‘Commentary’ says amount of US political money coming from Jews is ‘staggering’

US Politics
on 21 Comments

I used to be shy about talking about Jewish money in the election process. But Sheldon Adelson has liberated us all. Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin agrees that Jewish money is an issue, even if it makes Jews “cringe.” He says 1/3 of Democratic money, when the estimates have actually been closer to half or more– 60 percent, from the Washington Post.

Note the obvious corollary of this truth, per Commentary; Obama is making all these pledges of support for Israel because he doesn’t want to alienate the Democratic donor base. Tobin:

Estimates of the amount of money Jews have donated to American politicians, parties, and causes are even less accurate than the loose estimates of Jewish votes, but there is little question that the figure is staggering. It is impossible to determine precisely the grand total contributed to only presidential candidates by individual Jewish donors, but it may well be as much or more than one third of all Democratic money and a lesser though still impressive percentage of the funds raised by Republicans…

Nevertheless, even though Jewish votes are important, Americans should expect far more media attention paid to Jewish fundraising. Thus, the true audience for the Democrats’ massive effort to convince Jews that Obama has stayed true to Israel may well not be the Jewish electorate but the Democrats’ base of Jewish donors. Reports about how his stance on Israel may affect his ability to raise money for his reelection are mixed so far. Anecdotal evidence and quotes from fundraisers about declining enthusiasm for the president are everywhere. But the vast majority of Jewish bundlers for both parties are not typical swing voters. They are in fact the most intense partisans. Given the proven willingness of many liberal Jews to grade any Democrat’s performance on Israel on a steep curve, it may be that Obama’s fundraising will not be substantially affected.

By the start of 2012, it was clear that even if reports of the Obama campaign’s ambition to raise a billion dollars were unrealistic, the amount of donated money would be enormous, if not record-setting. The same might be true of his Republican rival. Neither party nor the vast array of independent committees assisting the candidates’ efforts will lack funds in 2012. 

Given the new freedom to spend money on advocacy as a result of Citizens United, one can expect that during the course of the 2012 campaign the question of the untoward influence of Jewish money will be raised repeatedly by Israel’s critics. This will make many Jews cringe, no matter where their political loyalties lie, but they should not shrink from defending the right of groups to highlight issues of importance….

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21 Responses

  1. Woody Tanaka
    March 6, 2012, 3:31 pm

    Time for federal funding of elections. Get all of the corrupting money out of politics and decide the issues on the merits.

    • pabelmont
      March 6, 2012, 6:00 pm

      Or limit money spent to perform or to purchase performance of political action and speech:
      Non-People: LIMIT = ZERO
      People: LIMIT = $1000 (??) per year per person (incl candidates)
      for all political spending, cumulative

      Free AIRWAVES would help, and since the people own the airwaves and give them to the broadcasting corporations, we should be able to demand free distribution of radio/TV time for political ads. BUT WE MUST ALSO FORBID PURCHASE in addition to what is free.

      • Woody Tanaka
        March 6, 2012, 9:54 pm

        Pabelmont,

        Unless there is federal funding, with each candidate is afforded a set amount and a limited time for elections, and all additional spending (party, individual, PAC, etc.) outlawed, the problem and corruption will remain. Even with $1000 per year.

    • Chaos4700
      March 7, 2012, 2:37 am

      That’s never going to happen, Woody. You’d be asking the current political structure in DC to basically commit political suicide. They won’t do it. The federal government is hopelessly corrupt.

  2. pabelmont
    March 6, 2012, 5:03 pm

    Is all that “Jewish Money” RIGHT-WING-AIPAC-N’YAHU money?
    Is that what we are to think?
    Is there any way to know?

    Otherwise there is a proportion, perhaps as follows:

    100% DEM MONEY
    * 60% Jewish Money:
    *** 55% pro-AIPAC Jewish Money
    *** 5% liberal Jewish money <<< just kidding;
    <<< where'd they get so much money
    * 40% Non-Jewish Money
    *** 5% pro-evangelical-AIPAC-type Money
    *** 35% non-Israel-related money

  3. DICKERSON3870
    March 6, 2012, 5:25 pm

    RE: “…during the course of the 2012 campaign the question of the untoward influence of Jewish money will be raised repeatedly by Israel’s critics. This will make many Jews cringe, no matter where their political loyalties lie, but they should not shrink from defending the right of groups to highlight issues of importance….” ~ Tobin

    BRANDEIS: In 1913 Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, a forceful proponent for open government, stated “Sunlight is the best disinfectant; electric light the most efficient policeman”.

  4. HRK
    March 6, 2012, 6:51 pm

    I used to be shy about talking about Jewish money in the election process. But Sheldon Adelson has liberated us all.

    If politics is a public conversation or debate, then it hardly makes sense not to talk about key political players and their motives. However. . . .

    I feel shy talking about this subject, too. I think of the hurt look on, say, my Jewish doctor’s face if he ever read my name attached to a letter-to-the-editor bringing up this issue. I’m so conflicted, but ultimately, No, I just can’t bring myself to write such a letter.

    Perhaps I’m what’s wrong with our country.

    But it does feel unbecoming to complain about some other people group’s major organizations–as if the identity groups I’m associated with (evangelicals, for example) don’t have plenty of problems (the wooden literalism, the sensationalism, the Creationism, etc., etc.). As if I couldn’t spend my life criticizing those matters first.

    Also, there’s the matter of engendering anti-Semitism. Even though my criticism would be limited to exposing what I perceive of as a problem and (perhaps) blowing off a little steam (rightly or wrongly), there could be others who take what I have to say and go much too far with it. That’s a genuine concern.

    So I’m between a rock and a hard place.

    Hypothetical: Suppose Jews never existed–no such thing as a Jew. If that were the case, it’s not as if I’d be content to not engage in politics. I want to take part in the public discussion. (Why? That’s a good question. I wish I knew. Sometimes I dream about “going Amish”–you know, living that content little life, focusing on local matters or getting my personal life completely in order–taking the time to make the soles of my feel soft and look nice and pink again like they were when I was young, for example–and not caring about the world outside and around me in the least.) Yet it seems to be in my DNA to engage. (Even though, in some ways, I’m not a super political person by nature, not the political wonk sort of guy.)

    And people are naturally attracted to think about, criticize, or even laud those at the top levels of political power.

    So how am I not supposed to talk about Jewish money and influence when major Jewish organizations are so obviously at the top of the political power pyramid? It’s like this: Not talking about the new girl who shows up to school who looks like a super model and drives a red ferrari. “Have you noticed anyone new at school lately?” “Uh, well . . . not really. . . . .”

    And then there’s this war looming. And the prospect of (mostly) lower class and lower middle class Americans getting their brains/eyes/arms/legs/balls blown off and coming back never to be the same. Tears. Anguish. Pain. Suicide, even, in some cases. What about that?

    • Citizen
      March 7, 2012, 5:31 am

      HRK, how do you think America’s cannon fodder and their families think about it as they slowly begin to use the internet to do more than go on Facebook? Already, Ron Paul is their favorite POTUS candidate, and even though Ron Paul won’t win, his rational view on foreign policy has entered the heartland and it will grow, especially if Israel and/or US attack Iran.

    • ritzl
      March 7, 2012, 10:11 am

      Great comment.

      It’s probably not too far off to say that every Jew in the world had one or more family members killed by the Nazis. To then organize and use every legal, political means possible to make sure “Never Again.” means never again, is to be expected, and applauded.

      The problem is that “Never Again.” has been selectively bastardized into meaning at anyone else’s expense. Particularly powerless, innocent, non-connected people. That’s the point I try to use [when imagining my Jewish dentist's face] as I broach the subject in political conversations. Namely, do what you can to change the nature of the focus of all that individual or collective money/participation from IRoW, to “solve the problem [through justice and understanding].” Or maybe more simply, with a “What’s wrong with this picture? Do what you think is right.”

      It’s a long conversation. The recently contrived “the Jewish State” construct combined with IRoW is as simple and potent as it is wrong and manipulative. But I think that thanks to sites like this the discussion is opening, and my anecdotal experience is that the conversation doesn’t start at square one each iteration. Sometimes the conversation is just a look of acknowledgement (though not necessarily a nod of agreement).

      Again, great comment.

    • American
      March 7, 2012, 8:10 pm

      Good comment HRK.

      The thing is if you want to engage publicly on this issue you have walk the tightrope of honest facts vr what someone might misinterpret and resent.
      When you are talking to people who know you though and face to face you have less chance of being misunderstood and chance to correct if they do misunderstand.

  5. Mac
    March 7, 2012, 12:22 am

    Brilliant comment by HRK! You should be a Mondoweiss columnist.

  6. Citizen
    March 7, 2012, 5:16 am

    Our current campaign finance system makes a mockery of America as a democracy. In practice, it is a plutocracy, and so our foreign policy regarding the most geo-strategic area of the world, the Middle East, has been hijacked by a rogue nuclear armed foreign government with one of the world’s strongest military force interested only in its own wishes for itself without regard to any other country’s or people’s slightest welfare; in fact Israel views the rest of the entire world as an eternal potential or real predatory oppressor at all times, including its only real supporter, the USA.

    • seafoid
      March 7, 2012, 8:19 am

      The US civil war was fought over private power . Lincoln said it couldn’t usurp the Government’s power. C orporate power today is far more dangerous than the confederacy was.

  7. Newclench
    March 7, 2012, 8:27 am

    Most Jewish money is given by the same kinds of people for the same kinds of motives as other donors, large and small. I think the outsized influence of actual, influential pro-Israel primary dollars comes from the gatekeeping and early money function of that money.
    So looking at the totals is a bit misleading. Better to look at things like finance committee members for various campaigns, endorsements and donations by pro-Israel PACs along with the dates, etc. This post doesn’t really go there, but that’s where the influence plays out; making certain candidates credible in the first place.
    The focus on Jewish money as a % of the total obscures that, and is parallel to the fact that the vast majority of Jews vote mostly on domestic issues – just like the vast majority of all voters.
    What is interesting, is the behavior of the Jewish demographic. We are one of the very few white ethnic groups to be so solidly Democratic. (Can’t think of any others…) Why is that? We give so much money in part because Jews are pretty well off (in the aggregate – some of us are pretty working class!), but vote more like African Americans.

    • Philip Weiss
      March 7, 2012, 9:13 am

      when i was shown the door at the New York Observer in 2007, my old friend the editor told me that the new publisher is a Zionist. So by the way is Mort Zuckerman of the Daily News, and David Cohen of Comcast, which I believe helps explain Chris Matthews’s refusal to address the issue directly. I am happy to do an inventory of publishers who are non Zionist. I am sure there are many; and that they are just going along with the tide. We need to be hardheaded about this. For instance, maybe the Atlantic was just going with the tide when it killed Walt and Mearsheimer’s paper in 06, forcing the writers to go to England to publish a landmark analysis of US policymaking. As perhaps the Atlantic is going with the tide now when it publishes Wright and Fallows taking on the lobby. But when you try and dismiss the influence of pro-Israel money in the political process, you strike me as highly naive

    • Annie Robbins
      March 7, 2012, 9:32 am

      I think the outsized influence of actual, influential pro-Israel primary dollars comes from the gatekeeping and early money function of that money. So looking at the totals is a bit misleading. Better to look at things like finance committee members for various campaigns

      i think tobin covered that:

      Nevertheless, even though Jewish votes are important, Americans should expect far more media attention paid to Jewish fundraising. Thus, the true audience for the Democrats’ massive effort to convince Jews that Obama has stayed true to Israel may well not be the Jewish electorate but the Democrats’ base of Jewish donors.

      i would disagree with him that americans should expect far more media attention paid to fundraising. i think it is likely the media will be discouraged from that. true we had up/chris hayes covering it, but generally references to ‘jewish money’ get called out for being anti semitic. and it’s true about obama and most politicians re the jewish vote because they are such a small percentage of the electorate. perhaps not in states like ny, but certainly in most states.

      Jews are pretty well off (in the aggregate – some of us are pretty working class!)

      in the aggregate, compared to the rest of america, in much smaller numbers.

      the draconian gap between the rich and the average persoon in this country is so huge it would take thousands of bundlers of average peoples money to compete with rich people, and corporations. if someone has 20 million dollars or a billion there’s just no comparison to the average. look at the forbes list. these people have the power to chose who is on our ballots. with very few exceptions we have a choice between one ethnic nationalist supporter or another. same with the msm. and if people resent that, they are called anti semities. and the lobby and everyone else pretends the congress is a representation of the people when any candidate who doesn’t support israel is up against a wall of multi millionaire funders and attacked in the most vile gruesome ways. it’s so ugly, a very ugly ugly climate.

    • stevieb
      March 7, 2012, 12:19 pm

      My humble suggestiong to you Newsclench is to start thinking outside of the current political parable – Rep/Dem party. They are exactly the same people. The policies are almost exactly the same. Voting for the same parties gets the same results: war, resource theft; theft, theft and more theft. And more war.

      That’s the current reality.

  8. stevieb
    March 7, 2012, 10:58 am

    Thanks to Zionist propaganda, too many Jews are brought up believing that ALL gentiles are responsible for the Holocaust – nevermind that 50 million or so died liberating the Jews of Europe from complete extermination. Zionism is a facist policy in everyway you can imagine….

  9. American
    March 7, 2012, 7:43 pm

    “This will make many Jews cringe, no matter where their political loyalties lie, but they should not shrink from defending the right of groups to highlight issues of importance….””

    Yea they should shrink from it when it highlights partiality for Israel in their voting.
    But the zionist money men and the Jewish voters are two different things. What the zionist money men have done is create a political practice wherein politicians pander to Israel and that tells the average Jew that it’s o.k. to make the welfare of a foreign country a critical or deciding factor in their consideration in American leadership.
    Most Jews from what I see in surveys of opinions and quotes on their candidate preference say that all other things being equal they would vote for the one that supports Israel the most. But since things are never equal in parties or candidates some Jews will put US domestic concerns ahead of Israel and some won’t. And then it also depends on what a Jewish voter actually thinks is in the best interest of Israel, a peace approach or a hawkish approach.
    If you drill down to the absolute nut of Israel in US elections you get…1) Big zio campaign money and 2) certain pockets of Jewish voters like the one in south Florida that are important in electoral votes.
    Sometimes when Israel is doing the hysterics it’s doing now the Israel factor gets kicked up a notch among some Jews.
    Some link in ziomoney-politicians-Jewishvoter chain has to break if we are ever going to have a sane Israel or ME policy or do anything on I/P.
    So what is the weakest link?

    • Citizen
      March 8, 2012, 8:47 am

      The weakest link is the ungodly sums of money going to US politicians by people like Sheldon Adelson. He has even mentioned on Fox News as a current example of severely disproportionate special interest cash influence on elections, in a more general discussion of “independent” SuperPac cash. Of course, Current TV channel does a much more thorough job of this subject, and there, the hosts give air to proponents of total transparency at the very least, when it comes to where donor money comes from. The idea that a guy with a fat wallet can ignore the waiting line, and cut in front of it, is hated by Dick & Jane. The term “Israel First” is a great trigger as to what the guy with the fat wallet has in mind–it may cause Dick & Jane to reflect a bit on whether Israel really is the same as the US, as Bibi, our de facto POTUS when it comes to the middle east and foreign aid, has just told them, in that comfortable way he learned to talk to average Americans while he lived here–something, ironically, Mitt Romney never learned although he never lived anywhere else.

  10. johnshoemaker
    March 9, 2012, 12:02 am

    Simplistically, lets put “Jews” in two categories 1. Nationalistic, empire ruling and 2.Just Jews…. Like in New Testament most-thousands of Just Jews liked Jesus’ take on Torah
    Like Weiss; he has invested everything in countering the , empire ruling nationalists. I’m sure there are other of US Jews who aren’t supporters of a Commander in Chief aimed at modern Philistines.

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