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Trump triumph rocks Jewish America

    America's Jews are reeling. Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States.

    It was an ugly, brutal campaign, and produced one of the most stunning upsets in political history. Jewish voters turned out for Hillary Clinton in record numbers, and this may have been the most Jewish election America has ever seen - both candidates have Jewish sons-in-law, and Bernie Sanders came close to being the first Jewish American to win a major party's nomination.

    However, now it's all over, many will feel they are on the losing side.

    "The Jewish community is united in its opposition to Trump, primarily because of his racism and because of extreme antisemitism among his supporters. He is mostly anathema to the Jewish vote," said Dan Friedman, managing editor of the liberal Jewish weekly the Forward.

    Preliminary figures give Mr Trump around 24 per cent of the Jewish vote, mostly attributable to Orthodox Jews, who number around 10 per cent of the community. While this was a low figure, it beat the 11 per cent of Jews who voted for George HW Bush in his 1992 election defeat to Bill Clinton, lowest level of Jewish support for a Republican candidate.

    The GOP will control the House and the Senate

    Jewish Republican donors and intellectuals largely steered clear of Mr Trump and those who did, including Sheldon Adelson, offered far more muted support than for previous Republican candidates such as Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich.

    By contrast, the American Jewish community accounted for the Clinton campaign's five biggest donors and around half of its total funding.

    Top of the list of concerns for the Jewish community will be the worrying deterioration in American public discourse, particularly the resurgence of antisemitic harassment on social media. Jewish groups such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) monitored and exposed a disturbing upswing in antisemitic and racist statements during the election campaign. Amongst the first to congratulate Mr Trump on his victory were former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and the leader of France's Front National, Marine Le Pen. Her closest advisor, Florian Philippot, tweeted: "Their world is collapsing. Ours is being built."

    While Jews have heard more hate speech from around the Trump campaign than is comfortable, there is little concern that this will translate into the exclusion of Jews from public life, said Professor Steven M Cohen of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and one of the leading demographers of American Jewish life. Jews remain, he said, the best-liked religious group in the United States.

    But, said Mr Friedman, "social permission has been given for this kind of discourse, and it won't be quickly withdrawn. The GOP has been unwilling to denounce it, and Trump has work to do to reassure Jewish Americans".

    The Jewish community represents only a sliver of the population - around two per cent - but they are, according to the 2013 Pew Research Center's "Portrait of Jewish Americans", "among the most strongly liberal, Democratic groups in US politics", with about 70 per cent of Jews voting for the Democratic candidate in recent elections.

    Jewish voters, though few in number, are significant because they mostly live in the densely-populated states where the greatest number of seats are contested. American Jews typically turn out in large numbers too, exceeding the national average. While Mrs Clinton won the safe seats of California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois as expected, the swing states of Florida and Pennsylvania went to Mr Trump.

    However, there is almost no evidence of a "Jewish vote". Jews do not vote on issues that are specific to the Jewish community. The majority of Jews who voted for Mrs Clinton did so because they believe in social integration and inclusion, want answers to domestic policy concerns and for America to continue its economic recovery. Job creation, stagnant wages, ballooning income inequality, reproductive rights and improving America's public health system are high their list. Foreign policy is much less of a driver: only a handful of Jewish voters considered Israel as a top voting priority.

    President Trump's agenda is different. He has pledged to seal America's border with Mexico, to ban or at least impose "extreme vetting" on all Muslims wishing to enter the United States and to expel millions of undocumented immigrants. He dismisses climate change as a hoax and believes in punishing women who seek an abortion. He has repeatedly threatened to put his defeated rival in jail. On Israel, he has promised to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem, and to "dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran". By retaining control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, there are few limits on the power of a man for whom January 20 will be his very first day as a professional politician in elected office. America's Jews are right to be concerned.

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