Kol Yisrael areivin zeh lazeh – all Jews are responsible one for another. It is incumbent on all of us to protect the safety of Israel and to ensure the viability of our shuls, yeshivos, and chesed institutions here in Queens. Whether we like it or not, the reality is that many of the critical decisions that impact on our community are made by politicians.

The first priority for many of us is a safe and secure Israel. The security partnership between the United States and Israel has benefited both countries. The recent vote in the House of Representatives to condemn BDS shows that there is still strong support for Israel in both political parties. But that support is under attack as never before, as a number of members of Congress, their voices amplified by the media, have questioned our very right to advocate for the Jewish homeland and the integrity of those who support us.

The eiruvim, the shuls, the mikvaos, and other community facilities we take for granted today were built in the face of significant opposition because our local officials stood by us. Some did this out of a genuine concern for our community. Others did so because they believed we were a powerful political force. Whichever the case may be, the support of our local officials was critical in building a strong and vibrant Queens Jewish community. Many of our community institutions receive significant government funding. As other groups vie for funding and political influence, we need to work to elect local officials who are attuned to our concerns.

The reality of politics in most of the United States is that the result of the general election in November is a foregone conclusion, with either Democrats or Republicans dominating. The real decisions are made in the primaries, which choose the nominees of the two parties. If you want to have a real voice in choosing our elected officials, you must vote in the primary of the party that is dominant where you live. In many places in America, that means voting in the Republican Primary. The recent primary battle for Queens District Attorney showed once again that here in Queens the Democratic Primary is where the decisions over who will represent us in Washington, Albany, and City Hall are really made.

To vote in the Democratic Primary, you must be an enrolled Democrat. I fully understand why many of us may see the Republican Party as being more reflective of our values, or that some of us want to be independents who vote for the best candidate, regardless of party. But what political party you enroll in has nothing to do with what you believe in your heart. You can be an enrolled Democrat and still vote for the Republican candidate in the General Election. By enrolling as a Democrat, you will be able to vote in the election that really matters and where your vote can actually make the difference. If you are not enrolled as a Democrat, you are effectively forfeiting the right for your voice to be heard.

The strategy of leftist organizations, like the Justice Democrats and the Democratic Socialists of America, is to challenge pro-Israel incumbents in primaries in heavily Democratic districts. While these groups represent only a small portion of the total population, they are extremely dedicated. They live and breathe politics. These are the people who can be relied on to vote in primaries, to contribute to campaigns and to bring their friends and family out to vote. The election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Congress and the near victory of Tiffany Cabán in the primary for District Attorney have shown that Queens has become the front line in the effort of the anti-Israel left to take control of the Democratic Party.

A member of the Democratic Socialists of America is challenging Grace Meng, the first Democrat to courageously oppose the Iran nuclear deal and one of the most effective pro-Israel voices in Washington. There may also be challengers to State Senator Joe Addabbo and Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal, two of our critical voices in Albany. We can also expect leftist candidates to run in the special election for Borough President. In 2021, Rory Lancman, Karen Koslowitz, and other Councilmembers who have been helpful to our community will be forced to leave office due to term limits. There will be many critical battles ahead. By enrolling in the Democratic Party and voting in the Democratic Primary, you can help to win those battles. Those who fail to do so will be doing exactly what AOC wants: making it easier for her allies to win the Democratic Primary and cruise to victory in the General Election.

To be eligible to vote in the 2020 Democratic Primary, you must enroll before October 11, 2019. Don’t delay. Do it now.

In this newspaper, you will find the actual form you need to fill out to be eligible to vote in the Democratic Primary. Whether you are a first-time voter or a long-time voter who wants to be eligible to vote in the Democratic Primary, where the decisions are really made, fill out the enclosed form. Where it says “political party,” fill in the box for the “Democratic Party.” Stamp the form and mail it to the New York City Board of Elections, 32 Broadway, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10004. If you have a valid New York State Department of Motor Vehicles ID, you can enroll online at dmv.ny.gov. If you need assistance, you can call 917-747-8848.

On a practical note, several people have told me that they switched their enrollment on the day of the recent primary and were allowed to vote. If this happened to you, you are not enrolled to vote in the primary. What you filled out was an affidavit ballot. To be eligible to vote in the 2020 Primary, you must fill out the party enrollment form.

We are living in the time and place where one of the most important political battles of our lifetime is being fought, a battle that can impact on the future of the Jewish community here in Queens and around the world for years to come. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Enroll as a Democrat. Vote in the Democratic Primary and vote your conscience in the General Election.


Manny Behar is the former Executive Director of the Queens Jewish Community Council and was a senior aide to several public officials. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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