US politics in Israel and party donations

One detail from a „Informed Comment“ discussion of Obama’s recent Middle East address (already briefly mentioned in a tweet of mine) stuck to me and got me thinking. It is the explanation of why Obamas (moderately) critical stance towards Israel and his push for pre-1967 borders as the basis for peace negotiations are politically daring:

Obama has been told by Israel-firsters in the US that his position on moving rapidly to a two-state solution endangers his ability to fund-raise among Jewish Americans (who provide a vastly disproportionate amount of money for political campaigns, estimated as high as 65% among Democrats) and therefore could imperil his campaign for a second term.

A quick research on Wikipedia contrasts this with the percentage of the US population identifying as of Jewish religion: 1.7% (by the way making them the leading non-Christian faith, excluding Atheists I suppose).

Now, there unfortunately is no source for Informed Comments numbers, but this is stunning. At the same time, the claim that the percentage of donations from Jewish Americans is especially high among Democrats would illustrate that the Israel question is not what motivates them the most. I remember a fascinating and disturbing discussion (more of a lecture actually) with a self-proclaimed „New York Jew“ back in California who told me that even though he is at odds with pretty much everything the Republicans stand for, he still votes for them because they are the only party with clear sight on Israel and „Islamo-Fascism“. It seems that, luckily, most of the people who share his faith don’t share his beliefs.

Anyway, another example of how money distorts politics, giving power to marginal interests. Unfortunately not as easy to solve as the ones relating to corporations, where a law limiting election-related spending seems like a pretty good idea to me. It has unfortunately recently been abolished by the Supreme Court.

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Datum: Samstag, 21. Mai 2011 9:59
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