To understand where you’re headed, it’s said, first understand where you’ve been. With that in mind, what can 2012 teach us about 2013?
Presidential campaign 2012. Both parties spent prodigiously wooing swing-state Jewish voters, while pundits insisted Jewish votes are insignificant. Consider: Florida’s Jews voted 66% for Obama despite intense GOP efforts (led by Sheldon Adelson, now the single largest political donor in U.S. history). Overall, white Floridians voted 37% Obama. He won the state by 74,000 votes. If Jews had heeded Republicans and voted like other whites, Obama would have gotten 148,000 fewer votes and lost Florida.
In other GOP Jewish failures, Jewish Republicans ran hard for the Senate (Josh Mandel, Ohio; Linda Lingle, Hawaii) and House (Randy Altschuler, New York; Shmuley Boteach, New Jersey; Adam Hasner, Florida). They all lost. The rising Christian passion of Republican base voters is making it hard for GOP Jews to win their votes.
Jewish Democrats were stung at their party’s convention when the platform was criticized (by right-wing bloggers) for ignoring Jerusalem. The leadership hastily brought an amendment for voice vote and ruled that it passed, though it obviously hadn’t. Liberals and Israel aren’t getting along these days.
In 2013, look for continued sniping at Democrats over Israel by Jewish Republicans, who sadly don’t have much else to do.
Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Gaza. Rocket attacks, after dwindling in 2009 following Operation Cast Lead, spiked in 2012 as Egypt’s revolution emboldened Gaza Islamists. Israel assassinated a Hamas military leader November 14, sparking a week-long exchange of heavy fire. Unlike 2009, Israel avoided a ground invasion. Gaza deaths were around 160, a fraction of the 1,400 killed in Cast Lead, sparing Israel another worldwide roasting. Israel lost just six people, thanks to the new Iron Dome anti-missile system. Following an Egyptian-mediated cease-fire November 21, Hamas claimed military victory.
Israeli-Palestinian conflict: West Bank. Israel and the Palestinian Authority marked a fourth year without negotiations. Israel said the P.A. refused to engage, though Israel’s own generals grumbled that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the stumbling block. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, humiliated by Hamas’s repeatedly challenging Israel, upped his game by winning U.N. recognition as a non-member state pledged to peace with Israel. Israel, after promising Washington not to retaliate, announced new settlement construction in the sensitive E-1 zone near Jerusalem.