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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

March 8: Trump’s Dumb and Infuriating “Anti-Jewish Party” Smear of Democrats

Political writers have gotten used to outrageous and mendacious statements by the 45th president on a daily, if not hourly, basis. But one today took the cake, and I wrote it up for New York.

It’s no surprise that Republicans continue to try to make hay out of the Ilhan Omar controversy, even though, arguably, Democrats turned the tables on them by developing an anti-hate resolution which they unanimously supported, whereas 23 Republicans just couldn’t endorse such a sweeping condemnation of bigotry.

Characteristically, the leader of the GOP, one of the most skillful hate-mongers in major-party political history, is asserting that Democrats lost the battle over Omar while exposing their deep animus toward Jews and Israel, per CNN:

“’I thought yesterday’s vote by the house was disgraceful because it has become, the Democrats have become an anti-Israel party. I thought that vote was a disgrace. If you get an honest answer from politicians, they thought it was a disgrace. The Democrats have become an anti-Israel party and anti-Jewish party,’ Trump said.”

Let’s look at the record.

There are 27 Jews currently serving in the U.S. House. Twenty-five of them are Democrats; 2 are Republicans. There are nine Jews in the U.S. Senate. All of them are Democrats (if you consider Bernie Sanders a Democrat). Republicans: zippo.

Are all these Democratic Jews in Congress self-loathing?

A look at Jewish voting patterns is equally revealing. According to the best available data, Democrats have carried the Jewish vote in 24 consecutive presidential elections, dating back to 1924. In six of the last seven presidential elections, the Jewish vote was more than 70 percent Democratic (the one exception was in 2012, when Barack Obama won 69 percent of the Jewish vote). Hillary Clinton trounced Trump among Jews by a 71/24 margin. 2018 exit polls showed 79 percent of Jews voting Democratic in the midterms.

Did Democrats just become the “anti-Jewish party” since November of last year?

Trump’s “anti-Israel” smear is only slightly more credible. Yes, a significant minority of congressional Democrats are less slavish to Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies than nearly all Republicans (who are beholden, for the most part, to militantly pro-Likud conservative evangelicals rather than to Jews on the whole). But the vast majority of Democratic elected officials have supported a robust U.S. alliance with Israel dating back to Israel’s founding, in which Democratic president Harry Truman played a key role. The most recent congressional vote on military assistance to Israel, in 2018, showed the measure passing both Houses on voice votes; 36 Democratic senators, including their Jewish leader, Chuck Schumer, were original co-sponsors.

Were all these Democrats hiding an anti-Israel bias while voting for a measure that AIPAC praised as “ensur[ing] that Israel has the means to defend itself, by itself, against growing threats”? And speaking of AIPAC, if Democrats are anti-Semitic and anti-Israel, why did that organization greet the results of the 2018 midterms with this comment:

“’Americans elected a solidly pro-Israel Congress,’ declared the lead article in Near East Report, a monthly publication distributed by AIPAC to its followers across the United States. ‘While polarized on many issues, the 116th Congress remains committed to the U.S.-Israel relationship on a bipartisan basis,’ it stated.”

The president’s smear against Democrats may even be a projection of his own issues with Jews, who are naturally suspicious of the Christian nationalism he keeps flirting with, which is historically associated with anti-Semitism.

But he’s a long way from being able to say his party is the natural political home for American Jews, much less a bulwark against those antisemitic Democrats.

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