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Will American Jews continue to vote Democratic?

Israel is America’s strongest ally: a strategic asset and a country that shares our values. America and Israel are the only two countries in the world founded for a higher moral purpose.

Six years into his presidency, President Obama’s record on Israel is better than any Republican president. This should be a cause for celebration within the pro-Israel community. Yet unprecedented levels of military and intelligence cooperation, record amounts of aid, Iron Dome and strong diplomatic support (including a 100 percent pro-Israel record at the U.N.) have not dissuaded our Republican friends from attempting to use Israel as a political football for partisan gain.

{mosads}The same untruths are repeated again and again in the hope that people who are not paying close attention will believe them. Still, reality keeps getting in the way.

It’s as if our Republican friends are projecting their shame for what Republican presidents actually did onto Obama by warning us about what Obama might do. Forcing Israel to relinquish territory? President Eisenhower forced Israel to withdraw from the Sinai. Condemning Israel at the U.N.? President Reagan supported U.N. condemnation of Israel’s attack on Iraq. Denying financial aid to Israel? President George W. Bush cut loan guarantees to Israel. Suspending military aid to Israel? Reagan and George W. Bush (among others) did it.

Obama has never cut or even threatened to cut financial, military or diplomatic support for Israel. But after hearing so many times during the past six years that he might, some of us actually believe that he did. Delegitimizing Obama has been the Republican goal since day one.

Last summer, after enduring hundreds of rocket attacks from Gaza, Israel did what any other country would have done much sooner and took military action to protect its citizens. Obama’s strong support for Iron Dome saved countless Israeli lives, and even while calling on both sides to exercise restraint (using words almost identical to those used by George W. Bush), Obama resupplied Israel with munitions and reiterated Israel’s right to defend itself.

Obama is on the verge of finalizing a deal that will verifiably prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The deal will not provide certainty, but is more likely to succeed than sanctions or military action and is a major foreign policy triumph.

Yet Republicans continue to oppose a deal, insisting on unrealistic demands that pander to domestic audiences. Too bad they weren’t as vocal during the George W. Bush administration, when North Korea acquired nuclear weapons.

Obama was quick to condemn the Paris Kosher market attack as anti-Semitic, consistent with the Obama administration’s strong stand against anti-Semitism.

These accomplishments come despite unprecedented Republican efforts to use Israel for partisan gain. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) went behind the White House’s back and, without even consulting his Democratic counterparts, invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress in a vain attempt to drive a wedge between Democrats and the pro-Israel community.

Forty-seven Republican senators wrote an open letter to the government of Iran telling Iran’s leaders not to trust the president of the United States. This unpatriotic, irresponsible action proves, as if more proof were needed, that too many Republicans are simply incapable of conducting responsible foreign policy.

Of course, Jews also consider domestic issues. On nearly every issue that most Jews consider important — reproductive choice, economic fairness, environmental stewardship, gun control, separation of religion and state, equal rights for minorities — the Democratic party is the only credible choice.

Jews don’t have choose between Israel and the other values they hold dear because only one party, the Democratic Party, is strong on Israel and the other values we cherish. That’s why the Democratic party is the natural home of American Jews, and that’s why the overwhelming majority of Jews will continue to vote Democratic.

Sheffey has long been active in the pro-Israel community and in Jewish communal life. He is a lifelong member of AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and served on the board of CityPAC, a pro-Israel Chicago-based political action committee, for seven years, including two years as its president. He is also active in Democratic politics and served as an elected delegate to the 2012 Democratic Convention from Illinois.

Tags Benjamin Netanyahu Democratic Party Dwight Eisenhower Gaza War George W. Bush Israel Israel–United States relations letter to Iran Ronald Reagan

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