How an American Jew should vote in 2016

January 12, 2016

As an Israeli, I cannot and do not tell Americans how I think they should vote. What you have here is a compilation of the views of American Jews from the last couple of weeks. Some are based on conversations, some on articles and posts. I think they make the Jewish-American choice for the next president pretty clear.

1. Jews cannot vote for Donald Trump. They can’t. His values are not their values. His policy ideas — such as banning the entry of Muslims into America — should horrify a historically conscious Jew. His vulgarity is unappealing. And even his views on Israel are all over the place and certainly would not contribute to calming things down between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors. (Remember, Trump’s visit to Israel was canceled, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was less than enthusiastic about some of Trump’s comments.)

Trump is not an option for an American Jew.

2. Jews must vote for Donald Trump. They must vote for any Republican, lest another eight years of Democratic presidency eventually make matters much worse for Israel, for the Middle East, for those who want to win the fight against terrorism and, ultimately, for U.S. Jews. (Don’t you realize that when terror comes to America, the American-Jewish community will not be spared?)

Remember: Trump has a Jewish daughter. He must be a friend of the Jews. His support for Israel will be unparalleled. And as for other matters: Trump is blunt, but is he not right to suggest that political correctness is weakening America? Is it not time for the Jews — a people whose tradition is one of not surrendering to fashionable trends — to lead that fight of telling it like it is?

3. Jews must vote for Hillary Clinton. She is trustworthy, tough and still a true liberal, a friend of Jewish America for a very long time and a well-known public figure. She will not surprise us with sudden flip-flopping on all the things we hold dear. She will not surprise us with sudden initiatives that will weaken U.S.-Israeli ties. Clinton stands where most of Jewish America stands: strong on liberal values, sober on foreign policy, strong on Israel. We, the Jews, tended to support her back in 2008, when she was running against Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries (at least initially). There are even more reasons to support her today.

4. Jews cannot vote for Hillary Clinton. They would be mad to support Hillary Clinton. She will be everything they dislike: On Israel, she will be as weak as Obama — her rocky relations with Netanyahu are a well-established fact, and her term as secretary of state did nothing to make her more appealing to those who want a more robust policy in the Middle East. Furthermore, what can she offer to the Jews who care deeply about liberal values and Obama’s domestic agenda? If that is really a primary concern, the alternative, Sen. Bernie Sanders, is much better. More passionate, more convincing, fresher. Clinton, in other words, is what a Jew would call nit ahin nit aher — neither here nor there.

5. Bernie Sanders is the choice for a Jew. He is Jewish, of course, and a real trooper when it comes to Jewish values — caring for the needy, fighting the greedy, caring for human rights and for minorities. Sanders is the only moral choice compatible with Jewish moral values. He is also a true friend of Israel, without all the Clinton baggage, but also not a Likud-like Republican willing to idly watch the Netanyahu government destroy democratic Israel. Sanders is our new Obama. The first Jew in the Oval Office. A true revolutionary. A leader to move America in the right direction.

6. Bernie Sanders would be a terrible choice for a Jewish voter. He is a kooky socialist. He has no experience in governance (being the mayor of Burlington, Vt., with all due respect, is not the same as running a federal government). But much worse — he is going to continue the trend of moving the Democratic Party leftward. Away from moderation, away from tough foreign policy, away from Israel. You think Obama made a mess out of an already-messy Middle East? Sanders will make things even messier.

7. The candidate most compatible with Jewish interests and ideals is Sen. Marco Rubio. It is crazy not to see this. He is strong on Israel and will make the U.S.-Israel alliance stronger. He is not against immigration, does not use the language of bigotry — but will not be a doormat that surrenders to terrorism just because focusing on a certain population feels uncomfortable. And there is a bonus: He can help strengthen Jewish-Latino ties.

8. Marco Rubio? He is not what a Jewish voter could call a friend of the Jews. His values are not Jewish values, and his policies on Israel would be terrible. Remember George W. Bush, with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with the blank check given to the hawkish Israeli government to expand the settlements, with the constant threat of another war with Iran (a war that Obama, thankfully, was able to prevent by proving that a diplomatic solution is possible)? Do you want a repetition of that neocon agenda in the White House? A sane Jewish voter would not even consider Rubio.

9. Sen. Ted Cruz is the candidate a Jew could feel comfortable with. He is tough; he is smart; he is not delusional about America’s role in the world — and he is not going to try to fix the unfixable. But, on the other hand, he will keep America safe, keep America’s military strong, strengthen ties with Israel and put an end to the nonsensical peace processing of past administrations. Cruz is a man of faith, and while Jews do not always agree with him on every issue, they should respect and value his unapologetic religiosity — and remember that, by the same token, Cruz is likely to also value theirs. (And the bonus: He is the only Republican who can beat Trump).  

10. Ted Cruz is the most horrific choice for a Jewish voter. He is everything the Jewish community is against. He will make America more Christian and less hospitable to other religions. He will dictate policies that are opposite of what Jewish America sees as Jewish values. He will let the Netanyahu government destroy Israel (maybe in the hope that Armageddon is near). Voting for Cruz is voting for an immoral domestic policy and an immoral foreign policy. He does not even have the values of the neocons who — naively and foolishly, though admirably — want to make the world a better place. 

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