9/28/2004

Bush, Kerry and the Jewish Vote

Today I got an email from a friend with an article written by Jeff Jacoby from the Boston Globe. The title of the article was, Bush, Kerry, and the Jewish Vote. The gist of it was that Jews are knee-jerk Democrats and that this time perhaps they should think twice. Well, it was longer than that If you want to read it, be my guest .
And this is my response.
Dear Mr. Jacoby,
I actually have given a great deal of thought to this issue and have thoughts about it that go in different directions. Since I have been more active in this campaign then ever before, I have to actually step away from myself and my actions of late in order to objectively question Kerry's position on Israel. I had a Michael Moore/Farhenheit/911 Party back at the end of August because I became very mobilized by his movie and have more or less agreed with his other two movies as well (Bowling for Columbine and Roger and Me.) Since then friends of mine, Enid and Bill, sent me an email detailing why M. Moore is anti-Semitic. At the time, I thought some of it was taken out of context and tried to disregard the rest. I read (actually listened to the book on CD) his book, Dude, Where's My Country. He makes some remarks that come off sounding very much against Israel. So, I decided to write him an email. I will Fwd. it to you because it says a lot of what I feel about this whole issue of The Left and the Democratic Party in relation to Israel (and by association Jews).
My question lately is whether one is completely at odds when one considers oneself a Liberal, to the Left of center politically and even, as per Jacoby's article, a Democrat. and at the same time a STRONG supporter of Israel. Before the 1968 Six Day War, it was easy to think of Jews as the underdog, historically oppressed and subjected to persecution and anti-Semitism. Then after the war, Israel became strong militarily and had, not by it's own initiation, gained some land (though even with the "occupied" land, it still remained no bigger than the state of NJ). So, with the "occupied" land, a strong military, and the strong and unyielding Support of the United States, Israel went from being the underdog to being the "oppressor"; the so called "Palestinians" became the "David" to Israel's " Goliath." Israel lost it's "status" of being a "victim." So, it became the object of the Left's disdain and Palestine became it's darling. As an outsider, a Non-Jew, I suppose one could make a case for this, but they would have to be unknowledgable about Jewish history and look the other way when it comes to considering the rest of the Arab world in relation to the Arabs in the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan. I am clearly not one of these people. Israel will always be one of my BIG issues when it come to politics. I do, however see the logic and the humanity of looking for a solution for these people.
Having said that, in this particular election, though I agree that Bush has been a friend to Israel and actively against anti-Semitism, there are SO MANY other important issues that for this one time, I have put the "Jewish/Israel" issue on the back burner. I am hopeful that Kerry will also be a big supporter of Israel and if he isn't, I will be as outspoken about that as I have been outspoken in his behalf. His brother is a "Jew by Choice" and that can't hurt. I do not agree with Jacoby that Jews are by in large "blindly" Democratic. Perhaps that was once true, but I don't think it is today. We are, as a people, concerned with "tikun olam" and it is the Democratic party that shares that concern moreso than the Republicans do, traditionally. As for Al Sharpton, I didn't realize he was a rabid anti-Semite. I happened to be one who thought his speech at the Convention was "right on" in terms of Civil Rights. When push comes to shove, I will not work for someone else's "cause" if in the end, it will put me or my people at risk. But until I see that clearly, I will work for the rights of people who have been historically oppressed, as Blacks have been. And, by the way, though Kerry did not mention Israel in his Convention speech, Edward's did, though I must admit it was pretty much in passing.
So, in conclusion, I will continue to temporarily suspend judgment on Kerry regarding Jewish issues and hopefully take it up again after the election, should he become our next President. Something I hope and pray will happen. I think this time Jacoby has a point, but I will worry about it later.

Shalom,


Sherril

2 comments:

Dan Sussman said...

Good letter. I agree with your point of view about making the Israel issue just one of many in deciding who to vote for. As for Jacoby -- I've been reading his stuff off and on in the AZ Republic for awhile. Basically, I think he's just another noisy demagogue with too much white space on an empty page to fill. Controversy sells papers. My acid test is if the columnist -- left or right -- gives off more heat than light, he or she is to be taken with a grain of salt. Jacoby falls into that category.

Dan Sussman said...

Good letter. I agree with your point of view about making the Israel issue just one of many in deciding who to vote for. As for Jacoby -- I've been reading his stuff off and on in the AZ Republic for awhile. Basically, I think he's just another noisy demagogue with too much white space on an empty page to fill. Controversy sells papers. My acid test is if the columnist -- left or right -- gives off more heat than light, he or she is to be taken with a grain of salt. Jacoby falls into that category.