Forward Thinking

Bad Night for the Jewish Echo Chamber

By Jay Michaelson

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American liberals are deservingly jubilant. Our standard-bearer has been reelected, liberal heroes such as Tammy Baldwin and Elizabeth Warren have won their elections, and marriage equality triumphed in all four states where it was on the ballot. And while Congress remains divided much as it was in the previous term, important trend lines show the fragility of right-wing coalitions between white men, Christian conservatives, and other minority groups. As America grows less white and less rooted in the previous century’s values, this election bodes well for 21st century liberalism.

Statistically speaking, most Jews are likewise rejoicing. According to our best data, the Jewish political needle barely moved in 2012. Most Jews remain socially liberal, and either believe that President Obama is a strong supporter of Israel, or don’t rank that issue atop their personal-political agendas.

Meanwhile, hawkish-on-Israel candidates lost across the country: Josh Mandel to Sherrod Brown and Joe Walsh to Tammy Duckworth. That dog just don’t hunt anymore. It’s not that these elections were referenda on Israel, of course. There are other, more important, issues – and in some cases, the purported differences between the candidates were illusory. But then, that’s part of the point.

For some establishment Jews, this may feel like a rude awakening. The many professional Jews who regard “Barack Hussein Obama” as some kind of existential threat to Israel may be scratching their yarmulked heads. Likewise those Americans living in Israel who voted disproportionately for Romney. Why are American Jews so obstinate? Why can’t we see? Have we lost our love of Israel?

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