America’s supports Israel not because of the “Jewish vote”, since most Jews vote Democratic, but because of common, conservative values.
A frequently-heard Israeli myth states that the United States supports Israel because of power of American Jewry. For example, speaking to the Jerusalem Post last week Justice Minister Yossef Lapid said, “The White House backs us because Congress does. Congress does because of the Jewish influence, both locally and in Washington.” It is a myth.
The American Jewish community is concentrated in a relatively small number of key states, congressional districts, which are mostly Democratic strongholds. However, support for Israeli is common throughout the United States and is actually much stronger on the Republican benches.
Two-thirds of Republicans describe themselves as more sympathetic to Israel than the Palestinians; only 8% are more sympathetic to the Palestinians. Among Democrats, a majority (54%) are more or equally sympathetic to Palestinians.
The Jews? Even today, with an incumbent president considered by Israeli leaders the most sympathetic ever to inhabit the White House running for reelection, 80% of American Jews are leaning towards John Kerry, despite his open opposition to the anti-terrorism barrier (he currently claims to have changed his mind), his plan to send former President Jimmy Carter as a special envoy to the Middle East, and his call for closer cooperation with the United Nations and European countries.
If the main foundation for Jewish support is not Israel, what is? A good place to search for an answer to this question would be the recent speech in the Knesset by Senator Sam Brownback, a Republican from Kansas.
Brownback began, “I was steeped and raised in the Bible while growing up. Ancient Israel was, and is, a living reality in my home … The bedrock of support for Israel in America today is comprised of Christians, like myself, who were raised on the Bible, and who see in the Jews of Israel today the inheritors of the tradition of ancient Israel.”
For the tens of millions of devout Christians, who are America’s most ardent supporters of Israel, and who wield great influence in the Republican party, the more Jewish Israel is, and the more modern Israelis are identified with the Jews of the Bible, the greater their support for Israel.
As David Wurmser, a leading advisor to Vice-President Cheney, recently wrote that Americans support Israel because they see the Jews of Israel as sharing common values, including religious values, and being willing to fight for those values.
If Americans view Israeli Jews as nothing more than typical post-modern pleasure-seekers, eager to appease their enemies so that they can get on with their pleasures, they will care less about Israel.
Brownback warned in his speech of the disappointment many Americans will feel “if your nation in the culture wars of today embraces relativism, redefines right and wrong, good and evil. . .”
From the perspective of tens of millions of American Christians, represented by Senator Brownback, Shinui and its project of de-Judaizing Israel is the greatest threat to Israel today, and Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jews are, ironically, one of its greatest assets. It is no wonder that Borwnback met with a group of rabbis before he met any Israeli public officials.
The author is a journalist and lawyer.