U.S. support for Israel transcends political labels

The Journal News

Scott Richman

November 15, 2012

Whether happy or disappointed by the results of last week’s presidential election, every American should breathe a sigh of relief that there was a clear-cut winner, eliminating the need for legal challenges and judicial intervention. In the best tradition of American politics, and to the envy of countries where the verdict of the ballot box is routinely overridden, the loser congratulated the victor, who in turn graciously complimented his erstwhile opponent.

And while some observers express frustration that Election Day leaves us right back where we started, with a Democratic president and Senate, and a Republican House of Representatives, the clear necessity to forge a bipartisan approach to the challenges that confront the country may prove just the incentive to break the gridlock in Washington and evoke a new spirit of compromise that will be required to deal with the magnitude of the “fiscal cliff” that looms and other demanding tasks ahead.

Exit polls conducted by CNN and others suggest that close to 70 percent of Jewish voters supported President Obama, just about what AJC’s Survey of American Jewish Opinion, conducted in September, found. This was a few percentage points lower than his share of the Jewish vote four years ago. While some of the falloff may be due to energetic Republican outreach to the Jewish community, it must also be seen in the context of Obama’s poorer showing among white voters as a whole. Jewish leaders and organizations tend to analyze political trends with “Jewish” issues in mind, while in fact, as the AJC survey also showed, the great majority of Jews are also motivated by the same concerns as other Americans, which, in this instance, focused on the economy.

Of course “Jewish” issues were prominent in the campaign, most notably the security of Israel and Iran’s dangerous program to achieve nuclear capability. Anyone watching the final presidential debate, the one devoted to foreign policy, could not but be impressed by how often both candidates proclaimed their support for Israel and commitment to its security, and their determination to make sure, through economic sanctions and if need be by force, that Iran shall never attain the means to achieve what President Ahmadinejad has described as his goal, to “wipe Israel off the map.”

The writer is director of AJC Westchester, a regional office of the AJC, the global Jewish advocacy organization based on New York. For more information on the work of AJC Westchester, visit www.ajc.org/westchester.
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