Medium: Why Are Jews Leaving The Republican Party?

April 8, 2019

By Steve Sheffey

Are we playing by two sets of rules? If you think Joe Biden’s behavior disqualifies him from the presidency but you consider Donald Trump even remotely qualified to be president, you need to rethink your position on either Biden or Trump.

If you think that Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) comments were anti-Semitic, you’re right. But if you aren’t concerned when Republicans with much more power and influence, such as the President of the United States and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), use anti-Semitic tropes similar to Omar’s (as recently as yesterday), you need to rethink your priorities.

If you judge all 62 newly-elected Democrats on the actions of two or three media-savvy members (or worse, all 24o Democrats on those two or three) but you excuse the Republican Party for selecting Trump and McCarthy to lead them, you need to reexamine your motivations.

Republicans continue to politicize support for Israel and opposition to BDS. On Thursday, the House approved a measure cutting off U.S. support for the Saudi coalition in Yemen’s civil war, but to get there, Democrats had to vote down yet another Republican delaying tactic. As the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) explained, Republicans attempted “to insert language opposing BDS into an unrelated bill related to Yemen. The purpose of this Republican-led charade was to prevent the bill from going forward, and to create a division on issues related to Israel.”

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) noted that the Republican move “was a transparent effort to derail an important resolution striving to end the war in Yemen — the single greatest humanitarian crisis facing the world today. As was demonstrated when the House previously voted on this matter, accepting this unrelated motion would procedurally kill the Yemen resolution, stall Congress’s efforts to bring an end to the horrific Saudi-led war, and prolong an already unparalleled humanitarian disaster, leading to more unnecessary death and suffering.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said on the floor of the House before the vote that “No one can accuse me of failing to defend the U.S.- Israel partnership and strongly opposing BDS, and I will be voting against this motion, and I urge all my colleagues to do so as well. I urge every single one of you to do so, and I urge every Republican who believes that using Israel as a partisan cudgel is dangerous, cynical, and harmful to Israel to join me in voting against this motion.” Spoiler Alert: Only two Republicans voted against the motion.

On the final vote, only 16 Republicans stood up to Trump.

This Republican stunt came just days after the Anti-Defamation League cautioned congressional leaders against politicizing anti-Semitism.

Urge your members of Congress to support H. Res. 246/S. Res. 120. These companion bipartisan resolutions spell out why the BDS movement is destructive of prospects for progress towards peace and a two-state solution.” This is the way to oppose BDS; there is not even an argument that these resolutions restrict free speech or prejudice the final outcome of negotiations.

These resolutions are supported by AIPAC, J Street, and many other organizations, including the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA).Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) was an original sponsor of these resolutions, which now have over 140 co-sponsors in the House and at least 30 in the Senate.

We must fight white supremacy. We ought to be able to fight BDS and white supremacy. Those guards at your synagogue are not there to protect you from BDS supporters or even from the Nation of Islam. They are there to protect you from right-wing extremists like those who committed the Tree of Life and New Zealand massacres, both of whom were inspired by Trump’s rhetoric.

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act to enhance the government’s ability to protect us from white supremacists.

JDCA and the ADL condemned Trump’s decision to close the Department of Homeland Security Office that focused on domestic terrorism.

Did you read Bret Stephens’s defense of Trump’s decision to renege on the Iran Deal? Then you owe it to yourself to read this dose of common sense and reality from Paul Pillar.

Why are Jews leaving the Republican Party? If you’ve read this far, do you even have to ask? Rob Eshman explains Jewish support for Democrats has increased since Trump took office because the Democratic Party better reflects Jewish values, while Trump’s Republican Party “mistreats and demonizes immigrants, winks at white supremacists, kisses up to tyrants, and turns its back on climate change” — and uses Israel as a political wedge issue.

The Republican Party dropped support for a two-state solution from its 2016 platform, and as I explained in the Times of IsraelRepublicans, not Democrats, are moving away from decades-long bipartisan consensus on Israel.

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Steve Sheffey is Strategy and Policy Advisor for the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA).