September 2, 2014

JOEL KOTKIN & RORY COHEN: When patrimony trumps political preference.

Jews, despite their above-average affluence and their entrepreneurial bent, have long been among the most loyal constituencies of the Democratic Party. Half of American Jews earn more than $100,000 annually, three times the national average and far more than typical members of mainline Protestant churches. The only real competition, economically, comes from another outsider group: Hindus.

In 2008, President Obama received roughly 80 percent of the Jewish vote and, four years later, his percentage remained just under 70 percent, even though the alternative candidate was clearly more pro-Israel and enjoyed the support of some Jewish billionaires.

Some Republicans point out that Mitt Romney’s show of support among Jews was the strongest since Ronald Reagan ran against Walter Mondale in 1984. They suggest that Jews may finally be shifting toward the center and even to the Right.

Changes in attitudes toward Israel, and Jews, could hasten this process. After all, it is painfully obvious that opposition to Israel has now shifted from the traditionally anti-Semitic Right to the multicultural Left, and its various offshoots in the media and on campuses. The growing disconnect between left-leaning Jews, such as Peter Beinart, Jon Stewart, Max Blumenthal and Ezra Klein, and Israel makes such a shift easier.

This reflects a growing change in the nature of opposition to Israel, and anti-Semitism, in the West, from the old Right to the liberal-dominated media and the academy. Universities, for example, serve as ground zero for powerful boycott and divestment campaigns against Israel. The campaigns’ purpose is not only to hurt Israel’s economy, or protest its sometimes-unwise policies (such as expanding settlements), but also to cast her as a pariah state.

This is intriguing, indeed, since there seems to be no academic campaign to rein in such huge human-rights abusers – whether against Christians, females, gays or other minorities – as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran or Egypt. Only crimes by the Jewish state seem to qualify.

So many Jews seem to fear and dislike Christian Evangelicals. But that’s who’ll be standing beside them as anti-semitism grows. Maybe some people are starting to notice.

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