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JPost Op-Ed: “The Death of Jewish Republicanism?”

Aaron Keyak — May 6, 2009 – 9:56 am | Congress | Democrats | Israel | Republicans | Stop the Smears Comments (0) Add a comment

Jonathan Tobin, Executive Editor of Commentary magazine, penned a piece in The Jerusalem Post, “The Death of Jewish Republicanism?” I, of course, disagree with some of Tobin’s points, but the op-ed is still an interesting read.

I disagree with Tobin on an issue that he finds himself maintaining a fringe ideological position from within the American Jewish community. Namely, the promotion of supporting of Israel as a partisan issue. Tobin’s op-ed was ironically published during AIPAC’s Policy Conference. Those of us who were attending Policy Conference know that this kind of partisan rhetoric is both not true and hurtful to the U.S.-Israel relationship. Here’s Tobin’s attack: “The ascendancy of social conservatives in the Republican Party has ensured that this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future, even if this puts the Jews in the position of rejecting their closest allies on the question of security for the State of Israel.”

However, more interesting than Tobin’s repackaging of tired partisan rhetoric is his seemingly genuine concern that the Senate’s last Jewish Republican’s decision to run as a Democrat is not seen as the “death of Jewish Republicanism.” Tobin puts forward the argument that “Specter’s departure from the Republican Party has far more to do with his personal political dilemma than it does with the future of the GOP.” The piece continues with predictable smears against Specter as egotistical and opportunistic, but Tobin does not then go on to make an argument that Specter was wrong to leave the Republican Party. Rather, he argues that Specter took too long to switch. Tobin writes, “The demise of liberal Republicanism happened decades ago, not this past winter. Nelson Rockefeller-style GOP liberals disappeared a generation earlier.”

Clearly, Tobin intended for his op-ed to be used as a GOP defense against Specter’s switch, but his argument concedes that the future of Jewish Republicanism is bleak “for the foreseeable future.” 

Jews remain incorrigibly liberal and more loyal to the Democrats than every sector of the population except African-Americans. The ascendancy of social conservatives in the Republican Party has ensured that this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future.

Tobin also seems to agree with NJDC’s assessment that “the Republican tent is far smaller than it used to be.”

I imagine that when Tobin wrote a piece under the title, “The Death of Jewish Republicanism?,” he was responding to the idea that Specter’s switch was an indicator for the health of Jewish GOPs. Although, after reading his op-ed it sounds like Tobin is making the argument that “The Death of Jewish Republicanism” already happened.

That sounds a bit harsh. After all, the Jewish vote for Senator John McCain was 21%, and there is still one Jewish member of congress. That’s not nothing.

Tobin uses a hyperbolic title to sell an attack on the Republican Party’s latest defector, but in exploring the role of Jews in the Republican Party, what’s most shocking is that Tobin seems more concerned about denigrating Specter than addressing the actual question.

A version of this piece is crossposted on The Huffington Post.

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