conspiracy and history of Freemasonry in Arab lands, though one didn't tend to find them in the bookstores that catered to either a more intellectual or religious class of reader.

Posted by: Barry Freed | Oct 21, 2004 5:09:23 PM

Barry Freed:

Speaking of Red Herrings, you write: "Why then, shouldn't there be a translation of it published in Arabic?"

Who's saying it shouldn't be?

The issue is its level of popularity, not whether there's a translation available. To the best of my knowledge, it's not a "best seller" in any European or Western country. If it is a "best seller" in ANY country, Arab or otherwise, that might very well be a cause for concern.

Posted by: SoCalJustice | Oct 21, 2004 5:12:32 PM

Well, apparently not. Though I might make some follow-up inquiries among colleagues who've been in Arab countries more recently than I have.

Posted by: Barry Freed | Oct 21, 2004 5:25:28 PM

Bush turned his Israeli policy pretty much completely over to Sharon. (Nominal support for a Palestinian state, but not if it inconveniences anyone.) So, I suppose if one's entire world view is founded on support for the Likud Party, then there'd seem to be no real choice: Bush. Edwards, during his debate, however, seemed more than willing to be more Likud than thou. So, what's an American Likudnik to do? (Besides move to Israel, eh?)

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis | Oct 21, 2004 5:37:04 PM

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