News Roundup for November 8, 2018

November 8, 2018

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J Street in the News

Vast Majority of U.S. Jews Support Democrats, Disapprove of Trump, Poll Shows, Haaretz

Jewish American voters overwhelmingly supported the Democratic Party in the 2018 midterm elections, and a vast majority of them disapprove of Donald Trump’s conduct as president, according to a poll released on Wednesday by the left-wing Jewish group J Street. The poll, conducted by veteran pollster Jim Gerstein, also shows a high level of support among American Jews for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The poll, which included interviews with 903 American Jews who voted in the midterms, shows 75 percent of them disapprove of ‘the way Donald Trump is handling his job as president.’ Sixty-four percent of the respondents said they ‘strongly disapprove’ of Trump’s conduct, and 74 percent said they believe the United States is currently ‘on the wrong track.’…On issues related to Israel, the poll shows a strong level of support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Eighty-three percent of respondents said they support that model, and 75 percent said they believe it is a ‘important national security interest’ of the United States. In order to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, 64 percent of the respondents said they support American diplomacy ‘even if it means publicly disagreeing with both the Israelis and Palestinians.’ Sixty percent said they support American involvement in the conflict ‘even if it means exerting pressure on both the Israelis and Palestinians to make the compromises necessary to achieve peace.’ The poll also showed 84 percent of respondents saying that ‘someone can be ‘pro-Israel’ even if they criticize the Israeli government’s policies,’ and that 71 percent of the respondents support the Iran nuclear deal, which both Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been highly critical of. The poll showed that ‘Iran placed dead last in Jewish voters’ list of priorities, with just one percent saying it was among the top two issues in determining their vote.”

J Street poll: 72% of US Jews find Trump partly to blame for Pittsburgh shooting, Times of Israel
A poll released Wednesday morning by the left-wing lobby group J Street said that the vast majority of American Jews find US President Donald Trump at least partially responsible for the deadly Pittsburgh synagogue shooting two weeks ago. According to the survey conducted by GBA Strategies, a Democratic polling firm run by Jim Gerstein, 72 percent of US Jewish voters think Trump’s comments and policies were either ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ responsible for inspiring the attack by emboldening anti-Semites. The poll, which was commissioned by the liberal Middle East advocacy group J Street, found that large numbers of Jewish Americans were deeply concerned with the resurgence of anti-Semitism (81%), racism (79%) and right-wing extremism (79%) since Trump ascended to the White House in January 2017. ‘American Jews do not like Trump’s policies, and they intensely dislike this president, whose rhetoric on race and immigration drives Jews even further away from Republicans,’ Gerstein said. ‘The Trump presidency has led Jews to vote even more Democratic than at any time since 2010.”

5 Jewish takeaways from the midterm elections, Jewish Telegraphic Agency

“[Congressional candidates] endorsed by J Street, the Jewish group that has made a two-state outcome its central plank and supports U.S. pressure on Israel to bring it about, did well….J Street [had] reason to celebrate: Of the 163 candidates it endorsed, 122 won. The group still claims support from more than half of the Democratic Party’s House and Senate caucuses. The group exulted in a poll it published that found that 84 percent of Jewish respondents saw no contradiction between being ‘pro-Israel’ and criticizing the Israeli government’s policies — a finding that comports with other recent polling. Attacks on Democrats as not sufficiently pro-Israel didn’t get it done, J Street’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, told JTA. ‘This whole line of attack from the right on candidates on Israel issues isn’t going to work on Jewish voters,’ he said.”

US Jews voted overwhelmingly Democrat, polls find, i24NEWS

“American Jewish voters voted overwhelmingly [for Democrats] in Tuesday’s midterm elections, poll results showed, casting ballots in favor of Dems at a higher rate than any other religious group. One poll commissioned by the liberal Israeli lobby group J Street and conducted by the Democrat-aligned pollster GBA Strtategies found that 76 percent of Jewish voters cast ballots for Democrats, while 19 percent voted for Republicans.”

American Jewish Voters Strongly Oppose Trump, Fear Rise of Right-Wing Extremism, J Street

“A large majority of American Jewish voters oppose President Trump, oppose his abandonment of the Iran nuclear agreement and are concerned that his rhetoric and actions at home are emboldening anti-Semitism on the far right, according to a new poll.”

JStreetPAC Sets Records, Helps Elect Congress That Can Check Trump’s Agenda, J Street

J Street scored major victories on election night, with 128 of its supported candidates winning election, including many House challengers in some of the country’s most competitive races. JStreetPAC shattered its own records in the 2018 cycle, distributing nearly $5 million for 163 congressional candidates, helping to elect a diplomacy-first Congress that will act as a check on President Trump’s dangerous agenda and ideology. JStreetPAC reaffirmed its status as the nation’s largest pro-Israel PAC, raising over 53 percent of all pro-Israel PAC money distributed this cycle. The group more than doubled its total funds raised during the previous midterm cycle in 2014, and, as of now, supports over half the Democratic Caucus in both the House and Senate. ‘Voters across the country, including the vast majority of American Jews, just took a major first step toward rolling back President Trump’s agenda,’ said J Street’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami. ‘The American people said ‘no’ to hatred, bigotry and a war of choice in the Middle East. They elected a Congress that can act as a check on this dangerous president.”

Top News and Analysis

Democratic midterm win threatens to constrain Trump’s Middle East policies, Al-Monitor

Bryant Harris writes, “President Donald Trump’s Middle East policies will face more constraints next year as Democrats’ midterm victory in the House of Representatives upends Republican control of Congress. Democrats are looking to push back against Trump as he stands in lockstep with Saudi Arabia, an increasingly controversial ally, to pursue his hard-line Iran strategy. And the wars in Yemen and Syria are set to take center stage. Saudi Arabia’s murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the devastating Saudi-led campaign in Yemen have created unprecedented bipartisan pushback against Riyadh. But Democrats are currently signaling a willingness to go a step further than most of their Republican counterparts.”

How GOP’s anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi Campaigns Fared in the Midterms, Haaretz

Bradley Burston writes, “The 2018 midterms have been notable in many respects, but one of the more ignoble has been the open or implied use of bigotry in campaigns, primarily by Republican candidates. It has been two years since neo-Nazis and KKK activists hailed Donald Trump’s victory as the greatest triumph for anti-Semitism in America in 75 years, following a campaign in which alt-right, pro-Trump trolls plumbed new depths in online attacks on Jewish candidates and journalists. As the midterms approached, a large number of Republican campaigns employed anti-Semitic imagery and messaging as an integral part of their campaigns – in effect, putting the political potential of attacks on Jews to the test.”

A Democratic House Can Rein In Trump’s Foreign Policy, Bloomberg

Hal Brands writes, “Foreign policy issues rarely decide America’s midterm elections, but every midterm election has implications for American foreign policy. Tuesday’s midterms were watched closely by observers around the world, because in the age of Donald Trump the global stakes of America’s political choices have never seemed higher. The result — Democrats won a majority in the House while the Republicans held their majority in the Senate — will not fundamentally change how the U.S approaches the world under President Trump. But it will empower the Democrats in several areas, and it will reassure — at least temporarily — foreign observers who are desperately trying to divine where U.S. foreign policy is headed.”


House Dems to Turn the Screws on Trump’s State Department, Foreign Policy

Democrats in the House of Representatives, savoring electoral victory and armed with subpoena power, plan to ramp up scrutiny of the Trump administration, including State Department reprisals against career diplomats and possible corruption involving the White House and president’s entanglements with foreign powers.

Republican Rep. Steve Knight concedes to newcomer Katie Hill in north L.A. County district, Los Angeles Times

Republican Rep. Steve Knight of Palmdale conceded to Democratic challenger Katie Hill on Wednesday as votes were still being counted in the race to represent California’s 25th Congressional District in northern Los Angeles County.

Democrat Kim declares victory in New Jersey’s 3rd District, Politico

Democrat Andy Kim declared victory Wednesday evening over incumbent Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur in New Jersey’s hotly contested 3rd Congressional District, a race that remains so tight it still hasn’t been called by any major news outlets.

Mike Levin Picks Up California House Seat for Democrats, Bloomberg

Democrat Mike Levin defeated Republican Diane Harkey in a California House district that has been trending Democratic as GOP Representative Darrell Issa retires after 18 years in Congress, according to the Associated Press.

Police: Charge Netanyahu Confidant, PM’s Former Bureau Chief and Ex-navy Generals With Bribery, Haaretz

Israel Police announced on Thursday that it has found sufficient evidence to charge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyer and confidant, David Shimron, with facilitating bribery.

Abbas agrees to Egypt-mediated ‘calm’ between Israel and Hamas — report, Times of Israel

President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has received Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s approval for efforts to achieve an initial “period of calm” between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the London-based Arabic paper Al-Hayat newspaper reported Thursday.

Opinion and Analysis

The Harsh Truth Exposed by the Midterm Elections, Atlantic

Peter Beinart writes, “In the Trump era, Republicans counter economic security with cultural security. Trump promised to protect Americans from Latino murderers and women who destroy men’s lives by alleging sexual assault. And, to a significant extent, it worked. By mobilizing his white, rural base, Trump matched Democratic enthusiasm in purple states such as Florida and Ohio and overwhelmed Democratic incumbents in red states such as North Dakota, Indiana, and Missouri. It’s an old game: W. E. B. Du Bois famously called it the ‘psychological wage.’ Instead of protecting white people from economic hardship, you protect them from the racial demons you’ve stirred up in their minds….The harsh truth is this: Racism often works. Cross-racial coalitions for economic justice are the exception in American history. Mobilizing white people to protect their racial dominance is the norm. The lesson of 2018 is that American politics is not reverting to ‘normal.’ In many ways, Trumpism is normal. It’s not Trump who is running uphill against American tradition, it’s the people who are trying—bravely but with mixed success—to stop him.”

The Biggest Loser of the U.S. Midterms? Benjamin Netanyahu, Haaretz

Samuel G. Freedman writes, “In tethering Israel to just one political party and one ideology in an America that is profoundly split between two, the prime minister has evidently never allowed for the turn of events indicated by the midterms: the realistic prospect that the political majority will swing back to Democrats and that the evangelical right will be outvoted by a burgeoning movement of multicultural progressives, including the vast majority of American Jews. Maybe that moment of transition will come in 2020, or maybe in 2024. But it will come. The split verdict of the midterm elections, while hardly decisive, should at least qualify as a blaring alarm. It warns about the consequence of making Israel and Zionism nothing but fetish objects for the most radical and repugnant presidency in American history, provided anyone cares to listen.”