Instapundit points to this very perceptive analysis of John Kerry's policies and attitudes toward Israel by Martin Peretz. But Peretz also begins his piece with this puzzling but accurate statement: "Like many American Jews, I was brought up to believe that if I pulled the Republican lever on the election machine my right hand would wither and, as the Psalmist says, my tongue would cleave to the roof of my mouth." I have never understood why Jews are so hostile to Republicans, as such. It is not as though the Republican Party has exactly led pogroms against the Jews over the years. Indeed, throughout the 20th-century, the most prominent anti-Semites--southern racists like Theodore Bilbo, Catholic fascists like Father Coughlin, and black demagogues like Al Sharpton--were [update: sic, tended to be; I haven't forgotten about Pat Buchanan, among others] Democrats. For that matter, the most anti-Semitic demographic groups, ranging from urban Catholics and rural fundamentalists in the early 20th-century to poorly educated and just plain poor whites, African-Americans, and Latinos today, have, and continue to be among the Democrats' primary constituencies. (The Republicans primary constituency today, evangelicals, are no more anti-Semitic than the population as a whole.). And of course, it was beloved Democrat Franklin Roosevelt who stifled most efforts to rescue Jews from the Shoah. I've often heard Jews say it was the Democrats' commitment to civil rights that made Jews hostile to Republicans. But until 1964, Republican politicians overall were more sympathetic to civil rights legislation than were Democrats, and the period that this was true was also the period during which Jews were most hostile to Republicans (if I'm not mistaken, Reagan and Nixon received higher percentages of the Jewish vote than did Eisenhower, Dewey, or Wilkie; Milton Friedman received much more flak for being a Republican around 1960 than any similarly-situated prominent Jewish intellectual would receive today; Peretz grew up in an era when the racist South was still a dominant force in the Democratic Party). Conclusion: The reflexive antipathy of Jews to Republicans per se (as opposed to specific policies pursued by Republicans) has been, and continues to be, irrational.
Jews and Republicans: