By David A. Harris, President of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC)
We’ve seen a growing chorus of voices recently questioning the direction of American foreign policy when it comes to Israel. A number of these voices—including some recent editorials—appear disconnected from the facts; they seem to ignore President Obama’s commitment in word and deed to our strong U.S.-Israel relationship as this administration thoughtfully pursues peace. But others willfully and hypocritically distort this administration’s stance on Israel to drive a wedge in the Jewish community, and to peel off support from this overwhelmingly Democratic voting demographic. And that just makes me crazy.
Enter Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Jim Jordan (R-OH). They circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter this week expressing their supposed “deep concerns” about President Obama’s commitment to foreign aid for Israel, which has regularly been deemed a key vote by the American Jewish community. In total, 23 House Republicans signed the letter. The only problem? Like more than half of House Republicans, just a few weeks ago these two voted against foreign aid, including $2.2 billion in aid to Israel—a measure which the administration supported, along with 95 percent of House Democrats. So they’re hypocritically circulating heart-wrenching “Dear Colleague” letters, warning the President darkly that on his watch, “foreign assistance to Israel may be in danger.” Yet most of the Republicans signing the letter just got done doing their best to kill the bill. It is in fact comically hypocritical; do they think nobody is watching or keeping track?
As it so happens, the very voting block they’re cynically targeting—the American Jewish community—does notice these things. Between votes and letters like these and the broad common ground between most American Jews and the policies of House and Senate Democrats and this White House, it’s no surprise that Jews continue voting so reliably for Democrats. It’s also no surprise that of the dozens of members of Congress who are Jewish, only one is Republican—Eric Cantor (R-VA). He told the Israeli English-language newspaper Haaretz this weekend, “My sense is that we need the Sarah Palins, Dick Cheneys, Rush Limbaughs, the Colin Powells…. We need all of them.”
Keep talking, Mr. Cantor. You’re just helping to keep Jews pulling the lever for Democrats.