A Short History of Jewish Conservatism in America

While American Jewry still identifies overwhelmingly with the Democratic party and the political left, Jewish support for the GOP has been gradually on the rise. Steven Windmueller notes that this is not a new phenomenon. From the founding of the republic until the early 20th century, U.S. Jews tended to be diverse in their political allegiances and counted in their ranks many prominent conservative voices:

During the closing decades of the 19th century and the early periods of the 20th, [some] American Jewish leaders not only voted their passions but also articulated a well-founded conservative political and economic philosophy. The late 1800s would see a number of Jewish business leaders embracing the notion of “sound money” and a commitment to align the dollar to the gold standard. Jacob H. Schiff (1847-1920), the community’s major philanthropist, embraced the Republican party, as he publicly supported “conservative methods” [and] feared “social revolution.” A staunch believer in the Puritan tradition and the “American dream,” Schiff lived, according to his biographers, “by a sense of duty and strict morality.”

Louis Marshall (1856-1929), the lawyer who played a central role in the formation of the American Jewish Committee, would invoke a socially conservative orientation in managing the Jewish affairs of this era. Marshall even considered it “unpatriotic” to desert the Republican party when, in 1912, so many other prominent Jewish leaders—including Jacob Schiff—voted for Woodrow Wilson. “I am absolutely convinced,” he wrote, “that the Republican party presents the only hope against the onslaught which is now in process against our cherished institutions.”

Read more at eJewish Philanthropy

More about: American Jewish Committee, American Jewish History, Economics, History & Ideas, Jewish conservatives, Republicans

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security