Thursday, November 06, 2014

No News is Jews News

I have to say, of all the storylines flowing out of this past election, I think Jews can't be argued to have been more than trivial players. That hasn't stopped people from trying, of course. J Street is staking a claim to be the premier Israel advocacy organization in America because it spent more than any other Israeli PAC. This is relatively meaningless, as most political advocacy (dollars and otherwise) doesn't go through PACs. Meanwhile, right-wing groups are crowing that J Street got "massacred" because many of its endorsees lost -- even though that's almost wholly attributable to the general conservative wave washing out J Street's liberal endorsees. I know of no one who thinks that Mark Udall lost because of J Street's support.

In reality, there's nothing new under the sun. Jews continue to vote Democratic overwhelmingly, though the Republican Jewish Committee is certainly welcome to brag about nearly breaking 30% in a historic Republican wave.

But perhaps the most abjectly pathetic attempt to see-no-evil comes in this "We Are For Israel" attempted fisking of a J Street poll on American Jewish attitudes. Reading the poll, it seems to give pretty straight-forward, unsurprising results. Jews want America to take an active role in the peace process, including criticizing and/or pressuring both Israel and Palestine where appropriate. That position commands overwhelming support -- 73-74% of Jews approve. Jews are also generally supportive of Israel's conduct in the latest Gaza War, strongly oppose the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, generally support the Iran deal that's currently being negotiated, and generally support the two-state solution. Oh, and they loathe the Republican Party. WAFI does an impressive sit of pirouettes and contortions, most of which involve markedly inconsistent interpretations on what a "somewhat support" answer means, to deny everything -- even though all of this is conventional wisdom.

Listen up, everyone: Jewish voting behavior isn't a mystery. They hold conventional liberal views on most issues -- Israel included -- and so they vote for conventional liberal candidates. That's pretty much a constant. It gets washed out sometimes because, as many seem to forget, Jews represent a tiny proportion of the American population and thus have only a limited ability to drive electoral outcomes (or even the contours of the public conversation regarding what Jews think). But to folks in the know, there's nothing to be seen here that is at all novel or even all that interesting.

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