August 12, 2006


Joe and the Jews: Our columnist is mystified that so many Jewish voters deserted Sen. Joe Lieberman. (Marc Gellman, Aug 11, 2006, Newsweek)

Joe Lieberman did not lose the Democratic primary because of his support for the war in Iraq. He lost because of his lack of support from Jews. Joe got the support of black Baptists (except of course for Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson who stood so conspicuously behind challenger Ned Lamont on election night). He got the support of Catholic Union guys. He got the support of all the Connecticut papers, and he got the support of most Jews, but not at all an overwhelming number of Jews and that is why he lost. He lost because Barbra Streisand's highly publicized contribution to Lamont and because of the number of Jews who hated Bush and the war more than they loved Joe. That's why he lost, and I don't get it.

Please understand, this is not a political rant. Yes, I support the war and yes I support and admire President George W. Bush, but I understand and respect those who have come to another conclusion about how best to fight the war on terror. My disappointment is with my people. I simply do not understand why so many Jews bailed on Joe. I cannot understand why Joe's percentage of the Jewish vote was not in the high 90s instead of the 54-57 percent range (according to Lieberman’s campaign). I have opinions on way too many things I don't know nearly enough about, but I know about Jews. I am a professional Jew, and yet if you asked me to explain why Jews did not vote for Joe the way blacks voted for Barack Obama or Catholics voted for John F. Kennedy I would not know what to tell you.

In truth I am also bewildered about why Jews do not support President Bush more than the pathetic 22-26 percent (depending on which exit poll you look at) he received in 2004. Bush would win a landslide in Israel, and never once invited Yasir Arafat to the White House, but that is a bewilderment best left for another day. What has frozen me is the lack of support for Joe by Jews.

They oppose him precisely for his Judaism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 12, 2006 12:28 PM

I think it's just because he was insufficiently leftist for the Democratic party that activist Democrats want to have today.

Posted by: PapayaSF at August 12, 2006 5:34 PM

Yes, it's a party that requires secularism.

Posted by: oj at August 12, 2006 5:37 PM

In terms of beliefs and concerns, aren't the Democrats and secular Jews basically the exact same thing? While, the church-going blacks are a terrible fit with the party they support, thus requiring the Democrats to cram them into horrible schools just to keep them in place, the urban American Jew is, profoundly, a Democrat, no? as if the party was a religious home for Jews sophisticated enough to understand Abraham solely as a metaphor...

Posted by: Palmcroft at August 12, 2006 11:02 PM

Marc Gellman was my childhood rabbi who bar-mitzvahed me. He's a very personable man and has a magnetic charm. Ours is a reform synagogue in Long Island where Torah study is a joke and nobody follows any rules or even pretends to consider that any of them are important. For him to write some of these things he does expressing his "bewilderment" makes me laugh.

Posted by: Matt Cohen at August 13, 2006 8:57 PM