Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Jews Who Choose Trump

The Jews Who Choose Trump

August 13, 2016 in Latest
18 Comments
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Donald Trump speaks at the AIPAC conference earlier this year. Credit: Lorie Shaull / Flickr

by Ellen Wexler

Does Donald Trump have Jewish supporters? Of course he does, says a new activist group—they just aren’t being taken seriously.

The group, called Jews Choose Trump, plans to bring together Jewish voters supporting the Republican candidate. It argues that Jewish Trump supporters feel silenced—silenced by the Jewish community, silenced by the media at large—and it hopes to serve as their voice.

Since the group launched in late July, around 1,000 Jews have signed up and pledged their support. Its website, which has gotten 55,000 page views, lists supporters from 40 states. “We have more people who don’t give their last name—and say they don’t give it because of the social pressure not to admit you’re voting for Donald Trump,” says Carol Greenwald, president of a Maryland investment firm and one of the group’s founders.

One website page titled “Why We Support Trump” lists a selection of comments—wide-ranging in both focus and tone—from those supporters:

“Any of us voting for Hillary shows a particular disdain towards Israel’s survival,” writes Ralph from New York.

“Conservative values, strong on national security, and destroying ISIS, will approve conservative judges,” writes Luis from New York.

“I love Trump! Donald Trump speaks for me. He is honest. He tells it like it is. He supports a strong America,” writes Shelley from Nevada.

He tells it like it is. It’s a campaign standard for Trump, and it’s the rationale the group uses to describe why the candidate would be better for Israel. On its website, it quotes Trump on his support for Israel and his opposition to the Iran deal. “Trump suffers no confusion as to who is a friend and who is a foe,” the group writes. “Those people who place as their top priority the security of Israel—they’re voting for Trump,” Greenwald says. “And those that are Democrats first and Jews second—they’re voting for Hillary Clinton.”

In the past, Greenwald has been involved in similar right-wing, pro-Israel groups. Back in 2013, for instance, as the treasurer of Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art, she spoke out against a play produced by Theater J, which Greenwald’s group considered to be anti-Israel.

Throughout the election, Jewish groups have condemned Trump for various controversial statements. And some right-leaning Jewish organizations have veered toward criticizing Clinton rather than focusing on the Republican candidate. When Trump won the Indiana primary in May, the Republican Jewish Coalition released a statement congratulating the candidate—but the group didn’t focus on Trump; instead, it condemned Clinton and reiterated its commitment to gaining a maintaining a majority in the House and Senate.

Even in more traditional elections, American Jewish voters tend to swing left. In the 2012 election, nearly 70 percent voted for Barack Obama. In 2014, 64 percent of U.S. Jews leaned toward or identified with the Democratic Party.

Richard Allen, one of the group’s founders and the founder of JCCWatch.org, acknowledges that Jews typically lean left. But part of the group’s mission, he adds, is showing those voters why Trump would be the best candidate for them—and for Israel. “There’s a lot of people that are ignorant of the facts or are just predisposed—through history and memory—to supporting the Democratic Party no matter what,” he says. “All we have to do is let people know about the truth of Donald Trump, and they will come and vote for him.”

But the group isn’t just about changing minds; it’s also about helping existing Trump supporters feel more comfortable. “We wanted to make sure that there’s a good, safe space for people who want to support Trump,” says Allen.

And for Greenwald, the idea is that the Jewish Trump supporters are out there, afraid to voice their views. That their leaders—establishment Jewish organizations—are no longer speaking for them. As proof, she points to Trump’s speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference earlier this year. After the candidate criticized Obama in his speech, AIPAC apologized for his too-blatant display of partisanship. But at the time, audience members applauded. “It shows there’s a disconnect between what the leaders are saying and what the people really believe,” says Greenwald.

Moving forward, she hopes Jews Choose Trump will work to spread Jewish Trump supporters’ message. “We’re going to publish op-eds. We’re going to have people be writing letters to the editor,” she says, “so that our voices are heard in the Jewish community.”

18 Comments
  • Rabbi Eli B. Perlman 14:09h, 16 August Reply

    We have a choice between a party that feels Israel is part of the problem in the Middle East and a party that thinks Israel is part of the solution. The Democrat Party has left me behind. My wife and I will be voting for Trump.

    • H. Gottlieb 16:28h, 16 August Reply

      yeah, the hell with America

      • karin schultz 18:17h, 16 August Reply

        it is an anti-semitic canard that caring about Israel is to say to hell with AMerica. for conservatives, jewish and Christian and muslim, there is no conflict between supporting Israel and America, as our interests are aligned in fighting jihad, fighting a nuclear Iran and stabilizing the middle east. it is only on the left that jews think supporting Israel is bad for America.

        • JERUSHA 08:58h, 21 August Reply

          It’s about time people, especially Jewish people, woke up to that fact.

    • levi 18:07h, 16 August Reply

      Impossible to be Jewish and to vote trump .
      His only values are HIS OWN MONEY .

      • JERUSHA 08:57h, 21 August Reply

        And what, pray tell, do you think Clinton’s values are? Do you KNOW how much money the Clinton’s have and who they’ve gotten it from. Do a little research and try to think for yourself instead of parroting the party line.

    • JERUSHA 09:00h, 21 August Reply

      It’s wonderful to have a rabbi speak up. Thank you.

    • Honey Traiman 20:36h, 28 January Reply

      I am heart broken @ the treatment I received from friends & family. Even people who know I’m a Jew. I worked hard & vocal in my small way 2 help Get Pres Trump elected. Sure there r things I disagree with but those r 2nd 3rd 2 IEretz Israel’s safety. I could not get that across. Jews will be Jews & they think they r Americans . The and I got was I was crazy. We have problems here need fixing. Like Germany. Am Israel Chai!

  • Michael Kurtzig 14:37h, 16 August Reply

    How can one vote for Trump when he bloviates as Hitler did in the 30s about the Jews, now it’s the Moslems. In addition, his speech in Florida, asking voters to raise the right arms and swear that they will vote for him, is Nuremberg, 1933. His tax policies make no sense, his foreign policy ideas are not thought through, his notion to bring back jobs to the US, hold no water. How is he going to do that? His taxes? What is he hiding? Is most of his money offshore? Finally, he sounds demented and his actions, facial features, mimicking someone who is challenged/handicapped; is this someone we want in the WH? I think not.

  • karin schultz 18:15h, 16 August Reply

    Why do Democrats over the decades compare Republican Presidents and presidential candidates to Hitler? This is actually a very deep question. You want a government that for the good of the country, will force us to think and act according to progressive values – this can only be justified if conservative ideas are made illegitimate, evil and dangerous, and anti-minority. Freedom of thought, religion and speech are outlawed on college campuses, Hollywood, mainstream journalism, and indeed, in every area of life where liberals dominate by blacklisting Republicans and vitriolic attacks such as yours. This abuse of power and of the bedrock American values of individual liberties, is only possible if we are scapegoated first as sub-human compared to the wonderfulness of you. First you demonize fellow Americans, and then you suppress conservatives, or try to. Trump is the response to that.

    The very real differences between us are not Hitler v the Allies. We differ on the size of government, and it conservatives who want smaller government that controls less of our lives and is less intertwined with business. This is the opposite of fascism. Conservatives favor limited, constitutional government and equality before the law and find the progressive utopian endeavor – your ever-growing, intrusive government that attempts to solve all individual and social problems – has already meant a tragic loss of freedom and prosperity and honesty in government. We don’t think you are evil, and recognize your utopian impulses are well meaning. Nonetheless the outcome is a dystopia. In the last eight years we have witnessed a loss of freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, a growing statist alliance between big business and big government (which the Republicans in DC are equally guilty of), corrupt crony capitalism (also bi-partisan.

    • Steve Verbil 10:49h, 01 September Reply

      Karin:

      “Over the decades” democrats compare republican presidents and candidates to Hitler? I’m sorry, that’s too broad a stroke – we’re talking about the here-and-now. You didn’t hear comparisons to Hitler when people talked about Nixon. Al Capone, maybe, but not Hitler. You didn’t hear comparisons to Hitler when people talked about either Bush – although the younger Bush was compared to Bozo the Clown. The lesson we should take from history, I would think, is that we all should learned by now to listen to what a candidate says, and *believe they mean what they say*. Too many Trump supporters who know better excuse the dangerous ideas that he spews by apologizing that he’s not really serious. I don’t. I believe he is deadly serious, and he’s telling us exactly what he plans to do. I’ll agree with you, though, that he’s not Hitler. What he sounds like is Mussolini. I think we would agree Mussolini is also someone we wouldn’t want running our country. He’s a capitalist user of whatever favors he can get from government for himself or his companies – and he’s made it clear that he doesn’t care what the law says. He’s fully in favor of government welfare for businesses, as long as they’re *his* businesses. You didn’t really make your arguments based upon Jewish values, so I’ll respond in kind with very little religion included.

      Your position that progressive ideas – what you call “utopian impulses” – result in dystopian outcomes, such as loss of freedom of thought (your words), freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and a “growing statist alliance between big business and big government” is laughable. “Utopian impulses” don’t result in “statist alliances” with big business. Those are republican values lately. Not conservative values, I would agree, but the republican party has not been conservative for a long, long, time. It is, and has been, a radical element of our society in its arguments for subsidies to businesses, reduced taxes for businesses, reduced regulation of their activities, reduced legal liability for businesses (so-called “tort reform”), and in its absurd claim that businesses are people. These are radical positions. The republican party has nothing to do with “rugged individualism”, except when it’s useful for them to trot out that tired canard – as if that exists in a country of over 300 million people! – in the service of fooling their supporters yet again. Arguably, there has never been more freedom of speech in this country than now – think of what it was *really* like in this country in the 1950s; more freedom of association (for African Americans as well as Jews). Your rant about no “freedom of thought” on college campuses is just that – a rant. You have absolutely no idea how bad it used to be to try to have an opinion on a college campus, and you would turn the improvements that have been incrementally made there over the years into, somehow, something bad. You forget that it isn’t so much “freedom of religion” as freedom *from* religion – especially on college campuses that I support with my tax dollars, where the religion someone’s preaching is likely not mine. The “Individual liberties” that you speak of are not absolute, and never have been – as far back as the founding of this nation – and never can be. And your narrative depends upon establishing this false base of beliefs upon which you build your arguments. All of it falls apart when we see that your basic argument is not true.

      You would have been better to make your base argument the economic one – for I think we probably would be in agreement that times have not been good in the past 20 years for blue collar workers and the middle class in this country, due to exporting of good jobs out of our country; as well as technology changes (I won’t call them advances here) that have changed the nature of work in this country . And if we were also in agreement – as I suspect we are – that a strong and vibrant middle class is critical to the ongoing success of our country, we should be very concerned that both upward mobility into the middle class, and security for those already there, is lacking today. But what bothers me most about your argument is that you act as if Trump is not a part of the crony capitalism you belatedly ascribe to your republican party that has helped cause this. Oh, yes, the democratic party has supported disastrous trade policies that have helped hollow out our manufacturing core, but that’s a democratic party that has veered far to the right – has *had to* veer far to the right, due to the successful, relentless demonization of any progressive impulses in this country, from labor unions, a woman’s right to choose, and an insane (and insanely expensive) drug “war” which benefits no one except corporations set up to feed at the public trough – like private prisons.

      Finally, your argument about an ever-growing government intruding into our lives is the result of democracy in action. It’s not imposed by some secret cabal. Those government bureaucrats are implementing laws, passed by representatives elected by the people. When Bush the second did not provide rapid aid, and not enough aid to victims of Katrina, there were political consequences (even though that’s nothing more than a targeted welfare program). And I suspect that we will see political consequences for the company trying to gouge the market for epi pens, even though the business purist would say “if they can’t afford it, then they’ll die.” The people in this country have pretty conclusively spoken about what they want their government to do for them – it’s businesses that have had a deaf ear. And just because the people want something, and use their government to provide it, does not mean that it’s inherently bad – even for businesses. The classic example in this country is the lack of a single-payer system for health care for all citizens. Forget for the moment the good things that happen when everyone’s covered – the country is healthier, health care costs as a share of GDP goes down because it’s more efficient, health care rationing changes from hidden (where it is today, because that’s what health insurance companies do – they ration) to open, where public discussion affects coverage. Forget all that, and take a business view of this. From a competitive point of view, the lack of comprehensive single payer insurance puts all of our manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage when they’re exporting goods, versus countries that take health insurance away from the profit model and put it into a utility model. Some experts place this disadvantage at 15%. How the heck are we supposed to compete (unless we lower wages, not a good thing) against countries that have single-payer?

      I’ve been all over the place in this response, and I apologize. But your post was pretty comprehensive, too, and I didn’t want to see the assumptions you asserted go unchallenged, because we don;t all agree with your view of the world. Hillary Clinton is not an ideal candidate. We rarely have an ideal candidate… they’re all human, and they’re all flawed. It’s the nature of our political system that we pretty much destroy anyone with a completely pure pedigree before we get to discuss them at the national level. But Trump is so flawed – and has said such dangerous things – that I believe the choice is clear.

  • Toby Director 19:42h, 16 August Reply

    Trump’s professed values are Anti-American and Anti Jewish.

    • Gea 15:09h, 17 August Reply

      Trujmp’s daughter Ivanka is Jewish as are his grandchildren and son in law…who is an orthodox Jew all working for Trump’s corporations.

    • JERUSHA 08:53h, 21 August Reply

      Clinton’s professed values are lies that change as she think the situation requires. She and Bill have taken hundreds of millions of dollars from the Saudis. Doesn’t that tell you something? And since when do Jewish values include third-term abortions and selling baby parts? She was fired by the committee investigating Watergate, Democrats as you know, for lying. Did you not listen to what Comey actually said?

  • Robin Lane 20:06h, 16 August Reply

    We need to save the US economically in order for everything else we want to be in place. Without economic growth and stability we will not be strong for.our own citizens no less the world’s population that we help and support. Donald Trump will be better than HC which will be more of just the same. Certainly, the current administration has not be very supportive of Israel as the Iranian deal demonstrates. Go Trump! But please, know how to be more thoughtful and articulate in your speak.

  • Lawrence Kates 00:04h, 22 August Reply

    It’s not that I dislike Hillary or think that she is anti-Israel. She is not. I think she likes Israel and wants what is best, but unfortunately her policies and actions will harm Israel. What bothers me the the most, however, is the general drift away from Israel of the Democratic Party. Their Israel plank is weaker this time than last and an effort was made to have an anti-Israel plank. Israel was booed by a large portion of the Democratic delegates and Sanders put vey Israel-hostile people on the platform writing committee. It’s not Hillary so much; rather, it’s the Democratic Party that Israel’s friends should be worried about.

  • Bruce 05:31h, 26 November Reply

    I am a MOT became a non-Dem in 1980. It saddens me to hear she got 78% of aid vote Nov.8th. As smart as we try to be we just don’t get it sometimes.

  • Bruce 05:33h, 26 November Reply

    I believe that if Keith Ellison becomes the face of the Dem party, jews will vote 90% Democrat.

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