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Eternal Questions

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What seems like an eternal question, which I am frequently asked, is why are Jewish Americans are so supportive of the Democratic Party and vote for politicians who oftentimes are anathema to the interest of Jewish Americans? Even more often I am asked how Jewish Americans can vote against politicians who support the State of Israel and support American politicians who care little for the Democratic nation state in the Middle East, the only Jewish nation that will ever survive as a Democracy in that region?

Most folks normally point to Roosevelt’s New Deal and the extent to which that attracted Jewish voters. However, that was 75 years ago, and most young Jewish Americans are relatively clueless as to what the New Deal was.

The story goes back further than that. The first Jewish Americans, who arrived in North America before the American Revolution, were primarily Sephardic Jews from the Caribbean. They knew how to fight for their rights, they battled the Spanish in their well-armed ships stationed in Kingston, Jamaica, and they had a loose alliance with the British Empire. When the American Revolution ramped up, those same Jews supplied General Washington with the ingredients he needed for gunpowder, ran the British blockade fearlessly and formed the Jewish Brigade out of South Carolina. In fact, most Jews at that time lived in the south, although there was a hardy population of Jewish Americans in New York. Those Jews fled to Philadelphia, when the British occupied New York and Long Island.

By the time of General Grant’s presidency, American Jews, who already had established a great tradition in this country, were firmly in the Republican camp. Uriah P. Levy, the first Jewish commodore, who sailed with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, fought the Barbery Pirates and brought soil from the Holy Land to New York City in order to initiate a Jewish cemetery in the great American port city.

Jews were actively involved in the Civil War, and Judah Benjamin ultimately became Vice President of the Confederacy. Benjamin, so the story goes, and Abraham Lincoln’s Jewish doctor even discussed a possible peace treaty........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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