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September 20, 2012

Democratic Convention In Line with Most Jews’ Values

Listed in: NJDC News, Opinions

Originally Published in The Baltimore Jewish Times

By NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris

As pundits discuss the effects of the Democratic Nation-al Convention on the Jewish vote, foreign policy seems to be the focus. While it is an extremely important issue to Jewish voters, these talking heads are missing a key component of the Jewish vote - social issues. If the Republican National Convention showed how out of touch the party has become, the Democratic convention made clear why President Barack Obama is the choice for the majority of Jewish voters.

According to the Public Religion Research Institute’s 2012 Jewish Values Survey, 95 percent of Jewish Democrats support a woman’s right to choose in all or most cases. Even 77 percent of Jewish Republicans agree with them. Yet, as the party conventions demonstrated, the Republicans do not agree.

It’s almost hard to believe, but somehow in the year 2012 a major party thinks it’s acceptable to ban a medical procedure - even in cases of rape and incest. Equally unbelievable is the fact that the Republican vice presidential nominee cosponsored a “personhood bill” that would give full legal rights to zygotes and outlaw most forms of birth control - not the U.S. our foremothers imagined.

The PRRI study also found that 81 percent of all Jews support same-sex marriage. The Democratic Party is now aligned with the beliefs of most American Jews on yet another issue, since the Party became the first major U.S. political party to endorse marriage equality. President Obama’s accomplishments on behalf of the LGBT community - from repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to the president’s very public support for same-sex marriage - were celebrated throughout the week. The main stage featured LGBT individuals and allies - including First Lady Michelle Obama, who commended her husband for wanting to give everyone in the U.S. the same opportunities.

This commitment to equality was not matched by the Republicans, where the platform affirmed the rights of states and the federal government to not recognize same-sex marriage. The platform also backed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and rejected the “use of military as a platform for social experimentation.” This doesn’t sound in line with the Jewish voters.

The Democratic convention upheld American Jewish ideals by making clear the party’s beliefs in more humane immigration laws. The PRRI found that 57 percent of American Jews believe that the increasing number of immigrants strengthens America, with 70 percent supporting provisions of the DREAM Act.

While it may have displayed some of the most diverse voices in the Republican Party, the GOP revealed how far right the party has gone on immigration. Not only did Mitt Romney promise to veto the DREAM Act, he went as far to call the discriminatory Arizona immigration law a “model” for the nation. Unfortunately for Romney, most Jewish voters do not agree.

Foreign policy is an issue of utmost importance to the American Jewish community. But on foreign policy, the U.S.-Israel relationship and Iran, President Obama has an excellent record - and there is little difference bet-ween the rhetorical offerings of Gov. Romney and the actual policy path President Obama has charted. But the significance of social issues to the Jewish community cannot be overstated - and there the contrasts are very real. Only one candidate - President Barack Obama - is in line with the vast majority of Jews.