Thursday, October 21, 2004

American Jews Have Good Reasons to Vote Bush

Details here.

Where does all this leave American Jews who have traditionally voted overwhelmingly for Democrats? Some are primarily guided by one part of the Jewish sage Hillel's teaching that "If I am only for myself, what am I?" They reason that a Democratic president would better serve the interests of minorities and the little guy, and that there is something inherently wrong about thinking of their own well-being first. Others think, "I'm a minority too and we little guys need to stick together." Still others don't care about Israel, or at least not enough to make it a deciding factor; other issues, such as the state of the ozone layer and the Kyoto protocol, top their agenda.

One might think 9/11 should have been a turning point for the 1.5 million Jews in New York City, along with the rest of American Jews, even if they hadn't noticed that Israel has been on the front lines of the war against terror for a lot longer than they have. Now that America and Israel more clearly face a common enemy, American Jews might feel less guilt-ridden about the other element of Hillel's admonition: "If I am not for myself, who will be for me?"

In a world in which the future of freedom-loving little guys everywhere depends on whether America understands the fight against terrorism to be a global war, violent Islamic fundamentalism and a nuclear Iran to be global threats, and winning European and U.N. friends by serving up Israel to be pouring fuel on the fire, one presidential candidate has a courageous and principled record. The other scores debating points.

So the question for American Jews deciding whether to vote for a Republican president, in Hillel's words, is, "If not now when?" If the answer for most American Jews is never, then make no mistake about it: No Democratic president will ever feel that protecting the state of Israel is necessary to win Jewish votes — and no future Republican president will ever take the heat as President Bush has done.

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