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On Monday, former Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle helped kick off the Republican National Convention in Cleveland by painting an extremely misleading picture of the current relationship between her party and American Jewish voters.
Lingle claimed that the Republican Party platform committee’s unanimous vote in favor of their new platform proves that the party is unified in its pro-Israel bona fides. But she neglected to mention that the new platform abandons all mention of the two-state solution or the Palestinian people – reversing decades of bipartisan American foreign policy consensus. The platform seemingly rejects the legacy of the last two Republican presidents, both of whom worked to broker peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
Lingle seems to believe that her party’s extreme new stance will make it attractive to American Jewish voters. Apparently, she’s unaware that 80% of American Jewish voters support a two-state solution – or that the vast majority of American Jews do not list Israel as one of their top-priority voting issues.
The former governor claimed that “the support for Republican presidential candidates by American Jews have tripled over the past twenty-five years.” We can only imagine how she came up with that number, since in fact the vast majority of American Jews – between 67% and 80% – have voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1984. In 2012, President Obama received 70% of the Jewish vote, while Mitt Romney received 30%. That means Romney had less Jewish support than Ronald Reagan in 1984 (31%) or George HW Bush in 1988 (35%).
Moreover, it’s a bit bizarre that Lingle was touting her party’s attractiveness to American Jews at a time when many prominent Republican Jews are slamming the party for its choice of presidential nominee – including leading Israel hawks like the Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin and former Bush adviser Dan Senor. Rubin has described Donald Trump as a disaster for Republican Jews, and predicted that “It would not be surprising if Hillary Clinton gets 90% of the Jewish vote.”
The Forward’s Nathan Guttman reported last week that donations to the Republican party from Jewish donors are at an “all-time low” – and that many high-profile Jewish Republicans are boycotting the convention altogether. Given the outrageous, bigoted nature of Trump’s rhetoric, and his refusal to condemn the white supremacist and anti-Semitic groups that have flocked to support his campaign, that’s not surprising.
Lingle, coincidentally, didn’t mention Trump once during her speech. Perhaps she just forgot about him.