The Wind Report 2016 Elections Blog #3: Ten Principles of Jewish Political Behavior

Steven Windmueller, Ph. D.

Posted on September 22, 2015 / 9 Tishri 5776

Written by Steven Windmueller, Ph. D.

the wind report 2016 elections blog #3

Traditional Jewish political practices remain important in understanding voting behavior:

Principle One: The Jewish community views its self-interests to be directly tied to how successful it is in accessing and conveying its political agenda; this notion is directly linked to the course of Jewish history, where Jews were locked out of power. Today, for the first time in 2000 years, Jews possess political power, changing the character, substance, and scope of their political engagement. This investment by Jews in politics is reflected in its voting power, financial contributions, and the depth of its involvement with political parties and engagement with specific causes.

Principle Two: The most effective model of organizing for a small community is to be able to effectively access the power structure within the society. American Jewish political activism is tied to influencing key social, political, ethnic, business and cultural elites in the society, who in turn shape and promote policies and attitudes that are viewed as coherent with Jewish interests and American democratic principles. Building personal connections with such influentials represents a critical ingredient toward promoting Jewish political interests.

Principle Three: Aligned with this previous principle, the community has established as one of its core axioms that all politics is local, thereby requiring Jewish organizations and their leaders to identify and connect with key political actors and institutions of influence within a community. Based on Jewish history, communal leaders have understood the importance of such key stakeholders.

Principle Four: The Jewish community seeks to align its agenda in consort with American values and to identify its specific political interests as supportive of this nation’s political priorities.

Principle Five: When Jewish interests, or Israeli policies, are not aligned with core American values and policies, there is a greater potential for increased tension, anti- Semitism and anti-Israel activism. Those political forces that have historically opposed Jews and Judaism, now employ the “Israel card” as their vehicle to criticize and even marginalize the Jewish people.

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