When the thrill of a ro­mance is gone

Some Jews are wink­ing at Repub­li­cans, and Democrats are jeal­ous

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

That pop and crackle in the air is the sound of strains on a ro­mance, like the noise of a cool­ing wood stove. The Jewish love af­fair with the Demo­cratic Party has not gone bust by any means but it’s be­gin­ning to fraz­zle at the edges, as un­re­quited love in­evitably does. The Demo­cratic left, which now dom­i­nates the party, does not like Is­rael very much.

Jewish vot­ers have been one of the most re­li­able sources of lib­eral sup­port for Democrats for decades, but now Barack Obama must make a case for his nu­clear-arms deal with Iran to a Congress of mostly Repub­li­cans who are fer­vently pro-Is­rael, as many Democrats no longer are. It’s show­ing up first in a surge of dona­tions by wealthy Jews to Repub­li­can causes and can­di­dates.

Sen. Tom Cot­ton of Arkansas is a new hero for many Jews for his skep­ti­cism of the pro­posed deal with Iran. His fa­mous let­ter to the mul­lahs in Tehran, warn­ing them not to con­fuse Mr. Obama’s sup­port for a deal with the sup­port of the Amer­i­can peo­ple, was signed by 46 Repub­li­can sen­a­tors.

No­body knows the de­tails of the “frame­work” Mr. Obama has agreed to, but most Repub­li­cans and many Democrats in Wash­ing­ton are afraid those de­tails are bad. Mr. Cot­ton, a fresh­man se­na­tor from the foothills of the Ozarks, re­ceived more than $1 mil­lion from sym­pa­thetic wealthy Jews in his suc­cess­ful cam­paign to win the seat once held by J. Wil­liam Ful­bright, an in­flu­en­tial Demo­crat who was not a par­tic­u­lar friend of Is­rael. A mil­lion dol­lars goes a long way in Arkansas, a ru­ral state of small farms and small towns.

Big-dollar Jewish donors are lead­ing the way away from Democrats. The Cen­ter for Re­spon­sive Pol­i­tics com­piled data of fed­er­ally reg­u­lated cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions of pro-Is­rael con­trib­u­tors in the 2014 elec­tion cy­cle, and an anal­y­sis by The New York Times con­cluded that Repub­li­cans in the Se­nate col­lected more than Democrats. This was a first in decades. Jewish cash, The New York Times re­ports, at­tracted Repub­li­can sup­port.

“Ab­so­lutely, it is a fac­tor,” Marc Fel­goise, manager of the Philadel­phia Is­rael Net­work, a fundrais­ing group, tells the news­pa­per. “They are try­ing to cater to peo­ple who are ul­ti­mately go­ing to sup­port them.” Some Democrats pre­tend to find this strange and even sin­is­ter, but there’s a name for it. It’s called “pol­i­tics.” Few donors, Democrats or Repub­li­cans, con­ser­va­tives or lib­er­als, Jews, Chris­tians or oth­er­wise, shower cam­paign cash on can­di­dates who op­pose their causes.

Other Democrats pre­fer to look the other way and hope the facts will go away. Jeremy Ben-Ami, pres­i­dent of J Street, a lib­eral group that says it’s pro-Is­rael in its own way, calls the trend a small one and in­sists that most Jews still sup­port the Demo­cratic Party, which no one dis­putes. Democrats have what The New York Times calls “a more nu­anced re­la­tion­ship with Is­rael.”

Nu­ances are nice, but any se­na­tor, ev­ery gover­nor, and all the con­sul­tants will tell you that as nice as nu­ances can be, it’s cash that pays for cam­paigns.

Nev­er­the­less, Mr. Ben-Ami in­sists that money can’t buy love, and that’s what rich Jewish donors are try­ing to do. “Is­rael did not tra­di­tion­ally rep­re­sent that kind of emo­tional fo­cus for any el­e­ment of the Repub­li­can Party,” he tells the New York news­pa­per. “But the feel­ing now is that it is a win­ning is­sue, as it helps [Repub­li­cans] to ap­pear strong on for­eign pol­icy.” Break­ing up, as al­most any­one can tell you, is hard to do.

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