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September 20, 2002 - Image 19

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-09-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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No Change

Bush's pro-Israel positions aren't translating
into Jewish votes.

JAMES D.BESSER

Washington Correspondent

R

epublican leaders continue
to gloat over predictions
that PreSident George W.
Bush's strong pro-Israel posi-
tions and leadership in the war on terror
will entice Jewish voters to the GOP
side of the aisle, but a new Gallup poll
splashes cold water on those predictions.
The survey, which examined party
identification by religion, found "little
meaningful change in the ways in
which Americans of any religious lean-
ing identified their basic political ori-
entation after Sept. 11." And that
includes Jewish voters, whose identifi-
cation with the Republican Party
remains below 20 percent.
In a series of polls, 50 percent of
Jews surveyed claim Democratic affili-
ation, about one-third call themselves
independents and only 17 percent
identify as Republicans.
That stands in sharp contrast to
Protestants, with 39 percent identify-
ing as Republicans and 32 percent as
Democrats.
"The party identification of Jews
appears to be remarkably stable,"
according to the Gallup report. "An
analysis of over 30,000 Gallup Poll
t. interviews conducted from 1992 to
2001 shows almost exactly the same
distribution of party identification
among the Jewish population, as is the
case in the most recent year and a half."
Marshall Wittmann, a senior fellow
with the conservative Hudson
Institute, said that the data reflects
what GOP leaders have known for a
long time: Despite the media hype
• about a big shift, Jewish voters contin-
ue to cling to old voting patterns.
"I'm not surprised by the
Republican numbers," he said.
"Especially at the congressional level,
the Jewish community is still a very
tough nut to crack for the Republican
Party: You hear many more positive
things about Bush (among Jews), but
that is unlikely to translate into votes
for other Republicans."
But the poll included one hopeful
sign for the GOP, he said: the "surpris-
ingly high" number of Jews who iden-
tify themselves as independents.
"Jews have been overwhelmingly

Democratic in identification over the
years," he said. 'Any weakening. of
that identification has to be good for
the Republicans. If you pushed most
of these independents, they would
still probably vote Democratic. Still,
it's a departure from the New Deal
generation."
A top political scientist agreed. "The
history of American party identifica-
tion is that when groups are shifting
from one party to another, they don't
do it in one fell swoop," said
Benjamin Ginsberg, a professor at
Johns Hopkins University in
Baltimore. "Generally, they do it
through third party or independent
phases."

Multiple Views

-

ability in the face of a U.S. attack against
Iraq, which incensed Rep. Henry
Waxman, D-Calif., a leading member of
the Jewish delegation in the House.
Decrying the one-man witness list,
Waxman said that while "the topic of
this hearing is important, I regret that
the minority was not consulted in
advance about witnesses for today's
hearing ... To the best of my knowl-
edge, the chairman did not send invi-
tations to a single member of the cur-
rent Israeli government."
Waxman acknowledged that
Netanyahu is "respected widely for his
expertise," but noted that he "repre-
sents only one point of view." Before
the hearing, Waxman suggested addi-
tional witnesses such as former Prime
Minister Ehud Barak — a suggestion
that was ignored by Burton.
Last week, the American Jewish
Committee and several other Jewish
groups took advantage of the opening
of the United Nations Security
Council and the presence of scores of
foreign ministers in New York to rein-
force the administration's case on Iraq.
"In more than 60 meetings, we've
emphatically urged support for the
U.S. position," Execuitve Director
David Harris said.

Israel's vulnerability to Iraqi attack is
not the most important factor in the
debate ..
now raging in the Bush admin-
istration and on Capitol Hill over the
expected strike, but it is a growing
Church-State
Complication for U.S. policymakers.
Iraq
and homeland security are the big-
That complication was highlighted
ticket
items on the table as Congress
last week by former Prime Minister
crashes
toward adjournment in October,
Binyamin Netanyahu, who appeared
but
a
number
of issues with church-
before the House Government Reform
state implications continue to percolate.
Committee and said that that Israel
Last week, the House leadership
supports U.S. preemptive action against
abruptly
pulled from the floor a bill
Iraq "even though we stand on the front
providing
education tax credits to help
line, while others criticize it as they sit
low-income
families pay for private
comfortably on the sidelines." But he
and
parochial
schools. The reason,
warned that Israel "must be protected,"
according
to
political
analysts: They
and said that the U.S. government
didn't
have
the
votes
to
pass it.
should provide help with civil defense
- Supporters say the measure could
measures such as smallpox vaccinations.
help poor families rescue their children
-Much more worrisome, he said, are
from failing inner-city public schools;
reports that Iraq may be only months
opponents say it would help only a
away from a nuclear weapons capabili-
tiny number of students and open the
ty. "No gas mask and no vaccine can
door to more direct public funding of
protect against nuclear weapons," he
religious schools.
said. "Science has not yet invented
Nathan Diament, director of the
such a device."
Orthodox
Union's Institute for Public
The former prime minister also
Affairs,
said
the real problem was that
warned that the Iraqi dictator would
too
many
House
members were out of
likely share his nuclear technology
town
when
the
vote
was scheduled,
with terror groups like Al Qaeda.
and
he
predicted
the
bill will resurface
The committee, under the chairman-
before
Congress
adjourns
next month.
ship of Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., has
Opponents,
including
most
liberal
become Netanyahu's favorite
Jewish
groups,
say
that's
a
stretch.
Washington soapbox. He testified before
the same committee only nine days after With the congressional calendar
clogged with appropriations bills and
the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
the measure creating a big Department
Netanyahu's appearance wasn't with-
out controversy. He was the only witness of Homeland Security, finding time for
the tax credit bill will be tough. ❑
to address the question of Israel's vulner-



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