It's Time for American Jews to Say Goodbye to the Democratic Party | Opinion

American Jews have historically voted for Democrats by large margins—especially Ashkenazi Jews, who make up two-thirds of the U.S. Jewish population. About 70 percent of American Jews are Democrats. Though this tendency began in the early 20th century, it became even more understandable after the Holocaust. After experiencing first hand how right-wing nationalism could result in the murder of millions of their people, many Jews who came to America in the wake of that horrific event couldn't ever imagine voting for a right-wing party, and some have come to associate the Republicans with nationalism and even fascism and Nazism.

But as a Persian Jew, my experience was very different from that of most Ashkenazi Jews. I escaped from Iran with my family when I was six years old; Iranian border guards shot at our vehicle as we fled the country during the Revolution. My parents didn't want me to live in a place where you could be killed if you were a woman who didn't cover her hair or if you criticized your government. We didn't want to have to guard our tongue, afraid that if we said the wrong thing our neighbors would rat on us and government officials would put us in prison... or worse.

Unlike Ashkenazi Jews, when Persian Jews like myself came to the United States, we tended to vote Republican. Post-Revolution, we blamed President Jimmy Carter for the Shah's downfall. In the far-Left progressive rhetoric, we heard echoes of the Ayatollah's utopian Marxism. And in recent years, we were happy to see Republicans oppose the Iran Deal, because we had firsthand experience with the evils of today's Iranian regime. We knew that they intended to develop nuclear weapons and try to wipe out Israel and the western world.

If liberal Ashkenazi Jews think they are protecting themselves by voting for Democrats, to us, the opposite is the case: It is Republicans who most Persian Jews see as the safer bet. And things like the anti-Israel sentiment in the Democratic Party that's always increasing, as well as former President Obama's calamitous Iran Deal, and the antisemitism from people like Congresswoman "All about the Benjamins" Ilhan Omar, it's getting harder and harder for us to understand how so many Jewish Americans can still align themselves with the Democrats.

Jews for Trump
Supporters hold signs as US President Donald Trump speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition 2019 Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 6, 2019. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Liberal Jews often refer to intersectionality when explaining their attachment to the Democrats. They talk about how all oppression is connected, so we need to be on the side fighting for equity. But the rise in wokeness is oppressive in how it impedes free speech, which hurts Jews. And intersectionality itself hurts Jews, because it puts us at the "top of the food chain" and falsely smears us as "the oppressor."

Meanwhile, attacks on Jews are on the rise; just this past week, two Jewish men were shot while leaving synagogue in Los Angeles. Doesn't their safety matter? A vote for weakening the police or diminishing their ability to protect and serve is obviously going to harm Jews.

All of this brings me to a modest proposal to my fellow Jewish Americans, specifically those who vote for Democrats. I'm not asking that you become Republicans. But I am asking that you consider not voting along party lines. Instead of staying loyal to a party, consider casting your vote by issue and candidate instead.

Though I tend to lean more conservative, I really vote depending on what's at stake. I vote for the better candidate and the better solution to our problems. Being loyal to one party every single time is intellectually dishonest, and it doesn't serve us well.

As Jews, we have to think about the bigger picture and the issues that don't directly seem like they affect our community—because they do. If the U.S. economy continues to decline because of Left-wing policies, we are going to be the scapegoats; Jews will be punished. It happens every single time. We are always blamed when things go wrong.

Jewish Democrats can make a huge difference when it comes to improving Jewish life here in the United States, as well as the life of every American.

If you have only voted Democratic in the past, if you could never dream of voting for a Republican candidate or policy, I urge you to reconsider. Right now, there is just too much at stake to keep repeating our old patterns.

If we want to combat antisemitism, keep the Jewish state strong, and ensure that Jews are safe here in America, we have to do something different. Our future depends on it.

Dr. Sheila Nazarian is a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, star of the Emmy-nominated Netflix series "Skin Decision: Before and After," and host of "The Closet" podcast.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.