WHILE YOU STAND ON ONE LEG: Among the “Jexodus” pieces this week is one saying pro-Israel Jews in the Democratic party have two options – acquiescence in its increasingly anti-Israel, even anti-Jewish stance, or leaving that party. I gratuitously suggest a third option – stay there and endeavor to wrest back full support for the Jewish homeland, America’s politically beleaguered democratic Mideast ally. I argue this is in the best interest of the Democrats, Republicans, America, Israel and Jews. I toss in a task for my fellow pro-Israel GOP Jews.
This Week: Tasks for All Politically Active American Jews
American Jews, like all other U.S. citizens, have two political tasks: to vote, and to involve themselves, at least minimally, in their chosen party’s formulation of issue positions. Read on, I’m not about to try to tell you how to vote – your own decision involving the weighing of many factors, pro and con to the voter, of each candidate running. What’s in the purview of this weekly speak-up-for-Israel email, I think, is a plea to Israel supporters in both parties directed to their second political task – influencing their party’s positions on Jewish and Israel-related political issues. Still touchy, I fear, but here goes.
Dems: There’s an Elephant-sized Donkey in the room, named “Jexodus” (see Jexodus.com), and there’s no point in pretending there isn’t. The issue for Jewish Dems is how to respond to it. Not being one, I gratuitously offer my co-religionists of that political persuasion two alternative views – the President’s very definite one, and a more hesitant one of my own.
As Jexodus starter Elizabeth Pipko puts it, per Bruce Bawer on FrontPageMag.com this week, Jewish Americans and the Democratic Party: Time To Go? Welcome to Jexodus (3/11/19): “Right now as a Jewish person, you cannot support the Democratic party and support the Jewish people at the same time.”
President Trump (Politico Friday, Trump Applauds ‘Jexodus’ Movement, Calls on Jewish Voters To Become Republicans) tweeted Friday: “The ‘Jexodus’ movement encourages Jewish people to leave the Democrat party…. Total disrespect! Republicans are waiting with open arms. Remember Jerusalem (U.S. Embassy) and the horrible Iran nuclear deal.”
In one Jexodus variation, an open letter to “Jewish American Liberals” making the rounds on the internet, the letter’s addressees are presented a choice: “to once again vote Democrat in 2020” or to “walk away now, before the next election.”
I think Jews registered Democrat have a third choice: stay and fight for your party’s pro-Israel position. Some years ago I attended a ZOA dinner in New York at which it seemed to me (all right, after the cocktail hour) that three extraordinary things happened: The ZOA presented an award to liberal Democrat Professor Alan Dershowitz. Dershowitz showed up to accept it. And what he did when he got there: Introduce with high praise as one his most brilliant students the evening’s main speaker, Senator Cruz. In his own remarks, Prof. Dershowitz stressed the importance of support for Israel in the U.S. Congress being bipartisan. In time, control of the Congress will change, he warned. And rightful U.S. support for Israel should not be political. That view made sense to me, even after effects of the cocktail hour had dissipated. It still does.
I do not think that the driving anti-Jewish, anti-Israel impetus of freshmen Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib, or even that of veteran sometimes-Democrat and almost-once and yet-may-be President Bernie Sanders, is so overwhelming that the anti-Jewish anti-Israel tide they’re fomenting cannot be stayed and reversed. At least it’s not so unassailably overwhelming that Jewish and pro-Israel Democrats should simply slink away and cede the Israel policy of the Democratic Party to them. Stay and fight for what’s just and right. And for once it may be helpful that the bulk of American Jews are Democrats (never thought I’d see myself saying that).
There’s a further reason as well. There should be some genuine differences (light years this side of “The Green New Deal”) between America’s two principal parties. Two that stand out today, substantively and emotionally, are abortion and borders. Most Republicans (my take) don’t frame the first issue as whether or not “a woman has the right to choose,” but that society’s view of life is cheapened by voluntary destruction of not-fully-developed but living beings in the womb. To cite a far lesser example, it’s the community, not just a single property, that’s damaged and lessened by graffiti and roadside litter. And I think most Republicans agree with President Trump’s assertion that “if you don’t have a border, you don’t have a country.” (Some of you know that the fraternal order Brith Sholom received visas from the State Department in 1939 to bring fifty looming-Holocaust-endangered Austrian children to America, which it did in a harrowing through-Germany journey. Brith Sholom had to guarantee that none of these children would become public charges during their youth.) Liberal Jews switching from the Democratic to the Republican party would bring their liberal views with them, I think.
In many states, including Pennsylvania, where a majority of the subscribers to this email reside, party registration is a prerequisite to voting in primary, but not general, elections. Jews are a small fraction of the U.S. electorate, but we tend to reside in metropolitan areas and to vote in a higher turnout percent than the overall average. Here, too, a majority of Jews staying registered Democrat and standing up and voting in primaries for candidates supporting rightful party positions on issues particularly related to the democratic Jewish homeland of Israel and us, with no general election constraints, may prove beneficial
GOP: But Jews registered Republican, like me, have issue-related responsibilities too. By us, President Trump took a just, honorable and courageous step in what’s interpreted as his recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (what he actually said was “Israel’s capital is in Jerusalem”), and in moving the Embassy there in the face of European-ally and other strenuous opposition and violence warnings and threats. (And recall the shameful U.S. media split-screen coverage of the Embassy opening ceremony and same time Hamas-orchestrated “demonstrations” in Gaza.)
But there’s another shoe – “The Deal Of The Century” – yet to drop. Its terms are still secret, but reputedly include significant concessions by both sides. Rumors swirl whether Israel’s include a new Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan, redivision of Jerusalem, etc. All this against the endless rhythm of “Palestinian” propaganda that Jews have no historic Jerusalem connection, that Israel is a colonial European intrusion into the Arab Mideast, that Israel’s “1948 creation,” the “Nakba,” displaced the native “Palestinian” population from their homes, giving rise to their “right of return,” etc. At the least, the stated goal of most of the rest of the world (see UNSC 2334) is reversal of the result of the Six Day War in Judea-Samaria and Jerusalem and Golan Heights, where Israeli presence is “settlements” in “occupied Palestinian territory.”
The current expectation is that the Trump peace plan will be announced after the Israeli elections in April, not long from now. The responsibility of Republican Jews in my view is to make clear now, before that, that the Jewish people claim the entirety of the Jewish homeland, Palestine west of the Jordan, including historic Jerusalem and Judea-Samaria, and that the Palestine Mandate’s “two states for two peoples” are Israel and the 78% of it east of the Jordan, with its Palestinian Arab-majority population, Jordan, and to reject the premise of UNSC 2334 making the old 1949 Israel-Jordan military ceasefire line, obliterated by renewed 1967 fighting, into one of the Holy Land’s holy places.
As part of this, we must purge from our own lips the lexicon of Jewish homeland delegitimizing phrases so loved by the media and Israel’s detractors – “Israel’s 1948 creation and founding … displacement of ‘Palestinians’ by the war [Arab invasion] that followed Israel’s creation … Israel’s 1967 borders … captured by Israel in 1967 … West Bank and East Jerusalem … settlers and settlements [in contradistinction to Palestinian neighborhoods, towns and villages] … occupied territories, Palestinian territories, occupied Palestinian territories … etc., etc.”
If instead we declare ourselves merely in favor of a western Palestine “two-state solution,” which the Palestinian Arabs have never accepted in its U.S.-Israeli definition of “two states for two peoples,” negotiations will start from that. And support for two western Palestine states (see AIPAC position) is yet another liberal position that liberal American Jews would bring to the GOP if they switched parties. I think, better for all – Democrats, Republicans, the U.S., Israel and Jews – that they should remain there and fight.