‘Every Democrat assumes the biggest discernible group giving money is Jews’

Yesterday I did my usual angst-ridden tapdance as I wrote that we need to talk about "Jewish money" in American politics. Here are Jim Lobe and M.J. Rosenberg speaking logically about the issue in a recent post by Lobe, which shows how even delicate issues can be addressed by smart journalists. 

Despite their relatively small number – about two percent of the total U.S. population and about three percent of voters in most elections, Jewish Americans are major donors to political campaigns, accounting for as much as 25 percent of all financial contributions to national campaigns and as much as 40 percent of all contributions to Democratic candidates, in particular.

They are also widely – if often mistakenly – seen by political candidates as virtually unconditional supporters of Israel prepared to reward or punish candidates based on their positions on the Jewish state.

"Every Democrat assumes that the biggest discernible group that contributes to their campaign is Jews," according to M.J. Rosenberg, a Middle East analyst who worked for the most powerful Lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), in the 1980s.

"…(I)f a donor has a Jewish name, or is known to be Jewish, the assumption is that he or she is pro-Israel and will be offended by any deviation from the [Lobby's] line," he said.

A few comments. The old dodge was, Jewish voters were in key states. The great thing about Lobe’s post is that it dispenses with this hypocrisy. Lobe’s 40 percent to Dems has been estimated at 60 percent for Democratic presidential candidates, by the Washington Post. Also, Lobe’s statement that political candidates are often mistaken in regarding the Jewish community as monolithic on the Israel question, well, I differ from my good friend here. As the J Street experience shows, the Jewish community has been overwhelmingly supportive of rightwing Israeli policies. Has any candidate shown that individual Jewish donors, as Jews, are going to support liberal policies vis-a-vis Palestinians? I don’t see it. Yes we are building a movement inside Jewish life to oppose existing policies. But how significant is it?

Finally, isn’t it interesting that the Wikipedia entry on the Israel lobby describes it as chiefly Christian? What an irresponsible dodge. Until the Jewish community takes responsibility for its role in Israel’s militarism — as leading Zionist historian Melvin Urofsky did, when he wrote a book called We Are One!, and described the relationship between American Jews and Israel as a "marriage"– we won’t be able to get out of this political puzzle. In the end, it really does involve Jewish identity.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 11 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Rowan says:

    Jewish identity… it certainly does keep popping up, just when you think you’ve given it the slip. Do you remember the “Jubus” — jewish buddhists? Whatever would the buddha have said?

  2. potsherd says:

    Jewish voters are definitely in key states. But Jewish donors cross all lines. This was supposed to be the point of the McMahon campaign list.

    • Les says:

      Because Jews generally live in states with large populations, their influence is dissipated within those states.

  3. kylebisme says:

    Finally, isn’t it interesting that the Wikipedia entry on the Israel lobby describes it as chiefly Christian?

    It says “largely Christian,” obviously referring to the fact that around 36% of American Christians “believe that Israel fulfills the biblical prophecy about Jesus’ second coming.” In regard to “chiefly,” sure the majority of the Zionist chieftains of the are Jewish, but they wouldn’t have accumulated their money and connections without that massive Christian Zionist voting block from the beginnings of the Zionist movement, nor can the Zionist chieftains (both Jewish and otherwise), retain their control of policy without that massive Christian Zionist voting block. I contend it’s irresponsible to not acknowledge as much.

    • American says:

      Well I am just going to comment from my southern perch in the heart of evangelical land.
      First, I don’t know where those ‘large numbers of christian zionist” are.
      In most places thru out the south the evans are religious fringes usually referred to in derogatory terms or with a ‘uh hu sure’ polite way of not having to comment of their misguidedness. They are so outside of the mainstream Protestant majority that makes up the religious communities of the south they aren’t even a topic of conservation, aren’t involved in and don’t have any local political clout. Mostly they are the undereducated lower and lower middle class and don’t have much money to speak of to donate to anything. They might give a few bucks a week to the TV God merchants or some storefront evang in town but that’s about it.
      And no doubt most of the money collected from these poor fools ends up in Hagee’s and his ilks pocket with some token and publicized sum being donated to Israel. But the whole deal is these christian zios are in for the doomsday “Salvation” scenario, really. Hard to believe this kind of stupidy but there it is. I was out looking at some property in the country last month and got in a conservation with one. Not a bad guy, nice actually, but telling me how the “prophecy” is coming true cause the world is in such bad shape. They aren’t necessarily even raving lunatics, but very simpled minded people who have just latched onto religion, biblical prophecy and the doomsday and chris- zio theme as something to explain their universe and how they are going to get their salvation. Being when God comes back and bleievers- non believers battle takes place in Israel and then all the true believers go straight to heaven.
      Basically both the numbers and the clout of christian zios are way over estimated fromnwhat I see and every non tradition group sometimes lumped in with them. But of course the leaders of this want people to think it is a popular and powerful majority group because it inflates the idea of their political power, gives it some kind of popular legitimacy among their members and encourages other to join.

      • kylebisme says:

        First, I don’t know where those ‘large numbers of christian zionist” are.
        They are all over the place, plenty here in Kansas, and I just recently met a Catholic Zionist from D.C. Yes they are generally poor and stupid, but the latter is what makes them such a powerful voting block, and why Bush and McCain played so heavily on them.

  4. You’re right. You haven’t succeeded in addressing “the” issue, as you are utterly unclear what “the” issue is.

    And, that lack of clarity, and then discipline to that clarity, is what brands your commentary as prejudicial. (Not only yours.)

    “As the J Street experience shows, the Jewish community has been overwhelmingly supportive of rightwing Israeli policies. Has any candidate shown that individual Jewish donors, as Jews, are going to support liberal policies vis-a-vis Palestinians? I don’t see it. Yes we are building a movement inside Jewish life to oppose existing policies. But how significant is it?”

    Single-state as reform? (NO, that is revolution.) Militias as “democratic” governance. (NO, that is fascism, much moreso than even Israel Beitanhu.) Only the nakba is truth of 1948. (NO, that is certainly part/interpretation of the story, not nothing, but not the fullness that truth is.) BDS as dissent. (NO, that is effort at shunning and isolation in much of its current form.) Arabism as “American interests”, but Israeli self-determination isn’t.

    What liberal perspective are you presenting?

    • Citizen says:

      BDS is NOT an effort at shunning and isolation anymore than any historical boycott movement has been–are you saying this of all of them too? Are you totally against boycotts as instruments of progressive change? And, if “Arabism” is not in American interests, how so is Zionism? What liberal perspective are you presenting, Witty?

  5. hayate says:

    “Finally, isn’t it interesting that the Wikipedia entry on the Israel lobby describes it as chiefly Christian? What an irresponsible dodge. ”

    :D

    I’ve seen some real howlers by the zionist wiki crew in the service of ziofascism, inc., but that takes the prize for the most obviously stupid of them.

    • hayate says:

      I’ll bet that was not the first version from the “look over there” crowd. They probably named black people as the movers and shakers originally, but then theone of then with a greater than 90 IQ realised that could backfire.

      ;D