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Why Israel is red and American Jews are blue

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"American Jews are overwhelmingly democratic because of social issues, not because of foreign policy," says Shaul Kelner, a sociology professor at Vanderbilt University who focuses on ties between American Jews and Israel. "It’s easy for Israelis to be hawkish about American foreign policy when they don’t have to live here and deal with consequences of the social policy."

Indeed, on domestic policy Israelis are significantly more blue that the average republican: Gays have openly served in the military for years and few would support dismantling Israel's state-funded public health system. Meanwhile, American Jewish views on the Middle East and the Arab Spring are closer to Israeli skepticism about the prospects for democratic change than the views of the average democrat, Mr. Kelner says.

Despite the robust Jewish support, Mr. Obama's approval numbers did decline to about 69 percent compared with 78 percent four years ago according to exit poll data. Jewish democrats assert that support for Obama in 2008 was actually 74 percent, and argue the drop was less pronounced, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Israel wasn't always red

Back in the 1990s, Israel wasn’t a "red state." The most popular US figure was President Bill Clinton, who moderated peace negotiations that would have required significant territorial concessions. The floundering of the peace process and the outbreak of a Palestinian uprising have made Israelis more cautious about diplomatic compromise.

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