Democrats and Republicans: The Four Questions
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Democrats and Republicans: The Four Questions

A diatribe has been circulating on the internet since March. Its title is “One Pissed Off Jew,” and it starts as follows:

“DEAR JEWISH AMERICAN LIBERALS,

It’s time for ‘the talk’.”

“The talk” consists of a harsh critique of — an assault on — Jewish support for the Democratic Party.

One of my favorite lines from the piece is “You’re forever for FDR, even though it was the Republican Ronald Reagan who delivered approximately 6,000,000 Soviet Jews from bondage of Anti-Semitic leftist oppression.” That statement, the part about Reagan, is an exaggeration worthy of POTUS 45, as if Reagan were a modern day Moses, single-handedly responsible for glasnost and release of Soviet Jewry. It also assumes that Russian anti-Semitism has been a political ideology, when in fact it was, has been, and still is a deeply cultural and religious phenomenon dating from the time of czarist empires, or perhaps even before.

Another part of the letter tells us “You voted for Hillary Clinton, Democratic Presidential (sic) for 2016, who by her own admission, was mentored by KKK member Senator Byrd…l You vote for the party that gave us the KKK, David Duke and white supremacy.” Hmmm, a potshot at the 1950s party of George Wallace and the Dixiecrats, the same party that was transformed by Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964. At the time, LBJ admitted that the Voting Rights Act would disembowel the Democratic Party — and he was right. Yesterday’s Dixiecrats are today’s red Republicans.

And finally, the writer equates the Democratic Party with extremism, saying, “Today is 2019, not the 1950s. And after the devastating failure of your Party to stand with you unequivocally against the rabid Nazi-era anti-Semitism of Democratic Congresswoman Omar … you march with anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory, women who rub shoulders with Farrakhan & Al Sharpton, men who proclaim your children to be “Satanic Jews.”

Of course, there is a logical disconnect between accusing 2019 Democrats of maintaining a 1950s mentality, and then claiming that the 1950s were somehow a better period. And factually speaking, Reverend Al used cheap (his words, in a 2019 apology) anti-Semitic rhetoric in 1991, but he never sank to the level of Louis Farrakhan. And no, most Democratic Jewish women do not march with Linda Sarsour; in fact, the Women’s March suffered a schism over this issue.

For every Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), there is a rabid, racist bigot on the other side. Or maybe more. Steven King (R-Iowa) comes to mind. “The talk” adds heat, not light. There is extremism in both parties. The right side (neo-Nazis and their like) hates us more and engages in violence (to wit, the massacre in Pittsburgh). Lefties (like Omar and such) engage in bad speech, which the media picks up all too willingly. There is a difference. Remember the saying, “sticks and stones…?”

Rants like “the talk” will never convince me that mainstream Democrats like Joe Biden and Michael Bennet are anti-Semites, or that the party has veered away from support of Israel. Bennet cannot be anti-Semitic, since he is a member of the tribe. In fact, his mother survived the Shoah in Poland, and her family was in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Aside from anecdotal evidence, “the talk” caused me to start counting heads in the Congress, to determine how many Jews are in each party. It turns out that there is a significant disparity between the two parties.

12 percent of elected Democratic Party representatives and senators are Jews. 0.8 percent of the Republican Party in Congress is Jewish (with two congressmen, and zero members of the Senate). 6.8 percent of the entire Congress — both houses — is Jewish, compared to 1.7 percent of the general population, with a 15:1 ratio between Democrat and Republican representation.

That’s just math, not opinion.

These statistics prompt four questions:

1. How can so many of these smart, successful Jewish people in the Democratic Party be wrong or misguided?

2. Why do only two out of 533 members of Congress both identify as Jewish and belong to the Republican Party of 2019?

3. Why was Eric Cantor, arguably the highest-ranking Jewish Republican in decades, drummed out of today’s Republican Party?

4. With such a strong percentage of representation, how can the Democratic Party possibly be accused of anti-Semitism? I am sure that Nancy Pelosi and others would like Omar and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) to be quiet, but the media focuses attention on them because it sells papers. Does that mean the Party is represented by these people? Hardly.

“The talk” is an irrational and illogical attempt to sell a bill of goods to 70 percent of American Jews who either are Democrats or identify with the Democratic Party. 30 percent of American Jews identify as Republican. The bigger question, in the aftermath of Charlottesville and Pittsburgh, is why.

To support the accusation that Democrats are the new anti-Semitic party, and that Republicans are our saviors (thank you, sweet Jesus) flies in the face of reality. It is nothing more than total malarkey. There’s a lot of that flying around these days. As it says in Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), “Ayn chadash tahat haShemesh.” There is nothing new under the sun.

Eric Weis of Wayne graduated from Bowdoin College and was an early political junkie. He met Tom Hayden of SDS, and worked with Representative Peter Rodino, Senators Eugene McCarthy and Edmund Muskie, and later served in the U.S. government with the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Navy. His academic degrees include economics, with a career spent in business administration. In Jewish life, Weis has been the president of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs New Jersey Region and now is on the boards of FJMC, Mercaz USA, and the American Zionist Movement.

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