Are Republican Politicians Good for Jews?

john hagee

John Hagee

Some people think Jews are supposed to be smart. A Mitt Romney fund-raiser said in August that some Jews are so dumb, they think Michele Bachmann, the fundamentalist Christian Republican raised in Iowa, is “the Jewish candidate”. He complained: “It’s a real problem. We’re working very hard in the Jewish community because of Obama’s Israel problem. This was surprising.”

So surprising that in one day the story spread across the world, from the New York Post to FOX News to the London Daily Mail to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Then a few skeptical people decided to check it out. Nobody could find a Jewish voter who believed Bachmann was Jewish, although New York Magazine did encounter a Jewish scientist who likes Bachmann, because the Democratic party is “destroying our free society and pushing the U.S. on the road to widespread misery and eventual dictatorship.” Even he knew Bachmann wasn’t Jewish.

This clumsy attempt by Romney’s campaign to use alleged Jewish gullibility to knock his opponent isn’t about Jews at all. It is part of a larger effort by conservative Republicans to use Jews to win Christian votes.

Every candidate argues that they are better for Israel, and thus better for American Jews, than the rest. What is unusual now is that all the Republican candidates for President say our President and his administration are deliberately bad for Israel. In May, Romney said, “President Obama threw Israel under the bus,” and the next day Herman Cain repeated it.

The Republican candidates have no plan to solve the world’s most dangerous crisis. They don’t even propose policies. Perry, Romney, Cain and the other conservative Republican politicians are not advocating any peace process nor seeking Jewish votes; they are appealing to fundamentalist Christians, for whom Israel has become a religious obsession. They support the most fanatical settler organizations, who plan to make war forever with the Palestinians.

In September Rick Perry explained why he advocates continued Israeli building of settlements on the West Bank: “I also, as a Christian, have a clear directive to support Israel, so from my perspective it’s pretty easy.” That “directive” comes right out of fundamentalist end-of-the-world dogma. For the Rapture they eagerly await, Jews must return to the Holy Land before the worldwide disaster of Armageddon breaks out.

steve hochstadtAccording to a June poll by the Pew Center, about half of evangelical leaders across the world believe that establishment of the state of Israel was a crucial step on the path to Jesus’s second coming and that Jesus will return in their lifetime.

The most vocal conservative Christian supporter of Israel is John Hagee, pastor of a megachurch in San Antonio, Texas, and founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI). Although John McCain rejected his endorsement in 2008, appearing arm-in-arm with Hagee seems to be a requirement for today’s Republican Presidential candidates. Hagee is so concerned about the safety of Israelis that he proposed a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Iran at CUFI’s Washington conference in 2007.

And what does Hagee think about Jews? In his 2006 book, Jerusalem Countdown, he wrote: “It was the disobedience and rebellion of the Jews, God’s chosen people, to their covenantal responsibility to serve only the one true God, Jehovah, that gave rise to the opposition and persecution that they experienced beginning in Canaan and continuing to this very day… Their own rebellion had birthed the seed of antisemitism that would arise and bring destruction to them for centuries to come…. it rises from the judgment of God upon his rebellious chosen people.”

Antisemitism is the Jews’ own fault, for rejecting Jesus, exactly what Christian antisemites have been saying for 2000 years. Hagee said in a sermon in 2005 that Hitler and the Nazis were divine agents sent by God to chase Europe’s Jews towards Palestine. With friends like Hagee, who needs enemies?

Peace in the Middle East is not the goal of CUFI and other fundamentalist Christian organizations who focus on Israel. They are looking forward to Armageddon.

The peace process, or lack of it, in the Middle East concerns all Americans. Both of our unending wars come out of the international tensions which focus on the borders of Israel. Only a minority of the young men and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan were Jewish.

Steve HochstadtOnly a fraction of the billions of tax dollars we have spent fighting in Asia for the past 10 years came from Jewish households. Decisions about American policy toward Israel are not a matter for just Jews to be concerned about.

The only way that we as Americans can influence the state of terror alert under which we live every day is to elect the government which has the best ideas about how to find a solution to the state of mostly cold, but sometimes hot, war in the Holy Land. Just as Hagee and his Republican followers hope, standing with the settlers could bring on Armageddon. You had better hope you are in the elect.

Steve Hochstadt
Taking Back Our Lives

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Comments

  1. Steve Lamb says

    Uh…. If my memory serves me correctly, it was the Republican controlled State department that turned the ships full of Jews who made it to our shores in 1940 back to Germany…And while I happen to be a Zionist, and I’m not the least bit apologetic for that, and by Birth a Jewish person and by faith a Christian, a few points here:

    1. Just who in America or Israel elected John Hagee to anything or to speak for anyone? Perhaps he represents a majority viewpoint of his Congregation, but that is a small number indeed.

    2. I love Israel, but Israel is not always in the right politically or morally. Just as blind uncritical adherence to whatever the present policy of the United States is is dangerous and un patriotic, blind adherence to anything, even the present government of Israel, is dangerous and I would say a profoundly un-Jewish way of being.

    3. If you believe you are a follower of Christ, then you believe as the Apostle Paul said that you have been grafted into the Jewish People. You are not to love the Jewish People because one day they will be instremental as a stage piece in history for the return of Messiah You love the Jewish People because G_d in his mercy has allowed you to become united in their destiny. Messiah does not return in order to make the gentile Christian church happy, Messiah returns to save all the Jewish People, those born Jewish, and those grafted onto the The Tree of Life, from the destruction planned for them by the forces of Satan and his army of Mammon worshipers,in this world. To think that there is a separation within the Kingdom of G_d between Gentile Christians and the Jewish People is to make the largest theological mistake one can make because out of this error flow many thousands more.

    4. All this ends times stuff is some kind of perverse revenge pornography. All these people praying and longing for the end of time are directly disobeying the word of G_d where it is written: “Pray the time until these days is extended” and “Pray you do not have to live in this time” and pray “The days be lengthened so that you will not have to pass through the fire”. Anyone longing for the end of days right now is proclaiming that he or she is longing for something the Word of G_d tells you to pray against and to long you will not go through. Therefore the desires of these people are perverse and against the will of G_d and they should not be listened to on theological or political matters.

  2. says

    Joe Weinstein says I am “utterly wrong”. That makes it easy to dismiss ideas that I put forward, and that other people put forward, in favor of those utterly right ideas with which he is comfortable. In his discussion of the decades of tension in the Middle East, the blame is all laid on Islamic and Arab nationalist fanatics. On the other side is the “positive goal” of Jewish resettlement of Judea and Samaria. That was positive for Jews, but not so positive for the many non-Jews who were pushed off of their lands by Jews for this positive goal. This argument has been going on seemingly forever. One reason for that is the certainty of some Jews and some Muslims, and some others, like the Republican politicians I mentioned, that they are right and everyone else is utterly wrong.

    If Weinstein wants to defend the Jewish perspective, why not directly confront the unpleasant reasoning behind fundamentalist Christian “support” of the conservative position he stakes out on Israel’s borders?

    He might have to give up his easy dismissal of virtually everyone’s ideas: Republicans and Obama are immoral and nonsensical, “Obamites” are subverting US interests, etc. He might have to admit that Israeli policies, then and now, are not a exact reflection of Jewish ethical values. He might have to admit that there are plenty of Jews who believe they are practicing their ethical values by opposing his and the current Israeli government’s policy prescriptions.

    He might have to admit that Jan makes some valid points about the willingness of Obama, and other Democrats and other Republicans to accept Israeli policies which make peace much less likely.

    The vast, unexpected, and unpredictable changes that are reshaping governments in the Middle East require more than such certainties about what is good for Jews. What I notice is that my discussion of the sources of Republican “support” for settler extremists just allowed a variety of commenters, on both sides of the liberal-conservative divide, to return to the arguments with which they are comfortable, in which they are moral and everyone else is not. Whatever one thinks about the proper borders of an Israeli state, or the power of Islamic radicals, or even Obama’s foreign policy, what does it mean to accept, and seek out, support from people who think Jews were responsible for our own persecution, and who fervently hope for a moment when Jews all go to the flames or become Christians?

    Steve Hochstadt

    • Joel Lainz says

      Grow up ! being rebellious is old and what we did when we were little kids. You’ and the fanatic left wing socialist are absolutely ridiculous, just like the fanatical religious right wing Rep. Reality is that the vast majority of us loyal Americans, politically are all down the middle with some being more comfortable to the more conservative right and others more comfortable to the more liberal left. But you like the blind far right wingers are all just emotionally ill and just plain have not matured and are incapable of putting things into perspective.

      Joel Lainz.

  3. Jan says

    When I hear that Obama has “thrown Israel under the bus” I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the stupidity of whomever utters those words.

    The day after receiving the Democratic nomination Obama prostituted himself by heading right to the AIPAC conference where he swore undying fealty to the Jewish state. After he said that settlement building should come to an end, something that every other president has said, he bent over and let Netanyahu give him a kick in the pants.

    Now Obama is saying that the US will veto the Palestinian bid for statehood. Under domestic political pressure Obama says that there can only be “negotiations.” Obama knows, as should anyone with half a brain, that to Israel “negotiations” means that Israel will talk, talk, talk, grab, grab, grab and build more settlements. Israel has already carved up the West Bank so that it looks like a piece of swiss cheese with little or nothing left for a viable and continguous Palestinian state.

    Netanyahu has also said that the Palestinians can set no pre-conditions and, of course, the Obama administration goes along but never has a word to say about the pre-conditions set by Netanyahu. Among Bibi’s pre-condtions are the following: no division of Jerusalem; Israeli troops to remain indefinitely in the Jordan Valleh; the Palestiian “state” must be completely demilitrarized; all large settlement blocs to remiann. Furthermore Bibi’s Likud party has clearly stated in its platform that there will never be a Palestinian state between the Mediteranean and the Jordan River. Has anyone ever heard Obama or anyone in his administration chastize Israel or the Likud party? I don’t think so.

    Obama, just like those who came before him, are bought and paid for by the Isael Lobby. They know that their chances of election or re-election depend in great measure on Jewish votes and Jewish money.

    This is one Jew who wished that Obama would stand up for what is right and not for what is expedient.

  4. says

    Author Steve H. makes three notable big points: two are erroneous, and the third is correct – but possibly not for the reason Steve tacitly has in mind.

    (1) He says: “Both of our unending wars come out of the international tensions which focus on the
    borders of Israel.”

    Utterly WRONG. Both of our unending wars owe to elective decisions by warmongering presidents.

    And utterly misleading too even had these wars been started by other means. The so-called “international tensions which focus on the borders of Israel” are the choice of others, not of Israel. These tensions owe to demagogic scapegoating by Islamic fanatics – and earlier by Arab nationalist fanatics – who portray their religious or national fulfillment as requiring obliteration – immediately or by stages – of Israel, or indeed of any non-Moslem or non-Arab state in its place. In fact, the ‘international tensions’ have existed no matter where the ‘borders of Israel’ have been, and even before Israel existed (ever since Arab demagogs chose to scapegoat a then-merely-potential Jewish state.

    According to Steve, “the most fanatical settler organizations … plan to make war forever with the Palestinians.” Steve not only is wrong but moreover grossly misleads by omitting to note the big difference between the two fanaticisms. The most ‘fanatic’ settlers are intent on a positive goal: Jewish resettlement of biblical-era Jewish Judea and Samaria. War with anyone is not their program – and it isn’t inevitable either, because a fair amount of non-Palestinian-owned land is available in the area. But, writing presumably for American and world-wide consumption, not merely demagogic appeal at home) in the NY Times this spring, Mr. Abbas noted just one goal for his would-be Palestine state: the negative one of serving as a tool for more effectively fighting Israel.

    This is basically what the ‘nternational tensions’and ‘Palestinian cause’ have been about ever since Day 1. In 1937, 1947, 2000 and 2008 this ‘cause’ compelled Palestinian leaders to reject fair and even generous British, UN and Israeli offers for establishing and recognizing a Palestinian Arab state. In 2011 this ‘cause’ now seeks recognition of a Palestinian Arab state as a tool not for peace but for continuation of conflict.

    (2) Republicans are of course after both Jewish and other votes, but – contra Steve H. – their argument is NOT merely that maintaining the US-Israel alliance is ‘thus better for American Jews’. Their argument is that maintaining the alliance is ‘thus better for the USA.’

    This argument is correct, and it merits not rebuttal but reiteration by the Democrats. The alliance links the USA with the Mideast’s one functioning democracy, its most dynamic and progressive society, and the USA’s most durable friend in the region. Contrary to the Obamites’ mistaken presumptions, political leaders world-wide – not least the dictators and thugs who run most of the Mideast nations – respect the USA more, not less, for our support of our friends.

    (3) Steve concludes that “The only way that we as Americans can influence the state of terror alert under which we live every day is to elect the government which has the best ideas about how to find a solution to the state of mostly cold, but sometimes hot, war in the Holy Land.”

    Correct, although it’s not clear that Steve’s tacit underlying reason is correct. It’s important to perceive the true relation between the local war in the Holy Land and the global war being waged for Islamist domination: the local war is symptom, the global war is cause – not vice versa. Only from defeat or anyhow severe restraint of the Islamic supremacists can we hope for lasting peace in the Holy Land – or indeed in some other places.

    Steve speaks loosely of ‘the world’s most dangerous crisis’ and complains that Republican candidates offer neither plan nor policies to ‘solve’ it. Well, the basic crisis is one of insufficiently checked aggressions by Islamic supremacists – on religious toleration in Moslem countries, on free critical speech and scholarship in Western European countries and in some North American universities, on unbiased constructive approaches to global welfare in the UN, and on the very existence of a Jewish state in the Mideast. But Democrats too have so far articulated no ‘solution’ or indeed recognition of the nature of the crisis.

  5. Jay Levenberg,Esq. says

    The Democratic Party over the past 30 years has been in the slow process of disengaging from Jewish voters as it applies to the issue of Israel. The progressive wing of the party, which helped create Israel in the first place now rants and raves regarding the “rights of the Palestinians” and are becomng a vocal miniority at state party conventions even as the National Party tries to quiet it’s members down, particularly around election time. This same thing happened in Candada years ago when it’s Liberal party, long backed by Canadian Jews were finally taken over by it’s so called progressive wing and the Jews deserted both financially and politically from the party and went over to the Conservatives. The same thing is happening here, albeit more slowly. Except for 1980, Jews have been very loyal to the party but the party is moving in another direction by it’s most active members. Republicans have been courting the Jewish voters for years, but got hung up on the social issues like abortion etc and Jews stayed the course with the Democrats. But this year may be different as we saw in the special election in New York. A combination of a President who is clearly not enamored of Israel or it’s leaders and economic policies that are now bent on class warfare, and Jewish voters will be forced to move in the direction of the Republicans. I predict, Mr. Obama will lose at least 10-15% of the Jewish vote that he had in 2008 leaving him with somewhere between 60-67% depending on the actual Republican candidate. In any case, it’s enough to make a difference in Florida, PA, Ohio Michigan in a very close race.

    • says

      Commenter Jay L. has given a well-written summary analysis of an important trend. Let me elaborate on what today’s situation entails now for many liberal Jewish voters like me.

      We are now confronted by unacceptable domestic and foreign policies. The Congressional Republicans’ domestic policies – and equally so Obama’s foreign policies – are immoral and nonsensical (whether from foolery, knavery or – in Obama’s case – wimpery). These features hold too – less but significantly – for Obama’s feckless domestic stances, notably on the economy and environment.

      At home the Congressional Republicans aggressively pursue reverse-Robin-Hood destruction of the social compact and environmental resource base. Their priorities and policies are a complete rejection of the mainline Jewish prophetic and rabbinic traditions which emphasize ethical duty to our fellow human beings and responsible stewardship of human health and the earth’s resources. In this tradition, social justice and basic life support and responsible stewardship are matters of duty and mandate – societal and communal and individual – and not merely of feel-good optional voluntarism.

      Abroad, the Obamites try to disown and subvert US interests in and defense of genuinely liberal democracies – as versus existing tyrannies or ‘revolutionary’ demagogies. Forget about any encouragement to true religious toleration in Moslem lands – including toleration of Christians and non-extremist Moslems. Both at home and abroad, rather than recognize and fight for the good (or anyhow the better) and one’s friends, the Obamites see the higher ‘good’ in ‘engaging’ enemies, especially implacably evil ones – e.g. through inaction and coverup pseudo-actions and stalling which together amount to appeasement: Obama’s middle initial could as well be N, for Neville. Tellingly, he oxymoronically claims to ‘lead from behind’. The Obamites combine these approaches in ways which indeed would ‘throw Israel under the bus’: their one restraint is that they don’t want to overly jeopardize Obama’s re-election.

      So at this time, and from my perspective as a Jewish liberal, I am compelled to fervently support returning and enhancing a Democratic Congress. Meanwhile I am also compelled to withhold any support of Obama’s renomination or re-election.

      What the Congressional Republicans in Congress – and so far their presidential candidates too – fail to realize is that we are not about to quietly tolerate the gross violation of Jewish ethical values here at home, even though the violators might indeed be the somewhat greater ‘friends’ of Israel.

      What the would-be-clever Obamites don’t realize is that many of us are doubly committed to support of Israel – both as the USA’s one abiding friend and ally and fellow democracy in the Mideast, and as the realization of our people’s 2000-year quest which was achieved only at the eleventh hour and after grim and horrific loss. We are not about to tolerate sacrificing Israel and its viability in order to oblige the Obamites’ profoundly immoral approaches, let alone to oblige their ignorant sillier fancies that somehow the Palestinians can’t go on a bit longer without yet another Arab Islamic state but meanwhile no one need be troubled about Kurds, Tibetans, Chechens, etc.

  6. Mike woodyard says

    Remove the progressive blinders professor and take another look. Ron Paul and Gary Johnson certainly don’t fall anywhere near where you perceive the GOP candidates in regards to foreign policy in the middle east. Perhaps you can enlighten the great unwashed and answer two questions: 1. What is the foreign policy of the Obama administration and the democrat party? 2. In the first two years of the Obama administration with a filibuster proof majority in the Senate and a majority in the House, what policy did the Obama administration and the democrats pursue? (list the foreign policy successes they achieved).

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