Between the Republican National Convention in New York and the leftist protesters who had a collective nervous breakdown outside, the Democrats' man John Kerry isn't looking too good. So it's little wonder that the Dems are getting desperate. Why else would they resort to ridiculous tactics like those of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC)?

This is the group making a fuss over an alleged "Christian cross" they charge was built into the exterior of the wooden podium at the Republican Convention. The way the wood was carved did suggest a cross-like shape, but it's a serious stretch of the imagination to accuse Republicans of surreptitiously embedding crucifixion symbols in the decor. Nonetheless, the NJDC objected strongly to this "outrageous" blurring of the lines between church and state.

To quote Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political strategist, "My God, where do they come up with this stuff?"

Of course, such a complaint could only come from the liberal, Democratic segment of the American Jewish population. It would be highly unlikely for politically conservative Jews to object to a display of religious belief (whether real or imagined), not being obsessed with secularism like their liberal brethren. As for Republican Jews, most have long since gotten over any squeamishness about their Christian comrades that they might once have experienced. In fact, the relationship between Christian and Jewish conservatives has become quite cozy as of late. It doesn't hurt that Christian Zionists are some of the most vocal supporters of Israel, especially during a time when even many Jews have forsaken the Holy Land. And the worldwide rise of Islamic aggression against both Jews and Christians has only strengthened bonds already in place.

It is precisely this growing Judeo-Christian relationship that liberal Jews and the Democratic Party as a whole fears. For along with these developments has come a gradual shift in voting habits. Slowly but surely, Republican Jews are growing in number. Exit polls conducted by Voter News Service for the Associated Press and television networks show that the number of Jews voting Republican went up as much as 60 percent between 2000 and 2002, increasing to 35 percent from the previous 21 to 26 percent. Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Executive Director Matthew Brooks is optimistic about such results, claiming, "We are seeing a major shift in American political party alliances and we expect these realignment trends to continue."

This shift was definitely felt at the Republican National Convention, where among the crowd could be seen Orthodox Jews. No doubt they and other Jews watching were pleasantly surprised by the speech of former New York mayor and 9/11 hero, Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani not only presented Israel and America as firm allies in the War on Terror, but he also paid homage to the wounds suffered by Jews in particular at the hands of Islamic terrorists.

Giuliani referred specifically to the 1985 murder of American Leon Klinghoffer by four members of the Palestinian Liberation Front. It was on the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro that Klinghoffer, a wheelchair-bound elderly man, was, as Giuliani put it, "marked? for murder solely because he was Jewish." He also brought up the 11 Israeli athletes that were slaughtered by Palestinian terrorists during the Munich Olympics in 1972, as well as the travesty that was Yasser Arafat's Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. In bringing these incidents up, Giuliani did more to appeal to Jewish voters than almost any Republican before him.

The inclusion of Jews in the convention lineup also bespoke a burgeoning relationship. Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis delivered the closing prayer at the convention on Tuesday, August 31. According to The Jewish Press, for which Jungreis is a columnist, "This was the first time that a leading female Torah personality had been invited to address a national convention of either party." As a Holocaust survivor, Jungreis talked about her first encounter with American soldiers when they liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in which she was imprisoned. Praising President Bush's "valor" after 9/11, Jungreis also lauded his support for "beleaguered Israel," particularly his insistence that terrorism is unacceptable wherever it exists. She then asked for a moment of silence for the victims of that day's double bus suicide bombing in Beersheba, something the crowd of Republicans had no trouble obliging her in. Somehow, it's hard to imagine a similar scene among today's Democratic Party.

Indeed, Republican strategists seem to be aware of such strengths and are ambitiously aiming for 30-35 percent of the Jewish vote in November. This has alarmed both the Democratic Party and their allies in the media, who, in an effort to dampen Republicans' enthusiasm, recently pounced on the findings of a poll that showed Kerry leading Bush among Jewish voters by 75-22 percent. But the poll was conducted during the Democratic National Convention by a research group for the now raving National Jewish Democratic Council. In addition, the poll appears to have been taken mostly by non-religious Jews, with Orthodox Jews making up only 8 percent. The true test will come after the Republican National Convention.

Kerry, too, has tried his hand at damage control, but his attempts to curry favor with the Jewish community have further exposed his propensity for flip-flopping -- only this time about the Middle East. He once called Yasser Arafat a "great statesman" only to recant later on and label him "an outlaw to the peace process." And the Democratic Party overall has a problematic history of anti-Semitic commentary from the likes of Cynthia McKinney, Earl Hilliard, Hillary Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Ernest Hollings and James Moran, as well as showcasing notoriously anti-Semitic figures such as Al Sharpton. Then there's the Congressional Black Caucus, which votes consistently against Israel. When it comes down to it, the Democrats have little to offer American Jews beyond the religion of liberalism many still subscribe to.

Whether or not a major shift has occurred among Jewish voters remains to be seen. If Republicans only gain a small amount of such votes, it could make the difference, particularly in states like Florida. And even among the Democratic Party, changes seem to be afoot. It doesn't take a genius to notice that some of the most hawkish Democrats happen to be Jewish. Ed Koch, Diane Feinstein, Tom Lantos and, of course, Joe Lieberman are just a few examples.

The threat of annihilation has once again reared its ugly head and Jews have begun to take notice. Now it's up to the Democratic and Republican Parties to answer the call of history.