Israeli-American relations have been in the news recently with tensions boiling with Iran and the conclusion of AIPAC’s summit last weekend in Washington.
Discussing both topics with my liberal and conservative friends recently has made me ponder the following big question: Why do most Jewish-Americans vote Democrat in every election?
Many conservatives I know are very pro-Israel. Not only do they unquestionably support Israel’s foreign policy, but they strongly defend its threats to strike Iran to prevent it from going nuclear. All the 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls (except Ron Paul) spoke at AIPAC pledging their unwavering support for Israel’s right to defend itself, but also blasted President Obama for being “weak” and “soft” on Iran (I’m aware it’s an election season).
President Obama spoke at AIPAC as well and retaliated against his GOP rivals by blasting them for “beating the drums of war” against Iran. It’s also no secret that Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu haven’t had a strong relationship throughout Obama’s presidency.
More importantly, though, is what I hear from liberals regarding Israel. Many of them feel it is wrong that American foreign policy is too “blindly in support of Israel.” They feel the rest of the world is more pro-Palestine than pro-Israel, and that it only makes the rest of the world “hate us even more” by always being on Israel’s side and continuing to support it militarily.
In other words, one party seems to be faithfully and staunchly supporting Israel and Israeli policy at every step of the way, while the other is reluctantly supporting Israel with a very critical and cautious tone. But during election season, exit poll data shows the overwhelming majority of Jewish-Americans vote Democrat every time, going back until at least ‘72. It’s not even close.
Two of my best friends are staunch Jewish-American Republicans, and I’m shocked to find out they’re in the minority in the Jewish-American community. I’m not saying Democrats are anti-Israel, but Republicans sure seem to defend Israel more frequently and passionately.
So why do most Jewish-Americans vote Democrat? Are Republicans supporting Israel for Jewish-American votes or more for evangelical votes? Moreover, do Democrats really support Israel? Does President Obama? Or is the Israeli lobby “forcing” American politicians to support Israel?
I’d especially like to hear from Jewish-Americans on these questions.
Photo Credit: Secretary of Defense