Without knowing the results of the US presidential elections, certain conclusions can already be drawn safely. For instance, we can say with certainty that between 70 and 80% of American Jews voted for the Democrat, former Vice President Joe Biden.
On the face of things, American Jews could have been expected to vote in the same proportion, in the exact opposite direction. After all, from Britain to France to Australia, in recent decades, Jewish communities in advanced industrial democracies have moved from Left to Right.
Their move came in response to the transformation of their traditional political homes into hostile ground. Since the early 20th century, parties on the political Left were traditionally more sympathetically inclined to Jews than parties on the right. But since the outset of the 21st century, that historic trend has been largely reversed. Parties on the Left have become increasingly hostile to Jews and parties on the Right have been making sustained efforts to win over the support of the Jewish communities. From Toulouse to Leeds to Berlin to Melbourne, Jews have been reading the same political map and turning to the Right.
In America, the political situation is comparable to that of other Western democracies. From one election cycle to the next, the power of progressive forces hostile to Israel and to Jewish Americans has grown in the Democratic Party. In contrast, the Republican Party has become the most pro-Israel and pro-Jewish party outside of Israel the world has ever seen. And yet, in stark contrast to their brethren in England and Belgium, American Jews have steadfastly maintained their allegiance to the Democrats and the political Left.
Over the past four years, the contrast in political behavior between American Jews and Jews from other Western democracies has become ever more remarkable. On the one hand, Donald Trump is the most pro-Israel and pro-Jewish president in US history. Trump has stood with Israel almost unconditionally. He has fought anti-Semitism in the US more effectively than any other president and he has done so throughout his presidency.
For their part, the Democrats have taken giant strides towards becoming the US version of the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party. It isn’t simply that rising stars of the Democrat Party like congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Ilhan Omar boycott Israel. They do so with the full backing of the party’s leadership. Biden’s running mate Senator Kamala Harris sided with Omar against American Jews who called for the party to censure Omar after one of her more egregious anti-Semitic outbursts last year.
Harris has strong ties to the National Iranian-American Council – the Iranian regime’s lobby in Washington. Campaign financing filings from the Biden campaign on the eve of the election show that NIAC is one of its largest campaign donation bundlers. Harris enthusiastically supported the nuclear deal with Iran and boycotted last year’s AIPAC conference.
In his 47 years in politics, Biden arguably racked up the largest and most long-standing record of support for Iran in US politics. Biden’s initial reaction to the 9/11 attacks was to call for the US to give $200 million to Iran.
British Jewry abandoned Labour in droves and devoted their communal efforts to calling out and fighting anti-Semitism in the Labour Party after Corbyn first won the leadership race in 2015. Some 90% of British Jews voted for Conservatives in last year’s elections. In contrast, American Jews are among President Trump’s most outspoken and peripatetic demonizers.
What explains the yawning gap between American Jews and other Western Jewish communities, not to mention between American Jews and Israeli Jews?
American Jews are giving the Democratic Party a pass for abandoning them because they don’t want to acknowledge that they are being abandoned. Despite the progressives’ hostility to the Jews, the Jews want to remain progressives.
Among the progressive Jews who have noticed the rise of anti-Semitic forces in their party, they are consoled and given permission to remain in the party from Jewish leaders and public figures who insist that while things are not perfect, or even good in their own camp, they can stay because Trump – while nice to Israel – is a crypto-Nazi.
Repeated, fact-free slanders from the likes of Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt and from writer Bari Weiss alleging that Trump praised white supremacists at the Charlottesville riots in 2017 – even when he condemned them, both during and immediately after the riots three times; along with allegations that Trump dog-whistles to white supremacists and thus enables their attacks against Jews, enable progressive Jews who are concerned about what is happening in their party to stay put despite their concerns.
Skyrocketing assimilation rates among American Jews indicate that all things being equal, most Jews on the political Left will cease identifying as Jews within a generation and a half. So, too, the rise of anti-Zionist American Jews who support the annihilation of Israel as a Jewish state indicates that in the coming years, more likely than not, American Jews will take leading roles in the Democratic/progressive campaign against Israel. Notably, two months after he called for Israel to be destroyed in a column in the New York Times, last month the NYT gave leading American Jewish anti-Zionist Peter Beinart a regular column.
As their massive support for Biden indicates, regardless of what the future holds for them, American Jews today are isolated more than ever before. They are isolated within their political camp which doesn’t care about them, and they are isolated within the Jewish world.