Likud leads, but rise of Yesh Atid, Jewish Home bode bumpy road ahead for Netanyahu


His party shrunk, his opponents grew and his challengers multiplied.

But with the results in, it seems Benjamin Netanyahu survived the Knesset elections on Jan. 22 to serve another term as prime minister.

Netanyahu faces a bumpy road ahead. His Likud party, together with the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu, fell to 31 seats in the voting from its current representation of 42.

The biggest surprise of the election was the ascendance of former TV personality Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party. Founded just a year ago, Yesh Atid won 18 seats on a platform of national service and pro-middle class economic reform. Likud’s traditional rival, the center-left Labor, grew to 17 from eight seats promoting progressive economic policy.

And another political newcomer, Naftali Bennett, is likely to push Netanyahu to the right on security issues. His Jewish Home party, a successor to the National Religious Party, quadrupled its representation from three to 12 seats.

Together with the Sephardic Orthodox Shas party and the haredi Orthodox United Torah Judaism, the right-wing Knesset bloc will hold 62 of the Knesset’s 120 seats — a slim majority.

That’s anything but a mandate for Netanyahu, who campaigned on the slogan “A strong prime minister, a strong Israel.” Instead of being able to lead a new coalition with a large party behind him, Netanyahu will have to negotiate with rivals and forge compromises with opposing camps.

Judging from the successes of Yesh Atid, Labor and Jewish Home, Israelis cast a resounding vote for progressive economic reform and new leaders in their parliament.

The biggest thorn in the prime minister’s side looks to be Lapid. Unlike the fiscally conservative Netanyahu, Lapid won support by calling for housing reform, opposing tax increases for the middle class and including haredi yeshiva students in Israel’s mandatory military conscription.

But Netanyahu’s biggest concern may be a rival in his own right-wing camp, Bennett, who appears to have picked up most of the seats lost by Likud-Beiteinu.

While Netanyahu remains ambiguous on the question of a Palestinian state — he formally endorsed the idea in a 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University but has hardly mentioned it since or done much to promote it — Bennett passionately opposes the idea. Instead, Bennett, a former high-tech entrepreneur, calls for annexing much of the West Bank.

Even within Netanyahu’s party, nationalists on the Likud list who never before made it into the Knesset will now occupy seats. Among them is Moshe Feiglin, leader of the Jewish Leadership faction of Likud, who favors West Bank annexation and encouraging Arabs who hold Israeli citizenship to leave Israel.

The rise of Yesh Atid and Jewish Home do offer Netanyahu some new opportunities, too. Rather than rely on the haredi Orthodox parties such as Shas and United Torah Judaism for the coalition, Netanyahu could make common cause with Yesh Atid and Jewish Home, both of which want to draft haredi Israelis into the army or some form of national service — even though they may significantly disagree on security matters. Lapid talked during the campaign of his willingness to join a Netanyahu coalition, influencing the government from within rather than from the opposition.

So even though the haredi parties grew by three seats — Shas went to 13 from 11 and United Torah Judaism to six from five, according to exit polls — Lapid’s willingness to provide Netanyahu with an equally large chunk of seats to build his coalition means that the haredi parties may have lost their political leverage to keep yeshiva students out of Israel’s military draft.

For its part, Labor looks destined to lead the Knesset’s opposition; its chairwoman, Shelly Yachimovich, has vowed not to join a Netanyahu coalition. Tzipi Livni’s new Hatnua party, which won just six seats, is likely to stay in the opposition, too.

The election represented a major defeat for Livni, who in the last election led the Kadima party to 28 seats — more than any other party. This time, the eviscerated Kadima failed to win even a single seat.

Hatnua’s poor showing also suggested how little of the election was about negotiations with the Palestinians. Livni made much of the issue during the campaign, but it clearly failed to resonate with voters. Hatnua’s six seats equaled the showing of Meretz, the solidly left-wing party. By contrast, Labor, traditionally a promoter of peace talks, barely raised the issue in the campaign. Instead it focused on socioeconomic issues and made significant Knesset gains.

With Election Day over, the coalition building begins: To win another term as prime minister, Netanyahu now must cobble together an alliance of at least 61 Knesset members to form Israel’s next government. Who he chooses — and who agrees to join him — will determine a great deal about the course charted in the years to come by the Israeli government.

ELECTION RESULTS (according to exit polling):

Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu: 31
Yesh Atid: 18
Labor: 17
Shas: 13
Jewish Home: 12
Meretz: 6
United Torah Judaism: 6
Hatnua: 6
Hadash: 5
Raam: 4
Balad: 2

Video of American gymnast Aly Raisman’s parents goes viral


[UPDATE: Aly Raisman leads U.S. to gymnastics team gold]

A clip from NBC showing Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman’s parents’ reaction to her uneven bar routine has garnered more than 25,000 hits on YouTube.

The clip shows Raisman’s mother and father commenting on Raisman’s routine from the stands. Her mother, Lynn, says, “Let’s go, let’s go,” and “Come on, come on” while shifting in her seat, and her father, Rick, remains silent until yelling “Stick it, please, stick it!” at the end of Raisman’s routine.

Raisman, 18, of Needham, Mass., is Jewish and has been honored by the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Her performance in the qualifying round in the London Games earned her a spot in the all-around finals on Tuesday.

GOP sweep makes one Jew a star, unseats and disempowers many others


A historic Republican sweep of the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday has propelled Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the minority whip, to the verge of becoming the highest-ranking Jewish lawmaker in U.S. political history.

“We are excited for Eric Cantor to become the next House Majority leader,” said Matt Brooks, director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. “The highest ranking Jew to ever serve in the House!”

Cantor, however, remains the exception: The fortunes of Jewish politicians in the United States for decades have risen and fallen with the Democrats, and Tuesday night was no exception.

The Republican sweep, picking up at least 60 House seats—the greatest swing since 1948—and sharply reducing the Democratic majority in the Senate, drove at least six Jewish lawmakers out of office, with one of them a congressman losing his bid for the Senate.

The night’s Jewish losers included Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), the Senate’s most dogged civil libertarian, beloved by liberals for his steadfast opposition to the Iraq War and expansions of government powers of interrogation in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Feingold, in his concession, quoted another Great Plains Jew, Bob Dylan, who contemplated in “Mississippi” a difficult life well spent: “But my heart is not weary, it’s light and it’s free, I’ve got nothing but affection for all those who’ve sailed with me.” Feingold then punctuated the lyric with, “On to the next fight!” to cheers from his supporters.

All told, Jewish representation in Congress dropped from 44 to 39, with 27 Jews in the House and 12 in the Senate. One loss in the Senate was Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), who had been defeated in the primaries. Additionally, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who by Wednesday morning appeared to be on the cusp of a narrow re-election victory, does not list a religion but notes that his mother is Jewish and a Holocaust survivor.

The defeat of five Jewish incumbents, however, just hints at what this election could mean for Jewish access in Washington.

Since a sweep by Democrats in 2006, lawmakers with strong ties to the Jewish community had chaired some of the most powerful committees in the House. Committee chairmen, by determining agendas, hold almost unchallengeable power to advance or kill legislation.

With Republicans having taken the house, those lawmakers, all Democrats, lose their chairmanships. They include Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who heads the Banking Committee; Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the Commerce and Energy committee; Howard Berman (D-Calif.), chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee; and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the foreign operations subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee.

Furthermore, Jewish groups—most but not all of which are bound up with Washington’s liberal-Democratic establishment—will see several veteran lawmakers with whom they have built years-long relationships exiting Congress. The most pronounced example is Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.), who chaired the Budget Committee, which works with the White House to set spending priorities. Spratt’s office had an open door for Jewish social service lobbyists.

The benefit of such access often is subtle but valuable. Berman, for example, was a loyal Democrat who kept Iran sanctions at bay for as long as the White House hoped to coax Tehran into dialogue. As soon as the White House gave the green light, however, Berman was ready with a far-reaching bill that targeted Iran’s energy and banking sectors, and that was shaped in part with counsel from the pro-Israel community.

Such access will hardly disappear in a GOP Congress. Berman is likely to be replaced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who has cultivated close ties with the pro-Israel community and was a leader in advancing pro-Israel legislation when Republicans previously controlled the House. Jewish social service officials say Cantor has been a sympathetic ear on their issues. Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the minority leader poised to become speaker, has deep ties with his state’s active Jewish community.

The certainty of such access, however, is less clear in a Congress shaped to a great degree by the Tea Party movement and its agenda of across-the-board budget cutting. Cantor already has said he intends to end earmarks, the discretionary funding derided as “pork” but favored by Jewish groups as a conduit for funding programs for the elderly.

Cantor and Boehner also have vowed to repeal the health care reform enacted this year.

“I believe that when we take majority in January, I hope that we’re able to put a repeal bill on the floor right away because that’s what the American people want,” Cantor told CBS News after the victory.

Republicans are not likely to overcome a presidential veto, but the threat is bound to make uneasy a Jewish social service establishment that sees in the legislation, however cumbersome, reforms critical to bringing down health care costs.

Cantor and Boehner are now set to ride a conservative tiger energized by the greatest midterm victory in decades, and spurred by leaders like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who already on election night was urging the new lawmakers to challenge the Republican “establishment.”

“These Republicans know one thing,” DeMint told supporters at his victory party in Greenville, S.C. “If they don’t do what they say this time, not only are they out, but the Republican Party is dead, and it should be.”

In the face of such sentiment, it is unclear to what degree the GOP leadership will be willing to countenance Jewish organizational urgings to tread softly on budget matters.

A bright spot for the Jewish community was the election in Illinois of Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) to the open U.S. Senate seat. Kirk not only has been a leader on pro-Israel issues, he is an increasing rarity, and one beloved by Jewish donors who hanker for bipartisanship: a Republican moderate on social issues.

Pro-Israel officials already have fretted about Cantor’s proposal to pull Israel’s $3 billion in defense assistance from the foreign operations package. Such a separation, the officials fear, will make Israel vulnerable to charges of special treatment and could make the generous package a matter of debate. Rand Paul, a Tea Party Republican elected Kentucky’s senator, already has said he will seek cuts in defense spending.

It has yet to be seen how a GOP-led Congress will affect the peace process or efforts to get Iran to stand down from its suspected nuclear weapons program. Foreign policy traditionally has been the prerogative of the president, but Congress is able to play an obstructionist role by exacting tough oversight on foreign spending.

Cantor in a pre-election interview told JTA that $500 million in spending for the Palestinian Authority would be subject to new scrutiny, and could depend on recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

In the House, four Jewish Democrats were defeated: Reps. Alan Grayson and Ron Klein of Florida, Steve Kagen of Wisconsin and John Adler of New Jersey. Grayson, who won in 2008 against an incumbent weakened by a strong primary challenge, represents a district that encompasses Orlando and leans Republican. Since his election he had emerged as one of the nation’s most outspoken critics of the Republicans, accusing the party of wanting the uninsured to die. Outside groups poured money into negative campaign ads taking aim at Grayson.

Klein, swept in with the Democratic majority in 2006, lost a swing seat to Allen West, an Iraq War veteran. Klein was a leader on pro-Israel issues, particularly related to Iran sanctions.

Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) lost his bid to win his state’s open U.S. Senate seat; so did another Jewish Democrat, Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher.

Jews did pick up a few seats. Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut attorney general and a Democrat, won the Senate race to succeed retiring Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.). Democrat David Cicilline, the mayor of Providence, R.I., won the House race to succeed Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), who also is retiring. Cicilline brings to three the number of openly gay Jewish lawmakers on Capitol Hill, joining Frank and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.).

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) appeared set to keep her Tucson area seat. Giffords, married to Mark Kelly, the first astronaut to join his twin, Scott, on a space station, beat back a challenge in part by distancing herself from Obama’s more liberal immigration policies.

Pro-Israel money helped incumbent friends of Israel pull off narrow victories. Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, rallied against tough challenges, and by Wednesday morning it appeared that Bennet and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) were on their way to winning as well. All four had been targeted for assistance by pro-Israel fund-raisers.

So had Democrat Jack Conway, who faced Paul in Kentucky in a race so bitter that Paul refused to mention Conway in his victory speech. Paul, whose father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), is a noted isolationist, kept pro-Israel groups at arm’s length during his campaign.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), ousted by Tea Partier Joe Miller, appeared to be on her way to keeping her seat in a historic write-in campaign—one backed by NORPAC, one of the largest pro-Israel political action committees, in a last-minute fund-raising appeal.

J Street, the “pro-peace, pro-Israel” lobbying group, scored 0 for 3 in its Senate endorsements but appeared to do relatively well in its 58 House endorsements. The question is whether those successes will help push back a full-frontal campaign by groups like the Emergency Committee for Israel and the Republican Jewish Coalition to depict J Street associations as poison at the polls.

J Street’s endorsee in the signature race for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat, Democrat Joe Sestak, lost to Republican Pat Toomey—but by a razor-thin margin.

Jewish groups also are watching closely how this election will impact social issues. For example, the Reform movement, among other groups, supports a repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gay members of the military. With conservatives in Iowa ousting three judges who ruled gay marriage constitutional in a rare recall election, such initiatives may be headed for deep freeze.

Jews won a number of statewide races. : Steve Grossman, a former AIPAC president and Democratic Party chairman, and Josh Mandel, a Republican state legislator, Orthodox Jew and Iraq War veteran, won their races for Massachusetts and Ohio state treasurer, respectively. Also, Sam Olens, a Republican, was elected Georgia’s attorney general.

Maccabiah Results: Team USA Wins 82 Medals in the First Full Week of Competition


Tel Aviv, Israel, July, 21 – Team USA has won 25 Gold, 26 Silver and 31 Bronze Medals in the first full week of competition at the 18th Maccabiah Games.  Competition began on Sunday, July 12 and in addition to the medal count, both Jason Lezak and Andrea Murez broke Maccabiah Records in their first day of competition on July 19.  Lezak won the Gold in the 100m Freestyle with a time of 47:8 and Murez won the Gold in the 100m Freestyle with a time of 56:4, both athletes breaking all previous Maccabiah records. – Maccabiah USA Press Release 

Highlights

Gold

Michael Hauss (Huntington Beach) 100m Freestyle,  Swimming (junior)
” title=”Andrea Murez” target=”_blank”>Andrea Murez (Venice) 100m Freestyle, Swimming (open)

Silver

Andrey Baranchik (Los Angeles) Discus Throw – Male, Track and Field (junior)
Michael Hauss (Huntington Beach)  200m Butterfly, Swimming (junior)
Naomi Javanifard (Goleta) 100m Freestyle, Swimming (open)
Daniel Silver (Pasadena) 1500m – Male, Track and Field (junior)
Brianna Weinstein (Irvine, CA) 200m Breastroke, Swimming (junior)

Complete list of U.S. winners.

Gold
Adleberg, Samantha T&F – Open 800m – Femaile Washington, DC
Cohen, Alexander Swimming – Juniors 200m Butterfly Woodstock, GA
Emrani, Dustin T&F – Open 800m Male Kings Point, NY
Frankl, David Gymnastics – Junior All-around Franklin Lakes, NJ
Goldman, Jason Wrestling – Open Free Binghampton, NY
Hauss, Michael Swimming – Juniors 100m Freestyle Huntington Beach, CA
Karosas, Tasija Swimming – Juniors 200m Backstroke Stowe, VT
Levere, Jacqueline Swimming – Juniors 200m Breastroke Los Altos, CA
Lewinson, Rebecca Swimming – Open 200m Breastroke West Windsor, NJ
Lezak, Jason Swimming – Open 100m Freestyle Irvine, CA
Meltzer, Max Wrestling – Open Greco Bethesda, MD
Mitchell, Haley Swimming – Open 200m Backstroke Walled Lake, MI
Murez, Andrea Swimming – Open 100m Freestyle Venice, CA
Ratner, Noah Juniors Golf Overall Asheville, NC
Schwartz, Jillian T&F – Open Pole Vault Female New York, NY
Sender, David Gymnastics – Open Rings Arlington Hts, IL
Sender, David Gymnastics – Open Vaulting Arlington Hts, IL
Sender, David Gymnastics – Open Horizontal Bar Arlington Hts, IL
Silver, Evan Wrestling – Open Free Chevy Chase, MD
Silver, Evan Wrestling – Open Greco Chevy Chase, MD
Steinberg, Galina Triathlon – Masters Age 40 -44 San Diego, CA
Stuckelman, Mark Triathlon – Masters Age 45 -49 Del Mar, CA
Tanenbaum, Jacob Wrestling – Open Free San Luis Obispo, CA
Tanenbaum, Jacob Wrestling – Open Greco San Luis Obispo, CA
USA Team T&F – Open 4x400relay – Female
USA Team T&F – Open 4×400 – male
USA Team Juniors Golf Overall

Silver
Adleberg, Samantha T&F – Open 400m – Female Washington, DC
Baranchik, Andrey Junior T&F Discus Throw Male Los Angeles, CA
Bernstein, Eden Wrestling – Open Free Allen, TX
Cohen, Alexander Swimming – Juniors 100m Freestyle Woodstock, GA
Cohen, Alexander Swimming – Juniors 200m Backstroke Woodstock, GA
Ehrlich, Marjee Swimming – Juniors 200m Backstroke Cherry Hill, NJ
Emrani, Dustin T&F – Open 400m – Male Kings Point, NY
Freidman, Simone Gymnastics – Junior Uneven Bars Annadale, VA
Freidman, Simone Gymnastics – Junior Floor Annadale, VA
Gordon, Ilana Gymnastics – Junior Vaulting San Carlos, CA
Hauss, Michael Swimming – Juniors 200m Butterfly Huntington Beach, CA
Javanifard, Naomi Swimming – Open 100m Freestyle Goleta, CA
Kessler, Rachel Swimming – Open 200m Butterfly New Rochelle, NY
Lipp, Jordan Wrestling – Open Free Beachwood, OH
Pierce, Katherine T&F – Open 5000m Female Alfred, ME
Sender, David Gymnastics – Open Singles Arlington Hts, IL
Sender, David Gymnastics – Open Pummel Horse Arlington Hts, IL
Sharkey, Bryan T&F – Open 1500m – Male Miami, FL
Silver, Daniel Junior T&F 1500m – Male Pasadena, CA
Solomon, Eva Triathlon – Masters Age 40 -44 Ann Arbor, MI
Sugarman, Robert Triathlon – Masters Age 70 – 79 New York, NY
USA Team Junior T&F 4x400relay – Male
USA Team Junior T&F 4x400relay – Female
USA Team T&F – Open 4×100 – Female
USA Team T&F – Open 4×100 – male
Weinstein, Brianna Swimming – Juniors 200m Breastroke Irvine, CA

Bronze
Davidson, Jacob Swimming – Juniors 200m Butterfly Rochester, MN
Evans, Matthew T&F – Open Long Jump Weston, FL
Feingold, Julie Swimming – Open 200m Breastroke Munster,IN
Fellman, Robert T&F – Open High Jump – Male Boca Raton, FL
Fellman, Robert T&F – Open Discus Throw Boca Raton, FL
Fellman, Robert T&F – Open Javelin – Male Boca Raton, FL
Foreman, Jessica T&F – Open 100m – Female Wayland, MA
Foreman, Jessica T&F – Open 200m Female Wayland, MA
Frankl, David Gymnastics – Open Pummel Horse Franklin Lakes, NJ
Frankl, David Gymnastics – Open Parallel Bars Franklin Lakes, NJ
Goldfarb, Aly T&F – Open Pole Vault Female Birmingham, AL
Goldfarb, Aly T&F – Open 400m – Female Birmingham, AL
Gordon, Seri T&F – Open 800m – Femaile Niskyuna, NY
Grossman, Jared Wrestling – Open Free Oyster Bay, NY
Hammond, Zach Wrestling – Open Free Mays Landing, NJ
Hammond, Zach Wrestling – Open Greco Mays Landing, NJ
Kraus, David Wrestling – Open Free Baltimore, MD
Langefeld, Andrew Swimming – Open 200m Butterfly West Lafayette, IN
Lauder, Laura Cycling – Female Tt- 30-49 Atherton, CA
Levine, David Triathlon – Open Age – 18 – 19 Sprint Charlotte, NC
Lipp, Jordan Wrestling – Open Greco Beachwood, OH
Lipp, Kevin Wrestling – Open Free Beachwood, OH
Merrill, Jeff T&F – Open 800m – Male Ann Arbor, MI
Merrill, Jeffrey T&F – Open 800m Male Ann Arbor, MI
Popper, Hannah Gymnastics – Junior Floor Forest Hills, NY
Silver, Kevin T&F – Open 5000m – Male Beachwood, OH
Steves, Joshua Gymnastics – Junior All-around Houston, TX
Steves, Joshua Gymnastics – Open Vaulting Houston, TX
Ungar, Joshua Gymnastics – Open Horizontal Bar Longmeadow, MA
USA Team T&F – Open 4×400 – male
Weinstein, Jeffrey T&F – Open 10000 – Male Philadelelphia PA

Report: Defeated Ahmadinejad rival arrested in Iran


Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi was reportedly arrested Saturday following the reformist’s defeat at the polls by hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Supporters of Mousavi, the main challenger to Ahmadinejad, responded to the election with the most serious unrest in Tehran in a decade and charged that the result was the work of a dictatorship.

Mousavi’s arrest was reported by an unofficial source, according to whom the presidential hopeful was arrested en route to the home of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Read the full story at HAARETZ.com.

Congressional Results: Two new Jews, but no rabbi


WASHINGTON (JTA)–The U.S. House of Representatives is getting two new Jewish members, but Tuesday night’s Democratic tide was not strong enough to sink several favorites of Jewish GOPers or to send Congress its first rabbi, Jewish Latina or Chinese Jew.

The 111th U.S. Congress is slated to have 13 Jewish senators and 31 members of the House of Representatives, with with the two first-time victories of Democrats Jared Polis of Colorado and John Adler of New Jersey.

But one of the most hotly contested Senate races, pitting two Jewish candidates against each other in Minnesota, may not be decided for days.

Republican incumbent Norm Coleman led Democratic challenger Al Franken by fewer than 700 votes in the Senate race in Minnesota. The slim margin of less than one-half of 1 percent will trigger an automatic recount in the race, in which independent Dean Barkley received 15 percent of the vote. Exit polling data showed Barkley pulling votes equally from the Democrat and Republican.

The recount comes after the two candidates spent more than $30 million, mostly attacking each other. Coleman using Franken’s background as a writer and performer for “Saturday Night Live” against him by highlighting jokes that were insensitive to women, while Franken charged that his GOP opponent was too close to big-money “special interests.”

Some had speculated that the Franken-Coleman race could be the key in determining whether Democrats would acquire a 60-member, filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. But with Democrats holding a 56-40 advantage in the Senate but Republicans ahead Wednesday morning in three other Senate races not yet official, that does not look to be the case.

In the only other Senate race matching two Jewish candidates, Democrat Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey won his fifth term, defeating the former Republican congressman, Dick Zimmer.

The number of Jewish senators will stay at 13–nine Democrats, two independents who caucus with the Democrats, one

Republican and one to be determined in Minnesota.

Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, Polis of Colorado and Adler of New Jersey will bring the total number of Jewish legislators to 31.

They will be part of the most Democratic Congress since Bill Clinton’s first term as president in 1993, when Democrats controlled 258 seats. As of Wednesday morning, the Democrats had a 251-173 margin, with 11 seats still to be decided.

Polis, 33, will make history as the first openly gay, non-incumbent male elected to Congress. He will represent Colorado’s heavily Democratic 2nd Congressional District, which includes Boulder and other Denver suburbs.

The Democrat is a multimillionaire Internet entrepreneur who founded the Internet site for his parents’ Blue Mountain Arts greeting card company and donated more than $5 million to his own campaign.

During the campaign, Polis emphasized his background as a champion of public education–he is a founder of two Colorado charter schools and a six-year member of the state Board of Education.

The other newcomer is from southern New Jersey. Adler, 49, of Cherry Hill, will move into the seat of retiring Republican and stalwart Israel-backer Jim Saxton. Adler, a 16-year veteran of the state Senate, squeezed by Medford Mayor Chris Myers in the state’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes Ocean and Burlington counties, with 51.6 percent of the vote.

Adler’s signature achievement in state government was legislation banning smoking in indoor public places; he painted his GOP opponent as a “George W. Bush apologist” during the campaign.

Another Jewish candidate in New Jersey fell short. The “blind rabbi,” Dennis Shulman, was unsuccessful in his attempt to knock off three-term incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Garrett in the state’s 5th Congressional District, falling by a count of 56-42 percent.

“We did not win the election, but we were right” on issues, including education, health care, the environment and the Iraq war, Shulman said in his concession speech in Paramus, N.J.

The race had become heated in its closing weeks. Shulman, who had received a great deal of national attention for his unique personal story and got the endorsement of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, had called Garrett “too conservative” for their Bergen County-area district. He also accused Garrett of taking an improper tax break. Garrett denied any wrongdoing and called Shulman “too extreme for New Jersey” in a television advertisement.

Israel became an issue in the campaign when Garrett called on Shulman to “renounce” the endorsement he received from the left-leaning, pro-Israel group J Street. Shulman defended the endorsement, saying he backs the new group’s desire to see the United States play a more active role in promoting Israel-Palestinian negotiations. Garrett had received the endorsement of the New Jersey-based, pro-Israel political action committee NORPAC.

In Alaska, it appears that Jewish Democrat Ethan Berkowitz will go down to defeat in his challenge to the 18-term Republican incumbent, Rep. Don Young. Young, who is under investigation in the same bribery scandal for which fellow Republican Alaskan, Sen. Ted Stevens, was convicted last week, led by about 17,000 votes on Wednesday, although the race had not officially been called and Berkowitz had not conceded.

In another Republican stronghold with a small Jewish population, Jewish Democrat Gary Trauner was unsuccessful in his second attempt at Wyoming’s seat on Capitol Hill. After losing by a little more than 1,000 votes in 2006, Trauner was soundly beaten, by 53-43 percent, by former state treasurer Cynthia Lummis in the race to replace the retiring Republican, Barbara Cubin.

And in Alabama, Jewish Democrat Josh Segall ran a strong race but fell short, losing 53-47 percent to three-term incumbent Republican Mike Rogers. Segall was the rare candidate who stressed his areas of agreement with President Bush, but Rogers attacked the Democrat for being “too liberal” for the Montgomery-area district.

Meanwhile, all six Jewish freshman in the House will return to Washington in January for a second term.

Democrats Steve Kagen in Wisconsin, Paul Hodes in New Hampshire, Ron Klein in Florida, John Yarmuth in Kentucky, Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona and Steve Cohen in Tennessee all won re-election on Tuesday.

Kagen had the smallest margin of victory – about six points in a rematch of his 2006 race with Republican John Gard – while all the others won at least 55 percent of the vote. That included Giffords, whose race against Arizona Senate president Tim Bee matched the two former elementary and middle school classmates.

All other Jewish incumbents also won their races. And at least one non-Jewish House member with a lot of fans in the Jewish and pro-Israel community will return to Capitol Hill.

Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican representing Illinois’ 10th Congressional District, which includes Chicago’s heavily Jewish North Shore area, won 55 percent of the vote in his rematch with Democrat Dan Seals. The four-term incumbent, who supports abortion rights, is a close ally of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. A member of the House Foreign Affairs appropriations subcommittee, Kirk earlier this year introduced legislation backed by AIPAC that would have punished those selling refined gasoline to Iran.

The race was one of the most expensive House campaigns in the country, with the two candidates spending $6.8 million between them.

A number of other Jewish candidates were defeated on Tuesday as they attempted to enter the House for a first term. In Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District, Democrat Bob Lord was seen by pundits as having a chance to knock off seven-term GOP incumbent John Shadegg in the Phoenix suburbs, but the Republican triumphed by a 54-42 margin.

In Colorado’s 6th District, Democrat Hank Eng fell short in attempting to become the first Jewish Chinese-American in Congress. He received 40 percent of the vote in his race against Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman for a seat that has been held by a Republican since it was created in 1980.

In the Miami suburbs, Democrat Annette Taddeo failed to become the first Jewish Latina in Congress. The Colombian-born businesswoman lost to Cuban-born Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a 19-year incumbent who has been a strong advocate for Israel as the ranking minority member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

On the other side of the aisle, four Jewish Republican longshots all lost their races against well-known incumbents. In a matchup between two Jewish women in the Philadelphia-area’s 13th Congressional District, Democrat Allyson Schwartz easily defeated Republican Marina Kats, 63 percent to 34 percent. In New York’s 5th District, including parts of Queens and Nassau County, Republican Liz Berney received 28 percent of the vote in her race against Jewish Democrat Gary Ackerman.

Also, Republican Steve Greenberg lost by 20 points to Democrat Melissa Bean in Illinois’ 8th District, outside of Chicago, and Nick Gerber lost to Ellen Tauscher in California’s 10th District by a 34-point margin.

Another Jewish Republican lost an open seat on Staten Island that had been in GOP hands since 1983. Former state Assemblyman Bob Straniere, unpopular with the local Republican Party establishment but the victor in a primary, was routed by Democratic City Councilman Michael McMahon, 61 percent to 33 percent. The seat came open when Vito Fosella decided to leave Congress after his arrest earlier this year on drunk driving charges and the subsequent revelation that the married congressman had a girlfriend and child living in the Washington area.

There were Jewish Democratic longshots who were defeated as well.

In New Jersey’s 4th District, Jewish Democrat and history professor Joshua Zeitz received one-third of the vote in his quest to knock off the 28-year Republican incumbent, Rep. Christopher Smith.

In California’s 45th District, which includes Palm Springs, former state Assemblywoman Julie Bornstein lost to Republican Mary Bono Mack by a 56-44 margin. And in Virginia’s 10th District, outside of Washington, health policy expert Judy Feder lost her second consecutive challenge to the 14-term incumbent Republican, Rep. Frank Wolf, in Virginia’s 10th District, garnering 38 percent of the vote compared to Wolf’s 60 percent.

Polls: Obama making gains with Jewish voters


WASHINGTON (JTA)—Barack Obama is making significant gains among Jewish voters, according to two new polls.

The polls suggest that after months of hovering around 60 percent, Obama appears to be within striking distance of the 75-80 percent of the Jewish vote won by the three previous Democratic nominees for president.

A Gallup tracking poll of 564 Jewish registered voters, taken over the first three weeks of October, found Obama leading Republican John McCain by a 74-22 percent margin. That was a 13-point increase in support for the Democratic nominee since Gallup’s July poll, which had Obama leading 61-34 percent. Gallup also released Jewish data from tracking polls in the two previous months showing a steady rise for Obama, with him garnering 66 percent in August and 69 percent in September; in both surveys McCain registered 25 percent. The margin of error for the October results is plus or minus 5 percent.

Meanwhile, a Qunnipiac University poll taken Oct. 16-21 in Florida found Obama winning 77 percent of Jewish voters in that state, compared to just 20 percent for McCain. While the Jewish statistic was based on a relatively small sample size (87) and has a margin of error of plus or minus 10.5 percent , the finding is notable because some leading Jewish Democrats in the state had publicly worried this summer about resistance to Obama among South Florida Jews.

Obama’s progress comes despite the Republican Jewish Coalition’s barrage of negative ads painting him as a dangerously inexperienced candidate who has surrounded himself with anti-Israel advisers.

But, some Democratic operatives say, any such concerns over Obama’s experience seem to have been overtaken in some Jewish voters’ minds by worries over the inexperience of Sarah Palin, as well as her conservative political views on hot-button social issues like abortion.

The executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, Ira Forman, said that while he saw a few reasons for Obama’s rise among Jewish voters, he felt “the single biggest factor” was Palin.

An American Jewish Committee survey in early September found that just 34 percent of the Jewish community approved of McCain’s vice presidential pick, with 57 percent disapproving. And Forman cited what he said were numerous anecdotal and media reports of Jewish voters in swing states who were unhappy with McCain’s vice-presidential choice.

Jewish feelings appear to match those in the overall electorate toward Palin. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released earlier this week found 55 percent of voters feel Palin is not qualified to serve as president, and Palin’s qualifications were seen in the poll as the biggest concern about a McCain presidency.

The executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Matt Brooks, rejected the idea that Palin—who has voiced staunch support for Israel and a hard line on Iran—was a factor in the recent swing toward Obama among Jewish voters. “I don’t believe this has anything to do with Sarah Palin whatsoever,” he said. “Nobody I know is voting for vice president.”

Brooks attributed McCain’s decline in the Jewish community to the “volatility” in the electorate during the recent economic crisis. He aruged that as Obama gained ground in the country as a whole in recent weeks, he also, naturally, gained ground among Jews. Saying he expected the race to tighten nationally, Brooks predicted that McCain’s numbers in the Jewish community would bounce back as well.

The Palin pick may have nullified McCain’s greatest strength in the Jewish community, Democratic observers said. Some suggested that earlier in the campaign McCain was more appealing to Jews than other Republican presidential candidates because of his strained relations with the religious right over the years and his moderate record on a variety of issues, from embryonic stem-cell research to immigration. Palin, on the other hand, is more line with, and has been embraced by, religious conservatives.

In addition to citing the Palin selection, both Forman and Democratic pollster Mark Mellman emphasized the extensive efforts of Obama and his campaign to introduce the Democratic nominee to the Jewish community. The campaign has sent dozens of Jewish surrogates—including Jewish members of Congress and well known figures in the community such as Ed Koch and Dennis Ross—to key states to talk about Obama’s background and his views on Israel and the Middle East.

“As people got to know him better, they felt a lot more comfortable” with him, Mellman said.

Mellman added that the Gallup poll was the most reliable measure of Jewish opinion before the election. Unlike other recently released surveys of the community, Gallup used random sampling—the most expensive, and also seen as the most accurate, method of polling.

Googling Anti-Semitism


Online searchers punching the word "Jew" into the Google search engine may be surprised at the results they get.

In fact, the No. 1 result for the search entry "Jew" turns out to be www.jewwatch.com. The fanatically anti-Semitic hate site is ranked first in relevance of more than 1.72 million Web pages.

Google, like other online search engines, is utilized by Web users to locate information on the Internet. Typing "Barry Bonds" into the engine, for example, returns 332,000 Web pages to choose from, and "George W. Bush" yields more than 4 million.

The No. 1 ranking of Jew Watch came as a surprise to David Krane, the director of corporate communications for the San Mateo-based Web giant.

Such a page might not pop up for Google searchers in European countries, where Holocaust denial is illegal. But Krane adamantly stated that Google has no plans to manually alter the results of their ranking system to knock Jew Watch from its top spot.

"No, we don’t do that. Google merely reflects what is on the Web and does its best to algorithmically rank pages. Unless [a Web page] violates a country or local law, we don’t make any tweaks," he said.

So how did a hate site grab Google’s top spot? Krane explained that Google’s search engine discerns a site’s "relevance" by the number of pages with a forwarding link to it in addition to the prominence of those sites.

While Google will not alter the results of its search engine, Krane promised to alert the firm’s engineers to further refine the search algorithm, which might alter the findings for the term "Jew."

He invited users concerned about search results to contact help@google.com. User feedback is fed directly to engineers, he said.

Jonathan Bernstein, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Central Pacific Region, noted that one can find plenty of Holocaust denial Web sites by simply typing "Holocaust" into Google.

"Some responsibility for this needs to rest on our own shoulders and not just a company like Google. We have to prepare our kids for things they come across [on the Internet]," he said.

"This is part of the nature of an Internet world. The disadvantage is we see more of it and our kids see more of it. The advantage is, we see more of it, so we’re able to respond to it. I’m not sure what people would want to see happen. You couldn’t really ask Google not to list it.”

Harvard Campaign Against Hate


Feeling frustrated about Arab anti-Semitism? Upset by people’s insensitivity toward Jewish concerns? Think you’re powerless to influence your school or community? Think again.

A group of Harvard students spoke out against hate speech in the Middle East, and, thanks to the support of the community, achieved results. I helped organize the group, and our efforts resulted in shutting down an Arab League think tank that distributes hate speech against Americans and Jews.

It all started last year when I was a student at Harvard Divinity School. In December, I helped organize a panel on the rise of global anti-Semitism. One panelist, Dr. Charles Jacobs, president of the David Project, stunned me with the pervasive, Nazi-like imagery and calumnies directed against Jews that are spread throughout the entire Islamic world, funded by oil money from the Gulf. I was surprised not only by the extent of the hate education, but also by how little the usually well-informed people at the Harvard Divinity School knew about the issue of hate speech in the Middle East.

Most shocking, however, was what Jacobs explained next: Harvard Divinity School itself was complicit in the problem by accepting money from a purveyor of hatred in the Middle East.

Harvard Divinity School — my school — had accepted a $2.5 million endowment from Sheikh Zayed, ruler of the United Arab Emirates. Zayed funds a United Arab Emirates think tank of the Arab League called the Zayed Center that disseminates anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism throughout the Islamic world. The center published a book claiming that the American government masterminded the Sept. 11 attacks, hosted notorious Holocaust deniers and featured a lecture by a Saudi professor who claimed that Jews use non-Jewish blood for holiday pastries. The Los Angeles Times quoted the center director as saying the "Jews are the enemies of all nations."

I knew I had to take action. Just as Harvard would refuse funds from a Ku Klux Klan financier, the university should also reject the hate money of the sheikh.

Soon after the talk, a group of students and I founded Students for an Ethical Divinity School and petitioned William Graham, dean of the Divinity School, to live up to the university’s ethical standards and return Zayed’s gift. Graham told us he would "study the issue." I tried to imagine him making this comment if we were African Americans, gays, or women defamed by a donor. I couldn’t.

Three months later, after an aggressive media campaign brought the issue to CBS News, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe and CNN, and exposed Harvard’s connection to the center, and after thousands signed a Web-based petition, the president of the United Arab Emirates shut down the Zayed Center. Harvard responded cautiously, announcing that the university was pleased that Zayed had taken action and that Harvard will delay for a year making a final decision regarding whether to accept the money. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jo-Anne Prokopowicz expressed satisfaction that Zayed had shut down a center that "espouse[d] intolerant views, including questionable programs and publications containing anti-American and anti-Semitic content."

There are several important lessons here: The first is that hate funded by Arab leaders or anyone else can and must be countered. This is a victory for people of conscience of all faiths and backgrounds. We should never ignore, rationalize or underestimate hate speech.

The second lesson is that many people shrink from these battles. It’s sad and a little frightening to experience the indifference toward Jewish concerns and Jewish students that so many Harvard professors and the dean of the Divinity School exhibited. Equally frustrating and disappointing is to see the reluctance of some Jewish professors and students to speak out against the institutional insensitivity of Harvard Divinity School.

Ultimately, a willingness to stand up and speak up can make a difference. We won the battle through persistent campaigning, good research, and community support. We thoroughly researched the Zayed Center’s Web site and downloaded the hate speech before the center got wind of our efforts and began deleting it from their site; we learned more about Zayed Center publications with help from MEMRI (www.memri.org), an organization that translates Arabic press into English. Both the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center helped us gather important documents. We received the most instrumental support from the David Project, the on-the-ground campus activists in Boston.

It is unfortunate that the responsibility to wage a campaign against the Zayed Center’s hate speech should have fallen on a small group of Divinity School students. American moral leaders and human-rights groups should live up to their own standards. There can be no free pass for incitement of hatred and genocide. Hatred is a weapon of mass destruction.

A few weeks ago, Sheikh Zayed explained that once it came to his attention that the center had "engaged in a discourse that starkly contradicted the principles of interfaith tolerance, directives were issued for the immediate closure of the center."

Zayed’s statement is encouraging, and I hope that other Arab leaders will follow his example and understand that demonizing Americans and Jews is unacceptable and intolerable.

As a result of our success, I have seen greater willingness among Jews on campuses and in communities to participate in campaigns against anti-Semitism. I am heartened by the courage of others to stand up for what’s right.


After graduating from Harvard,
Rachel Fish joined the David Project in New York City (

Fed Campaign Ends on High Note


Propelled by a tide of last-minute contributions in the final weeks of its annual campaign, the Jewish Federation of Orange County raised a record $2.3 million, a 9 percent gain over last year, outpacing national results by the United Jewish Communities.

“We attribute the increase in the campaign to deliberate relationship building,” said Bunnie Mauldin, Federation executive director.

Each of the Federation’s various support groups increased its giving, though the 39 percent increase by the young professionals’ network was the largest. Gifts ranged from $5,000 to $100,000 or more.

Nearly 90 percent of the Federation’s contributors gave $500 or less, or 16 percent of the total.

“That is pretty much in step with what most philanthropy’s experience: 90 percent of the money comes from 10 percent of the donors,” Mauldin said.

In June, the Journal incorrectly reported the 2003 results as slightly down based on incomplete figures that did not reflect the final campaign push.

The Federation fell short of an ambitious $3.2 million target, but should be considered a success since other communities experienced meaningful declines, Federation President Lou Weiss, noted in the group’s annual report.

This year’s campaign exceeded last year’s level by $235,000, Mauldin said.

Holocaust Writing Contest Winners Announced


Themes for this year’s submissions to the fourth Holocaust writing contest by Chapman University’s Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education ranged from defiant public protesters in Berlin to the instigators of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising to hate mongers from Hitler to Osama bin Laden.

At a March event to announce the results, about 120 Holocaust survivors met student contenders from 61 local schools. More than 600 people attended a speech by Pierre Sauvage, who talked about Le Chambon, a French town that protected his parents and other Jews during Nazi occupation.

The 122 entries were evaluated by 17 judges, including William Elperin, president of the "1939" Club, a survivors group.

The winning high school essay entries were from Andrey Finegersh, a Mission Viejo High School senior; and Jennifer Wiegert, from Whittier Christian High School, La Habra. Top middle school essays were written by Brittany Horth, a seventh-grader from Irvine’s Lakeside Middle School; and Andrew Grimm, of Tuffree Middle School, Placentia.

The high school poetry winners were Elaine Inoue, of Anaheim’s Acaciawood College Preparatory Academy, who placed second in last year’s contest; and Vickey K. Mendez of Anaheim High School. Winning middle school poets were Jennifer Thompson, an eighth-grader from St. Columban School, Garden Grove; and Amanda Mener, a seventh-grader from Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School, Irvine.

GOP Sweep Boosts Bush


It was a stellar night for the Republicans across the nation, and Tuesday’s dramatic election results, with the GOP snatching back control of the Senate and tightening its grip on the House, will be a big boost for the foreign policy agenda of the Bush administration.

But with a razor-thin majority in the Senate, where the filibuster rules, the Republican leadership will not exactly have a blank check on the domestic front — good news for liberal Jewish groups.

"Will more of President Bush’s agenda get through? Absolutely," said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato. "Will more of his conservative judges be approved? You bet. But will dramatically right-wing policy changes be enacted? No way; the margins are just too small."

Still, the shift to GOP control is certain to revive efforts to pass controversial social legislation such as school voucher and charitable choice.

Republican leaders have already indicated that a top priority will be accelerating the sweeping 2001 tax cuts, which Democrats say will just lead to new pressure to cut health and social service programs. Foreign policy, including the impending war against Iraq and the ongoing Middle East crisis, was barely a ripple in the midterm contest.

"Except in a few cases where there were clearly divergent views on the Iraq resolution, there was virtually no foreign policy issue that bubbled up during the campaigns," said Kean University political scientist Gilbert Kahn. But he said the GOP sweep was a "strong affirmation of the president’s leadership." And that could boost President George W. Bush’s plans to wage war against Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein. "He got a green light — a green strobe light," Sabato said. "He can do whatever he wants in foreign policy; that’s what the people have said."

As usual, an overwhelming majority of incumbents in both parties retained their seats. No Jewish House or Senate lawmaker was defeated. There will be one more Jew in the Senate, thanks to two of the strangest races in recent memory; there will be no change in the number of Jews in the House.

With support for Israel at a bipartisan high on Capitol Hill, U.S. Mideast policy was a non-issue in the 2002 midterm congressional elections. Even in New Hampshire, where Rep. John Sununu (R) won his bid to become the only Palestinian-American in the Senate, there was almost no debate over the tumultuous Middle East.

Sununu, son of the former White House chief of staff, easily defeated Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat who had waged a very active campaign to win support from pro-Israel groups.

For Jewish activists, one of the most watched Senate races was in New Jersey, where former Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), a onetime national United Jewish Appeal chairman, stepped in only weeks before the election after the incumbent, Sen. Frank Torricelli, pulled out in a cloud of ethics concerns. Torricelli had trailed GOP challenger Doug Forrester, but on Tuesday, Lautenberg won with a comfortable 55-43 percent margin.

In one of the night’s most stunning upsets, former St. Paul mayor Norm Coleman (R) narrowly beat former vice president Walter Mondale (D) to claim the seat held by Sen. Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash two weeks ago. Coleman, like the man he replaces, is Jewish; his swearing-in will relieve Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) of his lonely status as the only Republican Jew in the Senate. Polls show a significant factor in Coleman’s upset victory was voter backlash against Wellstone supporters who had turned a memorial service into a partisan pep rally.

Besides Wellstone, the only other Jewish senator up for reelection was Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who easily brushed off a challenge from state Rep. Andrew "Rocky" Raczkowski. But Levin, going into his fifth term, will lose his post as chair of the powerful Armed Services Committee, thanks to the GOP victory.

Pro-Israel activists generated campaign contributions for several incumbents who lost: Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.) and Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.).

In North Carolina, Republican Elizabeth Dole, a cabinet member in both the Reagan and first Bush administrations, easily beat Democrat Erskine Bowles, an official during the Clinton administration, to hold on to the seat being vacated by Sen. Jesse Helms, a Republican. Jewish Republicans had pushed hard for Dole.

Contrary to many predictions, the Republicans expanded their control of the House.

But the Jewish Republican contingent in the House was cut in half with the retirement of Rep. Ben Gilman (R-NY). Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), his only GOP colleague, handily defeated challenger Ben Jones, better known as "Cooter" on the TV series "Dukes of Hazard." That reinforces Cantor’s status as one of the GOP’s up-and-comers.

In Illinois, former Clinton staffer Rahm Emanuel, who is Jewish, won an easy-as-pie victory in the safely Democrat seat abandoned by Rep. Rod Blagojevich, who moves to the governors mansion. But in Georgia, Democrat Roger F. Kahn defied the prognosticators by losing to Republican Phil Gingrey for the right to represent the newly drawn 11th district in the Atlanta area. In Maryland, Rep. Ben Cardin (D), one of the senior members of the Jewish delegation in Congress, swamped GOP challenger Scott Alan Conwell, a political newcomer.

All Jewish members of New York’s big House delegation handily won reelection on Tuesday, some by huge margins.

Jewish Republicans poured money and resources into the Florida gubernatorial race, where incumbent and presidential sibling Jeb Bush faced a strong challenge from Democrat Bill McBride. Both campaigns targeted Florida’s huge Jewish population; in the end, Bush won handily with 56 percent of the vote.

The strong victory of Linda Lingle, a Republican, means Hawaii will have its first woman governor — and first Jewish one.

Pennsylvania will also have a Jewish governor, thanks to the election of former Philadelphia Mayor Edward G. Rendell, a Democrat. Rendell defeated state Attorney General Mike Fisher, a Republican.

In Maryland, Rep. Bob Ehrlich (R) defeated Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend — a dramatic upset in this overwhelmingly Democratic state. Both candidates campaigned feverishly for the state’s big Jewish vote, and Ehrlich forces claimed they had made significant inroads in the traditionally Democratic community.

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