Michael OrenMichael Oren, a very fine historian, gives an interview to the Forward where he says the following:

“If it hadn’t been for George Bush between 2001 and 2005, I’m not sure the Jewish state would have survived,” Oren said. “Because when the bombs started going off at the end of the Clinton administration, Israel was not given much latitude to respond to Palestinian terror. A year into the Bush administration, after 9/11, Bush started giving an unqualified green light to the IDF to go in and smash terror. By doing that, they created a situation where the tourists came back, foreign investment came back. The fact that you could walk down the street as a tourist in Jerusalem today owes a lot to the Bush administration. But the Bush administration owes a lot, in turn, to evangelical backing. So how am I to gainsay that this particular community helped save the lives of my family?”

Pretty unequivocal support for both Bush and the source of much of his grass-roots support which comes from evangelical Christians. For those who don’t know, Oren’s latest book addresses the historical support in America, going back centuries, for the idea of a Jewish return to the Land of Israel.

Let’s see…Bush received about 20 percent of the Jewish vote in ’04 and the Republicans received 13% of the Jewish vote in 2006. Anybody else receive the impression that Jewish voters either see things differently from Oren or that Iraq and other factors in the Bush/Republican House years have taken a more prominent role in defining Jewish support?

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24 Comments

  • I will keep my thank you card handy, but not mail it yet. Who knows what long term damage Bush has done. I shudder to think at how the average idiot American was able to add anti-Arab to the list of things they hate reflexively because they have been told to. Now they don’t know who to beat up first, an Afro-Am, a gay, a Jew or an Arab! Things are tough in the hate states.

    and ‘gainsay’ – good vocab word!

  • Is that a song? What in the world are you talking about? You are very quick with the words “idiot” and “hate state”. If you are against group-bashing, (and you name four groups), then aren’t you doing it yourself? So, for you, a whole state is somehow bad? Aren’t you being reflexive yourself? The man here brings up something worth discussing, so discuss it. Fine, you have reservations. All right. Plenty do. But would you please be coherent?

  • I think you mean you are shuddering about inter-group hostility, but not shuddering about the threat to the existence to Israel. Maybe I don’t understand what you said. As people obviously can’t shudder all day, one has to decide what to spend one’s shudder allowance on. I like Israel, so I wouldn’t have spent mine that way. Those other guys can take care of themselves I figure.

  • Yes I am guilty of the sin I despise. But that is a much longer conversation 🙂 .

    I am well aware that all hate state residents are not hate monger. I have family in Texas and just because they are the only 5 registered Democrats in their district sorta kinda proves my point in both directions!

    Maybe my thank you card statement needs some work, but I too am conflicted, I really hate Bush and his agenda and his politics, but I too feel that he has helped Israel out. I just wonder if the short term help is worth the potential and semi-palpable long term harm vis-à-vis Arab/Jew/American relations.

  • The Republicans may as well give up on the Jewish vote. Forever.

    Say this for Bush: if he’s been as pro-Israel as Oren states, it’s not because he’s got substantial Jewish support to cater to. Whatever his failings, he’s sincere in his convictions.

  • Bush’s only conviction is – and what it should be, is our country’s national interest. His “job” is to protect our economic interests (raw materials investments) abroad, our national security and our ideology (way of life).

    Carter and Reagan foreign policy were more based on ideology than Bush’s. But Reagan’s anti-communism was more directly tied into our national and economic security more than And Carter did manage an important peace treaty.

    Bush’s interest isn’t in bringing American Jewry to the Republican Party. It’s in protecting our investments overseas. I hope no one thinks that Bush’s ideology is nothing more than a smokescreen for what he thinks our national interest is – as the man once said “The business of America is business” (although I can’t remember who said it.)

    Otherwise we wouldn’t be so reliant on Saudi Arabia.

    I think American Jews are able to distinguish the difference between what Israel means to us as Jews and what it means to our country’s foreign policy and national interest. Israel’s security is important to us as Jews and important to America’s security. The problem is Bush is completely inept at his job. He failed to fulfill his responsibilities to our national interest. He abhors alliance building, which is key to our national security. He’s indifferent to analyzing and strategizing, the result being mountains out of molehills. He waged a war so strategically flawed that it became much too obvious the only interest being served is Halliburton’s. In the past it was United Fruit in Guatemala, now it’s Halliburton in Iraq.

    Anyways, my apologies to Professor Stephen Krasner.

    http://daily.stanford.edu/article/2005/1/31/condoleezzaRiceTapsStephenKrasnerToAssumePositionOfDirectorOfPolicyPlanningForStateDept

    It’s obvious non one was listening to him.

  • I also think he’s sincere.

    Part of the problem is that his administration is clearly responsible for the fiasco in Iraq, and their inability to recognize the enormity of their failure early on has exarcerbated the problems there. Add to that some of the undemocratic steps they’ve taken such as the signing statements and the changing of certain laws to prevent true free speech or the denial of rights to prisoners to pursue standard legal avenues in the name of the “war on terror” and it becomes abundantly clear why he doesn’t receive thanks for his support of Israel.

  • political support for jews and israel in the US is a result of AIPAC lobbying and money from jewish donors which goes to both parties. the US jewish population is too small to substantially effect national elections, read jewish power by an author whos name i forgot.

  • I’m not so sure about ‘Bush saved Israel’; I think the fact that 9/11 occurred might’ve had a large effect.

  • hmm I dont know. In the last few months of 2000 when the intifada just started and CLinton was still in office the casualty ratio was 10-1 in Israels favor.Bush let Defensive Shield to go for two weeks and then stopped it.( with the job not nearly done)

  • No Moses, even if AIPAC would have you believe that you are right, you are missing the point in Oren’s discussion. The point is that AIPAC and Jewish money may have an impact but the actual driving force in America’s support for Israel is an inherent and centuries old pro-Zionism within American culture, represented strongly in the present by evangelical groups.

  • Alex, interesting point. However, I suspect that Clinton would have also stopped Defensive Shield after a couple of weeks. The fact is that the US has been trying to be an equal broker to the best of its ability and in this respect it means restraining the Israelis at times. Sometimes that may be a bad thing, but sometimes that’s a good thing. Don’t you wish they had restrained Israel in day 6 of the recent Hizbullah war?

  • A year into the Bush administration, after 9/11, Bush started giving an unqualified green light to the IDF to go in and smash terror.

    Rubbish. Oren points out that 9/11 was the trigger, and implicitly admits that before 9/11 Bush put up a red light. In fact, prior to 9/11, the U.S. stopped selling certain missiles to the Israelis because they insisted on using them to kill terrorists.

  • Nathan, your relatives do not live in a hate state. There is no such thing. They just disagree with their neighbors. If there were such a thing as a hate state, they wouldn’t be living there. They would have been expelled or worse. Are all their neighbors evil or crazy? “Hate mongers?” That is obviously impossible. Your family would not live around evil people.

    This inflammatory language is immoral. People have a right to their opinions.

    A little precision of thought would be nice, too. I am not for vicious speech. It leads to action someday.

    So use your brain and moderate your language. Your fellow Americans have reasons for what they think. That, Nathan, is why we have elections.

  • To cut to the chase, I wish somebody would say something interesting about the muddled bind the Jews are in, which is going to sink them when the Left follows through on Marx’s original dislike of Jewish particular-ness. He didn’t think it squared well with his universal-class analyses. It didn’t, either.

    The Jews cannot like Bush because he is too white-bread and his family background is not from Labor. There’s no Roosevelt in him. (Roosevelt’s background was not exactly Labor, but he was a much better Communicator).

    Tom Morrisey, help us out here. Middle seems asleep.

    So, the Left will sell out Israel (already has) and the Jews will go meekly to their doom, quoting Tom Paine’s remark, when people were considering guillotining him, “if the French Revolution requires my head, I offer it”.

    I will be baking challah at the time however, in a kitchen containing many iron implements. You can all have some when it cools.

  • It looks like in order to help “shed some light” on why Bush (and the religious right) support Israel, one of those crazy evangelicals (that would be me) will have to respond.

    Basically our support for Israel is not only a spiritual commandment (Gen. 12:3) but also an ethical one.

    There are many people who do not like Israel, like the fact that it exists and see the nation as “thieves” who stole it from the poor Palestinians. Unfortunately this view is increasing dramatically within liberal circles in the US, as one can observe by visiting most liberal protests groups which will publicly display signs against Israel calling them names I won’t mention here.

    Many Christians support Israel (on both sides of the political aisle, but especially on the right) vocally because Israel’s enemies seem to be growing at an alarming rate, something I noticed when I was younger before I converted.

    If I were you guys (and gals) I would count on all of the support you can get. The next decade is not looking very good for Israel politically, and whether its Bush fault or not one thing is for sure: Israel is going to need all the help it can get, as its enemies are multiplying faster than bunny rabbits.

    ~Darnell

  • JM, Heaven forfend that the Jews are meekly going to their doom!… I agree that the Left is abandoning Israel as some sort of vestige of Western cultural imperialism. Or something. But though the process is well-advanced in Europe, it’s proceeding slowly here.

    (The latest signpost along the road: the Iraq Study Group’s worthies opining that if Israel wasn’t so stubborn and would simply cave in, Baghdad’s Shiites and Sunnis will stop killing each other.)

    But whether it’s 2008, 2012 or beyond, I’ll wager that American Jews will look back at Bush’s categorial support for Israel with nostalgia and maybe some regret.

  • The Forward just published an article claiming that many of the advisors of the Iraq Study Group on the Israel-Arab and Israel-Palestinian conflicts were opposed to linking the Iraq war to those conflicts. Apparently, the were blind-sided.

  • Tom, you really thinking Carter’s going to run again? Or that Obama or Clinton are going to abandon Israel if elected? Or were you referring to a possible Pat Buchanan presidency?

    I have a purely hypothetical question for discussion – what would folks here at Jewlicious, posters and commenters alike, think if Arafat had accepted Barak’s offer at Sharm Al Sheik?

    I’m assuming answers would range from: The assassination of Arafat, Knesset rejection and end of Barak’s career (which happened anyway) and the next Arab-Israeli war and an Israeli civil war on one side; or a more secure Israel, more regional peace treaties, securer American interests in the region, a couple Nobel prizes…

    I know I’d prefer the latter but that would be very Spielbergian. But c’mon, chime in. Make it look like traffic’s flowing here. And blame Tom. His comment got thinking about it, while should be focusing this:

    http://www.geocities.com/ebaypets/ebaylogo3.gif

  • It’s unfortunate that some are so desperate for friends and approval that they preach acceptance of the Fundamentalist Christian outstretched hand of doom. Yeah melodramatic, but true. After all the basis of their support for Israel is NOT a hard, faithful n true belief in Israel’s right to exist, or to provide Jews a place to live safely free from harm. Rather their goal in supporting it is to help bring about their heretical beliefs re: revelation which predicts the fall of the kingdom of Israel heralds the 2nd. coming of christ – yes THAT IS IT.
    In their own fanatical way they are NO different than Arafathead in desiring the absolute and total destruction of Israel, for Israel’s destruction heralds THEIR salvation.
    Finally their support is insanely one-sided. So much so that even the most neutral, uninvolved can’t miss it. It actually makes the murderous Pals look like total underdogs.
    Their constant defense of the EXTREME Israeli position threatens to revive anti-Semitism on a serious, profound level in the USA as AIPAC’s overwhelming influence on US foreign policy becomes more and more known as a force for Israel that disregards the USA’s vital interests – thanks to endless “sympathetic” discussions by these so-called friends of Israel. No matter how right, no matter how just it’s clear that more and more Americans are seeing the Invasion of Iraq as an implementation of a Far Right Israeli directive implemented by AIPAC. If that finally reaches critical threshold of awareness (and it’s close) a new age of anti-Semitism American style will be born, and we will have our loud-mouth, backstabbing Fundamentalist christian friends to thank for it, because their absolutism empowered the most extreme among us, and weakened our own sense of fairness and morality.

  • Tom Morissey thank you for your remark. But your comfort is basically “This is America, the new world; people here have broader ideas, and much more independence of mind, much less reflexive ideology, and more sense, than the Europeans”. Yes, that is all true.

    “Our hands are tied” say the European Jews. What they mean is, “We have been out-slicked and out-propaganda-ed. The other side has succeeded in leveraging their defeats into ideological and public-relations successes. If we protest, we are painted as right-wingers. We ourselves don’t know what to say to that. We know perfectly well that our views cannot be pigeonholed into either left or right. We are outside the discussion. We can only wait to see if the rest of the world can spare us an oil-free patch of sand the size of New Jersey.”

    I hope Tom Morrissey has a very large basement where we can all cower until Holicost II blows over.

    Twenty-five percent of American Jews vote Republican. Seventh-five percent vote Democratic. I have seen photographs of the Republicans ones. Their clothes are too crisp, their hair is too neat, and they stand too far apart from each other in the group photo.

    Nothing lasts but the Torah. So, marry, have a Jewish baby to whom you teach Torah. To do that, you have to know some Torah yourself, and also where to get further instruction for the baby in case the baby turns out smarter than you are.

  • Ramon, a move in US opinion away from Israel will likely have more to do with neo-isolationism that Buchanan-style, anti-Israel hostility. What’s at stake, in Iraq, Iran and elsewhere, is the prestige and cogency of traditional muscular American engagement in the Middle East. If the Left decides to retreat from the region, US policy may resort to ‘evenhandedness’ and other manifestations of backing away from Israel.

    btw, Jonathan needs to learn something about Christianity.

  • Tom, maybe. But I don’t see what possible President from either party will be able to disengage from the region. Especially with Putin re-engaging there, trying to regain the old Soviet superpower glory.

    As far as public opinion, Americans are always going to going to be concerned about our involvement in the region – as opposed to the muted response here to recent political changes in Central and South America (where it’s starting to feel like the ’50s all over again).

    Remember, Clinton (I’m assuming you consider him of the left) himself viewed the legacy of foreign policy tainted by the failure at Sharm Al Sheik. In a sense, Israel and the Mideast is as important to our national security as our own borders. Why? Oil, ideology, a check and balance with the other two superpowers – a combination of all that?

    Maybe we can just agree to disagree on the whether or not the Left would retreat from the region. I think not, at least behind the scenes.

    Still wondering what folks here would think if Clinton succeeded at Sharm Al Sheik.

    Jonathan, have you seen that Mel Gibson movie “Conspiracy Theory”?

  • Ok, I’m a Christian, but my support of Israel has little to do with my religion. One reason is that Israel exemplifies a positive “can-do” attitude, and her enemies are a bunch of fatalists – I would rather support those who will improve the world we live in. I guess this optimism is currently considered an American value, but it predates our country considerably.

    You could say I’m just supporting those who are more like me, but I believe I’m also supporting those who would defend my right to exist, as I’m defending theirs.

    Islam at it’s core doesn’t support our right to exist – that is how it has been taught and practiced for centuries. Unless Islam goes through a transformation (Christianity & it’s various Protestant divisions being examples, the contemporary Mormon church is another) we will be forced to continue this war in it’s various guises for centuries more. Israel is an important outpost in this war.

    At times I wish the IDF would just line up a bunch of bulldozers and scrape Gaza into the sea, but I suppose the UN wouldn’t like that …

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