Conservatives are often puzzled about how the majority of Jews can still vote Democrat even though the party has become so anti-Israel, and tolerates antisemitism from the likes of Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).
Christian conservatives also ask me, politely, why Jews are liberal. Jewish conservatives are less restrained, and often express outright frustration. Norman Podhoretz even wrote a book about it: Why Are Jews Liberals?
For most Jewish conservatives, the question is as much about pain as politics. Each of us bears the scars of family dinners gone wrong, of angry e-mails from relatives who call us disloyal Jews — and even antisemites — because they watch CNN or believe their liberal rabbi or follow the trash that the New York Times prints about President Donald Trump, the first Jewish zayde in the White House and the best friend that the Jewish State has ever had.
So when President Trump criticized Omar and Tlaib for their hostility toward Israel, and asked how Democrats could consider cutting aid to Israel because of “two people that hate Israel and hate Jewish people,” adding, “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” most Jewish conservatives knew exactly where he was coming from, even if we may not have chosen those words.
President Trump is right, it shows a great deal of disloyalty to oneself to defend a party that protects/emboldens people that hate you for your religion. The @GOP, when rarely confronted w/anti-Semitism of elected members always acts swiftly and decisively to punish and remove. https://t.co/mEBgd84qkf
— RJC (@RJC) August 20, 2019
Trump meant “disloyalty” to the Jewish people, not to America. Leftists and mainstream media pundits (but I repeat myself) are trying to twist his words, saying that he was questioning Jews’ “loyalty to the United States.”
I would not have used “loyalty,” because it is vulnerable to being twisted (see above). Nor would I have demanded that all Jews vote Republican.
But we conservative Jews have been told for years by left-wing Jews — some of whom only embrace their Jewish identity to trash Israel — that “Jewish values” require voting Democrat.
Trump has more Jewish grandchildren than many of the Jewish liberals criticizing him today. Contrary to what some critics have suggested, he does not, as a gentile, have to butt out. He gets a say in this, too.
I don’t agree that Jews who vote Democratic are ignorant or disloyal. Some have been conned by the same media who will try to convince them Trump said something antisemitic today.
Some have genuine differences of opinion. I believe people can change their minds: I was once on the left, too.
But what Trump has done is given the Jewish left a taste of its own medicine. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but this is a teachable moment — and long overdue.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.