Growing up Jewish in new York, a Jewish republican was akin to a space alien. Of course, as a young person, my understanding of economics was wanting, and I recognized the parties more for their social positioning than for anything. Ironically, in retrospect, the republican party of my youth was far more tolerant of minorities than the current party. Nonetheless, most social progress appeared to me to emanate from the democrats: housing for the poor, voting rights, desegregation, education, and even federal funding for the arts were all ideas which were pushed by the democrats. Also, these ideas of equality, helping the poor, creating societal safety nets, and giving our youth the world's best education all aligned perfectly with my Jewish upbringing and my understanding of Jewish values.
That is why it came as a shock to me when relatives of mine, including at least one survivor and one exceedingly religious relative, came out of the closet not just as republicans, but as VIRULENT republicans; having embraced republican doctrine whole-heartedly, including all of the racism, elitism, and trickle-downism that defines the modern party.
Now one of these relatives is wealthy; perhaps not a one-percenter, but in all probability, close enough for rock and roll. I get him. He would be affected by even the slightest rise in the tax rates, especially in the capital gains tax. But he does not justify his party affiliation by his greed. He justifies it in exactly the same way that my very religious relative does: by invoking Israel.
On the issue of Israel, the progressives and the lefties have gotten it all wrong. Though I am a progressive for lack of a better term, I am sickened by the propaganda that has been permeating progressive news and opinion sites. I try hard to remind my peers that the Palestinians displaced themselves voluntarily with the expectation that Israel would be over-run and the Jews pushed into the sea. They made a bad choice and have punished Israel with 50 years of terror because their evil plan didn't work. I can thus understand why a love of Israel would push Jews away from current left-leaning media.
In addition, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the most enlightened teacher of Torah of our times and a true Tzaddik being selfless in every respect, had a very close relationship with Ronald Reagan, the king of the modern republican party. This relationship too has caused Jews to associate republicans with unwavering support for Israel.
Admittedly, this was a concern for me too when I had to choose between McCain and Obama. McCain was a viable candidate for me until he started running in earnest. His alignment with the sickest, most abhorrent part of the republican party as embodied by his vice-presidential pick, made it impossible for me to cast a red vote. If Obama hadn't picked Biden as his running mate, I may have just sat the election out. But Joe Biden's track record on Israel was non-pariel and his support for Israel and his understanding of its historical place were beyond questioning. Campaigning, Obama said all the right things to convince me that his support for Israel as a Jewish state was also unwavering. Now, however, I am feeling like perhaps I was wrong. Biden and Obama seem to be straining our relations with Israel and also seem to be encouraging some form of Palestinian autonomy without safeguards that put not only every Israeli citizen, but every Jew in the world at risk.
And why? Because of John Boehner and the obstructionist republican House. Remember, there are three branches of government. In order to carry out a domestic agenda, Congress must be able to act. The Executive branch cannot unilaterally pass laws of strictly domestic interest. The Executive branch does, however, have independent power in foreign affairs. Thanks to the Republicans in the House, not only is it presently impossible to make domestic policy, but their smear machine has all but buried Obama's incredible success in getting a health care law passed. Unable to claim victory or advance any agenda on the domestic front as long as Congress sticks to its vow not to pass any legislation supported by the president, he has no choice but to seek to polish his legacy through involvement in foreign affairs. And what would be the greatest foreign affairs coup in the history of the modern world: the golden ring, the grand prize, the big one? Peace in the middle east.
The problem though is that the Palestinians cannot participate in the negotiations. They can pretend to negotiate in good faith, but events of today have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they absolutely, positively, cannot offer the ONLY thing that should cause Israeli's to even consider a compromise: a realistic promise that Palestinians will stop murdering Jews. Sure, they can pay lip service to that ideal, but that's all they can do. Here's why: Assume for the moment that the Palestinian authorities had adequate control over their people to cause them to stop. If they have that power, then why couldn't they stop the violence even during the peace talks? The answer is, they simply don't have the power. In other words, the only thing that the Palestinians can possibly bring to the table is something they cannot bring to the table. Accordingly, in order to eke a foreign policy win out of the middle east, the Obama administration has no choice but to get Israel to make unilateral concessions...SOMETHING IT HAS ALREADY DONE TIME AND TIME AGAIN. In fact, just two weeks ago, the Israelis released hundreds of convicted Palestinian terrorists in an act of good faith and were rewarded today with the unprovoked murder of an unarmed soldier in the Green Zone.
Yet, the Obama administration must continue to put pressure on Israel to make unilateral concessions because, as aforementioned, the Palestinians literally have nothing to put on the table. And that pressure on Israel will continue unabated until or unless Congress permits for actual debate on pressing domestic issues such as immigration reform and jobs. To keep the focus on the middle east, the administration has no option but to try to embarrass Israel into making an overture against its own interest (something that it has traditionally been willing to do, for instance, with the establishment of the PA and the prisoner releases.)
The administration's current struggle to keep peace talks in the middle east going is a direct and obvious function of the failure of Congress to do its job. The reason Congress will not do its job is because the Republican House leadership (including Eric Cantor, an very corrupt soul) has promised its constituency that it will not pass any important legislation. In other words, the Republican party has taken its strong support of Israel and placed it in on the rear burner in favor of obfuscating the President's agenda. The only agenda item worth working on for which he needs no Congressional action is peace in the middle east. Peace in the middle east is only possible if Israel acts against its own interests. Accordingly, the administration has no choice but to encourage Israel to act against its own interests. On the other hand, if immigration reform was something that anyone reasonably believed could even get serious debate in the house, the administration could very easily move foreign policy to the back burner. Unfortunately, that would require Congress to reassess its priories. So where are you, you so called supporters of Israel in the republican party. Have you really chosen the Koch brothers over Israel?