Grassroots Jewish Republicans Moving to the Right

The American Jewish consensus is collapsing into the same partisan divide as the rest of the country, with left-wing Jews on one side and right-wing Jews on the other.

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.