Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
There is grumbling in progressive circles over polls showing that Orthodox Jews will vote for Trump. Among non-Orthodox Jews, Hillary beats Trump by 66 to 23 percent. Among the Orthodox, Trump beats her 66 to 22 percent. In New York, Hillary scores 61 to 19 percent among Jews, but among Orthodox Jews, Trump wins 50% of the vote while Hillary lags at 21%.
It’s no wonder then that Jewish Democrats for Trump is largely targeting Orthodox Jewish voters.
Why Orthodox Jews? It might be tempting to attribute this support to Trump’s daughter having converted to Orthodox Judaism, but these same statistics were reflected in earlier elections.
This is as much about what Orthodox Jews aren’t as about what they are. The Jewish “area” that Trump supporters are focused on isn’t in Florida or New York. It’s Israel.
Trump’s ground game is more focused on Israel than on Florida because it’s the perfect place to find large numbers of political conservatives. The Israeli chapter of Republicans Abroad estimates that it may be able to turn up 300,000 voters in Israel. Some of them will be registered to vote in swing states.
Contrast that with Democrats Abroad, whose vote was cast by Bernie Sanders’ British brother, a BDS supporter and an opponent of Israel, linked to an extreme left-wing political organization.
There are five Republican offices open in Israel. But just as with Netanyahu’s speech, the Democrats aren’t even bothering to show up. And why would they? Israelis are more likely to lean to the right.
As one researcher said, “Israel is a red state and American Jews are a blue country.”
The election reflects that. But it also reflects something deeper. Nationally the election can be summed up as determining whether Americans want to be Americans or liberals. The same is true among Jews.
As Eve Stiglitz, the Orthodox founder of Jews Choose Trump, put it, this is the choice of more traditional and religious Jews who “put Judaism before their liberalism, whereas more secular Jews who are not as connected to Judaism or to Israel put liberalism before their Judaism.”
Some elections come down to policies and issues. Others delineate who you are.
Orthodox Jews and Israeli Jews are not confused about who they are or what their priorities should be. Israeli and Orthodox Jews are far more likely to identify with the right. American Jews with the left.
The left is a tiny 9% of the Israeli Jewish spectrum, but a whopping 49% of the American Jewish spectrum. 42% of American Jews believe having a sense of humor is an essential part of being Jewish. Only 9% of Israeli Jews believe in such an absurdity. That’s why the joke isn’t on them.
Israel has a chaotic political culture, but Israelis don’t take their cues from the likes of Sarah Silverman.
Traditional Jews value history and religion. Liberal Jews believe in neurotic humor and even more neurotic social justice. They also believe in Obama’s Iran nuke deal. That is why the joke is on them.
There are Jews working to build a future for their descendants. And there are other Jews sponsoring Muslim migrants. There are Jews who support Israel and Jews who support Iran.
Most of all there are Jews who are confident in their right to exist and Jews who aren’t.
As the Jewish New Year approaches, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics estimates that the country’s Jewish population has passed 6.4 million. The growth of Israel’s Jewish population stands in sharp contrast to the decline of America’s Jewish population. Jewish fertility rates are below replacement in the United States. Or at least they are in less religious communities. And that is what it’s all about.
A widely touted left-wing survey claims that American Jews are more pro-abortion than pro-Israel. Jewish demographics reflect that phenomenon. Israel has one of the healthiest birth rates in the free world. Many liberal American Jews are producing Planned Parenthood legacies Instead of children. In this week’s synagogue Bible reading, G-d exhorts the Jews, “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that you live, you and your descendants” (Deuteronomy 30:19). The choices for life and death have been made.
Israel will hold a majority of the world’s Jewish population. Even in America, a quarter of Jewish children live in Orthodox households. And children are the ultimate vote of confidence in the future.
Many liberal Jews were traumatized when the racist hate group Black Lives Matter endorsed BDS. They fear being locked out of progressive politics. They are right to be afraid. UK Labour’s purge of Jews is a sign of things to come. There is no future for Jews on the left except as collaborators in anti-Semitism.
Mainstream Jewish liberals were shocked by Obama’s embrace of anti-Semitic language in support of the Iran Deal. They were upset when Hillary Clinton and then Cory Booker backed the nuke sellout. To be on a Jew the left is to experience a constant stream of such betrayals and surprises. Remaining there will require confessing their Jewish privilege and apologizing for their very existence.
But that is what they have been doing, in one form or another, all along.
The FDR Jews chose the Democratic Party over the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust. Now the FDR Jew is passing into his last twilight. The irreconcilable contradictions of his existence are finally coming apart. The American Jewish community is slowly being divided. The center is vanishing. To remain on the left will require abandoning Israel and accepting anti-Semitism as normative.
And there will be many Jews on the left who will happily make that terrible bargain. You can already see them protesting outside synagogues, harassing Jewish charities who donate to Israel and defending the career anti-Semites of the left. The rest will pay tribute to their ethnic origins by sharing “Top 5 Jewish Things About Hillary” listicles and marveling at her name clumsily spelled out in Hebrew letters.
Why support Hillary? Because she is less anti-Israel than Bernie Sanders. Hillary may have been the first in her administration to call for an Islamic terrorist state inside Israel. Her email inbox may have been full of conspiracies against Israel. She may have been a fan of Max Blumenthal, whose hatred of Israel was deemed too extreme even by German Communists, and the self-described “designated yeller” at Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu. But her official views are less anti-Israel than those of Bernie Sanders.
Such lesser evil calculations and diminished expectations now define Jewish support for the Democrats.
Meanwhile Jews on the right have less reason and less need to compromise. Unlike the DNC, no one is booing Israel at the RNC. A new generation of Jews is breaking with the compromises of the old. Jewish Republicans feel no need to apologize to anyone and no need to compromise their Jewishness.
A few days ago, I attended the Republican Jewish Coalition dinner. A room filled with various subsections of the Jewish people had one thing in common. They were confident in the future.
The Jews of the right believe in their people. The Jews of the left believe in the left. The former are building a future. The latter are being entombed in their ideology of progressive despair.