An alternative to popular faith
We begin with a few relevant facts:
1. Most Jews support Israel
2. The Democratic Party generally is liberal. The Republican party generally is conservative.
3. Most American Jews vote Democratic and tend to support liberal causes.
4. The conservative Republican Party displays the stronger support of Israel
What’s going on? Why do Jews, who support Israel, tend to vote Democratic, and why do the liberal-leaning Democrats seem less supportive of Israel than do the conservative Republicans?
Here is a hypothesis for your comment. Warning: I make many generalizations, which may not apply to specific individuals:
Historically, Jews have been the underclass, the put-upon, the unfortunate objects of bigotry. Jews empathize with those who are treated unfairly. While some Jews have achieved fame and financial success, the notion of “mitzvah” (literally “commandment,” but generally thought of as the obligation to do a “good deed”) remains deeply embedded in the Jewish psyche.
Jewish charities lean more toward helping people and less toward supporting the synagogue. Jewish houses of worship on average are less expensive and ornate than those of other faiths. Even Christ, the Jew, preached compassion and love for the unfortunate. Thus, the Jewish natural instinct aligns with liberal causes and with the Democratic Party.
Conservatives tend to lean more toward Christian piety and the literal law, than do liberals. Love of God may exceed love of the unfortunate. Strict interpretations of the law may more likely to be found among Christian conservatives than among liberals.
Given all of the above, why do the conservative Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune write editorials supporting Israel following the “flotilla,” while the liberal New York Times supports the Palestinians? Why was “born-again” George Bush a much more vocal supporter of Israel than is Barack Obama. The reasons may have nothing to do with love or empathy.
The reasons may have to do with the war. No, not that war. Not Israel’s ongoing war with Hamas, Hezbollah, Fatah et al. Not the war we read about daily. I am talking about an older and much larger war: The war between Christianity and Islam.
This conflict, exemplified by the Crusades, has continued without abatement. Cyprus, Macedonia, Bosnia Herzegovina, East Timor, the Sudan, Kosovo, the Philippines all are sites of recent or ongoing violence between Christians and Muslims.
The vast majority of Muslim-dominated nations are dictatorships. While Turkey, which is Muslim, has struggled to remain secular, this secularism may be at risk as the current government leans ever closer to Islam. France which has seen its Muslim population rise markedly, now has begun to show signs of Christian resistance, with the UK not far behind. The world over, Islam is growing faster than Christianity.
The American Republican party sees as its base, the Christian right, the group most sensitive to the growth in population and power of worldwide Islam. Perhaps they see Israel as a bulwark against Muslim monopoly domination of the Mideast. Perhaps Israel is admired merely for its resistance to the overwhelming population odds, or for occupying the growth energy of Islam. In some cases, mere realpolitik (“The enemy of my enemy is my friend”) may account for right wing Christian attitudes.
Whatever the reason, I suspect Israel is a tiny bit player in the ongoing war between the two giant religions. Even economics itself may be a less important, long-term determinant of the world’s future, than the war between the two giant, Abrahamic religions. It will not be won in our lifetimes or in our grandchildren’s lifetimes. It never may be won, but the battle will continue to affect us all.
So, while Israel’s concern is its survival against the sea of Islam, the religious right’s focus may be on the survival and growth of Christianity. What do you think?
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
No nation can tax itself into prosperity