Why did American Jews vote for Obama?
By Lloyd Levy
LONDON–They say that “turkeys don’t vote for Thanksgiving”- how wrong they are. It was hard to believe at the time of the Election, that the vast majority of Jews in USA voted for Barack Obama as President. Well (to mix a metaphor) the birds have come home to roost, and their support has let into the White House the most anti Israel President in history, and who now has shown his true face.
However, the current crisis lends a certain clarity to the situation facing Israel, and in the long term should lead to a reappraisal of policy. In practical terms, it is clear now that the US has no intention of confronting Iran in its attempt to acquire nuclear weapons and to dominate the Middle East . Israel will have to make its own decisions on the matter, unencumbered by the false promises made by the present Administration. The realisation that USA will not help Israel in this , makes an Israeli attack on Iran’s installations infinitely more probable, while the opportunity still exists. Israel has always struck out to defend itself when it has felt vulnerable.
It also reminds us why Israel was established in the first place. It was a refuge from a hostile world that will never accept the Jews as equals. To depend so much on US has become unhealthy for Israel. It has allowed the US to attempt to dictate the future of Israel’s 6 million Jews , which is a complete undermining of the whole concept of Jewish independence in their own state. Israel does rely too much on the US, and no doubt strenuous efforts will be made to row back as quickly as possible from US domination. This however will take time, and makes for an uncomfortable few years.
If necessary, Israel may have to look elsewhere for the arms supplies that it cant make for itself, and I would think that France and Germany would not be averse to taking up some of the slack. India and China are the up and coming world powers, and Israel must also try to look East for assistance, just as the Jews in the Middle Ages looked to the Mongols for salvation from the Christian World.
This crisis hopefully will also lead to a greater realisation that Israel is part of the Middle East, and not an appendage to US or Europe. It is true that Herzl’s great dream was that the Jewish state become an outpost of liberal Europe, transplanted to the Middle East. This dream has been all too successfully realised, and much of Israel has become a sort of Miami in the Levant. It was a mistaken view, and ill advised in the long term. The Israelis need to make more of an effort to redefine their uniqueness, and stop apeing Western culture, which has become so shallow and materialistic. If the crisis with US helps Israel to reconnect with its unique character, and to develop its own Jewish identity, then it will have been worthwhile.
Israel is potentially under a serious military threat, but it is not in a bad position to face the current threats. Its economy is growing strongly, having hardly been affected by the world financial collapse. It has very seriously damaged Hezbollah and Hamas in recent years, contrary to the generally accepted view. It is far from certain that Hamas will reignite a major war with Israel in the near future, and likewise Hezbollah, regardless of their rhetoric. The Israeli people, because they are not cowed by being a minority in a Christian country (or increasingly Muslim dominated country such as UK or France), have enormous spirit and inner strength.
Finally, perhaps American Jewry will at last wake up to the situation that they helped create, and to do their utmost to persuade their Administration that the current policy towards Israel is misguided and counter productive. That expectation is more in hope than in reality.
Levy is a businessman who divides his time between London and Eilat
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