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From Me to Jews

Why, despite everything, Jewish-Americans keep voting for Democrats.

12:00 AM, Oct 26, 2004 • By JOEL ENGEL
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FOR NEARLY SIXTY YEARS, since the birth of Israel, American Jews have faced accusations that they care more about the well-being of their ancient homeland than of their home. Well, barring some unforeseen circumstance, the canard of dual loyalty should be retired forever on November 2, 2004. On that Tuesday, Election Day, up to 80 percent of American Jews will pull the lever for John Kerry, thereby proving that they not only do not care about Israel's well-being, but that they don't mind making common cause with people who wish them ill. Or worse.

The evidence is overwhelming that acceptable anti-Semitism has moved from right to left on the political continuum, and that its philosophical home now resides in the Democratic party, which has become less the party of liberals than of leftists. Even before Al Sharpton stood as a presidential candidate last year, Democratic politicians genuflecting for black votes--Al Gore, Bill Bradley, and Hillary Clinton, for example--often trekked up to Harlem to kiss his ring. And yet, this was a man who in previous years had either led or instigated two anti-Jewish demonstrations, one in Crown Heights and one in Harlem, which together resulted in the deaths of eight people. Does that matter to Democrats and John Kerry? Apparently not. Sharpton was rewarded with a choice slot at the Democratic National Convention, something that is impossible to imagine being given to the likes of former Republican David Duke, whose incitements have frankly born far less blood than Sharpton's.

Put aside his disgraceful role in the Tawana Brawley hoax. The fact that Democratic candidate Sharpton never had to answer questions during primary season from either the press or the other contenders about his anti-Semitic statements (to wit: "diamond merchants" whose hands bear "the blood of innocent babies") should tell Jewish Democrats something important about their party. It should tell them that anti-Semites have found safety in numbers.

Partial proof of that was on display in a VIP box at the Democratic national convention, where two other prominent guests were seated shoulder to shoulder: Jimmy Carter and Michael Moore. Considering their on-the-record statements, it's not terribly difficult to imagine them leaning close during breaks to compare notes on Jewish conspiracies and the world's locus of evil, Israel.

Carter's antipathy toward the Jewish state is well-documented, as is his affection for Arab dictators, especially Yasser Arafat. This is a man who endorsed the results of the sham 1996 "election" that transformed Arafat from self-appointed "chairman" to "president" of the Palestinian Authority, while he continues to suggest that President Bush stole Florida and therefore the 2000 election. (Remember, too, that Carter recently ratified anti-American Hugo Chavez's election in Venezuela under dubious circumstances.) Last year's Nobel Peace laureate once confided to historian/biographer Douglas Brinkley how eager he'd been to meet Arafat (another laureate!) for the first time--and why he felt such an affinity for the terrorist leader. He believes that Arafat truly wants peace and that Ariel Sharon truly does not. He considers it self-evident that the whole of the West Bank and Gaza belong to the Palestinians, a bias evinced by his insertion of "the" before the word "territories" in his written discussion of United Nations Resolution 242, though "the" had been specifically and deliberately excluded from the resolution's wording in order to demonstrate that all permanent borders are to be negotiated in good faith. No wonder his Carter Center receives substantial funding from Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, at a speech in Liverpool early this year, Moore informed his adoring audience who the world's real villains are: "It's all part of the same ball of wax, right? The oil companies, Israel, Halliburton." That statement sheds light on why he tried to prevent Fahrenheit 9/11 from being shown in Israel, and is congruent with both his speech denouncing the Israeli "occupation" at a 1990 Washington, D.C. demonstration, and his refusal that same year to attend a screening of his film Roger and Me in Jerusalem unless and until Israel met his demand to withdraw from "Arab lands." Moore has also suggested that we could solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by giving the Palestinians $4 billion worth of advanced weapons. Most egregious, though, was his dedication in the book Dude, Where's My Country? to Rachel Corrie, the pro-Palestinian activist who was killed while impeding a bulldozer sent to find and destroy tunnels used by the Palestinians for weapons smuggling. (Corrie was once photographed burning an American flag at a West Bank demonstration.)