July 31, 2012

Mitt Romney and the Jewish vote

We’re going to set aside for the moment the clear racism Mitt Romney showed regarding Palestinians in his remarks in Jerusalem today, not because the racism is unimportant, but because it’s so fucking obvious it requires pretty much no comment.

We’re also going to set aside the fact that this man is so appallingly ignorant that he a) can’t get the numbers right and b) is completely incapable of seeing some rather glaring economic, social, and political forces at work that make Palestinians so much poorer than Israelis. Anyone who can’t understand that Palestinians may be suffering a bit economically due to Israeli policies is so clearly a complete moron that it doesn’t deserve comment except to say that maybe he’s not quite qualified to run our foreign policy. (I don’t want to get into a debate over whether Israel needs to have those policies in place or not; regardless of whether they are justified, they do hurt the Palestinians economically.)

Instead, I’m gonna take a stab at this one as an American Jewish person. Romney has been trying to woo American Jewish voters, right? Well, as an American Jewish voter, let me tell you dude: You’re hitting the wrong note. First of all, I kind of would prefer not to be lumped in with all the other American Jewish voters, despite your attempts to target “the Jewish vote.” Don’t you read The New York Times? American Jews apparently are no longer all interchangeable nebishy short guys who went to Penn (although, yeah, I did). We’re actually a widely diverse group of people, and we have a pretty diverse set of political beliefs.

And, frankly, why the hell would you even want “the Jewish vote,” if it existed?  There are, what, 300 million people in the United States? And how many of them are Jewish? What, like 6 million? I’m not a math major (because I’m not Asian, and we all know those Asian folks are one monolithic group who are all awesome at math), but I think that comes out to 2%. We’re not worth it, dude.  You’re better off going after the guys who go to conventions dressed as large teddy bears. I think there are more of them.

This brings me to the neighborhood of my second point. Do you know why there are so few Jews in the world? I’d assume you got that far in your history classes, but after today’s remarks, maybe assuming is a bad idea. See, over history, Jewish people have been repeatedly persecuted, most recently on kind of a large scale during World War II. And what drove all these pogroms, purgings, and genocides? Well, partly the blood libel, but also in no small part a stereotype that Jewish culture leads us to be smart, educated, and rich.

So, there are quite a number of us who are kind of touchy about politicians who buy into those stereotypes.

When you stand up there and perpetuate those stereotypes, you’re dehumanizing every Jewish person. Don’t treat us like a model minority. It’s degrading and insulting. There’s got to be a better way to woo that 2%.

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  • Reply Jeff July 31, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Great piece. I always like it when i am reminded how good my co-ethnics are at making money. Every time i think of Bernie Madoff, and some guy named Goldman and another named Sachs. Hell, maybe Rockefeller was secretly a jew (like Roosevelt, right.). When the Belgians conquered Rwanda they said that the Tutsi were actually the lost tribe. The reason, simple. They were too smart to be Africans and they were good with money. Hilarious right? How to insult all Africans and all Jews all at once. Not so funny down the line.

  • Reply annon July 31, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    As a fellow Jew, I understand your point, but I disagree with your rationale. When Israel was created, the Israelis had nothing. They made Israel what it is today under a lot harsher conditions than the Palestinians are under now. Yes, it is difficult for them. But, it is also a situation where Israel needs to defend itself (you defend what you worked so hard to create). What would you suggest the policy be instead?

    • Reply emily July 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm

      I’m afraid that you might not understand my point. As I said, I am not interested in debating Israeli policy in this particular post. The situation is far, far more complex than a blithe, “Israeli culture is awesome” comment can encompass, and surely more complex than one paragraph in a blog post. Right or wrong, there can be no denying that restrictions have economic consequences — that’s the whole point of the restrictions. By imposing economic sanctions in any situation, you get people to comply with you because they are being hurt economically. So, it’s just plumb stupid for Romney to say that the economic disparity has nothing to do with those restrictions. Again, I do not wish to discuss the right or wrong of the policies in this post. My point is not about Palestinians; it is about stereotyping of Jewish people in a way that has had horrific consequences throughout history and lumping us all together into some voting block that needs to be pandered to.

  • Reply Molly August 6, 2012 at 5:03 am

    :::claps::: Thank you.

    I’m a short Jewish GIRL who went to COLUMBIA. see? I deviate a little bit too!

    It’s absurd. It seems so simple to us logical folks. And yet, I got reamed out by an old Jewish man in a hospital waiting room after my dad had a stroke, for being a Jewish woman who votes for Obama. To which I say, really Romney? If those are the Jews that vote for you, the old guys who bully young women to tears in the hospital waiting room, you can have them. They’re just as ignorant as you.

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