On March 9th, The Los Angeles Jewish Journalpublished a sprawling (3,800 word) article The new power of a Latino-Jewish coalition in L.A. by Jonah Lowenfeld. Despite the headline (and an even more tendentious Cover picture entitled They Like Me, They Really Like Me | The blossoming Jewish-Latino courtship) the article wends its way through a thicket of happy ra-ra Jewish outreach stories to get to an inconvenient fact:
The Latinos aren’t on board - particularly about the sacred nature of Israel.
the latest round of meetings between the Jewish and Latino leaders… Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) and a veteran of Latino-Jewish dialogue, hoped that the agenda for these talks would center on the prospects for a city on the West Coast rather than on the future of a certain country in the Middle East. “What can Latino and Jewish leaders in Los Angeles agree on in terms of the future of our city?” Vargas asked. “And what can we do together to improve life in Los Angeles?”
Worse, the article notes:
Of the Latinos polled about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 44 percent said that the United States should support Israel. That may vastly outnumber the 6 percent who said the United States should support the Palestinians – but a full 50 percent of those polled expressed neither opinion.
However, it gleefully goes on, Jewish Leaders can see a deal:
Countless times in recent years, Jewish groups have made statements about the need for legislation reforming the U.S. immigration system—despite the fact that American Jews don’t put the item very high on their own political agendas.
In 2007, in response to a question asking American Jews to identify “the most important problem facing the United States today,” more were concerned about the Iraq war (16 percent), the economy and jobs (22 percent), terrorism and national security (15 percent), and health care (19 percent) than were worried about immigration (8 percent).
In 2008 the AJC survey asked what respondents would like to hear the candidates for president speak about. Far more American Jews wanted the presidential hopefuls to talk about the economy (54 percent) than wanted to hear about immigration (2 percent).
(“AJC” is the American Jewish Committee)
The Jewish groups that support comprehensive immigration reform typically say that their positions are based on a combination of lessons—but it’s clear that they do this to help solidify Latino-Jewish alliances as well.
“It’s the fundamental rule of coalitional politics,” said Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center (RAC) of Reform Judaism...”If you want to have a friend,” Saperstein said, “you’ve got to be a friend.”
The great majority of Americans, precluded by their ethnicity from gaining from this Israel support/Amnesty deal, might well ask
“Who is going to our friend?”
“Where does America benefit from this?”