On Wednesday, Politico ran an article about the supposed myth that Jews are moving away from Democrats and towards the Republican Party based on President Obama’s anti-Israel activities. The author, Josh Zeitz, drops a few typical leftist odious, anti-Semitic stereotypes into the mix, such as the perverse notion that conservative Jews vote as “foreign proxies for the Israeli government.” But overall, Zeitz is correct: Jews have not voted in large numbers for Republicans for decades, including during election cycles in which hard-core anti-Israel Democrats ran for president.
Zeitz doesn’t offer much of an explanation for the consistent Jewish leftist vote, except to sum up some oft-utilized theories: leftist secularism as a protection against Christian anti-Semitism; Eastern European socialism translated to American leftism; Jewish campaigns in favor of minority rights largely construed as a leftist cause for many decades.
The true answer is much simpler: Jews as an ethnic group are not Jews as a philosophic or religious group. Jews as an ethnic group have been largely secular for generations. They are highly educated with above-average income and live in major urban areas. Other than their ethnicity, there is precisely zero reason such a descriptor would fit a large mass of conservatives.
The vast bulk of American Jews are not Jewish in any real sense. Only 41 percent of Jews say their religion is important in daily life, according to a 2012 Gallup poll. Just about one in three go to religious services even once per month; the other two thirds go seldom or never. More than one in five Jews say they have no religion at all. Similarly, a Pew poll from October 2013 shows that only 38 percent of American Jews say their Jewish identity has anything to do with Judaism. Only 10 percent of Jews self-identify as Orthodox, people who say they fulfill the commandments of the Torah.
But what about Israel? The impression in the media seems to be that Jews across the religious spectrum care about Israel. That’s false. More Jews care about abortion than Israel, by a long shot. A July 2013 Pew Forum study found that 89 percent of Jews say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
Compare that level of support to Israel. Only 30 percent of Jews say they’re very attached to Israel. More than four in ten have never been to Israel. Only four in ten say God gave Israel to the Jews, with 27 percent saying God did not, five percent saying they didn’t know, and 28 percent saying there is no God. Seriously. These are supposed to be the folks who shift their vote based on Obama’s obvious dislike for the Jewish State?
So why do these leftist Jews even bother calling themselves Jews, when their religion and history mean nothing to them? A full 73 percent say that being Jewish is about remembering the Holocaust – a ridiculous contention, given the scope and span of Jewish history, and the fact that these Jews are ignoring the possibility of a second Holocaust in their refusal to recognize the dangers facing Israel. Less than one in five Jews said their Jewishness related to Jewish law. Basically, most American Jews identify as Jewish because it means they don’t have to identify as part of the evil, white conservative majority.
So, can the Republican Party make inroads in the Jewish community? It can among those who care about Judaism, who comprise an increasing percentage of the Jewish community, given the fact that secular Jews either marry out of the religion altogether or reproduce at less-than-replacement rates. Orthodox Jews vote Republican by a large margin. That’s where the Republican Party ought to aim.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.