Will Jewish Democrats Sink the Iran Deal?

 

shutterstock_197638877“Seven Jewish Lawmakers Could Tilt the Scales on Iran Deal,” headlines The Times of Israel. The members — Sen. Charles Schumer, Rep. Steven Israel, Rep. Eliot Engel, Rep. Adam Schiff, Rep. Nita Lowey, Sen. Ben Cardin, and Rep. Ted Deutch – are all Democrats. They must choose between loyalty to their party’s president, and concern about what the deal portends for Israeli and American security.

There are long and short answers to the question: “Why are Jews liberal?” The long answer traces back to the Enlightenment in Europe when parties of the right were monarchist and anti-Semitic, while parties of the left favored pluralism and religious freedom. I don’t buy the long argument. Tsar Alexander III, who instigated pogroms against the Jews, is long dead. So is Napoleon, who liberated them. In the meantime, Jews have suffered under communists, who proved just as cruel as the monarchists.

Jewish liberals often explain that their views spring from Jewish tradition, which admonishes the Jewish people to engage in “tikkun olam” or “healing the world.” I’m skeptical. Tikkun Olam is traditionally understood as adhering faithfully to the commandments (keeping kosher, visiting the sick, and observing the Sabbath, for example), the better to prepare the world for the messianic age. Many of those who brandish the Hebrew phrase today have commandeered it to bolster support for same sex marriage, government-run health care, and the rest of the progressive agenda — an interpretation that would, to quote the immortal words of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, “cross a rabbi’s eyes.”

No, the short explanation of Jewish liberalism is straightforward. Jewish Americans tend to be disproportionately urban, secular, and educated. Each of those categories is highly correlated with liberalism and membership in the Democratic Party — God (you should forgive the expression) help us. Speaking of Him, Jewish Americans are less likely than any other religious group in America to say they believe in God. A 2013 Pew poll found that 62 percent of Jews reported that their identity was rooted mainly in culture and ancestry rather that religion. Only 34 percent of Jews said they were certain that God exists, compared with 69 percent of the general public (though an additional 38 percent say they believe, but without certainty, placing believers in the majority).

While 62 percent of American Christians and 81 percent of Muslims report attending services at least monthly, only 23 percent of Jews do. Fifty-eight percent of Jewish adults are college graduates, compared with 29 percent of the general population. About 20 percent of Americans live in rural areas. This is true of only 4 percent of American Jews.

Even without knowing anything else about Jews, the above statistics would predict what we see: That about 70 percent of American Jews lean Democrat, while 22 percent are Republicans.

Still, for those Democrats pondering what the Iran vote will mean for their own political futures, other statistics should pull them up short. Though comparatively irreligious, 70 percent of American Jews remain strongly or somewhat strongly attached to the State of Israel. Though some liberal Jews may have, at times, been persuaded by Obama Administration claims that troubles in relations with Israel are traceable to Bibi Netanyahu’s prickly personality, that line is less likely to be effective now that all major parties in Israel have united in opposition to the Iran deal/capitulation.

But here’s the kicker that Senators Schumer, Cardin, and others will want to bear in mind: The American Jewish world is changing very fast. The older, more secular, doggedly liberal Jews are dying off, falling away from organized Jewish life, and intermarrying (which means their children are no longer Jewish in most cases). Orthodox Jews, by contrast, are thriving, and they have large families – 10 or more children are not uncommon. In New York City, the Orthodox accounted for 33 percent of Jews in 2002, but 40 percent only 10 years later. In 2012, 74 percent of Jewish children in New York were growing up in Orthodox homes. The religious/cultural conservatism of these observant Jews affects their political affiliation. Fifty-seven percent of Orthodox Jews are Republicans, and huge majorities are very concerned about Israel.

They might forgive a vote for Obamacare, but a vote to provide billions of dollars to the paymasters of Hezbollah and Hamas; a vote to permit the Iranian regime to acquire missiles, stealth aircraft and more with which to kill Americans and Israelis; a vote that, in essence, accepts the eventual nuclearization of Iran without any corresponding concessions from the mullahs – do Democrats want to chance it?

Published in Foreign Policy
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  1. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Mona,

    For once this isn’t about The Jews and The History of Western Civilization. This is about common sense and survival. American security, European security, Middle Eastern security, and yes Israeli security are all on the line.

    Schumer needs to ask himself whether anything that the current Administration can give him, including the Senate Minority leader position, is worth stabbing Israel, America, and the Human Race in the back. This isn’t a bad deal this is no deal at all! We are giving Iran everything and getting nothing.

    Joe Lieberman said that if Schumer came over he’d swing the vote because enough would follow his lead. Joe was in the Senate a long time he is probably a very good judge. Joe Lieberman also said, “You can’t make a deal with someone who is trying to kill you.” That sums it up better than anything else I’ve heard.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #1
  2. Mona Charen Contributor
    Mona Charen
    @MonaCharen

    James Gawron:Mona,

    For once this isn’t about The Jews and The History of Western Civilization. This is about common sense and survival. American security, European security, Middle Eastern security, and yes Israeli security are all on the line.

    Schumer needs to ask himself whether anything that the current Administration can give him, including the Senate Majority leader position, is worth stabbing Israel, America, and the Human Race in the back. This isn’t a bad deal this is no deal at all! We are giving Iran everything and getting nothing.

    Joe Lieberman said that if Schumer came over he’d swing the vote because enough would follow his lead. Joe was in the Senate a long time he is probably a very good judge. Joe Lieberman also said, “You can’t make a deal with someone who is trying to kill you.” That sums it up better than anything else I’ve heard.

    Regards,

    Jim

    No argument. Yet I have a tiny bit of doubt that Schumer et al vote their consciences. That’s why I’m drawing attention to their self-interest.

    • #2
  3. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Prepare to be disapponted. I just don’t see Jews changing voting patterns when they place more faith in the progressive agenda (and Obama) than in the God of Israel. And even if they did, I don’t see their electoral influence being enough for Schumer et al to abandon Obama.

    • #3
  4. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    My concern is that some of these Jewish lawmakers will be able to convince themselves that Obama and Kerry are right, and that the deal is actually the best possible thing that could happen for both Israel and the United States.

    Could they be that stupid? I don’t have much reason to think otherwise.

    • #4
  5. Commodore BTC Inactive
    Commodore BTC
    @CommodoreBTC

    Elected democrats have let Obama send them off the electoral cliff since his presidency began.

    I see no reason for it to stop now.

    • #5
  6. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Mona Charen:

    James Gawron:Mona,

    For once this isn’t about The Jews and The History of Western Civilization. This is about common sense and survival. American security, European security, Middle Eastern security, and yes Israeli security are all on the line.

    Schumer needs to ask himself whether anything that the current Administration can give him, including the Senate Minority leader position, is worth stabbing Israel, America, and the Human Race in the back. This isn’t a bad deal this is no deal at all! We are giving Iran everything and getting nothing.

    Joe Lieberman said that if Schumer came over he’d swing the vote because enough would follow his lead. Joe was in the Senate a long time he is probably a very good judge. Joe Lieberman also said, “You can’t make a deal with someone who is trying to kill you.” That sums it up better than anything else I’ve heard.

    Regards,

    Jim

    No argument. Yet I have a tiny bit of doubt that Schumer et al vote their consciences. That’s why I’m drawing attention to their self-interest.

    Mona,

    He could care less about Jewish demographics in ten years. He wants to be paid now and hang onto power. He can do that without the Orthodox vote that won’t be in effect for decades.

    Somewhere in Chuck’s soul is his conscience. It’s time to find it and purify it. You know like when you kasher a utensil to make it kosher. With a blowtorch if necessary.

    Everyone start sending Chuck emails, letters, or call his office. Let’s let Chuck know that we care and that we won’t forget!

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #6
  7. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Honestly, to me, the strongest argument is that if the deal goes badly, they will be singled out by history as the one’s responsible.  If Tel Aviv goes up in a mushroom claim in 15 years, no one is going to care how Charlie Rangel voted.  But they will come back to Schumer and wonder why he didn’t do anything when he had the chance.  From a historical reputational perspective, it might be the most important vote any of those Democrats will take.

    • #7
  8. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    All the Jews I know have been calling their congresscritters.

    • #8
  9. David Sussman Contributor
    David Sussman
    @DaveSussman

    Mona, I just got back from NYC. There were 10,000 people in Times Square rallying against the Iran Deal. Everywhere I went there are young Jewish males wearing yarmulkes with their tzitzits hanging.

    I don’t know NY politics other than it’s a very blue state. However, there are entire towns of orthodox Jews (ie: New City) who vote and donate to those in alliance with Israel.

    Chuck Schumer is first and foremost a politician. One would have to assume he is mindful of his own political future which can extend well beyond Obamas remaining time in office. For that, I am hopeful.

    • #9
  10. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    Schumer, et al., are Democrats first, and Jews second.  They’re in the cultural and not religious demographic.  As such, they’ll follow their Democrat demographic.  They don’t give a rat’s patootie about reputations 15 years from now; they care about the current dependency of others on them and their own nearby personal political gain.  Full stop.

    The Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal will be voted down on party lines, and Obama’s veto will be sustained on the same party lines.

    Eric Hines

    • #10
  11. Welshman21 Inactive
    Welshman21
    @Welshman21

    I agree with Mona’s analysis on the recent NTK pod. American Jews are fairly doctrinaire liberals and will be for the forseable future. They are an infintesimal slice of the electoral pie however. The concern for Schumer et al are Jewish donors, not Jewish voters.

    • #11
  12. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    The observant/non-observant distinction is the best explanation I’ve ever heard for why American Jews are often liberal Democrats.  And it also connects to the reason that practicing Evangelical Christians in America are some of the best friends Israel has on this planet.

    • #12
  13. Welshman21 Inactive
    Welshman21
    @Welshman21

    Eric Hines is correct btw. There is zero chance that Obama’s veto is not sustained. This deal is now done.

    • #13
  14. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Well I believe God is both great and good, so anything is possible. I just doubt enough Jewish Democrats will rebel to topple this deal. Furthermore from everything I gather if our Congress actually kills the deal with a veto override I think Obama will just let Iran go free anyway. They have basically threatened this already. The whole sanctions regime will fall apart.

    The more I look at this situation I am convinced that this is all a face saving measure for Obama. The sanctions were secretly crumbling as Russia, China and Europe were licking their chops to “do business” with Iran. That is the ultimate failure here more than anything. Now if we reject the deal we will lose sanctions, and inspections. Iran will get their money and nukes either way. The only thing at stake is Obama’s pride. If we pass the deal he can say he reached out and struck a deal. If it fails he has egg on his face. By extension so will the Democrats. I think their political interest in the short term is to continue the illusion.

    • #14
  15. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    For some Jews, I can’t say how many, being a Democrat is a visceral reaction to the perceived rejection that Jews have long suffered from the Republican country club set, which included college fraternities and corporate board rooms as well.

    I remember a scene from the movie “Quiz Show,” in which the young Jewish prosecutor is invited by Mark Van Doren to have lunch at his Manhattan club with Mark and his son Charles. Mark mentions that they make a very good Reuben, to which the young Jew replies, “Yes, but they don’t allow many Reuben’s in here.”

    Jackie Mason jokes often about how Jews became professionals and merchants because they were not welcome in the big corporations. It’s funny because it’s true.

    Jews feel more at home in the Democratic party, notwithstanding that Roosevelt did not let the refugees from Hitler come in, that Truman prosecuted the Rosenbergs, that Nixon saved Israel during the 1973 war, that today the contributions of Jews to the civil rights movement are largely forgotten and Jews are vilified by black nationalists and Muslims.

    Only the most thoughtful of Jews can overcome these feelings that they took in with their mother’s milk to see that voting for the Democrats is contrary to their own interests.

    Perhaps this Iranian nuclear deal will be a tipping point.

    • #15
  16. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Welshman21:Eric Hines is correct btw.There is zero chance that Obama’s veto is not sustained.This deal is now done.

    How convenient. No need to try. Just write it off.

    Chuck just needs to get the idea. He needs to understand that sometimes the truth is painful.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #16
  17. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Welshman21:Eric Hines is correct btw.There is zero chance that Obama’s veto is not sustained.This deal is now done.

    Oh, it’s much worse than that.  The sanctions are now dead.  Even if Congress overrides Obama’s veto, the Russians and Chinese will be shipping missiles and other weapons to Iran.

    • #17
  18. david foster Member
    david foster
    @DavidFoster

    Jews have historically placed high value on education…this was a *good* thing when education was substantive, but as universities have become more and more left-leaning and focused on indoctrination, then Jews have been disproportionately influenced in this direction precisely because of their affinity for pursuing education and taking it seriously.

    Although leftists usually argue that Evangelical support of Israel is based on theological considerations, this is only part of the story.  The other part is that most Evangelicals are members of social groups that are outside the force field centered on university leftists and transmitted and amplified by the NYT and similar media.

    • #18
  19. david foster Member
    david foster
    @DavidFoster

    In a history book somewhere, I read a description about Jews in a remote Russian village who–in 1941–looked forward eagerly to the arrival of the German invaders. They remembered the well-behaved German officers and troops from the earlier war, who had been much preferable to the local corrupt and anti-Semitic officialdom.  (Indeed, some of the 1914 invaders had likely been themselves Jewish.)

    They didn’t realize that “German soldier” in 1941 meant something quite different from “German soldier” in 1914.  (Even though some of the *individuals* were probably the same)

    They had an excuse, given their remoteness and poor communications.  I think many Jews in 2015 America are making the same mistake, with much less excuse.

    • #19
  20. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    Eric Hines:Schumer, et al., are Democrats first, and Jews second. They’re in the cultural and not religious demographic. As such, they’ll follow their Democrat demographic. They don’t give a rat’s patootie about reputations 15 years from now; they care about the current dependency of others on them and their own nearby personal political gain. Full stop.

    The Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal will be voted down on party lines, and Obama’s veto will be sustained on the same party lines.

    Eric Hines

    I hope you got this completely wrong, but I’ve got a really sinking concern that you’ve described our future.

    • #20
  21. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    To answer the question posed by the title of your post:

    I hope so . . .

    • #21
  22. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    jetstream:

    Eric Hines:Schumer, et al., are Democrats first, and Jews second. They’re in the cultural and not religious demographic. As such, they’ll follow their Democrat demographic. They don’t give a rat’s patootie about reputations 15 years from now; they care about the current dependency of others on them and their own nearby personal political gain. Full stop.

    The Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal will be voted down on party lines, and Obama’s veto will be sustained on the same party lines.

    Eric Hines

    I hope you got this completely wrong, but I’ve got a really sinking concern that you’ve described our future.

    Don’t misunderstand me: I’ve only predicted the next 18 months of our future (and I could be wrong–it does happen…).  It’s increasingly likely, though, that we’ll get a Republican President, and he can–with or without the possibly then-Democrat Senate’s concurrence–strike this Executive Agreement entirely on his own initiative.

    And begin enforcing the unilateral sanctions that the motorboat skipper who sits in SecState’s chair has refused to say he’d honor if this “deal” is shut down by this Congress.

    Eric Hines

    • #22
  23. Bkelley14 Inactive
    Bkelley14
    @Bkelley14

    Eric Hines:

    jetstream:

    Eric Hines:Schumer, et al., are Democrats first, and Jews second. They’re in the cultural and not religious demographic. As such, they’ll follow their Democrat demographic. They don’t give a rat’s patootie about reputations 15 years from now; they care about the current dependency of others on them and their own nearby personal political gain. Full stop.

    The Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal will be voted down on party lines, and Obama’s veto will be sustained on the same party lines.

    Eric Hines

    I hope you got this completely wrong, but I’ve got a really sinking concern that you’ve described our future.

    Don’t misunderstand me: I’ve only predicted the next 18 months of our future (and I could be wrong–it does happen…). It’s increasingly likely, though, that we’ll get a Republican President, and he can–with or without the possibly then-Democrat Senate’s concurrence–strike this Executive Agreement entirely on his own initiative.

    And begin enforcing the unilateral sanctions that the motorboat skipper who sits in SecState’s chair has refused to say he’d honor if this “deal” is shut down by this Congress.

    Eric Hines

    ————————————————————

    “It’s increasingly likely, though, that we’ll get a Republican President, ”

    Do tell, do you know something the rest of us don’t?

    • #23
  24. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    James Gawron:

    Welshman21:Eric Hines is correct btw.There is zero chance that Obama’s veto is not sustained.This deal is now done.

    How convenient. No need to try. Just write it off.

    I didn’t read that as not trying. He just didn’t think we’re going to win.

    For some people, a seemingly hopeless situation can bring out the best fight in them.  It’s easy to go for broke when you think you have nothing more to lose.

    • #24
  25. Retail Lawyer Member
    Retail Lawyer
    @RetailLawyer

    I am surprised Obama has as much support as he does in this matter.  The deal looks to be an embarrassment and catastrophe.  When does Obama’s lame duck phase begin?  Did I over-estimate the survival instincts of the Democratic Party, for which Obama has pretty much been a disaster?

    I have long thought that being a Jewish liberal was pretty much a luxury posture, in that it could not be maintained as life got tougher (which liberal power guarantees). Life is getting much tougher.  Any Jewish liberals in France?

    This will not work out well for the Democratic Party.

    • #25
  26. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Retail Lawyer:I am surprised Obama has as much support as he does in this matter. The deal looks to be an embarrassment and catastrophe. When does Obama’s lame duck phase begin? Did I over-estimate the survival instincts of the Democratic Party, for which Obama has pretty much been a disaster?

    I have long thought that being a Jewish liberal was pretty much a luxury posture, in that it could not be maintained as life got tougher (which liberal power guarantees). Life is getting much tougher. Any Jewish liberals in France?

    This will not work out well for the Democratic Party.

    We are in a phase much like the era between World War I and World War II.  The cost of World War I considered so high that people did everything in their power to avoid going to war again.  The result was the single largest armed conflict in human history.  Not that something like that could happen to us.  After all, we have iPods.

    • #26
  27. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    “Will Jewish Democrats sink the Iran deal?”

    LOL, of course not. Oh, they’ll make lots of noise about their “concerns”, but then it gets right down to it, they’re not going to cross Barack Obama. This president could defecate on the Wailing Wall, and they’d find some way to defend it.

    • #27
  28. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Mona Charen:

    No argument. Yet I have a tiny bit of doubt that Schumer et al vote their consciences. That’s why I’m drawing attention to their self-interest.

    Schumer et al have consciences? Who knew? One of the benefits of Ricochet is learning new things all the time.

    As for their self interest. They’re allrightniks. They know they’ll be fine. They’re insulated from the consequences of their policies and actions by the gigantic amounts of money they’ve somehow managed to acquire in their careers as public servants. Even if they lose an election (Shumer is up in 2016 but does anyone think he won’t win going away no matter how he votes?) they’ll cash in on the speaker circuit and as lobbyists. They have their bolt holes in out of the way places (places like Martha’s Vineyard and Catalina Island count because they’re effectively moated) ready to go in case things go pear-shaped.

    Obama will give them some kind of fig leaf like his “personal guarantee” or a bowl of pottage (like the airport subsidy Bart Stupak, who is now a lobbyist for Venable LLP,  got for throwing over his “conscience” and constituents on Obamacare).

    I will be astonished if Schumer votes no.

    • #28
  29. Mona Charen Contributor
    Mona Charen
    @MonaCharen

    All good comments. Thank you.

    • #29
  30. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Eric Hines:Schumer, et al., are Democrats first, and Jews second. They’re in the cultural and not religious demographic. As such, they’ll follow their Democrat demographic. They don’t give a rat’s patootie about reputations 15 years from now; they care about the current dependency of others on them and their own nearby personal political gain. Full stop.

    The Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal will be voted down on party lines, and Obama’s veto will be sustained on the same party lines.

    Eric Hines

    Eric’s observation is correct, as is his prediction – to the degree our corrupt Congressional leadership actually allows a vote, of course.

    The political left emerges from fallen individuals, people of the left – those who, in the freedom of material comfort they did not create, have chosen to value their own minds over reality. Given the freedom to choose, which we productive few have provided, most people choose to build their world around ideas that elevate their own wealth, status, and power.

    • #30
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