by the Forward

One of the fatal mistakes of the Republican Party and its supporters is their relentless effort to get Jews to vote for the GOP by hammering the issue of Israel. The mistake here is that Israel is the most important election issue to only 6% to 7% of Jewish voters, according to multiple polls.

So why waste and focus your time attacking Obama and Democrats on Israel? Besides, many Jewish Americans think Democrats are solidly pro-Israel. As such, by making it a central campaign issue Republicans are targeting maybe 3% of the Jewish electorate.

This explains why the GOP made few inroads with Jews all those years.

Jewish Democrats argue that tikkun olam, or repairing the world, is the reason why Jews belong in the Democratic Party. But I am puzzled by this for many reasons:

1) The liberal agenda of the Democratic Party is adverse to Torah values on a range of issues, including abortion, animal rights and others. So I find it suspicions that Jewish Democrats stick with only one Jewish value, namely tikkun olam.

Besides, according to Jewish law, the real way of helping poor people is to teach them a trait and help them build their own business. There is nothing Jewish about a system where people are kept poor and stuck on government programs all their life.

2)The notion that Republicans don’t spend enough to help the poor is a brazen lie. In fact, Republican presidents have presided over healthy increases in spending on social programs like food stamps, welfare, and housing subsidies. Adding up how much President Bill Clinton spent in his first term on domestic social programs, it is only $89.9 billion more than what his predecessor George Bush spent on those same programs. However, W. Bush spent $409 billion more on those six departments in his first term than what Clinton spent in his second term, and Bush in his second term spent $768 billion more than what he spent in his own first term.

3) Almost 60% of the George W. Bush tax cuts actually went for people earning less than $75,000 a year. More than 7.9 million people are exempt from paying any income tax due to The Bush tax cuts that reduced rates for everyone. Yet almost all Democrats voted against it. The earned income tax credit that many Jewish American benefit from was doubled under George W. Bush. It was the Republican Congress in 1997 that created the Child Tax Credit and Bush hiked it from $400 to $500 and then to $1,000 per child.

The supposedly “pro-poor” Democrats voted against the credit in 1997 when it was created. They voted against it in 2001 when it was expanded and they voted against it in 2003 when it was doubled.

4) The economy under President George W. Bush was mostly doing all right: Many if not most economic numbers that we have now three years into the Obama recovery are actually worse than almost all of Bush’s 96 months in office! Consider: the lowest unemployment rate under Obama is 7.8%, but the highest rate under Bush was 7.8% in the month he left office.

Home sales for 2012 is on pace to hit 4.6 million units, which is lower than 2008. Gas prices in October were higher than almost all Bush months, and income is lower now in the Obama recovery than during the Bush recession.

Indeed, there’s no denying Bush left a crisis for Obama. But your home being flooded by a storm does not mean that your home was bad in the years it did not flood.

Faced with these realities, the only thing left for Jewish Democrats to convince fellow Jews that they need to stick with the Democrats, is to call the GOP anti-Semitic and racist. But it was the Democratic Party that was openly racist from its founding all through the mid-1960s. The Democrats harbored many racists ever since, such as almost all the Southern senators who voted against the civil rights bills, including the father of former Vice President Al Gore. It is today’s Democratic Party who gives credence to voices like Rev. Al Sharpton who have infamous records among Jews. In addition, New York, home to the largest concentration of Jews outside Israel, did perfectly alright under Republicans such as Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Gov. George Pataki.

Yossi Gestetner is the executive editor of GesetnerUpdates.Com, a Jewish political blog. He can be reached at

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