“I don’t know how there are any Jewish Democrats,” said Missouri Republican Billy Long, “With what Obama did to Bibi Netanayahu, I don’t know how there are any Jewish Democrats.”
Many on the right like to claim that antisemitism no longer exists on the right. They ignore names like Pat Buchanan and David Duke. This is especially true of the minority of Jews that are Republicans. Buchanan and Duke, to be fair, are largely marginalized on the right. Long, however, is not. He is a sitting Republican member of the United States House of Representatives and, whether he realizes it or not, a statement such as his is antisemitic.
That Jews have dual loyalty, or greater loyalty to Israel than the countries they live in, has long been an antisemitic meme. In fact, it has been one of the most dangerous and has been used to justify persecution against Jews and to treat us as outsiders that are not fully part of our communities. Billy Long, by implying that Israel is, and should be, first and foremost in the minds of Jewish Americans when casting our ballots is furthering that meme.
Yes, Israel is important to most Jewish Americans. It is our ancestral homeland. But that is the same way Mexico is important to Mexican Americans or Germany to German Americans or Poland to Polish Americans. I think you get the picture. Yes, it is important to us, but we don't vote on that issue alone. Like nearly all other Americans we overwhelmingly vote on domestic issues.
It's when one looks at domestic issues, and where Jewish Americans, as a whole, stand on those issues, that it becomes immediately obvious why not only are there still Jewish Democrats, but why we are also a majority of the community. Here are a few issues where the majority of Jewish Americans stand squarely opposite the policies advocated by the Republican Party:
- Universal Health Care
- Social Security
- Responsibility to the needy
- A woman's right to choose
- Women's rights
- Marriage equality
- Civil rights, in general
- The idea that it's not every person for himself or herself
These are the reasons that we are so overwhelmingly Democratic. These are the reasons that 1920 was the last time a Republican presidential candidate won the Jewish vote. These are the reasons that this year Jewish Americans will once again overwhelmingly vote for Barack Obama. If Billy Long and other Republicans can't understand that, well, then, that's too bad for them. Like the overwhelmingly majority of Jewish Americans, I'll just continue voting Democratic.