OpinionAntisemitism

Will American Jews become politically homeless?

Democratic politicians like Gov. Gavin Newsom have chosen not to stand with the Jews but with those who hate us.

Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in a meeting in Sacramento on May 31, 2020. Credit: Matt Gush/Shutterstock.
Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in a meeting in Sacramento on May 31, 2020. Credit: Matt Gush/Shutterstock.
Brandy Shufutinsky
Brandy Shufutinsky, Ph.D., is the director of education and community engagement with the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values.

Even before the Oct. 7 massacre, American Jews were pondering whether there is a political party that represents us. For generations, Jews in the United States have voted for the Democrats in significant numbers. Local, state and federal politicians stood proudly for values that many in the Jewish community hold dear, such as liberalism, freedom of speech, civil rights and equality for all. However, as those who sit left-of-center are squeezed out of the political party that once represented liberal values, we must ask ourselves whether American Jews are destined to be politically homeless. 

For years my more politically conservative friends have wondered out loud why I was a registered Democrat. My friends who sat left of me did not understand my hawkish positions on national security and international relations. And honestly, I’ve always voted country over party, never taking the position that my political affiliation should be worn like a gang affiliation. I don’t believe that once you’re in, you’re in for life.

But I would be dishonest if I ignored the very real shift in the priorities of many Democratic elected officials. Their easy disregard for national security interests and international relations and how those things impact everyday Americans has me wondering if the elite capture of the Democratic Party has made it obsolete.  

For example, in the last five months, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has been missing in action. He has completely failed to respond to antisemitic harassment and attacks against Jews. While university campuses became hotbeds of hate, with Jewish students, faculty and staff facing unchecked antisemitism from their peers, Newsom did nothing but engage in an obscene demonstration of virtue-signaling. He penned an open letter to the state’s Muslim, Palestinian-American and Arab-American residents, proudly proclaiming his solidarity.

Clearly, Newsom read the tea leaves and decided on which side his political future lies. So, he chose to appease the very groups who are making campuses and communities unsafe for Jews. Of course, Newsom hypocritically threw in an “all forms of hate” aside while still centering a group that claims to have but, in fact, has not experienced rising hatred.

Newsom went even further into nonsense, proclaiming that he is working “closely with colleges and universities to promote student safety, mental health and belonging in the face of rising reports of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias incidents.” He strategically failed to mention the real victims in need of safety, mental health and belonging: The students who are facing rampant bias and racism on campus are not Muslim or Arab but Jewish. 

Why, one might ask, is it seemingly so difficult for Democratic leaders—aside from brave dissidents like Sen. John Fetterman (D-Penn.) and Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.)—to show the fortitude necessary to stand beside our only ally in the Middle East and for American Jews? What are they so afraid of? Perhaps they should be afraid not of the wrath of their party’s antisemites but of what may come this November when American Jews no longer blindly support one party because of its historical stance on civil rights. 

If Democratic elected officials continue to double down on policies and programs that lack moral clarity and courage, I fear that the number of politically homeless American Jews will grow.

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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