Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
Donald J. Trump and Bernie Sanders have one thing in common. They both came out of New York.
But where Trump stayed and built up the city, Bernie absconded to Vermont. And after fifty years in the wilderness, there’s still the accent and the grumbling about the Brooklyn Dodgers to remind you of where he came from. But the Jews of Brooklyn and the other four boroughs don’t want Bernie back.
The latest Siena College poll shows that President Trump has a higher approval rating among New York’s Jews than Senator Sanders.
50% of Jewish people in New York rate Trump positively. Meanwhile 61% rate Sanders negatively.
Only 6% of Jews would vote for Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday.
And more Jews would vote for Trump over Sanders on Election Day.
Jewish support for Trump is striking in a state where his overall unfavorable rating is 61% negative to 36% positive. At 50%, Jews rate Trump more highly than white people in general (42%), and upstate residents (39%). The White House has worked hard to connect with more traditional and religious Jews in Brooklyn. They were the ones who stayed when Bernie and his peers left. And it shows.
Some would be tempted to dismiss a single poll, but a previous Siena poll in the fall of last year showed that only 4% of Jews in New York supported Sanders. Since then he’s gained a whole 2%.
New York’s Jewish population of approximately 1.75 million represents somewhat less than a quarter of the national Jewish population. So how do these numbers translate to Jews nationwide?
That’s probably not a coincidence.
And a Forward survey found that, compared to other candidates, Jews formed the smallest part of Bernie’s donor base.
Why don’t Jews like Bernie?
There’s Israel. Sure. The socialist had called for ending arms sales to Israel before the Yom Kippur War. That would have probably led to the destruction of Israel and the deaths of millions of Jews. He’s championed Hamas as the victims of an Israeli blockade of Gaza while spreading falsehoods about Israel’s efforts to defend its people against Islamic terrorism. And he’s refused to apologize for the lies.
There’s still no apology for Bernie’s blood libel about Israel killing 10,000 “innocent people” in Gaza.
And Bernie has never met a leftist anti-Semite he didn’t immediately endorse. From Jesse ‘Hymietown’ Jackson to Al Sharpton to Keith Ellison to Ilhan Omar, he’s always stood with anti-Semites against Jews.
It’s not just hatred of Israel. The rhetoric of the Bernie camp often spills over into overt anti-Semitism.
Belen Sisa, Bernie’s deputy press secretary, claimed that, “The American government and American Jewish community has a dual allegiance to the state of Israel.”
Imam Omar Suleiman, who spoke at a Bernie rally in Texas, had posted that, “Zionists are the enemies of God” and tweeted, while Israel was fighting Hamas, “A third intifada is near insha’Allah. #FreePalestine.”
But it’s not just Israel and anti-Semitism.
New York City’s Jewish communities are more religious and conservative than the rest of the country.
An entire generation of Bernies left behind Brooklyn for academia. They settled in leafy suburbs and smaller cities, and set off to save the world. Meanwhile the Jews who were left behind had to deal with a broken city overrun by criminals and mismanaged by progressives obsessed with social justice.
Two years ago, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a bill to end bail. New York actually did. The disastrous criminal justice reform proposal led to a spike in crime and anti-Semitic attacks.
In the same Siena poll, 53% of Jews said that so-called “cashless bail” was bad for New York.
Bernie Sanders wants open borders and an end to immigration enforcement. 54% of Jews in New York oppose handing out driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.
It’s not just that Bernie is bad on Israel and anti-Semitism. Jews don’t like a lot of his other policies.
Bernie’s problems with Jewish voters are symptoms of a larger problem for Democrats.
Bernie Sanders scores best with young voters. But the American Jewish community, even more than the general white population, has been growing older. Only around 10% of American Jews are 18 to 24. A quarter are over 65. These demographics are structurally unfavorable to radicals like Bernie Sanders.
Sanders, Warren, and their allies have fastened on to the tiny anti-Israel demographic represented by the hate group If Not Now as representative of the “youth”. They aren’t. Of course. But there isn’t much youth to go around in a community that, like other white groups, is aging and increasingly irreligious.
Unaffiliated millennials are more challenging to organize around a religious identity that they lack and the growing number of Orthodox Jews tend to be politically conservative. If Not Now represents an attempt to organize a narrow group around an anti-Israel identity. As marginal as they may be.
Democrats have a choice between pursuing the votes of a large slab of older liberal pro-Israel voters, a micro slice of young anti-Israel voters, or a growing number of young conservative Jewish voters.
The Sanders campaign decided to stay with its brand and target the tiny number of anti-Israel voters. Some have blamed it for alienating older pro-Israel liberal voters and the younger social conservative Jewish voters, but it had no shot at the latter, and its prospects with the older generation were slim.
That’s why the Siena polls show Bernie doing so badly in New York.
This isn’t just bad news for Bernie. The shifting political demographics of the Democrats and of the Jewish community makes them two trains slowly passing in the night. The only reliable Jewish Democrat demographic is moderate and aging while the Democrats are trending leftward and seeking young voters. Jewish millennials are being separated out into two large groups of the unaffiliateds, who can’t be courted on Jewish terms, and the socially conservative who don’t fit into the Democrat Party. And a tiny slice of anti-Israel millennials subsidized by Soros, and other aged donors who are the past.
Israel and the growing anti-Semitism on the Left are flashpoints. But not the only flashpoints.
Unaffiliated Jewish millennials are moving back to the urban areas that their parents and grandparents, like Bernie, abandoned for suburban communities, and smaller cities and towns. Meanwhile the burgeoning Orthodox Jewish population is exiting the overpriced and troubled urban areas for the suburbs. The two populations are passing each other on the way out in Brooklyn, where Chassidim and hipsters differ not only on bike lanes and school vouchers, but on support for President Trump.
The classic culture clash between the city and the suburbs is being revisited among Jews.
President Trump and Senator Sanders are on the opposite sides of that clash between safe streets and social justice, small business and excessive regulation, and community values and civic gatekeeping.
The liberal Jews of generations past often, at times unwillingly, subjugated their own interests, personal and communal, to the civic liberalism that destroyed the cities because it was their only value system. But a new traditional Jewish population that is departing the cities is immune to the guilt complexes of liberalism. Accusations of racism and planetary destruction are meaningless noise to religious people who believe in G-d and the Bible, and are free to want parking spaces, instead of bike lanes, plastic bags, property values, low taxes, limited regulations, and safe streets, without feeling the least bit of guilt.
There are still plenty of liberal Jews around. But Bernie has the least ability to push their guilt buttons.
The lack of Jewish support is starkest with Bernie because of his overt hostility to Israel, his lack of any connection to the Jewish community, and paradoxically, his Jewish ancestry. Liberal Jewish voting habits are the product of minority insecurities more than anything else. It’s easier for liberal Jews to turn their backs on Bernie than on Carter or Obama, without fearing they’ll be accused of betraying the majority.
Liberal Jews of generations past feared being seen as selfish outsiders. Their pathological altruism began as a defense mechanism and ended up as the only value system of a people who had lost their soul.
The easiest anti-Israel leftist for liberal Jews to vote against is one who came out of their community.
That’s bad news for Bernie, who rejected all Jewish communal attachments and values, only to be discriminated against for the vestigial cultural signals of an ancient Jewish Brooklynite past by Jews.
Trump has as much in common culturally with many New York Jews as Bernie does. If there’s any Republican they would be comfortable voting for on a national ticket, it would be Trump. It’s once again about Israel, but not just about Israel. Bernie’s Brooklyn accent and Trump’s Queens accent, their prickly attitudes and certitudes, are the mark of born New Yorkers. But very different kinds of New Yorkers.
Bernie left the city only to return at the head of an army of obnoxious hipsters. Trump stayed, built it up, and tried to make it safe for the people living there. Bernie is coming back. Trump never left.
And among communities who never left, that counts for a lot.