US Jews

US Jews and presidential pardons by President Clinton

The pardon of a Jewish crook named Rich by President Clinton still arouses passions. Hank Levin objected to its being used to defame the whole Jewish community. Randy Black writes: "Mr. Levin brings up Mr. Rich’s pardon totally on his own. I only mentioned the Presidential pardon of the convicted thieves of the Jewish faith as one of several significant events that allowed New York to elect the reverse-carpet bagger, Hillary Clinton, a person who had never had New York connections previously". Cameron Sawyer says: "I have to agree with Hank Levin here. It is simply not true that American Jews are a monolithic mass with only one issue or another on their minds. It is a dangerous oversimplification to think so, which will lead to errors in understanding politics, and it is simply unfair to boot. That being said, the Rich pardon was a disgusting, cynical abuse of the pardon power, just one of many committed by Mr. Clinton, and was probably predicated on just the kind of logic propounded by Randy, whatever the real effect was".

US Jews as a monolithic voting bloc

Randy Black answers Cameron Sawyer; "There are 24 Jewish Democrats in the US House of Representatives and one Jewish Republican. Jews make up just about 2 percent of the U.S. population and only about 4 percent of the electorate nationwide. But they are routinely among the most certain to show up on election day, with turnout averaging about 80 percent of eligible voters. Jewish donors -- clustered in the population centers of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami and New York -- also have been among the most generous givers to Democratic candidates and causes.

Nine states with significant Jewish populations account for 212 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, according to an analysis by Windmueller of Hebrew Union College. Among those, most handicappers predict the two most populous states -- California and New York -- will back Kerry, along with Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maryland. Gore received 77 percent of the national Jewish vote in the 2000 election, a percentage point more than President Bill Clinton received in 1996. …Walter Mondale received 67 percent in 1984; Michael Dukakis received 73 percent in 1988, and Clinton received 68 percent in 1992. 78 percent of New York City's 1 million-plus Jews voted for President Clinton in 1996.

Cameron, Tell me again about how Jews as a monolithic voting mass do not exist".

Cameron Sawyer said American Jews do not form a monolithic voting mass. Randy Black argued that they did, ending "Cameron, Tell me again about how Jews as a monolithic voting mass do not exist". Cameron says: "Well, first of all 67% (or even 77%) is not a monolith. Secondly, those statistics don't say anything about the ISSUES which determined those votes -- Randy did not even assert any facts to support the idea that Jews are single-issue voters. Every individual has his own agenda, and applies to Jews as much as to anyone else. Hank Levin says, and I think it rings true, that the Rich pardon did not carry any particular water with Jews in general in New York, and that on the contrary, may have created a backlash".

AreJews as a monolithic voting bloc? Tim Brown says: "While politicians talk in terms of the national interest voters rarely vote that way. Instead voters tend to vote single issues. So while politicians talk about what is best for the country that is not what wins elections. Elections are won by putting together enough fractional single-interest blocs of votes to add up to 50% plus 1 vote. Notice, not 50% of all potential voters, just 50% plus 1 of those who actually vote, so if only 40% vote all you need is 20% plus one to be elected, one voter in five not one of every two.

As a result, any cohesive minority with a particular commitment to a particular interest wields influence in proportion to the number of its adherents who actually vote, not in proportion to its share of the entire population. There are many such blocs, Cuban-Americans in Florida, organized labor, African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, fundamentalist Christians, pro-choice or anti-choice groups, feminists, teachers, environmentalists, anti-nukes, small businesses, large businesses, life-style and so forth. And this list includes a number of groups, not just Jews, that contribute considerable amounts of money to political campaigns, unions and businesses being other examples. So to single out Jews is neither fair nor balanced, not even in the nine states mentioned here, because in those same states there are also significant other groups as well - African-Americans (near majorities in some of them), Hispanics (majority in California, decisive in Texas), labor (mid-West), pro and anti-choice, and so on.

If you single out Jews for attack based on the claim that they are somehow unique within our system, you are factually in error. The problem is not Jews, or Hispanics, or union members, it's the apathy of most American voters combined with the relative cohesion of single-interest groups. If everyone voted, and also voted in accord with the national interest, the impact of such blocs would be greatly lessened and election results would be different. But they do not, and the consequences of this are not the product of any single bloc, much less of the Jews. They are produced by the voluntary conduct of all Americans of voting age. To focus on only one group is to be looking at the wrong thing". RH: Nevertheless, this suggests that Jews are like other single interest groups and thus form a bloc.

Randy Black says: "In a tight election, the small minority of Jewish voters -- who tend to have strong turnout levels -- could give Bush an edge in battleground states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. "Given that Jews turn out at an 80 percent turnout rate, if you swing the Jewish vote 10 percent in Ohio, that could give you Ohio," said Nathan Diament, a lobbyist for the Orthodox Jewish movement. Though he believes Bush's motive is principle rather than politics, Diament also notes that the courting of Jewish donors -- hugely important to Democrats -- could aid the Republican Party. House Chief Deputy Majority Whip Eric I. Cantor (Va.), the House's only Jewish Republican, echoed that point. "American Jews see that President Bush gets the fact that Israel is fighting the same fight against terrorism that we are," he said. "The very liberal Jews are not going to be able to put aside their environmental or abortion politics. But for the mainstream Jewish community, Israel is of paramount importance"."

US Jews and Israel

Christopher Jones writes: "Hank Levin will be surprised that I wholeheartedly sympathise with him and fully recognize that Jews are not a monolithic Cabal. But the problem is exacerbated by the silence of those Jews who disagree with Israeli policies which is compounded by the "right to return" and the effective dual nationality that every Jew enjoys. We simply never hear from these people who sport another opinion. (or not very often: Norman Finkelstein is one of those who has a very healthy view of these problems). I would love to see a vociferous demonstration of American Jews in the Congress demanding a two state solution to the Palestinian issue, the condemnation of the policy of targeted murder, just compensation for Palestinian lands confiscated after 1947 in Israel proper, among other things, because it is best for America (and eventually Israel too).They could try staging a demonstration in front of the Israeli Embassy renouncing any claim to Israeli citizenship. Unfortunately, the media is in the hands of those Jews who favor Sharon's policies, and so, even it were to happen, it wouldn't even make the local news. The problem is the same in Germany where there was a recent confrontation between the ultra conservative-pro-Sharon Zentralrat and a group of liberal Jews who wanted part of the government money to set up their own organization. The Zentralrat effectively branded any attempt to tamper with their government funding "Nazi" tactics and the government caved in".

Ronald Hilton -