Jews Finding Less Comfort on the LeftPosted: September 28, 2015 | |
Jews, particularly those of European descent, likely will continue to support left-leaning politics more than those of the Right. But lock-step support for the Left seems destined to weaken, says Joel Kotkin.
Joel Kotkin writes: Jews are a contradictory people. Overall, achievement-oriented and very capitalistic, Jewish educational and self-employment statistics are among the highest for any religious group. They are also politically powerful; amounting to roughly 2 percent of the U.S. population – half their percentage a half century ago – Jews account for nine of 100 U.S. senators and 19 of 435 members of the House.
Yet if Jews have achieved significant economic and political power, they have done so primarily as Democrats. Only one of the 28 Jews in Congress is a Republican – Lee Zeldin from New York’s Long Island – and the one independent, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, is enough of a Democrat to be running, with surprising success, for that party’s presidential nomination….
…in recent years, anti-Semitism and, particularly, anti-Zionism have shifted ever more to the Left. Over a decade ago, my wife and I visited Serge and Beate Klarsfeld, the famed French Nazi hunters, at their Paris office. Although they expressed concern about the traditional anti-Semitism of Jean Marie Le Pen’s National Front party, they were more alarmed about a rising new virulent strain from a combination of Islamic and left-leaning sources.
The massive movement of Muslims into Europe – now accelerating into a tsunamic wave – is accelerating these trends. The European Left, long enamored of radicals from the developing world, increasingly adopts the notion that Israel represents the ultimate political atrocity.
The most obvious manifestation now is the powerful drive to force European universities to divest themselves of investments in Israeli companies and even ban Israeli academics. This is occurring even though Israel, with all its many imperfections, is by far the most democratic, feminist and gay-tolerant country in that exceedingly bad neighborhood.
It’s hard not to see anti-Semitic ideas in this assault. You can certainly oppose, as I do, some Israeli policies – notably settlement expansion in the West Bank – as both wrong and tactically disastrous, without censuring an entire country. Anti-Israel protesters seem less than troubled to associate with Hamas and other terrorist group who have even chanted “Jews, Jews to the gas” at demonstrations joined by the Left.
Fear is also on the streets; there are so many incidents of violence against Jews in France that Jewish children are advised not to wear yarmulkes or any other outward signs of their faith.
These trends are reshaping European politics. Long tied to the Left, Jews in France, for example, by a good margin now support the Gaullist right. Even Marine Le Pen, who has submerged her father’s anti-Semitic views, appeals to Jewish votes by opposing Muslim immigration. At the same time, as Muslim voters already vastly outnumber Jews, the French Left has to respond to its growing constituency, the vast majority of whom supported Socialist Francois Hollande in the most-recent election.
A similar process has occurred in Britain, where, even with the nominally Jewish Ed Milliband at the top of the ticket, Labor lost heavily to the Conservatives among Jews. Milliband’s successor as Labor leader, far-left icon Jeremy Corbyn, describes the Islamists of Hamas and Hezbollah as “good friends.” Polls show two-thirds of British Jews alarmed by Corbyn’s rise.
Can it happen here?
So far, Jews in America are blessed with two major political parties that, for the most part, are tolerant and express support of Israel. And, for as long as this is the case, Jews, particularly those of European descent, likely will continue to support left-leaning politics more than those of the Right. But lock-step support for the Left seems destined to weaken…(read more)
Source: The Orange County Register
Joel Kotkin is the R.C. Hobbs Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University in Orange and the executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism.