OpinionU.S. News

Is the Jewish vote going Republican?

Joe Biden should examine the history of previous presidents who turned against Israel if he wants to avoid defeat in November.

A caricature of U.S. President Joe Biden. Source: DeepAI.
A caricature of U.S. President Joe Biden. Source: DeepAI.
Farley Weiss
Farley Weiss is chairman of the Israel Heritage Foundation (IHF) and former president of the National Council of Young Israel.

There are increasing signs that the Jewish vote may be shifting away from the Democrats. A poll taken of New York voters in February showed that 53% of Jewish voters intend to vote for Donald Trump in November. A Bulwark article this month reported that Jewish donors appear to be moving towards the Republicans due to U.S. President Joe Biden’s troubling policies on the Israel-Hamas war.

While there is a paucity of additional surveys on how Jews intend to vote in November, a Pew survey taken in February found that 89% of American Jews favor Israel in its war against Hamas. Unsurprisingly, this is the highest percentage of any American ethnic group.

These results are consistent with an August 2019 finding by Gallup senior scientist Frank Newport, who stated, “My recent review of the available data shows that about nine in 10 American Jews are more sympathetic to Israel than to the Palestinians. (That compares to about six in 10 of all Americans.) Additionally, 95% of Jews have favorable views of Israel, while 10% have favorable views of the Palestinian Authority—significantly more pro-Israel than the overall national averages of 71% favorable views of Israel and 21% favorable views of the Palestinian Authority.

Moreover, despite the predictions of many pollsters, an exit poll taken on election day 2020 in Florida showed that Trump won 41% of the state’s Jewish vote. In 2016, exit polls showed Trump winning only 24%.

Biden has taken stances that are offensive to many Jewish voters. Besides holding up military aid to Israel, his administration has failed to protect Jewish college students from the recent massive rise in campus antisemitism. The president was also painfully slow to condemn campus antisemitism publicly.

He has also unfairly criticized Israel’s meticulous military operations in Gaza and opposed an IDF incursion into Rafah. The remaining hostages (including five Americans) are likely being held in Rafah and the last four Hamas battalions are stationed there. A Rafah operation is essential to Israel’s victory. Yet Biden even applauded a speech at Morehouse College calling for an immediate ceasefire.

In contrast, Trump has made it clear that he fully supports an Israeli operation in Rafah and an Israeli victory over Hamas. Trump also has a solid track record on Jewish issues. He moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, ended aid to the Palestinian Authority, brokered the 2020 Abraham Accords, assassinated Iran’s arch-terrorist, military officer Qassem Soleimani, and placed heavy sanctions on Iran.

I was at the White House when Trump signed an executive order that made Jews a protected group under Title VI. This gave the U.S. Justice Department the tools necessary to defend Jewish students on campus. Attorney Alan Dershowitz called it the most important action against antisemitism taken by any U.S. president. Trump has condemned the universities that refuse to enforce their own codes of conduct against antisemites. He has indicated that he will rescind the student visas of antisemitic demonstrators who are foreign students.

There is also evidence of history: In 1976, Jimmy Carter received 71% of the Jewish vote. He came to be seen as hostile to Israel and, as a result, his Jewish support dropped to 45% in 1980. This helped give Ronald Reagan the presidency. President George H.W. Bush received 35% of the Jewish vote in 1988, but when he refused to give Israel loan guarantees to help it absorb a million Soviet Jews, Bush’s share of the Jewish vote dropped to 12%. Barack Obama received 78% of the Jewish vote in 2007 but by 2012 he was seen as irretrievably hostile to Israel. His share of the Jewish vote dropped to 69% in 2012.

Biden may have thought that visiting Israel immediately after Oct. 7 was enough to win over the Jewish vote. Carter thought the same after he helped broker the Israel-Egypt peace treaty. Bush probably felt so, too, after winning the 1991 Gulf War. They were both wrong. Biden may be as well, and it could lead him to defeat in November.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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