Even before the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, the Jewish community has overwhelmingly voted Democratic. Nevertheless, there has been bipartisan support in Congress for the State of Israel. James Baker, when he was Secretary of State for George H.W. Bush, in response to his policy toward Israel, was heard saying, “**** the Jews; they don’t vote for us.” Fortunately, this was a minority opinion. Republican support for Israel was not based on Jewish support for Republicans but rather because Evangelicals, an important bloc of voters, wanted America to be aligned with Israel.
There has been a shift in certain segments in the Jewish community. Orthodox Jews, even in strong Democratic areas such as in New York City, are increasingly voting Republican. The few precincts that Trump won in New York City in the 2016 presidential election were in mainly Orthodox communities.
It is a good thing for the Jewish community not to be known as a one-political-party community. It increases our clout because it tells the elected officials that we cannot be taken for granted.
What is troubling is that many in the Orthodox community have gone full circle. They attack Democrats and support Republicans. One only has to read the Orthodox papers that repeatedly attack Democrats, in particular Senator Chuck Schumer, and do not say a bad word about the president or Republican members of Congress.
The last thing we want to do is make support of Israel into a partisan issue. We need support on both sides of the aisle.
For the first time maybe since the founding of the State of Israel there is a group in Congress whose positions are against the state
For the first time maybe since the founding of the State of Israel there is a group in Congress whose positions are against the state. They support those who repeatedly criticize Israel – such as the BDS movement or those who call Israel an apartheid state. These politicians are part of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Not all progressives feel that way. However, there are enough to make a difference. These individuals need to be stopped. It is not helpful to attack mainstream Democrats such as Senator Schumer, whose assistance is necessary to rein in these progressives so they do not cause damage to the United States-Israel relationship.
It is also important, in trying to avoid making support of Israel into a partisan issue, for Jewish organizations, especially national organizations, when they honor or invite elected officials, to make sure that both parties are invited.
I noticed that the National Council of Young Israel’s dinner only listed a Republican congressman from Florida (Ron DeSantis) as a guest speaker. I do not know why no Democrat was listed. I hope that the absence of a Democratic elected official was not deliberate. It would be a mistake to leave the Democrats out and send the wrong message.
It is the best of times for Israel supporters – since the United States Embassy will be relocating to Jerusalem. It is the worst of times – since Iran is gaining strength and we are stuck with the deal made with Iran, which Senator Schumer voted against. We also have to deal with less public support for Israel even within the Jewish community. Thus, it is imperative that we support any politician who will be a friend of Israel, no matter their political party.
Warren S. Hecht is a local attorney. He can be reached at email@example.com