Shorts: what’s coming, the nakba, Obama’s worried about Jews

What’s coming (and why the US is making it worse)

This is the best short summary of what Israel and the US are facing. Everyone should read this:

The Coming Crisis in the Middle East, by Barry Rubin


The nakba

My local newspaper published an AP article last week in which they mentioned the “millions of Palestinians that fled” Israel’s War of Independence. They didn’t see fit to publish my letter in which I pointed out that the actual number was more like 600,000. But many people, even Zionists, don’t know the true circumstances of said flight. Were they ethnically cleansed at gunpoint the way the Jewish residents of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem were?

Not exactly. Efraim Karsh writes (in Ha’aretz of all places!):

In the largest and best-known example of Arab-instigated exodus, tens of thousands of Arabs were ordered or bullied into leaving the city of Haifa (on April 21-22 ) on the instructions of the Arab Higher Committee, the effective “government” of the Palestinian Arabs [controlled by the Nazi Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini — ed.]. Only days earlier, Tiberias’ 6,000-strong Arab community had been similarly forced out by its own leaders, against local Jewish wishes (a fortnight after the exodus, Sir Alan Cunningham, the last British high commissioner of Palestine, reported that the Tiberias Jews “would welcome [the] Arabs back”). In Jaffa, Palestine’s largest Arab city, the municipality organized the transfer of thousands of residents by land and sea; in Jerusalem, the AHC ordered the transfer of women and children, and local gang leaders pushed out residents of several neighborhoods, while in Beisan [Beit Shean] the women and children were ordered out as Transjordan’s Arab Legion dug in.

Were there cases in which Jewish troops forced Arab residents from their homes? Yes, particularly the fortified villages along the Tel Aviv – Jerusalem road, which prevented the passage of food and supplies to Jerusalem. Was it the exception rather than the rule? Almost certainly.


Jews deserting Obama?

Are Jews likely to vote Republican next November as a result of his Israel policy? More importantly, will Jewish money stop flowing into the Democratic Party? Ron Kampeas writes in JTA:

Where the Jews stand on Obama matters not just because of the Jewish vote, which is significant in key swing states such as Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, but also because of Jewish money. The 2012 presidential election will be the first since a Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited corporate giving to candidates. The Obama campaign has said it will need more money than ever because big business tends to lean Republican.

Obama captured 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008, and estimates over the years have reckoned that Jewish donors provide between one-third and two-thirds of the party’s money.

“Every two or four years Republicans say, ‘This is the year Jewish voters, or donors, or activists, are going to trend Republican,’ ” said Steve Rabinowitz, a strategist who advises Democrats and Jewish groups. “Every November it turns out not to be true.”

There are some Jews who simply cannot overcome their distaste for Republican domestic policy. Obama would have to grow a Hitler mustache and wear a kefiya to work in order for these people to vote against him. And of course there is the hard core of left-wing Jews who represent the Jewish opposition to Israel — they like it when Obama pressures Israel.

But what about the majority of American Jews who are pro-Israel, as the recent Luntz poll showed? I don’t think the Democratic spin that the position implied by his May 19th speech is no different from that of previous administrations is convincing at all (and I’m a Democrat). I think that many Jewish Democrats are very uneasy about the president and his advisers on this issue.

It might not be enough to make them vote Republican. But it might keep them — and their money — at home.


Shabbat shalom!

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2 Responses to “Shorts: what’s coming, the nakba, Obama’s worried about Jews”

  1. levari says:

    a ‘majority’ support israel? that’s the best we can do?

  2. Robman says:


    OK, from my eight years of Israel advocacy grassroots work, plus life experience generally, here’s how I’d break it down. This is just my own impressions garnered over the years; nothing scientific here. But here goes:

    20% – Active Zionists. Support Israel openly. Have either been there, or want to go. Wear Israel t-shirts, have Israeli flags, or other Israeli paraphanalia in their homes/offices. Will gladly “talk up” Israel, or even write an occasional pro-Israel letter to the editor.

    50% – Closet Zionists. They sympathize with Israel, but they are afraid to do so openly. Don’t have detailed knowledge of the history, and are unnerved and confused by the bad press Israel often gets. Still, they know Israel is “in the right”, but they are either not confident enough in their knowledge of the subject, or even if they are, they are just plain too scared to do anything about it.

    15% – Apathetic. To them, Israel might as well be Thailand. Not against Israel, but don’t concern themselves with it. This might only change if some life-changing event shocks them into thinking otherwise (e.g., some really rotten personal anti-Semitic experience).

    10% – Utopian Zionists. These are the ones who say they support Israel, but expect Israel to meet some impossible standard of moral purity before they can support her in the face of her adversaries. They are a real pain in the ass, the sort who support groups like J-Street.

    5% – Actively hostile to Israel. Don’t like the idea of “Jewish state”. They’d rather be perpetual martyrs, victims, ‘cuz that way they are “guaranteed” a kind of moral advantage as “noble victims”. Or, they are so intimidated by the opposition, that they feel the only way they can be “safe” is to turn on Israel. Or, they are merely sellouts, trashing Israel because this garners them some sort of immediate material reward (e.g., Norman Finkelstein, or Mark Braverman). Or some combination thereof.

    So, what it boils down to is around 70% pro-Israel. That’s where I’d SWAG it, based on my own experiences.

    Anyway, as for the election, I’m predicting that for the first time since at least WW2, the majority of Jews will vote Republican. I don’t expect Obama to get more than 40+% of the Jewish vote. Even that is too high, but we are talking a sea-change in American political culture here. Everyone is not going to turn all at once. Some of that 40+% will include pro-Israel Jews who will engage in Gold medal-class mental gymnastics by way of convincing themselves that Obama is “pro-Israel”.