(October 27, 2020 / JNS) Is the Jewish vote a lost cause for U.S. President Donald Trump? Not if Jews and Christians are grouped in the same constituency, says New York real estate developer Ronald J. Edelstein, who has done business with the president and is working to build support for him ahead of Nov. 3.
Edelstein is the founder of “Concerned Christians and Jews for Trump,” a group that is producing and disseminating pro-Trump radio and social-media advertisements targeting Jewish and Christian voters in swing states such as Florida, Arizona, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Experts agree that essentially nothing is likely to change Jewish voters’ historically overwhelming support for Democratic presidential candidates, including their 70 percent support for Hillary Clinton in 2016. An American Jewish Committee survey released in advance of the 2020 election found that 75 percent of U.S. Jews plan to vote for Democratic nominee and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
When Christian voters and especially evangelicals are factored into the equation, Edelstein believes that the combined Christian-Jewish vote can make a substantive difference.
The Barna Group found that in the 2016 election, the evangelical community accounted for 10 million votes and had the highest voter turnout (61 percent) of any Christian faith segment, while the Pew Research Center documented that 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump. Accordingly, Concerned Christians and Jews for Trump is presenting a contrast to grassroots groups that are focusing exclusively on building Jewish support for the president, such as JEXIT, Jexodus, Jews Choose Trump, Treehouse and Americans for a Safe Israel.
“The Jewish vote is sort of a lost cause. Most Jews are already entrenched. Therefore, we’re focusing on Christians, too,” Edelstein tells JNS. “For evangelicals, the argument is that you’re commanded by God to vote for Trump because he is the protector of Jerusalem.”
Christians ‘more outspoken, willing to fight’
Alan Bergstein, who has assisted Edelstein’s group with writing radio advertisements, has implemented a similar strategy as the president of the Judeo/Christian Republican Club in Palm Beach County, Fla.
“Without the evangelical Christian support in this country, Israel would be doomed,” he tells JNS. “So many liberal Jews care very little for Israel and their own welfare; they’re willfully ignorant. The Christians are more outspoken, more willing to fight.”
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Bergstein’s group would convene more than 500 people at its monthly meetings. Today, he says the club promotes articles on its email list that “show the overt Jew-hating of the Democratic Party and the silence of Florida’s Democrat Jewish lawmakers” on anti-Semitism, including U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Lois Frankel.
“We point out their duplicity on Jew-hating and their silence during the Obama years on his outright hostility towards [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu,” says Bergstein. “They have a responsibility to stand up for their constituents.”
Bergstein says he admires Edelstein for devoting “time and a significant amount of funds to keep America free and support Donald Trump.”
Edelstein notes that Concerned Christians and Jews for Trump has been airing as many as 30 different advertisements at a time with its strategy rooted in the understanding that “politics can switch in a day, in an hour. People’s attention span is short.”
“We’re planting subliminal messages into people’s minds,” he says. “Our messages evolve as the issues come up.”
In fact, a recent survey found substantial support for Trump (83 percent) among Orthodox Jewish voters.
Regarding the advertisements he writes for Edelstein, Bergstein says they “are not specifically geared to Jews or Jewish issues. I’m 87 years old. I’ve given up on trying to convince Jews about the theological status they have of voting Democrat. The only way to change Jews’ voting habits is not by focusing on their allegiance to Israel, but by scaring them in their pocketbook.”
Edelstein agrees, arguing that the election will be decided by approximately 8 million self-interested voters who are primarily concerned not by politics, but rather by their personal finances.
Although Biden is leading in the polls, Edelstein believes that Trump’s chances should not be dismissed.
“Donald is playing the underdog. He’s playing the Trump card,” says Edelstein. “He’s a very smart guy and a very strong debater.”
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