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U.S. Republicans Learn Again: American Jews are Not Israelis (Le Monde, France)

 

Once again, the November 6 election in the United States exposed that great canard about the American Jewish vote. It was a blow to the widely peddled myth that this is an electoral group with simplistic political behavior: that American Jews would give their support to the candidate most swayed by Israeli politics. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

By Alain Frachon

 

Translated By Jill Naeem

 

November 20, 2012

 

France Le Monde Original Article (French)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: His decision to back Mitt Romney in the U.S. presidential race did nothing to move American Jews.

JEWISH NEWS ONE, ISRAEL: New York Jewish population on presidential election: Obama Wins, but Orthodox like Romney, July 30, 00:04:51RealVideo

Throughout his campaign, Mitt Romney seemed to be saying, "there is no candidate more pro-Israel than me." The Republican sought to overtake Barack Obama on the theme of open support for the government in Jerusalem. He aligned his Middle East policies with those of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In negotiations with the Palestinians, Romney said Israel would have no partner; there was no point wasting time on people who, in any case, don't want peace. That is exactly the line of the head Likud, the old party of the Israeli right, and its extreme right-wing ally, Avigdor Lieberman, foreign minister and leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party.

 

As if standing at attention, Mitt Romney also stuck to "Bibi" Netanyahu's line on Iran. He warned that he would be at the prime minister's side whatever he might decide to do to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons, including bombing Iranian sites, an action that Obama would have opposed over the course of the past year.

 

The slogan hammered home by candidate Mitt Romney was "With me, Iran will never have the bomb," implying that his approach would be different than Obama's The Republicans' television ad campaign in Florida, a key state, and one of the few where the Jewish vote may have made a difference, stated, "Friends Don't Let Friends Get Nuked. Stop Obama." To avoid any misunderstanding, the bottom of the image showed a map of Israel.

 

Mitt Romney was relying on this argument to pocket most of the Jewish vote in an election that promised to be one of the tightest. He had the support of American Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the casino king and main contributor to Netanyahu's campaigns.

 

He had the backing of the Jewish Republican Coalition, a militant group which, in 2008, portrayed Barack Obama as a secret Muslim financed by Palestinian the Islamist group Hamas. Netanyahu, distancing himself from the absolute neutrality observed by his predecessors on such occasions, expressed his preference for the Republican candidate - and if the polls are to be believed, this was the choice of more than 60 percent of Israelis.

 

 

It didn't change a thing. More than 70 percent of American Jews voted for Barack Hussein Obama - massive support for the outgoing president. It is a respected tradition: the majority of American Jews, 70 percent or more, have supported the Democratic candidate in every presidential election since the early 1960s, when they joined in the struggle to emancipate Black Americans.

 

The only time they were guilty of infidelity toward their preferred party was when they succumbed to the charm of Ronald Reagan (1980-1988), the only Republican who ever won a majority of the Jewish vote.

Posted by Worldmeets.US

 

And this vote doesn't matter much. It represents a little less than 3 percent of voters. But it can sometimes tip the balance in some key states - those that aren't a foregone conclusion for one of two major parties, like Florida or Ohio.

 

In caricaturing Obama's Middle East policy and aligning himself with the Israeli "hawks" to capture the Jewish vote in the United States, Romney got it wrong. Wholehearted support for colonizing the West Bank is a policy of American Christian fundamentalists, a stronghold of the Republican Party - not from the Jewish electorate. In The New York Times, Jeremy Ben-Ami, the head of the American Jewish pressure group J Street who is strongly opposed to Netanyahu's policies, commented after the election, " When it comes to Israel, Jewish Americans are notably moderate in their views. Eighty-two percent of American Jews support a two-state solution (a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel); 76 percent want the president to put forward a peace plan."

 

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Every study on electoral motivations show that the situation in the Middle East, including the case of Iran, is not a priority for American Jews, who are typically more concerned with the state of the economy, health care costs and pensions. However, the commitment felt by the Jewish electorate toward Israel is unwavering. It is part of the natural sympathy felt by an overwhelming majority of Americans for the Israeli adventure. This explains why the largest pro-Israel lobbying group in Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), finances the campaigns of so many members of Congress, Jewish or not, Republican or Democrat.

 

So, a question: can Romney's defeat affect U.S. policy in the Middle East? In Jerusalem, it isn't so much Obama's victory in itself as it is Netanyahu's "choice" of Romney that has been commented on by the press. " Netanyahu Gambled, We'll Pay, was a headline in one of the major daily newspapers, Yedioth Ahronot, in the aftermath of the election. It summed up the fears of one section of the public: "Bibi" has taken the risk of compromising the relationship between Israel and the United States by showing his support for Romney's candidacy.

 

This is unlikely to happen. But this is the argument being put forward by the Israeli centrist coalition - former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, Kadima and Shelly Yachimovich, the new Labour leader - which is meant to defeat Netanyahu in the January 22, 2013 elections. Again, the likelihood is that "Bibi" will be elected for a third term. But Obama II could be more insistent than Obama I on the Palestinian issue, and in return for his intransigence on Iran's nuclear program, require concessions from "Bibi" III. Maybe.

 

SEE ALSO ON THIS:    

Al-Madina, Saudi Arabia: Americans Compete in the 'Israeli Olympics'  

Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland: With Romney in the White House, 'War is More Likely'  

Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland: Walesa on Romney: 'We are Alike'

Les Echos, France: China's Leadership Transition No Match Next to America's 

Kommersant, Russia: Romney's 'Caveman Proclamations' No Longer Worry Kremlin  

Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany: 'Thank You America': Now Obama Has to Deliver

La Stampa, Italy: Obama's Last Campaign

Corriere Della Sera, Italy: 'Obama Prototype': Rome's First Black Emperor, Septimius Severus

La Stampa, Italy: America's $5 Billion Election Race: A Sign of 'Nastier' Things to Come?

Rceczpospolita, Poland: Obama's Win: 'Somehow, Poland will Have to Live with it'    

Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland: On Obama's Visit, Dresses are Lost in a Sea of Suits

El Espectador, Colombia: U.S. Election: 'Best that Could Happen to the Cradle of Liberty'

Le Monde France: Obama Victory Exposes Hubris of Sarkozy and French Right

Huanqiu, China: American Democracy: A Great Show but No Fun to Participate in
Estadao, Brazil: In Retaining Obama, Americans Choose 'Known' Over 'Dangerous'

Independent, U.K.: After the Battle, the Wake: Inquest and Drink for Reeling Romneyites

Independent, U.K.: Obama Readies to Build Bridges, but Needs New Allies

HN, Czech Republic: Obama Reelection Means 'More Bad News' for Europe
The Daily Nation, Kenya: After Victory is 'God's Plan' says Momma Sarah Obama

Liberation, France: After 'Giving Us a Scare' - Obama Wins Again
Guardian, U.K.: Mitt Romney Betrayed By Hardline Republicans

Economist, U.K.: Obama's Win Raises Questions for Republicans

 

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[Posted by Worldmeets.US Nov. 20, 10:19pm]