Seven reasons why Iranian Jews won’t support Donald Trump
The impression that supposedly there is wide support by educated and successful Los Angeles area Iranian Jews for U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump is mistaken. As a journalist who has been exclusively covering Iranian Jews in Los Angeles for nearly 16 years, I base that conclusion on numerous interviews with men and women from different segments of L.A.’s Iranian Jewish community.
First, full disclosure: I have not and will not endorse Trump nor Hillary Clinton in this election. My sole goal is only to lay out the facts and a more accurate portrait of how Southern California Iranian Jews will most likely vote in this upcoming 2016 election.
While the Iranian Jews are not monolithic in their voting patterns or political leanings, here are some of the reasons why I believe a large segment of L.A.’s Iranian Jews will most likely not be supporting Trump:
1. They have a long history with elected Democrats.
I have interviewed dozens of community leaders and activists who had told me that elected Democrats provided critical help, moral backing and even helped to secure federal funding to support the Iranian Jewry’s resettling in Southern California. For example, Dariush Fakheri, the former president of the non-profit Iranian Jewish “SIAMAK” organization, told me that former Congressman Henry Waxman, former L.A. City Council member Zev Yaroslavsky, and the late California Senator Alan Cranston — all Democrats — were key to helping the Iranian Jewish community in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Elected Democrats have provided Southern California’s Iranian Jewry with tremendous support for nearly four decades, which would leave one to believe that many of them would most likely be voting for a Democrat over a Republican in this presidential race.
2. They remember their own minority status.
The memory of being treated as third class citizens in Iran after the Ayatollahs took over Iran is still fresh in the minds of many local Iranian Jews. A sizeable number of older Iranian Jews I have spoken to in recent months have told me they have been turned off by Trump’s comments concerning Latinos and other minority groups. Therefore, I believe this portion of local Iranian Jews may or may not necessarily vote for Clinton, but their concerns with Trump’s comments on minorities leads one to believe they are skeptical of Trump.
3. They abhor Trump’s comments about Muslims.
Countless local Iranian Jews have many Iranian Muslim friends they mingle with in social circles and also do business with. A good number of these successful L.A. Iranian Jews have expressed to me their serious disapproval with some of the crude comments Trump has made regarding Muslims.
4. They support warming ties with Iran.
My reporting has shown that a large portion of local Iranian Jews do not support the recent “Iran Deal,” yet there are still a minority who have told me that they would like to see greater people to people contacts between the U.S. and Iran. There is also a smaller group of local Iranian Jews who still maintain businesses in Iran and would no doubt like to see warming relations between the countries for financial reasons. Therefore one can assume that these Iranian Jews will also likely back Clinton over Trump as she has expressed interest in maintaining the Iran Deal.
5. LGBT Iranian Jews support Clinton.
For the LGBT Iranian Jews affiliated with the Kol Ami synagogue based in West Hollywood, they stand with Clinton, who has always strongly supported LGBT rights. It is hard to believe this segment of Iranian Jews will also not back Clinton over Trump.
6. Many younger Iranian Jewish professionals are socially liberal.
A good sized portion of Iranian Jewish young professionals are more likely vote for a socially progressive candidate like Clinton because of their education and interactions within an open Western society. In fact, a number of Iranian Jewish young activists have recently been publicly vocal in their disapproval of some of Trump’s comments. For example, Sam Yebri, president of the Iranian Jewish non-profit, 30 Years After signed a recently circulated Jewish community letter, published in the Jewish Journal, denouncing Trump’s “hateful” rhetoric. This portion of the community isn’t likely to back Trump.
7. There are some hardcore Iranian Jewish Democrats
There are also many ardent local Iranian Jewish Democrats backing supporting Clinton. One prime example is the novelist and Jewish Journal columnist Gina Nahai and her husband David Nahai who have been very vocal about their support for Clinton this year. Also Joe Shooshani, a passionate Democrat Iranian Jewish businessman and Beverly Hills City Planning Commissioner, recently informed me that many prominent Iranian Jews have been attending Clinton fundraisers and expressed their doubts of Trump.
When one examines all of these different segments of Southern California’s Iranian Jewish community, it is hard to believe the larger portion of the community will be backing Trump. Again there are no doubt Trump supporters among some Iranian American Jews. But for anyone not to acknowledge the larger support for Clinton is just plain inaccurate and perhaps even irresponsible.
Karmel Melamed is a lawyer and journalist in Los Angeles. He blogs at jewishjournal.com/iranianamericanjews, where you can also hear his Farsi-language interview with the Voice of America.