Last week, as a follow up to his “chickenshit” article, Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg hypothesized that American Jews, if faced with a choice between supporting Israel and supporting the Democratic party, will increasingly turn away from Israel due to the perception (or misperception) that Israel is becoming “increasingly illiberal.” The results of Tuesday’s midterm elections, however, don’t support this theory.
According to a press release from the Republican Jewish Coalition, exit polls show that a full third of Jewish voters voted Republican on Tuesday. (Update: a Pew survey corroborates this result.) Compared to the results in 2008, when 78% of Jewish voters voted for Obama, this figure is remarkable. In a separate RJC press release, the group highlights eighteen races in which an RJC-supported candidate ran against a candidate backed by J Street, the Soros-funded lobby group whose policies with respect to Israel have been most closely mirrored by the Obama administration. At the time of the release, with three races still undecided, RJC candidates had won eleven of them, with J Street-backed candidates taking only four. (At the time of this writing, there was one additional victory for a candidate listed by RJC as a J Street-backed candidate, bringing the total to five.)
This upsurge in support for Republican candidates, of course, is in part reflective of the nationwide movement towards Republican candidates that has brought about a Republican majority in the Senate, and dissatisfaction with a wide array of the President’s policies among Jews and non-Jews alike. It would be quite difficult to argue, however, that Obama’s stance on Israel did not play an important role in increasing Jewish support for Republicans. While Obama was not on the ballot, he himself has said that his policies were. This included both his domestic and his foreign policies, among them, his policies with respect to Israel. Some of those policies have been endorsing housing discrimination against Jews in Jerusalem, effectively putting an arms embargo on Israel during Operation Protective Edge, failing to adhere to his campaign statements recognizing that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, and probably most importantly, his appeasement of Iran.
In the wake of these elections results, Obama maintains that he does not feel repudiated by the results overall. Most of us living on planet earth, however, do see it that way. After six years of feuding between US President Obama and Israeli PM Netanyahu, one is stronger than ever at home, and one is weaker than ever at home. One of them is certainly disconnected from reality, but I don’t think Jeff Goldberg knows which one.
Looking ahead from this Democratic defeat, it’s important to take note of some rumors that surfaced earlier this week. The Algemeiner makes the claim that, in his October meeting with Netanyahu, Obama threatened to withhold the US veto at the UN Security Council “unless Israel accedes to American policy demands.” Such a threat would seem to apply to a still-hypothetical resolution calling on Israel to withdraw to the 1967 ceasefire lines, a move that would put the Western Wall, along with the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives, in Palestinian hands.
Distrust of Obama is so high that there had already been speculation on this issue even before the Algemeiner report. With midterm elections behind him, there is a fear that there may be nothing to constrain Obama from showing the true depths of his anti-Israel feelings. But this election shows the movement of a formerly reliable contingent of the Democrat’s base of support not only away from Obama himself, but away from the party he leads and especially from candidates that espouse Jeremy Ben-Ami’s anti-Israel views. Withholding a veto on the Security Council and taking a step towards putting the Western Wall under Palestinian control would be likely be unforgivable to many current party loyalists, even to many who support the creation of a Palestinian state. Those who advise the President, those who care about their party and its future, would do well to point out to him that such a move would damage his party in ways that could take decades, or longer, to undo.