American Jews make their position known about November election
The issue of support for Israel must be approached as a bipartisan topic. It cannot be the purview of one party or the other.
The American Jewish community made a serious mistake in the 2008 presidential election. Barack Obama won that election, and that outcome took American Jewry by surprise. Both the Jewish leadership in the United States and Israeli leaders assumed that the Republicans, under Sen. John McCain, an American war hero, would win and win easily. They invested little energy into cultivating Obama and his campaign. We are still paying the price of that mistake.
Mainstream Jewish America was boxed out of the White House. J Street became the “go to” address. It was a serious strategic error. The relationship between the White House and Israel cooled significantly.
It was no longer the warm relationship fostered under the previous tenant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, George Bush #43, or “Bush haBen” as Israelis liked to call him. And Israel suffered, not only in terms of ties with the United States. Israel suffered at the UN and suffered in the international community. Countries saw that United States was no longer unconditionally supporting Israel and felt freer to pursue their own anti-Israel agendas without fear of reprisal.
And now the United States gears up for the election to take place in November.
The Republican nominee, President Donald J. Trump, is a known commodity. He is known throughout the world as a good friend of Israel. In the eyes of some Jews and Israelis, he is the best US presidential friend Israel has ever had. The US Democratic presumptive nominee is not just a former vice president, Joe Biden was Obama’s vice president. And his chosen running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, may be married to a Jew, but her stance on Israel is relatively unknown and still unproven.
Israeli press and the Jewish press in America have spent reams of print and hours of air time analyzing whether Harris is good for Israel or not, and speculating about whether her presence will strengthen the Democrat’s position on Israel.
My grandmother used to ask the question a little differently every election year. In the words of my Bubbe, “Vill it be good for the Yidden? Vill ve have a friend in the White House?” I still hear that question today, albeit unaccented, coming from many sources.
These are important questions.
My answer is that he, or she, or they, will be as good a friend for Jews and as good a friend for Israel as we are friends to them.
The issue of support for Israel must be approached as a bipartisan topic. It cannot be the purview of one party or the other. It is too important.
JEWISH AND Israeli representatives – lovers of Israel and donors – need to make inroads into the Biden/Harris ticket just as they have, and should continue to do, for the Trump/Pence ticket. There needs to be a strong pro-Israel relationship emanating from Washington and a strong relationship with Jewish leadership no matter who occupies the White House.
There is a perception that the Democratic Party has been taken over by “The Squad,” by the group of progressive congresswomen pushing a very progressive agenda that includes questioning the once unquestionable support for Israel. They mimic Bernie Sanders, who clearly articulated that aid to Israel should be used as an incentive and leverage to achieve US progressive agendas in Israel. And primary elections are warning us that the squad is here to stay.
But despite their media spotlight and despite the high decibel level of mainstream media’s coverage of them, it seems clear that the squad does not represent the rank and file of the Democratic Party.
At this point, the presidential election is too far away to call. Anyone who predicts the result of this election is merely offering up their hope for the election, not their knowledge or analysis. There is no polling accurate enough to know what the end result will be. Ten weeks is a lifetime in politics and in electioneering.
We Jews and lovers of Israel must show our support for both candidates and for both parties. Not one. Both. And the politicians know that. They won’t hold it against us. The bonafides of Biden and Harris on Israel are not what matter most. The proven track record of Trump and Pence, as positive as it is, doesn’t matter either.
Think about who will be better for Israel and who will be a better friend of Jews and all other considerations in choosing a candidate and then vote for that person on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3. But make your political contributions to both campaigns and let each campaign know that you have contributed.
What matters is that the Jewish community and lovers of Israel will be standing alongside the person sworn in as president of the United States on January 20, 2021; standing alongside as welcome and invited guests, as advisers and consultants and sounding boards, as valued and trusted constituents, no matter who the president is.
The error that was made in 2008 cannot be repeated in 2020. It cannot ever be repeated. The stakes are too high and the risks are too great.
The author is a political commentator. He hosts the TV show Thinking Out Loud on JBS TV.
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