Most people dislike politics. “Voter apathy” has become part of the vernacular, and too many fail to exercise the extraordinary privilege afforded to us by the Constitution.
As Jews, we have an even greater obligation to ensure that we do not ignore this sacred constitutional freedom.
We are in the midst of a heavily contested presidential election. Mitt Romney and the Republicans sense an opportunity to reclaim the White House by faulting President Barack Obama for the ongoing fiscal challenges facing us. Obama and the Democrats counter by touting the president’s foreign policy credentials and focusing on the inroads they contend he has made on the domestic front.
Many pundits insist this is one of the most important presidential elections of our lifetime. For us Jewish Americans, that assertion could not be truer.
Injecting religion into politics is no longer taboo, and candidates speak freely about their faith and incorporate ideology into their campaign rhetoric.
And just as candidates make religion a focal point, we as Jewish Americans must make our faith a centerpiece of this critical presidential election.
We live in trying times and can no longer take a candidate’s pro-Israel statements at face value. We must engage in dialogues with them about the issues that are vital to our future as Jews.
In an uncertain period for Israel, the one certainty we need is an unbreakable bond between America and Israel. Hyperbole and promises from the candidates concerning the U.S.-Israel relationship are unacceptable. In light of the Arab Spring, we need a pledge from the candidates that America will continue standing together with the Jewish state.
As deadly rockets continue raining down on Israel, we Jews need to make certain that our candidates undertake to end the violence. The security of our Israeli brethren is paramount, and we have a responsibility to hold the candidates accountable for Israel’s safety.
As Iran works towards nuclear arms, America and the European Union have decided that talks are the solution. They persist even though Gen. Hossein Salami, the acting commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, has boasted that Iran test-fired missiles that can strike Israel and U.S. military bases in the region. Nuclear Iran poses a grave threat to Israel, so Jews need to tell candidates that this situation needs to be addressed.
While the candidates crisscross the country talking to voters, Jonathan Pollard continues to languish in prison after more than 26 years. Pollard, who received a life sentence for passing classified information to Israel, an American ally, is extremely ill and has expressed remorse. Numerous American leaders have implored Obama to commute Pollard’s sentence. As Jewish Americans, we must inform the candidates that Pollard’s release is a major priority.
The days of Jewish Americans casting their votes based on party affiliation and partisan politics must end now. We cannot afford to toe the party line and vote for someone simply because there is a “D” or an “R” before the name. The time has come for Jewish Americans not to just vote responsibly but to vote religiously.
We must do our due diligence and make certain that the issues that are important to us also become important to the presidential candidates. Obviously, domestic concerns such as taxes, job creation and economic stability are essential. Certainly, foreign relations and America’s standing in the international community are significant. However, equally important, if not more important, are the issues that are close to our heart as Jewish Americans.
Indeed, this is one of the most important presidential elections of our lives. Its outcome undoubtedly will affect our lives for many years to come.
We need to ensure that there is a healthy dose of Judaism injected into this election. It is the best medicine that we as Jewish Americans can have.
N. Aaron Troodler is an attorney and principal of a New York-based public relations and political consulting firm.