More than 100 Democratic members of the House of Representatives signed a letter the other day addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo harshly criticizing the Trump administration’s stance on Israeli settlements on the West Bank of the Jordan River.
The move by President Donald Trump reverses a 1978 State Department legal opinion that stated the settlements were “inconsistent with international law.”
That opinion was promulgated under the Carter administration.
The Trump action drew wide praise in Israel, but the Left both here and abroad condemned it.
Only 7 of 23 Jewish members of the House signed the letter.
The Trump administration has been pro-Israel from the outset and the president himself is close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently under fire. The hard-Left despises Israel, as it sees the Jewish state as a free democratic Western outpost in an area that is notoriously filled with anti-Israeli authoritarian states and leftist allies like Iran and Syria.
States like Iran actually deny Israel’s right to exist — and regularly threaten Israel with total annihilation.
So the Trump move is not surprising.
The response of House Democrats does bring up an interesting question, though: Just how far to the Left does the Democratic Party have to go to lose the electoral support of American Jews?
Now, granted, only 107 out of 223 House Democrats signed the letter. But that 100 is not far from half. So almost half of the Dems in the House support pulling back on an action that is agreeable to most Israelis across the political spectrum.
It is especially popular with the settlers themselves.
35,000 indigenous Jews make #pilgrimage to the Judean city of #Hebron and honor @realDonaldTrump & Administration for supporting our right to live in the ancestral homeland!!@VP @SecPompeo @USAmbIsrael @jaredkushner @IvankaTrump pic.twitter.com/pk9jDmx3eW
— Yishai Fleisher 🕎 ישי פליישר (@YishaiFleisher) November 22, 2019
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At least since the Ellis Island era, American Jews have sided with the Democratic Party in overwhelming numbers. Perceived anti-Semitism among the Establishment of an earlier era; Jews settling in major urban areas that are and have been Dem bastions; and centuries of Jewish suspicion of what they perceive to be a ruling elite — all of this drove their vote into the hands of the Dems.
One of the most financially successful of American immigrant groups, Jews continue to vote with those of less economic achievement.
In a Gallup poll of 2019, 65 percent percent of Jews identify or lean Democrat, while 30 percent identify with or lean GOP. The poll goes on to say, “In terms of ideology, 44 percent of American Jews are liberal, much higher than the overall 25 percent among the total population, making Jews the most liberal of any major religious group we identify. Another 36 percent of Jews are moderates, with 20 percent describing themselves as conservative — compared with 37 percent of the total population.”
As I saw growing up in a Jewish home and being of Jewish background, President Richard Nixon could save Israel by stripping NATO to resupply Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Jews still voted loyally Dem.
President Ronald Reagan could conduct a foreign and defense policy very pro-Israel — no Jewish majority for the GOP.
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Barack Obama, the 44th man to hold the office, could conduct the mirror policy of Reagan in a pro-radical Islamist and anti-Israeli foreign and defense policy — and Jews hailed him as a political messiah.
President Trump can move the American embassy to Jerusalem, a longtime Israeli objective, and now recognize the West Bank settlements — and it gets hardly a positive “meh” from American Jewish voters. All this, while U.S. leftist Jewish voters condemn Trump on Israel and a myriad of other issues in no uncertain terms.
And now nearly half the Democratic House caucus comes out foursquare against Israeli security interests and the likely response of Jewish voters? Ambivalence and continued Dem support.
It used to be a truism among American Jews that support for Israel was across the ideological spectrum. The solid majority of U.S. Jews who support the Dems regularly could reach across the aisle to the minority on this issue.
However, with the advent of loudly and severely anti-Israel Dem leaders in the House such as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) that math may be changing.
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As the Dems are pulled further Left on all issues, their stance on Israel goes leftward as well.
So far, they are safe in the probability it will not cost them with Jewish voters at the polls.
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