"I've had 30-year Republicans tell me they are re-registering as independents," noted John Khamis of San Jose, Calif., a Republican activist present at the "national leadership conference" of the Arab American Institute in Dearborn, Michigan on Oct. 18. The gist of the Washington Post article by David Broder reporting on this event is simple: Arab-Americans are alienated from the Bush administration due to its policies, especially its application of the Patriot Act and its approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
What Broder does not point out is how precisely this development mirrors the new-found Jewish support for the Republican party, and for precisely the same reasons in reverse. I expect that this sorting out of Arabs/Muslims and Jews in American politics will continue and will grow more evident; Arabs and Muslims, for all their sympathy for Republican economics, will vote Democratic, and Jews, for all their agreement with the Democrats on abortion, will vote Republican.
I also expect that the Democratic party will abandon its historic sympathy for Israel, implying that the considerable continuity in U.S. policy toward the Jewish state is a thing of the past; in the future, it will lurch one way and the other, depending on which party controls the White House.
Finally: just as the Arab American Institute had difficulty preserving a bi-partisan tone yesterday ("Throughout the meeting," Broder reports, "Democratic speakers fared much better than the few Republicans who accepted invitations to appear"), so too will Jewish institutions such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee struggle to maintain their bi-partisanship. (October 19, 2003)
Dec. 7, 2003 update: In an analytical piece today in the Washington Post ("Terrorism Jars Party Loyalty of Arabs, Jews: Views on Bush Have Shifted"), Laura Blumenfeld comes to the same conclusion as I did: "In the last presidential election, Arabs supported the Republican candidate while Jews overwhelmingly backed the Democrat. That was before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and Bush's response. Since then, the political moorings of the two communities have come loose."
Dec. 14, 2003 update: Further confirmation comes from Geneive Abdo in today's Chicago Tribune, though her focus is on Jews and Muslims, not Jews and Arabs: "The Bush administration's strategy to lure Jewish voters away from the Democratic Party seems to be working, said pollsters and Jewish leaders, who point to President Bush's support for Israel as one of the reasons for the shift. Muslims … now are working to defeat him."
April 19, 2004 update: Ann McFeatters of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette raises the possibility of a "seismic shift" in voting patterns in November 2004: a majority of Jews voting Republican and a majority of Arab-Americans voting Democratic.
Aug. 22, 2005 update: Sher Zieve argues that "anti-Semitism is and has been on the rise in the Democrat Party for quite some time and documents explains why in an article, "New Democrats' Growing Anti-Semitism." I see this as another sign of it becoming the Arab/Muslim party.
Aug. 20, 2006 update: The same sorting out can be seen in other Western countries. Leslie Scrivener shows this in the Toronto Star for Canada in "Jewish Liberals — a Hezbollah casualty?" which has the subtitle "Many in the Jewish community are reassessing their Liberal party loyalty and looking upon the Conservatives under Stephen Harper with fresh eyes."