Grassroots Jewish Republicans Moving to the Right

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


Dinah Abramson, Black Jewish Republican Delegate

While the public perception of Jewish Republicans is largely colored by a small  number of figures, many of them liberal Republicans, the Jewish grassroots is trending more conservative.

While the article is from the Forward, a far left paper slightly to the right of The Daily Worker, it does capture the fact that the same tensions exist among Jewish Republicans between RINO bigwigs and a more conservative base.

The civil war now engulfing the Republican Party is laying bare a split among Jewish GOP supporters, as well.

Some of the party’s biggest Jewish donors are taking the lead in pushing for a more moderate conservative party following the Republicans’ defeat in last year’s presidential election. At the same time, grassroots Jewish supporters, many of them Orthodox, are finding a new home among socially conservative Republicans who populate the Tea Party movement and the Conservative Political Action Conference.

The emergence of a substantial Jewish presence in the party’s hard-right wing is reflected, among other ways, in the daily prayer minyan and kosher food options that have popped up at the CPAC meetings in the past two years — catering to the strongly Orthodox bent of these Jewish conservatives.

“I don’t feel very Republican these days,” said political operative Jeff Ballabon, the man behind CPAC’s kosher meals and Sabbath prayer services, adding, “Who needs two Democratic parties?”

Ari Fleischer, one of the co-authors of “The Autopsy,” in many ways exemplifies the older, more familiar image of the establishment Republican Jew.

Fleischer also cited Romney’s idea of “self-deportation” of undocumented immigrants. “The Autopsy,” which Fleisher co-wrote with four other activists, champions “comprehensive immigration reform” as key to winning support among Latinos.

The argument is being made that the 2012 election results showed that the Jewish vote is drifting toward a sharp partisan divide.

Tevi Troy, a former top Bush administration official, has been analyzing the correlation between the Jewish vote for Republican candidates and the candidates’ success in the general election. He found that until the recent presidential race, Republican candidates who fared relatively well with Jewish voters won the general elections. “In the past,” Troy said, “it was clear that the Jewish vote was a bellwether for winning over the moderates.”

This time around, Romney’s achievements among Jews did not signal any similar success with moderate voters. The reason, Troy said, may have to do with the changing face of the Jewish Republican voter, who is no longer necessarily a fiscal conservative with mainstream views on family and social issues.

This emergent, more diverse Republican Jewish electorate includes, alongside the socially moderate donors, more strongly ideological conservative thinkers that make up the party’s intellectual backbone, such as William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer and Yuval Levin. There is also a growing constituency of Orthodox Jewish voters who, according to Troy, “are not turned off by social issues.”

To the extent that there ever was an American Jewish consensus, it’s collapsing into the same partisan divide as the rest of the country, with left-wing Jews on one side and right-wing Jews on another.

Ballabon, who counts himself among this number, shares the view that Jewish Republicans can be found on both sides of the debate. The dividing line is between rich businessmen who vote Republican because “they want tax breaks” and grassroots Jewish voters who are “social conservatives with a strong emphasis on Israel.”

Indeed, among the Jewish activists attending this year’s CPAC were members of Young Jewish Conservatives, an organization that has been sending activists to the event for the past two years. The group defines its mission as empowering politically conservative young Jews and providing them with “tools to defend” their values. “We are proud to label ourselves as conservative,” the group stated on its website.

Demographics favor the rise of the Orthodox Jewish voter. And while Orthodox Jews, like Evangelical Christians, are not universally conservative, they trend well to the right, including on social issues.

And the left’s growing aggressiveness on social issues has moved it into territory where it’s stepping on entire communities that otherwise want to just be left alone.

Aside from Muslim immigration, Jewish life in Europe today has become so difficult because left-wing governments practice intrusive social policies and are overtly hostile to religion. A good example of that is the case of the Namdar family in Sweden, which has been hounded for years because the parents homeschooled their children.

That leads us into a strange territory where in a decade the majority of Jewish voters in New York City will be fairly similar to Evangelical Christians. The practical value of this is somewhat limited as New York is still a blue state, but it’s one of the reasons why the last time a Democrat sat in City Hall was 20 years ago. (As bad as Bloomberg is, there are far worse alternatives to him. If you doubt that, do some research on John Liu. Or just flash back to David Dinkins.)

But it’s not just about Orthodox Jews. The American Jewish vote is breaking down into polar opposites. The middle ground is vanishing and is being replaced by Jewish voters who are still actively engaged, but dislike ‘moderate’ politicians and prefer strongly partisan stands.

The American Jewish vote is starting to look like the rest of America. The process will take a while for generational reasons, but by 2025, it’s likely to be nearly complete.

  • Ar'nun

    I hope you are right. It is embarrassing that so many of our fellow Jews would proudly support Obama.

    • Don

      Haha! You can blame your media for that! Stop the liberal crap of inter-racial marriage, gay marriage, no marriage, sex with multiple partners, screw family values, reality drama dysfunction shows. These things are going to happen anyways. They don't need promotion. We need to teach not to hate and tolerance using more responsible methods, and stop media-slapping the word "racist" on anyone who has a different opinion in an effort to discredit them. If you promote no social boundaries, and liberal lifestyles, you get a generation of TV watchers voting democratic. This loose lifestyle of anything goes appeals to the youths of all faiths! The aging hippies, and the children they raised now at voting polls. It's turning this once wonderful country into sh*t. People wanted to live in the USA for a reason. The media is making that reason disappear.

    • Ghostwriter

      Don,I have no problem with interracial marriage. Why do you have such a problem with it?

  • EarlyBird

    Note the use of "grass roots" to describe right wing Jews, moving even further to the right, by Danny Greenfield. It's code. It's like when Sarah Palin calls right wingers "real Americans."

    • Lady_Dr

      EarlyBird,

      You evidently are ignorant of history. Historically most Americans have been very traditional – right wingers as you call them. As to the Jewish vote – well right wing politics are compatible to Orthodox Judaism, left wing politics are not. And the left wing Jewish demographic is decreasing due to assimilation, fewer marriages, fewer children whereas Orthodox (even traditional Conservative) Jews have more children, often a LOT of children (I'm talking 6-10), and ad to that the fact that while very few leave Orthodoxy, many Reform and Conservative find themselves becoming Orthodox. So what's with the "code" business.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Actually it's a quote from the Forward, a left-wing paper and it refers to the grassroots within the Republican Party.

      So you fail in every way possible

  • Jim

    The problems of Steinlicht being black listed from speaking at Synagogs is due not to the people in the synagogs . When a synagog invites him to speak the leaders get a threatening call from some very important person who says he or they will with hold funds.

    The problem also occurs in the so called main line churches who individual congregations need higher church authorities to help with financial support.

  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    Conservatives come in ALL colors and stripes, and this is a fact. In fact, some of the most conservative Jews in Israel are the Sephardim/Mizrachim and Ethiopian Jews. They are ardently Zionist & nationalist and make no bones about it. For the most part, they are in the forefront of the IDF and want nothing to do with coddling illegal infiltrators, and my IDF reservist son gives an ample rendition of said facts…you gotta read it to believe it – http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-Ed-Contributors/M… ("this has nothing to do with race; the most vocal about sending the illegal immigrants home were the Mizrahim and Ethiopians in my unit")

    Wherever a so called liberal resides…here, there…or anywhere…lies a leftist.
    Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

    • Raymond in DC

      Your son's piece was written almost two years ago, and the current rate of infiltration, with the new fence now in place, has since slowed to a trickle. The sentiments of the Mizrachi and Ethiopians, whose lives are already tough enough, against these infiltrators is understandable.

      But as to the issue of conservative Jews, there's yet another population in Israel that doesn't buy into the leftist agenda: the Russians. They've already had their fill of socialism.

  • Brujo Blanco

    I pray that American Jews do not have to walk the same path as the Jews of Europe and elsewhere. The Left which includes the Democrats has shown tolerance and in some regard supported antisemitism.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Republicans and Democrats make up the big ball of our government and they give us what_we get, continuous taxation, constantly growing government, less freedom, more regulation,_disintegration of individual States, dependency on Washington and a Nation most of us do_not recognize. Just who is representing the people, we have witnessed the birth and growth_of a monolith government that lives off of the citizens, sucks them dry and officiates over_fear, constant uncertainty, greater obfuscation over resources, feeding the World economy_while killing the American economy and pleading sanctimonously and patriotically with_big smiles to "re-elect me" (stupid ha ha ha ha!!!) I will solve all problems. Professional_politicians are the bane of society and the great fail of human endeavour…………William

  • alma

    William (Billy)Kristol and Charles Krauthammer conservatives? These two make a good example of the moderate, middle of the road blah-blah , don't rock the boat Republicans , and they have plenty of company amongst the rest of so-called conservatives. I no longer identify as a conservative; I am an American.

  • BethesdaDog

    I wouldn't consider the Forward to be slightly to the right of the the Daily Worker. One is Stalinist, the other is social democratic. During its first ten years, the English Forward was edited by a conservative, Seth Lipsky. One flaw in the outlook of many conservatives, including apparently Mr. Greenfield (whom I consider one of the smartest and most insightful writers around) is that they do not understand the left. While the Forward has apparently moved left since Mr. Lipsky's days, it is far from being just "slightly to the right" of the Communist Daily Worker. If Mr. Greenfield cannot see the difference, or if he believes all on the left are more or less the same, that is a serious failing by Mr. Greenfield.