During my morning reading I had a chance to read what might be one of the most ridiculous exercises in political sophistry that I have ever read. Simply put, even I as a very Pro-Israel Jew read this and was struck by the simplicity and foolishness of this piece. How this got picked up and carried and by any news outlet is staggering in that this might be one of the most poorly reasoned opinion pieces I have ever read. What piece is this? Take a look for yourselves: U.S. Jews who put Israel First are merely expressing their democratic rights.
Well, from the title... Yes Joel (the author), you are right. They are merely expressing their democratic rights. They get to do that. Is voting for Israeli interests over the U.S.' interests their right? Sure, we are a democracy. So yes that simple statement is absolutely true. You know what else is true Joel, the Sun is yellow, the sky is blue and guess what Joel... you have a keen grasp of the obvious.
So where does Joel Braunold go wrong in this piece? Well right away by having as a byline: There is nothing neither wrong or un-American with being a single issue voter. Actually Mr. Braunold, while I would say that there is nothing "wrong" or "un-American" per se with being a single issue voter, in this case (putting one countries political parties stated interests over ones own country's interests) there is something both "wrong" (which I admit is a subjective judgement) and "un-American" (which is also a subjective judgement).
Braunold starts off his failed article by saying that voting for Israel is just as much a single issue for the American voter as is say a vote based on the environment (using Keystone XL as an example). This immediately fails on the grounds that voting based on opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline is a domestic American concern. The pipeline which would run from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico represents a potential environmental hazard for the United States (our own country). The pipeline would run directly over an important aquifer that supplies much of the central U.S. states water supply. The environmental impact of a disaster involving said aquifer would be monumental to the U.S. It is thus an American issue and thus makes far more sense for a single issue voter in an American domestic election than say voting based on the fact that President Obama doesn't call Prime Minister Netanyahu each night and tell him what a great guy he is.
So Braunold sensing the following criticism presents TWO explanations the first of which is completely ridiculous that even Braunold himself does not subscribe to it (he claims it is a Right wing meme and for the most part he is right). The second one though bears looking at. The article claims that Jewish voters might consider the existence of Israel so important and so key to their very being that they would vote based on that premise. To back that up he cites Jewish American voters in the '30's and '40's. Well, in that case I understand this. I, for instance, would never vote for a candidate that talked about not being friendly or supporting the existence of Israel as I see that as both fundamentally against American interests AS WELL AS being fundamentally against Jewish interests. In his example he uses British MP Ken Livingstone.
Were Mr. Livingstone running for President of the U.S. I wouldn't disagree with Mr. Braunold in that vote since from what I know about MP Livingstone I don't think he is a reasonable choice for that position and YES, my vote would be affected by his anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish advocacy. BUT... Mr. Livingstone is not running for President of the United States (well, foreign policy wise his clone - Ron Paul is, but, that is not someone I would consider voting for).
The person running and being cited by the ODS'ers (Obama Derangement Sufferers) is President Barak Obama and unless one is a Republican and sympathetic to Republican arguments regarding the U.S. Political system then voting for a Republican rather than President Obama purely on the grounds of Israel rather than domestic priorities (those being American priorities both foreign and domestic) is by Bruanold's definition both "wrong" AND "un-American".
This then runs us to a term that has lately come up: "Israel Firsters". Now this is a term personally I don't like. I think that while it may be sometimes accurate, it is too broadly used by anti-Semites to make claims of dual loyalty. So where do I see this issue as "Wrong" or "Un-American" in our election. Well first of all, I think the Republican agenda of:
1. Overturning Roe v. Wade
2. Stripping the EPA of regulatory power Or dismantling it completely
3. Putting the tax burden on the Middle Class and Poor while exempting the Rich from paying their fair share
4. Underfunding Education
5. Supporting the destruction of the Social Safety Net
6. Supporting the repeal of credible Health Care Reform
and so much more stands against America. But, voting for those things (while professing to be against ALL of them) because one thinks that President Obama, a President who has:
1. Increased Aid to Israel up and above previous administrations
2. Been termed an "Exceptional Friend of Israel" by both the Defense Minister of Israel, it's Deputy Foreign Minister, and it's President
3. Supported Israel in the U.N. countless times
4. Personally intervened to save Israeli Diplomats in Egypt
5. Continually worked to find a peaceful solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict
6. Constantly stated that Israel must remain the National Homeland and State of the Jewish People
7. The First President to hold a Seder in the White House
8. The First President to designate a Month of the Year, Jewish History Month
9. Has had not one BUT TWO Jewish Chefs of Staff
is anti-Israel, or snuggled up to the "international genocidal, racist, jihad" is frankly delusional.
But in all honesty (and I wish people would be honest) even if President Obama wore an Israeli Flag while singing "Hatikva", all while hugging a Binyamin Netanyahu Plush toy it would STILL not be enough for the ODS crowd. Why? Who knows......
In the Meantime they would support a party which supports:
1. One State solution to the conflict in the Middle East (without thinking about the ramifications of that)
2. A front-running candidate who supported the Post Death conversions to Mormonism of Jewish Victims of the Holocaust
3. has a candidate that thinks Israel shouldn't exist and would de-fund it entirely.
Ok but I digress....
Now here is where I get controversial. I would say that if this is one's point of view, that the voter who feels this way is living in the wrong country. While one would certainly have the right to vote any way they want, why would this voter bother living here instead of in Israel? I would challenge anyone who feels this way to answer that question. If a narrow P.O.V. as determined by Im Tirtzu or the Israeli Right is what you vote for in American elections then you live in the wrong place.
Now, if one is a Republican to begin with... Dynamite vote for your party. But make your vote based on American priorities. After all, you are an American. If you want to vote for Israeli determined priorities, Kol HaKavod, move to Israel. They need more Olim.