Something is afoot with America’s Jews. They are becoming schizophrenic. They don’t know what to do and are unsure of who they are anymore.
You could hear it and feel it in the Washington Convention Center during the opening speeches at AIPAC Monday night — the warm-ups before Benjamin Netanyahu, who arrived late. One was a remarkably trivial and boring address by Nancy Pelosi, met by a dead auditorium, although she as the Democrat would normally be greeted with great enthusiasm. The other was an impassioned near-war cry against Iranian despotism by the putatively bland Mitch McConnell, met by several standing ovations from the AIPAC audience as the Kentucky senator proposed actual real red lines for the mullahs, red lines that Barack Obama has abjured.
In the midst of this it began to dawn on me — even if Jews have pledged their bodies, votes and money to the Democratic Party for the better part of the last century, in their minds, even in their hearts, they are ready to go Republican. Indeed, if they have any sense they will. The question is — will they finally shed their traditional selves and go there?
Sunday night, after Obama, I was unconvinced. Monday I am becoming more optimistic. The differences between the Democratic House minority leader and the Republican Senate minority leader were so extreme in their thought, execution, and reception, they almost came from alternate universes. McConnell was calm, concrete, and deliberate in his delivery, certain that he was right morally and intellectually. Pelosi seemed nervous and insecure. She should have been. She followed McConnell who actually had something to say, real proposals about what Congress could do about Iran, even if Obama didn’t want to. She had nothing to offer but platitudes, which she recited in an uninspired fashion while anxiously perusing the silent audience, looking for a reaction that never came.
Still, I was uncertain which way American Jews would go. Would they display a modicum of self-knowledge and self-interest and finally tilt Republican? Or would these people who were supposed to be so intelligent crawl back into their traditionalist holes and remain the same obedient lackeys of the Democratic Party they had always been?