It doesn’t take divine inspiration to predict two topics that will be discussed in American media until election day. Mike Lupica told it like it is in the June 15 New York Daily News, “More money will be spent” in this election “than on any political campaign in world history.” The New York Times editorially rages against the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. It details corporate funding of “super PACs.” And virtually every issue of the Wall Street Journal deals with U.S. and Israeli opposition to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
On December 13, 2011, Times columnist Thomas Friedman told Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu that “the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.” Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s announcement that he is prepared to spend $100 million to beat Barack Obama was universally reported, as was his accompanying Mitt Romney to Israel. But the national media has yet to merge campaign contributions and Washington’s Middle Eastern policies in full depth. Gary Rosenblatt, publisher of New York’s The Jewish Week, a ‘community journal,’ noted this in its August 3 issue: “But a major, if little publicized reason for all this attention is that Jews are major financial contributors to the parties – and that’s not even counting Sheldon Adelson.”
Little is said re Zionist contributions to Obama. An August 14 Times editorial declared that “There is… persistent speculation in Israel that Mr. Netanyahu wants to attack in the coming weeks in the belief that President Obama will be forced to support the decision because of his political needs in his re-election campaign. Such a move would be outrageously cynical.” But the Times didn’t put $2 and $2 together and get $4.
There are several reasons why our major media doesn’t fully integrate these themes. Some fear that in-depth discussion of Zionist election money would fuel anti-Semitism. Others more correctly understand that Israel, which they support, not the Jews per se, would be discredited by factual discussion. And while the Times editorially complains when Obama moves to the right, responding to Republican attacks on his foreign policy, it intends to endorse him.
Times editors report endless crimes of the “bought and paid for” hacks. But they don’t think the bi-partisan capitalist establishment can be replaced by anything better. They are ‘lesser evil Democrats.’ They know that full discussion re Zionist money would discredit their party as much as the GOP.
They also know that Obama arranged the biggest weapons deal in American history with an absolute monarchy, Saudi Arabia, the planet’s only government that doesn’t allow women to drive cars. They fear critically focusing on Israel and Saudi Arabia might lead some hitherto Democrats into not voting or voting for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. They worry that Obama losing votes via either decision might give the election to Romney, who they see as stupid and evil.
They are correct re Romney. But they are “crackpot realists.” They wrote a July 30 editorial “Republicans vs. Women.” But are they genuine pro-feminists when they don’t denounce Obama’s Saudi deal?
David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s 1st Prime Minister, was an atheist. But, to win over the Orthodox Agudat Yisrael party, the state he founded was officially Orthodox Jewish and remains so. No Israeli Jewish wife can initiate a divorce. Can we find a Times editorial denouncing the Zionist state’s male chauvinism or complaining about our bipartisan hacks support for these officially ‘kosher’ male chauvinist pigs?
If you write to a female Democratic member of Congress about Obama funding or arming male chauvinist regimes, expect her to tell you to vote for him – and her – because Romney’s party would also be allied to those governments, but the Democrats are for U.S. women’s rights. That kind of thinking is what C. Wright Mills had in mind when he coined crackpot realism.
AMERICA’S POLITICIANS, FROM THE BALFOUR DECLARATION TO THE HOLOCAUST
Today’s bipartisan Zionism must be seen in its historic matrix. The November 2, 1917 Balfour Declaration, a letter from Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour announcing that “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” was written to make Democrat Woodrow Wilson’s April 1917 alliance with Britain more popular with Jews. London allied with anti-Semitic Russia until the Czar was overthrown in February 1917. The Declaration was unpopular with many U.S. Jews, who were either pro-Kaiser Germany against Russia, or anti-imperialist Socialists. Wilson waited until August 31, 1918 to write a Zionist, approving the Declaration, and the State Department never considered his letter an official endorsement.
In 1922, Congress passed a resolution upholding the Declaration. The U.S. signed a 1924 Palestine Convention endorsing London’s League of Nations Palestine Mandate, but the U.S. never aided Zionism there.
Franklin Roosevelt became President in 1933. He was ambivalent toward Jews. His Secretary of the Treasury was a Jew and he appointed another to the Supreme Court. But he never said a word re Hitler’s treatment of Germany’s Jews until 1938, and never amended the de facto anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic immigration laws. He never denounced outspoken anti-Semitic ‘Dixiecrats’ in Congress.
He never expressed public anti-Semitic sentiments but, after his death, the government published notes on the 1943 Casablanca Conference. He told the French:
“The number of Jews engaged in the practice of the professions (law, medicine, etc.) should be definitely limited to the percentage that the Jewish population in North Africa bears to the whole North African population … The President stated that his plan would further eliminate the specific and understandable complaints which the Germans bore towards the Jews in Germany, namely that while they represented a small part of the population, over fifty per cent of the lawyers, doctors, schoolteachers, college professors, etc. in Germany were Jews.”
Standard Oil of California pumped up Saudi Arabia’s first oil in 1938. In 1939 London issued a ‘White Paper.’ It allowed a further 75,000 Jews to migrate to Palestine by 1944. Then Palestine would become an independent state with an Arab majority, governed jointly by Arabs and Jews. The State Department response was to declare that the Convention didn’t “empower” the U.S. “to prevent the modification of the terms of any mandate”
Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 and imprisoned 3 million Jews behind ghetto walls, but systematic extermination of Jews didn’t begin until Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. Hitler’s “final solution” became a matter of concern for the U.S. after Pearl Harbor, when he declared war on America in support of Japan, and the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. allied against Germany.
Today’s holocaust scholars are virtually unanimous in condemning that era’s World Zionist Organization for failing to press Roosevelt to take action to specifically rescue Jews under German domination. Only the self-styled “Revisionist Zionists,” the forerunners of today’s ruling Likud Party in Israel, but then outside the WZO, made a serious effort to push Roosevelt to help Axis Europe’s Jews.
A tiny group of Revisionists came to the U.S. to raise funds for their movement abroad. In 1941 they read articles by Ben Hecht in PM, a liberal New York daily, deploring the silence of Jewish political figures re European Jewry’s situation. They got him to help them set up a “Committee for a Jewish Army of Stateless and Palestinian Jews” as part of the Allies’ military against Germany. With Hecht on board, they were a serious force. He knew everybody in Hollywood and the publishing world.
Although they missed the full significance of the earliest massacre reports, their leader, Peter Bergson, came to realize that they had to push for government action on behalf of the Jews. They brought a pageant, They Shall Never Die, to Madison Square Garden on March 9, 1943. This was too much for mainstream Zionist leaders, who saw the Revisionists as anti-British terrorists and Fascists. When the renamed “Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe” toured America with their pageant, the American Jewish Congress kept it out of auditoriums wherever they could. The pageant was denied performances in Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Buffalo.
Although Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founder of the Revisionist movement, honestly insisted that he wasn’t a Fascist, he did send young followers to Mussolini’s naval academy until Il Duce purged them in 1936, when he united with Hitler against the left in the Spanish civil war. And many Revisionists were open Fascists in spite of Jabotinsky’s objection to Mussolini as a “head buffalo.” But the Committee welcomed Hecht and leftists like Kurt Weill, the composer of The Threepenny Opera, into its leadership.
Experience also taught the Committee to move away from the Palestine issue. Anti-Zionist Jewish elements were still powerful, and non-Jews didn’t want to cause trouble for Britain. Now a new charge was brought against the Committee: it betrayed Zionism. Bergson tried to reason with such critics:
“If you were inside a burning house, would you want the people outside to scream ‘save them’, or to scream ‘save them by taking them to the Waldorf Astoria’?”
“But what have we really achieved?” Kurt Weill asked. The committee mobilized 450 Orthodox rabbis for a march to the White House. Roosevelt wouldn’t see them but the campaign continued. Sensing that there was broad public support for the cause, congressional friends put in a Bill for a rescue commission, emphasizing that it had nothing to do with Zionism. But Jewish Democrat Sol Bloom, the Chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee, attacked Bergson.
Before the Committee could launch a new plan, Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morganthau Jr. gave Roosevelt a report on a plot by State Department officials to suppress information on the massacres. The former ambassador to Italy, a pre-war admirer of Mussolini, whom the Department had assigned the handling of refugee problems, altered a document to obstruct exposure. Roosevelt knew he was beaten. On January 22, 1944 he established a War Refugee Board.
The WRB was of minimal help to the Jews. Arthur Morse wrote in his book, While 6 Million Died, of 50,000 Romanians directly saved. More recent calculations add approximately 100,000 to Morse’s figure. The WRB couldn’t circumvent State Department dealings with neutrals or collapsing Nazi satellites. It couldn’t guarantee that escaped Jews would be given refuge in America. Shmuel Merlin, the Emergency Committee public relations director, later explained why it was so weak:
“We knew we were defeated when the Jewish organizations offered to put up the money for the Board. Naturally we had envisioned a serious program on the part of the Administration. That meant the government had to lay out money in exactly the same way it does for anything else it really wanted. Instead Roosevelt and Congress were taken off the hook by the Jewish establishment. They offered to pay the Board’s basic expenses. They put up about $4,000,000,000 seed money and a total of $15,000,000 during the WRB’s entire existence. The sum was so paltry they could always laugh and say ‘first wait until the Jews put up some real money.’”
Former Committee leaders also criticized their own efforts. They admitted starting too late. However, a broader criticism was their failure to put the Jewish masses in the streets. A New York march by tens of thousands of Jews would have been more worrisome to Roosevelt than 450 rabbis. But it must be understood that the Committee did the best they could think of, then, to save Jews.
U.S. anti-Semitism grew in the wake of Hitler coming to power in 1933, but was discredited as holocaust facts surfaced. In 1944, for the first time, the Republican and Democratic platforms called for a Zionist state. Roosevelt had Zionists publish a statement in his name declaring that the U.S. “has never given its approval to the White Paper of 1939,” but the State Department followed this by secretly informing Britain’s puppet Arab ‘rulers’ that Washington had never approved or disapproved of the White Paper.
On February 14, 1945, returning from a conference in the Soviet Union with Stalin and Churchill, Roosevelt met King Ibn Saud in Egypt. Saud told him not to impose Zionism on the Arabs. Give the Jews a piece of Germany was his suggestion. Roosevelt realized that Zionism would always be a non-starter in the Arab world. The two made a deal. The U.S. would train the Saudi army in exchange for exclusive American access to the country’s oil.
A week before he died, in an April 5, 1945 letter, Roosevelt reassured Saud re Palestine:
“Your Majesty will also doubtless recall that during our recent conversation I assured you that I would take no action, in my capacity as Chief of the Executive Branch of this Government, which might prove hostile to the Arab people.
It gives me pleasure to renew to Your Majesty the assurances which you have previously received regarding the attitude of my Government and my own, as Chief Executive, with regard to the question of Palestine and to inform you that the policy of this Government in this respect is unchanged.”
From then until 1947, the State Department opposed creating a Zionist state, regardless of what politicians said to the contrary.
HARRY TRUMAN SUPPORTS THE CREATION OF ISRAEL
Harry Truman had been Vice President for only 82 days when Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945. After he ended World War II by nuking Japan, Truman’s top foreign policy concern became stopping the expansion of Stalinism. To do that he needed Britain’s support, but Congress passed pro-Zionist resolutions in December.
After the 1945 British election, the new Labour Foreign Minister maintained the restrictions on Jewish immigration into Palestine. Truman and Prime Minister Clement Attlee set up an Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry. It favored immediate immigration of 100,000 Jews into Palestine.
Truman asked his Joint Chiefs of Staff what he should do. They were against American “armed forces involvement.” Direct military intervention might mean that “the U.S.S.R. might replace the United States and Britain in influence and power in the Middle East.”
In June 1946, the British raided the WZO’s Jerusalem headquarters and held its leaders without trial. In response, Revisionist terrorists bombed the British civil and military headquarters in Jerusalem. In April 1947 the issue was referred to the U.N. A Special Committee on Palestine favored partitioning the country into Arab and Jewish states, bound together economically, with Jerusalem becoming a U.N. trusteeship.
Things came to a head in October 1947. Stalin endorsed partition. Scholars say he thought that if the Zionists pushed the British out of Palestine, this would force London’s Arab puppets to start to drive Britain out of their countries.
Truman’s daughter, Margaret, later published a bio of her father: “On October 6, 1947,” at a Democratic meeting, National Chairman
“Bob Hannegan almost made a speech, pointing out how many Jews were major contributors to the Democratic Party’s campaign fund and were expecting the United States to support the Zionists’ position on Palestine.”
Truman was a product of Tom Pendergast’s corrupt Kansas City, Missouri Democratic machine, and Hannegan’s lecture on domestic politics was decisive.
Henry Wallace had been Roosevelt’s VP until he went too left on several issues and Roosevelt replaced him with Truman in the 1944 election. Now Wallace was running for President in 1948 as the candidate of the Progressive Party, dominated by Stalinists. He was popular among New York’s Jewish blue collar workers. Truman feared that they would vote for Wallace if he didn’t come out for Israel, while the pro-Zionist Republican, Tom Dewey, would get that cash from those hitherto Democratic donors and use it to also pick up Jewish and gentile voters, and he would be defeated. So Truman backed creating Israel and won the election.
In the 1920s and 30s most rich Jews opposed Zionism. Their money was here, and they also feared that being pro-Zionist would make them appear disloyal to the U.S. But the holocaust generated a nationalist wave among circa 90% of American Jews, rich and poor. The rich contributed directly to the Zionist movement, and poured money into the Democratic Party’s coffers.
TODAY’S RICH PRO-ZIONISTS
As of the latest polls, most Jewish voters are loyal Democrats, and many rich Jews continue on being big party funders.
In 1985, The American Jewish Congress published The Political Future Of American Jews by Earl Raab and Seymour Martin Lipset. They estimated Jews to be “about 2.5%” of America “in 1980” and that they would decline further over the coming decades. Other scholars give slightly higher figures, but no scholar thinks Jews are more than 3%. But the fiscal stats are another story entirely. Lipset and Raab were quite candid: “While there have been few statistics on the subject – and some reluctance to gather any – the journalistic and anecdotal evidence is overwhelming that more than a majority of Democratic funds and as much as a quarter of Republican funds have come from Jewish sources…
Jewish political effectiveness has been less closely tied to voting margins than to access which has been gained by Jewish contributors to campaigns.”
Heavy Democratic reliance on Jewish funding continued on over subsequent decades. In the January 5, 1993 Times, Thomas Friedman reported that “Jews contributed about 60 percent of Mr. Clinton’s non-institutional campaign funds.”
On June 7, 2011, Ron Kampeas, the Washington bureau chief of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, American Zionism’s equivalent of the Associated Press, dealt head-on with the ‘Jewish money’ issue in an article, “Democrats launch major pro-Obama pushback among Jews.”
“Where the Jews stand on Obama matters not just because of the Jewish vote, which is significant in key swing states such as Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, but also because of Jewish money. The 2012 presidential election will be the first since a Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited corporate giving to candidates. The Obama campaign has said it will need more money than ever because big business tends to lean Republican.
Obama captured 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008, and estimates over the years have reckoned that Jewish donors provide between one-third and two-thirds of the party’s money…
‘We’re stepping up our game with Jewish donors and other potential Jewish supporters that feel like Obama turned his back on them,’ an RNC official who is not authorized to speak on the record told JTA.”
Some readers will be shocked that such high percentages of Democratic and Republican funding come from an ethnicity amounting to only two to three percent of Americans. But it is explainable, historically.
In traditional India, society broke down into inherited castes, priests, warriors, merchants, peasants, all within the Hindu religion. In medieval Europe, the Jews were the merchant caste, outside of and persecuted by Christian religions. When immigrants came to America, they usually assumed their traditional role. Peasants became farmers, merchants continued on as merchants. As American capitalism evolved, Jewish ‘shopkeepers’ developed into chain-store millionaires, spread into real estate, pioneered new industries like the movies, etc.
Not all Jews here were capitalists. Until the late 1940s, most Jews were workers, usually employed by Jews. In time, their descendants went to college, particularly after the civil rights movement legally ended the ‘Jewish quotas’ of many universities. Today 85% of young Jews go to college. Most become professionals, but of course most of the descendants of earlier wealthy are still further rich.
The March 2, 2007 issue of New York’s Forward, the most widely read community weekly, claimed that “Jews constituted about 24% of last year’s Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans.” They are the source of the disproportionate Jewish contributions to the two major capitalist parties.
It must be understood that some of these very rich are independents who give to the Democrats only when they like a candidate. Others, most notably George Soros, one of the biggest Democratic funders, don’t consider themselves Zionists and criticize Israel. However he gives $500,000 a year to J Street, a ‘dovish’ but definitely Zionist outfit. It opposes further all-Jewish settlements on the West Bank, but it doesn’t demand that the U.S. end its military alliance with Israel, even as Netanyahu authorized new Jews-only West Bank housing.
Others don’t say anything re Israel and support Democrats because they are better on issues like abortion and separation of church and state. And of course many support Democrats out of economic interests. Realtors often prefer Democrats because they usually vote for improving our transportation infrastructure, an important factor when it comes to pricing and selling suburban housing.
In 2012, Romney is trying to pull Israel-is-my-first-priority donors out of the Democratic Party, especially those also taking exception to Obama’s populist demagoguery aimed at Wall Street, and religious fools opposed to government funding of female contraception. According to Romney, “Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus,” while he would support an Israeli attack on Iran.
The Democratic fightback by quoting Israeli officials about how wonderful Obama is towards Israel. In a September 5 Times Op-Ed, “The Truth About Obama and Israel,” Haim Saban, California’s “Israeli-American” media proprietor, 104 on the Forbes list, told us why he – “very far to the right” – is for Obama and has “contributed to Democratic campaigns this political cycle.” Obama
“has increased aid to Israel and given it access to the most advanced military equipment, including the latest fighter aircraft.
Ask any senior Israeli official involved in national security, and he will tell you that the strategic relationship between the United States and Israel has never been stronger than under President Obama. ‘I can hardly remember a better period of American support and backing, and Israeli cooperation and similar strategic understanding of events around us,’ the defense minister, Ehud Barak, said last year, ‘than what we have right now’…
When I enter the voting booth, I’m going to ask myself, what do I prefer for Israel and its relationship with the United States: meaningful action or empty rhetoric? To me the answer is clear: I’ll take another four years of Mr. Obama’s steadfast support over Mr. Romney’s sweet nothings.”
Peter Beinart, a prominent Zionist ‘dove,’ cites an Israeli daily, claiming that Obama promises to sell Israel bunker-busting bombs and long-range refueling planes if Netanyahu holds off attacking Iran until 1913.
The party’s hacks know it is full of Soros-type donors, critical of Netanyahu. But the congressional Democrats still applauded him because they understand Soros better than he knows them. They ask themselves the same question about everyone: ‘If we don’t give them what they want, what will they do to hurt us?’ Obama, Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi know that they can murder 99 grannies per week and keep the support of Soros and other Democratic ‘lesser evilist’ donors who are certain that Romney will slaughter 100 at a sitting.
How many pro-Zionist Democratic donors will Romney succeed in getting to fund him? It is too early to answer that with certainty. Penny Pritzker and 10 other Pritzker billionaires own the Hyatt hotel chain. As his national finance chair in 2008, she drew other “Jewish leaders to support Mr. Obama” when he was still a long shot candidate. But banks that Pritzkers invested in have become known for scandalous behavior. She’s still for him but “backstage” while “some potential donors want to speak only to her.”
Her lack of enthusiasm will effect Obama’s ability to collect money from Jews, but Israel isn’t the topic here and, if they don’t fund him, it doesn’t follow that they will give Romney any money.
All commentators on this election season agree that the big issue is the economy, which could go either way by election day. If it doesn’t get worse, or improves and Obama win, such donors would not want to be known as his opponents.
In any case, as of now, Romney is flunking Zionist-pandering 101. His visit to Israel was a disaster. Wall Street Journal writer Peggy Noonan, hardly an Obama fan, was candid in her August 4,column:
“The trip to Israel, with the high-ticket fund-raiser and the casino magnate and the definitive speech that gave him no room to move as president, when presidents always need room to move this way and that, plus the unnecessary put-down of the Palestinians, which wasn’t needed to make his point – all of it seemed lacking in size, in heft. Panderish.”
Times editorialists rose to new heights of morality over the pilgrimage in their July 31 “Mr. Romney Stumps in Israel.” They correctly saw him as insulting “Palestinians by declaring that cultural differences – not decades under Israeli occupation – are the reason israelis are more successful economically.”
Their August 17 “In Thrall to Sheldon Adelson” was equally saintly. His Las Vegas Sands Corporation is under investigation
“for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act… [I]t is legitimate to ask whether he has motivation for supporting the Republican ticket so lavishly, beyond his sharp disagreement with the Obama administration’s position on the Israeli-Paletinian peace process.
A careful presidential campaign would put distance between itself and a businessman like Mr. Adelson.”
Chasing Jewish money is OK, post-holocaust. But Romney’s feast in Jerusalem with a guy whose company is under investigation for bribery would tend to discredit Jewish Democrats who hooked up with them.
American voters smell corruption rising up out of our political and business stratums. If it is proper to suspect Adelson’s motive for backing Romney, isn’t it appropriate to be suspicious re the economic motives, corrupt or only legally greedy, of other suddenly Republican fat cats, Jew or gentile?
The bipartisan chase after rich Zionist donors is a tragedy ending up with the stage full of dead Palestinians and Israelis, but it has its comic moments. On September 5, after Republican heckling, the Democratic convention rewrote the party platform, declaring Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital. According to the Associated Press account,
“Obama intervened to order the changes. The embarrassing reversal was compounded by chaos and uncertainty on the convention floor… the convention chairman, called for a voice vote on the changes and each time the yes and no votes seemed to balance each other out. On the third attempt, Villaraigosa ruled the amendments were approved — triggering boos from many in the audience.”
London’s Sept. 6 Guardian told us more about that spectacle:
“Just off the main road through West Jerusalem… sits a prime but barren piece of real estate… It’s the site of a future American embassy to Israel that, for nearly two decades, the US Congress has demanded be built immediately. But once American presidents begin navigating the minefield of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they quickly realize they don’t need to add to their problems by shifting the US embassy from Tel Aviv…
Fearing accusations of not being pro-Israel enough, the party leadership hurriedly revived a clause in the platform from previous years proclaiming the city as the Jewish state’s capital… The DNC also said Jerusalem should be an “undivided city”, while contradicting itself by adding that the issue is subject to negotiation with the Palestinians, who claim occupied East Jerusalem as their own capital.”
WHAT DO MOST U.S. JEWS THINK OF ZIONISM?
By now readers have seen enough evidence to convict 99% of the bipartisan establishment of non-stop pandering to 1% of our Jews. But what do 99% of the Jews think of Zionism and our political hacks? Gary Rosenblatt’s “Raining On The Parade,” in the June 8 issue of The Jewish Week saw it like it is. He declared himself “a big booster” of the annual Celebrate Israel parade, which marched this year on Sunday, June 3:
“[I]t’s time for a serious communal conversation about the future of a parade that relies on the mandatory participation of thousands of day school and Hebrew school youngsters, and draws on their families as the core of the crowd. Without them the highly touted parade would be a modern-day display of the Emperor’s New Clothes: The naked fact is that the great majority of New York Jewry is nowhere to be found on the one day of the year we celebrate Israel together, even when the weather is as perfect as it was on Sunday (at least until the rains came in mid-afternoon)…
Perhaps it tells us more than we care to know about the engaged pro-Israel community of New York when we look up and down Fifth Avenue and note the disproportionate involvement of Modern Orthodox Jewry and core activists, and wonder about the level of participation — or lack thereof — of the great majority of New York Jews. Is this a microcosm of the American Jewish relationship with Israel going forward?”
Yes is the honest answer to his serious question. In the April 6 issue of The Jewish Week, Stewart Ein reported on “Chosen for What? Jewish Values in 2012,” a Public Religion Research Institute survey of “1004 self-identified Jews age 18 and older.” According to Ein, it asked
“which qualities are most important to their Jewish identity. Nearly half of American Jews – 46 percent – cited a commitment to social equality. That figure dwarfed other issues like support for Israel (20 percent) and religious observance (17 percent).”
Ein told us that,
“Given the Jews’ liberal bent, observers say, it is perhaps not surprising that the campaigns of this year’s Republican presidential candidates have had little resonance with most American Jews.”
Ein explained that
“The economy is the main issue for Jewish registered voters this election year (51 percent), with all other issues trailing well behind. Fifteen percent cited the growing gap between rich and poor, 10 percent cited health care, 7 percent the federal deficit and only 4 percent listed Israel…
61 percent said they have very a favorable or mostly favorable view of President Barack Obama and 62 percent said they would like to see him re-elected — more than twice the number who support a Republican candidate (30 percent)…
Regarding questions about religion, younger Jews are about twice as likely as older Jews to say they do not believe in God (27 percent to 13 percent). Some 35 percent of American Jews report being a member of a local synagogue…
When asked whether certain issues represent a major problem for Israel, about 90 percent listed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and 83 percent listed Iran’s nuclear program. In addition, 53 percent listed the control of religious life by the fervently Orthodox in Israel.
By more than 2-to-1, American Jews favor diplomacy over the military option to ensure peace. But 59 percent of American Jews said the U.S. should take military action to prevent Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon, compared with 37 percent who disagreed.”
How significant is the above statement re Iran? There is one indisputable fact re polls of Jews: all produce arguments about their accuracy and the reportage of them. Laurie Goodstein discussed the same survey in the April 4 Times:
“Asked to rank which issues were most important to their vote for president… Concern about Israel or Iran ranked very low, even when respondents were asked for the second most important issue that would determine their vote.”
There are several actions or inactions which help tell us whether adult Jews are Zionists. Is he or she a member of a specifically Zionist organization? Does he or she give money to such a movement or at least go to watch the parade? And have they visited Israel?
Not all Jews are part of America’s 1%. But 85% of Jewish youths go to college and become part of the upper middle class. As such, they are among the most travelled Americans, but Israeli politicians lament that more go to Stratford-upon-Avon, Bill Shakespeare’s home town, than go to Israel.
According to Ein, “Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy at the Orthodox Union,” said that the PRRI survey found that only “one-third of American Jews visited Israel.”
The lack of attachment to Israel is so severe that in the 1990s Canadian billionaire Charles Bronfman and American demi-billionaire Michael Steinhardt set up Birthright Israel in conjunction with the Israeli government and the Jewish Federations of North America. The Adelson Family Foundation has contributed at least $100 million to Birthright Israel and is now its biggest private benefactor.
It funds free 10-day trips to Israel for young Jews, 18 to 26. Wiki Birthright Israel tells us that circa 240,000 American and Canadian Jews have gone on Birthright visits.
Kiera Feldman wrote “The Romance of Birthright Israel” for the July 4-11 issue of The Nation. She said that “About 17,000 Birthright alumni now live in Israel, according to the Jerusalem Post.” But how many of these were already Orthodox Zionists before they made the trip?
Feldman cited the 1990 Jewish Population Survey which “unleashed a panic within the halls of American Jewish institutions: 52 percent of Jews were marrying outside the faith.” What’s the intermarriage rate now, after years of Birthright tours? The June 12, 2012 Times reported on a UJA-Federation survey of New York’s Jews. (The United Jewish Appeal merged with the Council of Jewish Federations in 1999.) “Between 2006 and 2011… one out of two marriages in which one partner was a non-Orthodox Jew was to a person who was not Jewish and did not convert to Judaism.”
Estimates re the Orthodox percentage of America’s Jews run from 8% to 15%. The July 27, 2012 issue of New York’s Orthodox Zionist weekly, The Jewish Voice, ran an article “Survey: Young Jewish adults in U.S. More Attached to Israel.” However it admitted that “59 percent of American Jews have not been to Israel and of these 89 percent are not considered to be religiously active.”
What’s the old saying? ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’ The May 5 Jewish Voice reported that UJA-Federation is starting up free “Birthright Israel for Boomers” tours, to catch the elders of that 89%. Will it work? No. A few will come back pro-Zionist. But are the “53 percent” who “listed the control of religious life by the fervently Orthodox in Israel” about to convert to Zionism?
I’m not a prophet and neither are you, dear readers. We aren’t sure how the economy will go between now and the election. So we don’t know how many rich Jews will abandon Obama and vote Republican. Neither can we predict how many liberal Jews will not vote or vote for Jill Stein. But we don’t have to be prophets to accurately predict five things:
1 – More Jews will take free trips to Israel and most will return here non-Zionist.
2 – More Jews will grow up and continue to drop out of all the Judaic sects.
3 – More and more young Jews will marry gentiles.
4 – More of their kids will become atheists.
5 – The percentage of bipartisan hacks who swear they are loyal to Israel and God will continue to be higher than the percentage of Jews who consider themselves Zionists, and the American public, Jew and gentile, will see this as firm evidence that they are nothing better than non-stop ethnic and religious demagogues.
Note well that these Jews are non-Zionists, not anti-Zionists. There are two reasons why young Jews haven’t gone the whole route to anti-Zionism.
1 – The Middle Eastern one egalitarian state for Palestinians and Israelis camp does not yet have its act together. One staters abound, but they are not organizationally together in an equivalent of the African National Congress that overwhelmed apartheid South Africa. They have not written a draft constitution for such a binational state that we can present to these youths.
2 – We live in the Occupy Wall Street era. Every literate American knows that two 1% parties rule America. But the American left doesn’t have its act together. Call an anti-Zionist demo and 10 socialist groups show up and sell their papers. Yet they are not united in one electoral party, campaigning against the two 1% capitalist parties.
I’m a “red Green.” I urge those groups to join the Green Party and make it into an avowedly socialist party. Among other things, we should call upon those Middle Eastern one-staters to likewise unite and present us with a constitution that we can present to all Americans. Then we shall see an activist young generation, Jew and gentile, that advocates anti-Zionism, side-by-side with the anti-racism we now all take for granted.