Is Israel advocacy a partisan issue?
When we look at the voting records of Republicans and Democrats in this country, being pro-Israel wouldn’t seem to be a partisan issue. Both parties recently voted to extend America’s aid to Israel, and both parties consistently welcome Israel’s leaders with respect and enthusiasm. Despite that, though, one of the harshest political accusations against President Obama is against his lack of pro-Israelness. He notoriously mentioned the 1967 borders in an infamous speech during his first presidency, and that only confirmed the suspicions people had against him when running against McCain.
During Mitt Romney’s presidential run, the media fairly speculated that Benjamin Netanyahu ‘secretly’ supported Gov Romney. On several occasions, both Romney and Netanyahu referred to each other as life long friends, hearkening back to Netanyahu’s early career in America. Mitt Romney even made a special trip to Israel during his campaign, while meanwhile Obama was criticized for failing to visit the Jewish state during his four year term. But this incident in presidential politics only lent fuel to a greater observation about this country: that Republicans appear more pro-Israel than Dems.
Although a majority of America’s Orthodox Jews support Republicans, we find the younger Modern Orthodox community in a tighter spot. Many of us were raised strongly Zionistic, and we’ve been led to think that it’s important to support the Israeli government at all costs. Whenever we hear American politicians–and most often democrats–criticize Israel, it makes us uncomfortable. On the other hand, though, many of us identify strongly with traditional liberal values, which are typically championed by democratic candidates. So when we see our Zionism being led by ultra-conservative politicians, it makes us cringe.
For the many of us who wish to embrace both Orthodoxy and the democratic party, it seems as though we’re going to need to accept a deeply conservative leadership. For the time being, those with our democratic beliefs represent only a minority in the Orthodox community, and it will take years before our voices have an impact.
So in the meantime, it seems that we’re going to need to suck in our gut and bear the undesirable leadership.