George Graham

How the Media Misunderstood the “Jewish Vote”

Americans of Jewish descent are no longer a persecuted minority. They had their turn, as did the Irish, the Italians and other immigrants. There were those “no dogs or Jews” signs in Miami, for example, and those “no Irish need apply” want ads in New York City. America, the Great Melting Pot, demands a rite of passage from newcomers. But in time the initiation period ends and the newcomers are absorbed into mainstream America.

The American media didn’t get the memo. They still talk about the “Jewish vote” as if Jewish Americans were a breed apart. And, in the recent election, they completely misunderstood and misrepresented the Jewish vote. They bought the “spin” circulated by professional opinion manipulators intent on creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Listening to the talking heads on TV, you would think Jewish Americans were going to vote overwhelmingly for Mitt Romney. You would think they were mad at President Obama for the way he treated Israel. Never mind that the Obama Administration is one of the most loyal friends Israel has ever had. American media and their manipulators made much of disagreements between President Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli prime minister wants the American president to announce a “red line” for military action against Iran, and the president wants to keep his options open as long as possible. And Netanyahu wasn’t shy about voicing his complaints.

But many Jewish Americans do not share Netanyahu’s hawkish approach. Indeed, many Israelis don’t, either.

While some American Jews – Sheldon Adelson for example – lined up behind Romney and dug deep into their pockets to get him elected, the president’s major donors also included wealthy Jewish Americans, a fact the media ignored.

Now the election is over, and we know how Jewish Americans voted.

A Jewish group called J Street commissioned a poll of Jewish American voters, and here is what they found:

  • President Obama’s 70 percent share of Jewish voters lined up exactly with the historic trend of support that Democratic Presidential candidates have received in the last 10 elections.
  • Tens of millions of dollars spent by Sheldon Adelson, the RJC, and others attacking President Obama on Israel backfired – 27 percent of Florida Jews said the ads made them more likely to vote for the President, and 63 percent said the attacks made no difference whatsoever.
  • 73 percent of American Jews support President Obama’s handling of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
  • 81 percent support an active US role in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And here’s the finding that illustrates (to me, anyway) how completely American the children of Jewish immigrants have become:

  • 90 percent of American Jews list only domestic issues as their top voting priorities, raising serious questions as to why conservatives spent so much money trying to sway Jews on Israel.

Now that the Netanyahu nonsense has been put to rest, the president and Congress can get back to the critically important task of averting the threat of a nuclear Iran and resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com