March 20, 2019

For Warren and Romney, 2020 Is Already Here

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks to reporters after exploring the idea of running for president in 2020. REUTERS/ Brian Snyder

Mitt Romney and Elizabeth Warren have little in common. But the conservative Republican and progressive Democrat, the once and future presidential candidates, last week pulled off what may be an unprecedented political feat: They made the year 2019 practically disappear. 

Fifty-two weeks of celebration and sorrow, of holidays and memorials, of births and brisses, and bar and bat mitzvahs still lie ahead. But for those who pay close attention to presidential politics, Romney’s and Warren’s declarations meant that 2020 is already here.

Warren came first, with a New Year’s Eve announcement of her opening an exploratory committee to run for president. Through the 1970s and ’80s, serious candidates usually waited until the fall before the election year to announce their plans. (One unsurprising exception was early vintage Jerry Brown, who waited until March of 1976 to announce his primary challenge to Jimmy Carter.) Since the mid-1990s, the conventional timeline has moved up the earliest announcements to spring of the previous year, which still allows voters, activists and donors at least a short respite after the midterm elections to regroup before the presidential campaign season publicly begins.

But Warren jumped in even earlier, not even waiting until 2018 had concluded, thereby increasing the pressure on her potential opponents to finalize their plans so as not to risk losing supporters to her by the time she follows through on her promise to formally announce her candidacy in early 2019. It’s likely that by the end of February, the Democratic field will include more than a dozen official candidates, with another dozen or more poised to enter in the following weeks. 

“[Romney’s] recurrent voice of opposition to Trump from within Republican ranks will create a political space inside the party for a primary challenge.”

Warren is still a major force to be reckoned with, but like her generational and ideological counterpart, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, she runs the risk of being crowded out by one of a passel of younger progressive upstarts. The fact that she announced her candidacy on such an unusually early date was seen by many observers as a sign of her diminished status in the race, as California Sen. Kamala Harris, former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke and other fresh faces compete to draw attention and support from her.

Which brings us to Romney, the junior senator from Utah who isn’t a candidate for president. But on New Year’s night, only one day after Warren’s announcement, The Washington Post published an opinion piece by Romney in which he excoriated Trump for a lack of honesty, integrity and character. Although Romney has said that he supports much of Trump’s domestic policy agenda — including tax cuts, judicial appointments and funding a wall at the U.S.–Mexico border — his criticisms sent a signal that he is positioning himself as a regular antagonist to Trump and will possibly challenge him for the GOP nomination.

Of the two missives, Romney’s non-announcement could have even more impact on the 2020 campaign than Warren’s formal entry into the race. Whether Romney chooses to become a candidate, his recurrent voice of opposition to Trump from within Republican ranks will create a political space inside the party for a primary challenge. He will establish a rallying point for disaffected GOP activists and officeholders, providing cover for a potential opponent to organize a campaign of his or her own.

Trump will still be difficult to defeat in a primary, as he enjoys overwhelming support from Republican voters. But no president who has faced a significant challenger from within his own party has ever won re-election. Lyndon Johnson withdrew from his race in 1968. Gerald Ford (1976), Carter (1980) and George H.W. Bush (1992) all survived their party’s nomination fight, but were so weakened that they were defeated in the general election. Even a defeated GOP challenger could make Trump’s path to re-election much more difficult.

There’s no way of knowing whether Warren will emerge as the nominee, or whether the eventual Democratic standard-bearer will be equipped for a successful general election battle against Trump. But whatever his intention, Romney is making that future nominee’s job much easier.


Dan Schnur teaches political communications and leadership at USC, UC Berkeley and Pepperdine. He is the founder of the USC-L.A. Times statewide political survey and a board member of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.

Jews, Blinded by Trump

The midterms are coming, and I’m worried about the state of mind of American Jews. 

Not because most of them are going to vote for Democratic candidates, as a survey from last week revealed. That’s to be expected. 

Not because most will vote for Democrats even though Israelis would prefer Republicans to retain control of Congress. There is nothing new in this divide of preferences. 

It’s also not a surprise — and doesn’t much worry me — that most disapprove of President Donald Trump. 

And it’s not a surprise that although pro-Israel, many are critical of some (35 percent) or many (24 percent) of its policies. Join the club: Israelis, too, are critical of some of many of Israel’s policies, while still voting for the same government for quite some time (as to why, read David Suissa’s column “Why Are Israeli Voters So Stubborn?” (Oct. 5). 

No, I’m worried about one question in the survey that was published by the Mellman Group. It is a tricky question to analyze, as it refers to two separate issues: Trump is No. 1, Jerusalem is No. 2. 

“Large Majorities Disapprove of Trump’s Handling of Nearly Every Issue,” declares the summary of the findings. Indeed, the only issue that a majority of American Jews are satisfied with is the handling of U.S.-Israel relations. That’s important because it indicates at least some American Jews retain a grain of common sense even in these highly charged days of partisan politics. How many is “some”? A little more than a half approve of Trump’s handling of the relations: 51 percent. What does the other (almost) half want him to do? What must Trump do to satisfy the discontented half? 

“There is no shame in being honest about your preferences. Israel wants a supportive U.S. president; Trump, thus far, has provided it with one.”

Whatever the answer, the other question I have clearly shows that common sense is out of fashion. It’s the question about Trump’s handling of relocating the American Embassy to Jerusalem. A clear majority of American Jews disapprove of this decision. Does the majority disapprove because it generally disapproves of everything Trump does (except by a scant majority, his handling of U.S.-Israel relations)? Does it disapprove of it because of how Trump made this move specifically? Had he made it in some other fashion, would the majority have approved? Does the majority disapprove of it because it has no desire to see an American Embassy in Jerusalem — or maybe only if and when the Palestinians would agree to such a move (which might be never)?

There are two basic possibilities: Either American Jews don’t understand the significance of the American Embassy’s move to Jerusalem or they are so disenchanted by Trump that even the embassy’s relocation wouldn’t make them squeeze out a compliment about him. Either way, I’m worried. It’s not good for the Jewish people if Jews no longer wish for the main empire of the era to have its embassy in the capital of the Jewish people. It’s also not good for the Jewish people if Jews can no longer see beyond partisan politics. 

In all seriousness, such a response to a simple question about a no-brainer issue is certain to puzzle a vast majority of Jewish Israelis. Among them, more than two-thirds supported the embassy’s move. All its political parties supported it, except for the Arab Party and the small party of the (small) left, Meretz. Their appreciation is shown by the polls proving that Israel is one of few countries to have a positive view of Trump.

Ha, you’d say: Israelis have a positive view of Trump. Shame on them. But no. There is no shame in being honest about your preferences. Israel wants a supportive U.S. president; Trump, thus far, has provided it with one. There is no shame in showing gratitude to a benefactor. 

There is a little shame in blind partisanship, and a little shame in blind disregard for positive action, and a little shame in opposing what Jews have dreamed of for so long. There is shame —  and thus, there’s worry.  

The Lipstick Proviso and The New Double Standard

Every day when I pick up my 9-year-old son from school, I face the reality that the #MeToo movement is operating in overcorrection mode. The moment we’re off the school premises, Alexander and his friends offer up a litany of injustices.

What are they griping about? Girls.

“They get away with everything!” “The teachers never criticize them!” “If we even ask the girls to stop annoying us, we immediately get screamed at!” 

I’ve been hearing these gripes for the past couple of years, but this year they’ve gotten far worse. It seems the younger assistant teachers have it in their heads that boys are inherently bad and girls are inherently good. So, even if a girl misbehaves, it must be a boy’s fault. 

This year, the boys started using a new phrase: reverse sexism. (Actually, it first came home as “reverse sex,” and then I figured out what they meant.) 

Ballroom dancing class also started this year. At this age, the boys find the girls icky beyond belief, yet they are hyper intrigued with “sexual relations,” as my son puts it. Forcing them “to have physical contact” would probably be the last thing I would add to the mix.

Not surprisingly, many of the boys flat out don’t want to do it. More than anything, they feel resentful: It’s another way the schools are favoring girls. 

Given where the national conversation is, one might wonder: Is this really a rational way to improve relations between the sexes? Shouldn’t the idea be to teach respect, not instill resentment?

I suppose one could say it’s a positive that we moved from “girls and boys are exactly the same” to “girls are better than boys,” but in reality, it’s far worse. “Better” was an argument used to deny women rights for hundreds of years.

It’s sad that so few women understand the true meaning of feminism. Democratic Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona in 2006 described stay-at home moms as not just unfeminist but as “leeching off their husbands.”

As a stay-at-home mom who has actually studied feminism, I can confidently tell Sinema that early feminists had no issue with stay-at-home moms — but her own condescension about another woman’s choice is what’s unfeminist.

I’m especially happy to be a stay-at-home mom when my son’s masculinity is being dragged through the mud on a daily basis. Part of the reason the boys complain to me is because I’m there to listen to their complaints. If I had a daughter, I would be there to listen to hers.

The irony is that the true definition of feminism could not be more basic: Feminism means freedom. That’s it. Freedom to choose. A century ago, women could not choose. Now, we can.

But those choices may be different from males’ — what I call the lipstick proviso. Women are different from men — not better, different. In democratic societies, these differences stem from biology (not “the patriarchy”) and reside on a bell curve, meaning some women overlap with some men. Because of these innate biological differences, any numerical mandate, like a recent California law regarding female representation on the boards of publicly- held companies, is ridiculous.  

As I write this, I’m on a train to Philadelphia to help my 88-year-old father move to an assisted-living facility. I don’t need to be there; I want to be there. I couldn’t possibly not be there. 

I was never taught that this is what daughters do, just as I was never taught to stay home with my son. And contrary to Sinema’s clueless assertion, going to an office would have been much easier in both cases. Other women make different choices. It’s not for me to judge. 

Indeed, demeaning my choices — or demeaning the masculinity of my son — is not what real feminists do. I get that many women have had bad experiences with men. But it doesn’t help anyone to globalize that bad experience, to condemn all masculinity as toxic, and to raise a generation of resentful boys. 

My dad’s lifelong resilience is part of what I see as the beauty of masculinity. Until women and men fully understand what femininity and masculinity positively bring to the table, we’re not going to fix any problems. In fact, we’re in the process of making them far worse.


Karen Lehrman Bloch is an author and cultural critic living in New York City.

Halie Soifer: Getting Out the Young, Jewish Vote for Democrats

Halie Soifer

Most people aren’t in the business of swinging presidential elections at the ripe old age of 30 but Halie Soifer isn’t most people. 

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Soifer helped swing Florida in favor of an upstart Illinois senator by playing a key role in securing a crucial electorate: the state’s Jewish vote. After heading Jewish outreach in Florida for the 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign, Soifer’s journey has included stops in the national security realm and as a behind-the-scenes political operative. 

Soifer, 39, previously served as an adviser to Obama’s United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power, then performed the same role on the staff of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif). Now she heads up the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA), a progressive political organization founded in 2016 that supports Democrats running for office. At the helm of JDCA, she has her sights set on influencing another critical election. 

With November’s midterms fast approaching, Soifer spoke to the Journal about her organization, President Donald Trump, the Democratic Party’s U.S.-Israel stance and why she’s confident Jewish voter turnout can help the Democrats win back the House. 

Jewish Journal: What drew you to a burgeoning organization like JDCA? 

Halie Soifer: Once President Trump took office, I decided it was time to leave government and help change the composition of the Congress and Senate as opposed to working for one member. JDCA was a natural fit. It’s advocacy in terms of issues I care about as a Jew, such as fighting against unjust immigrant policies, the Muslim ban and standing up for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship in a way that feels particularly pressing in this moment in our history. 

JJ: You said previously JDCA was created “to fill a vacuum and in response to this administration.” Can you elaborate? 

HS: In the aftermath of Charlottesville, [Va., violence] I think all Jews throughout the country were shocked to see Nazis marching in the streets and Jewish Democrats, in particular, didn’t have one organization to represent their voice in that moment. It was really out of that sense of urgency that JDCA was born: to serve as the voice of Jewish Democrats, whether it was responding to the rise of anti-Semitism in the country or other troubling trends we’ve seen in regard to the Trump administration. It’s also focusing on advocating in the affirmative agenda, which we’re doing in this upcoming election. That means helping to get Democrats who share our values elected to Congress. 

“We’ve seen no less than nine neo-Nazi, white supremacist, Holocaust deniers running for office in this election cycle. They now feel legitimate in the Trump era to the point of running for Congress.”

JJ: What’s JDCA looking at specifically when figuring out which candidates to support?   

HS: We’re looking at close races where either there’s a strong Democratic challenger to a Republican incumbent, or a vacancy, or a Democratic incumbent who needs our help; but only where the race is predicted to come down to a margin that’s smaller than the Jewish community. Our assessment comes down to this: Can the Jewish community make the difference?  

JJ: You recently wrote an op-ed in The Jerusalem Post titled “Record Number of Jewish Voters Will Reject Trump in November.” What’s fueling your optimism about the midterms? 

HS: It’s the issues superseding politics that are antithetical to Jewish values, such as zero-tolerance immigration, and separating children from their parents at our border. I’ve been traveling to organize events for Jewish Democrats. Last week, we started our midterm volunteer program. We’re readying canvassing for Sean Casten in Chicago, Jennifer Wexton in Virginia. I hear it everywhere I go. And it’s not even a partisan issue. These are deep-seated concerns about the direction of our country, and I’m confident the November results will reflect that. 

JJ: The U.S.-Israel relationship has become an increasingly partisan issue. Are changing views or shifting party lines a threat to Jews continuing to loyally vote Democratic? 

HS: I don’t believe that views on Israel have changed among Democrats. If you look at voting patterns in Congress, there’s no change for support for a two-state solution, no change in U.S. military assistance to Israel and no change in supporting Israel’s right to self-defense. I believe that while some Republicans would like to create a narrative that there’s been a change in the Democratic Party on its Israel stance, the reality is that there has not been a marked shift.  

JJ: What do you say to critics who argue that a different anti-Semitism, one mired in anti-Israel views, that exists in far-right circles, is permeating parts of the Democratic Party, even gaining momentum among younger Democrats? Is that legitimate? 

HS: I certainly would not equate the two. On the right, we’ve seen no less than nine neo-Nazi, white supremacist, Holocaust deniers running for office in this election cycle. That’s astounding. It’s not that these people and these movements didn’t exist previously, but they now feel legitimate in the Trump era to the point of running for Congress. That’s a problem the Republican Party has to grapple with. 

JJ: How does your organization speak out against these people? 

HS: On the left, there have been three candidates for Congress who have expressed views with regard to Israel that we, as an organization, have disagreed with publicly. We’ve not referred to them as anti-Semites, because, again, we don’t equate the two. 

JJ: Who are those candidates? 

HS: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. 

JJ: Those three names, especially Ocasio-Cortez, appear to represent the future of the Democratic Party. 

HS: In the case of someone like Ocasio-Cortez, we share her views on many, in fact, most other issues. For those three candidates, we’ve made it clear, while we don’t share that view, we’re interested in engaging. I think when these three candidates arrive in Washington, they’ll soon see that the Democratic Party supports a strong bipartisan relationship between the U.S. and Israel, which includes full military funding for Israel. We don’t expect that to change with these three being elected to Congress.


A correction has been made on Oct. 22. An earlier version of this story mistakenly reported that the volunteer program canvassed for Peter Roskam. It did not.

Who Owns the Truth?

There is something rotten in America. We all feel it in our bones. There is a deep sense of unease. A disturbing sense of anxiety. A gnawing feeling that something is desperately wrong. But we can’t quite put our finger on it. We think it’s the deep partisanship that has gripped our nation and the abominable hatred between left and right.

But these are merely symptoms of a much more serious disease.

First, we Americans bore witness to the death of decency, as public political life became about both parties bludgeoning each other with embarrassing insults and degrading put-downs.

But what has died in America is truth itself. Not, as some writers have argued, because President Donald Trump believes in “alternative facts” or because the Democrats hate him so much that they will never give him his due. No, the death of truth has come about because we have forgotten that no one party or individual ever owns the truth.

Truth is not monolithic but complex. It is not singular but multifaceted. It is not masculine or feminine but it is created through the synergy of both. Truth is comprised of right and left joining together and enriching one another to create a higher, more colorful whole.

China has no truth because it is controlled by one party who makes it up. Russia has no truth because it is determined by the whims of a dictator’s daily distortions. But America has truth because it has two parties representing differing views which — even when they disagree — coalesce into the vibrant harmony of democracy. I am shocked that we have reached the stage where we wish the other party would simply disappear.

Jews have known this verity — that no one party or person has the absolute truth and that truth is comprised of different pieces that cohere — better than any nation on earth, which is why we have never been a proselytizing faith. We have always known that Judaism is a truth, but not the truth.

We have never sought to impose our views upon the rest of the world, save one: The belief that God created every human equally in His image and, therefore, every human’s input and viewpoint matters. Jews hate totalitarianism because it imposes one viewpoint on all mankind. Find a dictator — from the extreme right, like Hitler, or the extreme left, like Stalin — and you will see that they identified the Jews as their foremost enemies.

We Jews know, as Maimonides said 900 years ago, that while we categorically reject Jesus as the Messiah, we accept that his followers have brought the knowledge of God and the Bible to people around the world; and that while we reject the prophecy of Muhammad we embrace Islam’s emphasis on the one true God. We do not seek to have Christians or Muslims become Jewish but rather to practice their own faiths peacefully and harmoniously.

Perhaps the greatest proof of modern American soullessness is the right’s and left’s insistence that they alone have the truth and their wish that the other side would be swallowed by the earth like Korach. That there is nothing to be gained by political opposition. That conservatives are brain-dead, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals and that liberals are smug, arrogant, out-of-touch elitists.

Underlying the conflict in America is something much more profound and of far greater consequence than political partisanship. America is facing a crisis of barren intellectual complexity and a void of spiritual depth.

“In our partisanship we fail to see the humanity in one another. In our self-absorption we fail to see the blessing of otherness. And in our hatred for views that differ from our own, we are becoming intellectually impoverished and emotionally warped.”

In our partisanship, we fail to see the humanity in one another. In our self-absorption, we fail to see the blessing of otherness. And in our hatred for views that differ from our own, we are becoming intellectually impoverished and emotionally warped. Our anger and our need to demonize one another betrays a stunning lack of vision. We can no longer see God’s countenance in a Republican or the spark of God in a Democrat. What we see instead is a demon.

Is this the America that Democrats and Republicans wish to inhabit? Will we be uplifted by the blessings of the world’s greatest economy or corrupted with a feeling that 50 percent of America is superfluous?

I will not take sides on the Brett Kavanaugh battle, not only because he has been confirmed and the matter decided, but because it would immediately put me into a box where I would lose half my readership when my essential message of American unity is critical to both right and left. Republicans see a good man wrongfully accused without evidence. Democrats see someone accused of sexual assault who displayed behavior unbecoming a federal judge elevated to the nation’s highest court.

But one side’s need to demonize the other is an affront to decency and ethics. To understand just how far we’ve taken our political differences, one need only scan the titles of the op-eds being written in America’s most prestigious news publications. Editorials covering the affair seemed to show little interest in offering a cool-headed, holistic take on the topic, opting instead to breathe fire into the minds of their readers. The New York Times ran columns calling Kavanaugh’s confirmation “A Complete National Disgrace,” along with another asserting that “The Jocks Will Inherit the Earth.” Another column was given the all-too telling headline: “Liberals, This Is War.” The commentator who wrote that piece summed up Kavanaugh’s confirmation with the simple, if not a bit hyperbolic, instruction to readers to “rend your garments.”

“America has truth because it has two parties representing differing views which — even when they disagree — coalesce into the vibrant harmony of democracy. I am shocked that we have reached the stage where we wish the other party would simply disappear.”

When Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, my friend of 25 years and now my senator from New Jersey, called Kavanaugh evil and said that it did not much matter whether he was innocent or guilty, he was not trampling on due process or the presumption of innocence alone. Rather, he was trespassing on his own stellar resume as a Stanford — and Yale-educated Rhodes scholar (who served as my student president at Oxford University), and on the Torah we’ve studied together and love.

For surely it is a man’s innocence or guilt that will determine his righteousness before God and fellow man.

Conversely, those Republicans who could not hear the aggrieved dignity and sense of violated humanity in Christine Blasey Ford’s soul-searing and heart-wrenching testimony have allowed partisanship to stifle their souls.

And how do the two co-exist? How could Kavanaugh and Ford both be telling the truth when one had to be wrong? How can we embrace competing narratives that contradict? How can antagonistic stories cohere?

Sometimes we frail and mortal human beings must admit, we just don’t know. Unlike God, we are not all-knowing. Unlike our Creator, we are not all-seeing. We just don’t know. And at such times we must fall back on the rules, law, and customs — some God-given, others mandated by the framers of our Constitution — that govern our democracy and move forward. And, for the love of God, stop abusing and hating each other.

Some readers may remember that I ran for Congress in 2012. I loved campaigning and meeting people of different ethnicities and faiths. I loved the heated debates with my opponent. And I wished that I had won. If you were to ask me, what was the most pivotal part of the campaign, it was, ironically, the night I lost. I remember how glorious it was to surrender to the majesty of the democratic system. I was living in a country that decided results by the will of the people. I had been allowed to passionately express my opinions. But when the people chose a different candidate, I felt not dejected but liberated. My God, my God, America the beautiful. A country that trusts its people enough to be able to govern themselves.

For 11 years I lived in the United Kingdom, and this November will mark 30 years since the Lubavitcher Rebbe sent me to serve as Rabbi to the students at Oxford University.

When I first arrived I knew I would have many challenges, but I never expected that one of the greatest would be bringing together liberal and conservative political views. Oxford, like most bastions of academia, was very liberal. But there were many conservative students. How would I bridge the divide between people that were rent asunder by the politics of left and right?

This was especially acute in light of the fact that a lot of the liberal students felt that Orthodox Judaism was too conservative in many areas, like the public position of women in a synagogue or the fact that women couldn’t be rabbis. Then there was Israel, where there was a deep divide between those on the left who believed that Israel should trade land for peace and those on the right who believed the left’s position showed irreversible weakness and invited further aggression.

So, I searched for an understanding and a metaphor that would capture the idea of the need for two opposing, even conflicting, perspectives in our search for a higher unity. How we all had to go beyond tolerance. Not just stomaching one another’s differences on some humanitarian or First Amendment basis, but understanding that we can be who we are only by including those who have opposing views.

I listened to Rev. Jesse Jackson’s eloquent Rainbow Coalition speech — delivered at the 1984 Democratic Convention — in which he famously coined the metaphor of America being a land of many colors that hew into one spectrum. But, that wasn’t good enough, since it didn’t explain why orange needed purple in order to be orange.

Then, I saw how David Dinkins, the former mayor of New York, used the example of an American quilt, which couldn’t be called such without the varying patchwork of different threads and fabrics. But that too fell short. Why, we might ask, do we need a multi-colored quilt, and not a simple uniform blanket?

It was then that I alighted on the brilliant metaphor of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the Alter Rebbe, founder of Chabad, in his Chassidic masterpiece, “Tanya.” There, he uses the metaphor of the two wings of a bird.

It’s not enough for the bird to have two wings. For if the wings were on the same side of its body, it would just flop around endlessly and never fly. The emphasis is not on the number of wings, but on their placement. They have to be positioned on opposite sides and against each other. There has to be antithetical propulsion. In other words, you can’t be right-wing without a left-wing, nor left-wing without the right-wing. Two sides pushing against each other is what gives the bird flight.

America today is guilty of believing in tolerance — that you have to endure someone else’s opinion because it is their human right to express it. And what’s happening is, because we believe in tolerance, we now are becoming intolerant since we believe the other side is damaging democracy. If we believe in the other side only for the sake of democracy, then when we believe the other side threatens democracy, we will seek to silence it. That’s why we see these large gatherings trying to silence members of Congress, or right-wing bloggers calling liberals “devils.” We have to go beyond tolerance to actually understand that truth is comprised of different parts that cohere, even when they conflict.

We have to go beyond tolerance to actually understand that truth is comprised of different parts — that I cannot hold my position or be complete in my viewpoint unless there is someone who pushes up against the bulwark of my understanding and challenges me.

Isn’t this the idea of marriage? In last week’s Torah reading, God creates Eve to serve as Adam’s “helpmate who is against him.” It is a fascinating phrase. Eve is not meant to be Adam’s doppelganger. She is not meant to be subservient. Being so is said to be cursed. Rather, she is his equal who sometimes works together with him and sometimes opposes him — even when doing so is always as his helpmate.

Which is more correct, being a man or being a woman? It’s a stupid question, isn’t it, predicated on the fraudulent belief that one is complete without the other.

And this does not apply only to marriage but to the entirety of the masculine and feminine energies in our world, competing dualities that ultimately cohere. They are essential for one another, one balances the other, softens the other. A man does not tolerate a woman, nor a woman a man. Rather, they look forward to joining together with each other to create a greater whole, all in the belief that each side has its virtues and through togetherness they are enriched.

“It’s not enough for the bird to have two wings… The emphasis is not on the number of wings, but on their placement. They have to be placed on opposite sides and against each other.”

The pain we are now witnessing in the explosion of the #MeToo movement was created, ultimately, by the practice of the masculine having insufficient appreciation for, or respect toward, the feminine; the masculine seeing the feminine not as something equal to be acknowledged but as something less — to be used, exploited, and objectified, as opposed to respected, admired, and appreciated.

In the realm of politics, liberals’ demonization of conservatives and vice versa comes from the fake belief that one is superfluous, even damaging, to democracy. Conservatives might be right that when it comes to immigration, in an age of terrorism we need to be a bit more circumspect, due to potential infiltration by terrorists, as we saw tragically in San Bernardino and across the European continent. But if they didn’t have the voice of liberals saying that America must always be open to asylum-seekers and refugees, is it not possible that America might cease to be the “land of the free and the home of brave”?

Conversely, if Democrats were to practice the policies that were embraced by Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel — a complete open-door policy that lets anybody in — it might lead to the backlash against immigration that is shoring up the extreme right in Europe. Both voices are necessary to have balance. (And this is aside from the fact that Merkel’s policy, which is in response to the Holocaust, is ironically now backfiring against German Jews who are now experiencing a rising wave of anti-Semitic attacks. Still, being a sanctuary to refugees is vital to a nation’s values and balance is what is key.)

For an appreciation of the other side to happen, you need each side to appreciate not only that the other must be tolerant, but that truth comes not in one form, but broken into parts. Truth is not a singularity but is rather multifaceted and complex.

Democrats are convinced that they have the whole truth and that there’s nothing to learn from Republicans. Republicans feel the same way about Democrats. Each condemns and demonizes the other, holding on to their ultimate copyright to truth.

I don’t accept the doomsayers who believe there might be a second American civil war, God forbid.

I do believe, however, that if there were a plebiscite today where Democrats and Republicans could agree to divide the country, and we could somehow peacefully rid ourselves of political rivals, most people would vote in the affirmative.

In a similar vein, we’re seeing the balkanization of media, where CNN, MSNBC and Fox News viewers wouldn’t dare to cross sides, each believing that the other lacks even a modicum of truth. Sure, they’ll tolerate one another being on the air. There won’t be calls for a ban. But, how often will someone of one viewpoint watch a rival station for any other reason than to be fired up with anger, even hate?

This week’s Torah reading is about Parshas Noach and the destiny of the world.

God says that every species lends itself to a more complete whole. God doesn’t just choose the larger, more robust animals in Noah’s time. He says that they must all come along in the ark, for each and every one of them is, in its own way, essential.

The same is true of why Moses was chosen to lead the Jewish people. The midrash relates that he was a shepherd who took his flock out to pasture. A small sheep went missing. Moses would not return without finding the little critter. Not because he believed in the individual sheep, but because the flock would have been imperfect without it.

The Bible says that every man and woman is a tree in the field. It’s a telling metaphor. A tree is rooted in its own soil but grows out and helps oxygenate the air. It represents the individual who is passionate about their culture and identity, but is not limited by it, participating instead in a wider multi-ethnic society. Together, these healthy individuals comprise a colorful orchard, each contributing its own shade. The orchard is a garden of all different plants, flowers, shrubs and trees. Each plant draws upon its own root, but comprises an essential part of a larger garden.

There’s nothing wrong with political parties. George Washington, for all his greatness, was wrong when he counseled against them. We don’t want to live in a one- party state. There is, rather, a problem with partisanship and the hatred and demonization of the other that comprises modern-day America.

“I don’t expect the political differences between us Americans to disappear overnight. I am realistic about the depth of the chasm. I do wish, however, that we wake up to how bad it has gotten and begin discussing remedies.”

To be sure, not everything fits into the garden and not everything would be accepted in Noah’s Ark. If there is a predator that wants to devour, then you fence it out of the garden. You leave it off the ship. It has no positive contribution to make. If one seeks to discriminate against or silence another, they should be kept out.

In the same way that I am arguing that we must go beyond tolerance toward mutual enrichment, I also believe that we must have no tolerance for intolerance. There are some issues where it’s black and white. No one disputes that terrorism is black and white, or that Iranian threats against the Jewish state are evil, just as no one disputes that white supremacists and neo-Nazis are vile and wretched and must be condemned outright.

While I absolutely believe we must be enriched by the legitimate contribution of all who practice decency, I also believe that tolerating the intolerable is the liberalism of fools. And if stoning women to death and hanging gays from cranes is not evil, then the word has no meaning.

I don’t expect the political differences between us Americans to disappear overnight. I am realistic about the depth of the chasm. I do wish, however, that we wake up to how bad it has gotten and begin discussing remedies.

This week, synagogues across the world will recount the story of Noah. They will read of a man who watched his world crumble amid the corruption that had infected the hearts of its inhabitants. Rather than guide his brethren toward a kinder future, however, Noah chose instead to seal himself off behind the tar that girded his wooden ark. And with none to tell them better, humankind’s fate would also be sealed — not behind the walls of a boat but beneath the waves of an all-destroying flood.

The holy Zohar, the most fundamental book of Jewish mysticism, recounts how God, upon the completion of the rains, sharply chastises Noah for his unwillingness to better his contemporaries. “As soon as you heard that you would be safe in the ark,” God tells Noah, “the evil of the world did not touch your heart. You built the ark and saved only yourself.”

As we read this story, we ought to take from it this vital lesson: As bad as things may be, we cannot just seclude ourselves within our own temperate and peaceful homes. Rather, we must raise our own voices, not to divide but to unite, not to assail but to heal, highlighting not our political differences but our shared American dreams and our shared human truths.

This is our country. It is the greatest country. We must act now to heal our beloved home and finally draw its warring factions together as one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.


Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the founder of The World Values Network. His latest book is “Lust for Love,” co-authored with Pamela Anderson. He is on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

The untold story of DACA’s Israeli recipients

Picture in your mind a “Dreamer,” an immigrant brought to the United States as a child and now living without documentation in this country. Chances are you’re not picturing an Israeli. But here in Los Angeles, young undocumented Jews from Israel are among those facing the looming threat of deportation.

President Donald Trump’s administration recently rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, with a six-month delay to provide time for Congress to plan a path for DACA recipients to gain permanent legal status. Whether that pronouncement sticks remains unclear. 

After a meeting with Democratic leaders and a swirl of messages out of the White House, some of them contradictory, Trump said on Sept. 14 he supports legislation to protect the Dreamers, and further consideration of a wall on the southern border would be done separately.

The policy was created during President Barack Obama’s administration in 2012 as a temporary reprieve to shield young undocumented immigrants from deportation. Trump’s Sept. 5 announcement has been roundly criticized by Democrats, many Republicans and Conservative, Reform and unaffiliated Jewish organizations.

There are an estimated 800,000 DACA recipients, the vast majority of them Latino, with 79 percent coming from Mexico. More than a quarter of the total live in California. At a Sept. 10 rally, hundreds of pro-immigration demonstrators gathered in Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park, many holding signs written in Spanish and waving Mexican flags.

Israel isn’t among the two dozen countries where most DACA recipients originate. But for various reasons — often having to do with fraudulent legal advice given to their parents — these young Jews are caught in a legal limbo, unable to receive federal student aid or travel outside the country.

While their status is identical to that of other Dreamers, they are different in subtle ways, as their individual stories suggest. For example, because the number of Latinos facing deportation is so much larger, they tend to feel more comfortable sharing their concerns and anxieties with one another.

Not so for Jewish Dreamers. For many, their status is an embarrassing stigma, something they would just as soon hide from even their closest friends. 

On the other hand, because Jews are often lighter-skinned than Latinos, they tend not to be subjected to the stares and derision from citizens who support the administration’s decision to eliminate DACA protections.

Furthermore, Jewish Dreamers tend to be better off financially than those from other countries, a distinction that provides securities — even if temporary — that others might not have.

In the end, however, all Dreamers are equal in the eyes of a government policy that would remove them unless a change is forthcoming from a Congress that is deeply divided on immigration issues.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), one of more than a dozen Jewish House members, is among those who favor continuing protections for all Dreamers, including those from Israel.

“The history of the Jewish people is characterized by migration in search of safety and a better future, and I believe our own experience teaches us to empathize with the Dreamers, although relatively few are Jewish or came here from places like Israel,” he said in an email to the Journal. “The administration would treat these young people as unwanted guests in the only country they know. But I view Dreamers as part of the fabric of our nation and believe Congress must act to ensure these young people can continue to live and work in the United States without fear.”

Below are stories of a few undocumented Israeli immigrants. They agreed to share details of their lives with the Journal under the condition that their last names not be used, and in some cases, that their first names be changed to protect their identities. Although the specifics of their cases differ, they share a feeling of being Americans first and foremost, and face an uncertain future.

‘I don’t even remember what Israel looks like’

Bar, a 16-year-old high school junior in the San Fernando Valley, has known for her entire life that she was undocumented.

“It did suck not to be able to go to Israel and visit when all my friends would go,” she said. “All my family is in Israel.”

A resident of Sherman Oaks, her parents arrived on a tourist visa in 2001, when she was 6 months old. Their visas expired a year after they arrived.

“We were hoping we could fix everything before becoming illegal. We had other people giving us suggestions and it was wrong … bad advice, and we didn’t have the money at that point to fix it,” her father, Ron, said.

Ron ran a clothing factory in downtown Los Angeles and insisted on manufacturing in the U.S. but had to shutter the facility because of the high cost of labor.

“We’re paying all the debts that society is asking to pay, and we’re getting zero benefit out of it,” he said.

“I’m from L.A. This is where I’ve lived my whole life. I don’t even remember what Israel looks like.” — Bar

Undocumented immigrants pay taxes but can’t collect benefits. He now runs a printing and packaging company that outsources to Mexico and China.

Bar’s mother, Karen, works for a catering business, serving and cooking food for weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, and other big events.

Bar joined the DACA program late last year. Some of her friends know she’s undocumented and hope one day she’ll be able to join them on trips to Israel and Mexico. She took a driver education course and hopes to get a license soon but might need to apply for an AB 60 license, available for California residents regardless of immigration status, if her DACA status expires.

She’s been a member of the Tzofim movement (Israel’s scouts program) since seventh grade. Her younger sister and brother are scouts, too. They were born in the U.S. and are citizens.

Bar counsels younger kids in Tzofim. “They all tell me before summer starts, ‘We’re going to Israel,’ and I ask them how is that. Even the youngest kids tell me about their experiences in Israel and their family. I’m very excited to be able to go,” she said.

Bar works for a birthday party business where she paints little kids’ faces, dances with them and dresses up as characters from the popular Israeli children‘s show “Yuval Hamebulbal,” a dinosaur and a fire-fighting dog. After she graduates from high school, she expects to go to community college and transfer to a four-year university to study business and fashion design.

If the DACA program is canceled, putting her at risk of deportation, she said it would be “really, really upsetting.”

“I’m from L.A. This is where I’ve lived my whole life. I don’t even remember what Israel looks like,” she said.

‘This affects kids who are pretty much American in every way’

Eli grew up in Beverly Hills and describes himself as “a typical Persian-Jewish kid” in all ways but one: He’s in the country illegally. He was born in Tel Aviv and came here in 1991, when he was 8 years old. His parents overstayed their visa when their green card application was denied.

He earned a degree from UCLA, paying his tuition out of his own pocket, and hoped to go to law school but knew he wouldn’t be allowed to practice. He struggled for years with low-paying jobs.

“A soon as I got my DACA [status] in December 2013, three months later I got hired by a Fortune 500 company,” he said. “I knew I had the ability all along but I couldn’t prove it, because I didn’t have access to a real job.”

Now in his mid-30s, he owns his own business, offering “professional services” to corporate clients.

Outside of a small group of friends and his girlfriend, nobody knows about his status.

“I don’t want to jeopardize my business or do anything that can cause harm to that. In the Persian-Jewish community people talk, and I don’t want that information out,” he said.

Eli is a fitness enthusiast, spending hours a day at the gym training in Brazilian jiu jitsu. He considers himself a hard worker, a self-made entrepreneur, and can’t understand why people wouldn’t want him to be a citizen. After all, he said, he had no say in his parents’ decision to come to the U.S. and overstay their visa.

“You can’t blame somebody who didn’t commit the crime,” he said. “If you pull somebody over and their grandson is in the backseat, you don’t give the grandson in the backseat a ticket.”

He knows plenty of Iranian-American Jews who support Trump, and he doesn’t fault them for it.

“None of them go to KKK or neo-Nazi rallies or anti-immigration rallies. They’re pro-Trump mostly because of his pro-Israel stance, and they make good money and want tax breaks,” he said.

But he said he thinks a lot of them do have a racial bias.

“They look down on Mexican immigrants as low-skilled labor. They mow their lawn and garden their backyard and take care of their kids. … A lot of them probably think we should send them back to Mexico. They don’t understand this affects kids who are pretty much American in every way other than the fact that they don’t have their citizenship here, don’t have their green card.”

‘I’ll take my American education and I’ll go somewhere else’

Rebecca’s parents came to the U.S. when she was 12 years old. They planned to return to Israel after their B-2 tourist visa expired.

“When we got here, we started to feel like we wanted to stay here,” she said. They hired a lawyer who “ended up being a crook,” and their visa expired, she said.

Now 23, Rebecca has spent roughly half her life in the United States.

“My heart is in two different places. It’s hard every day to make the choice to be here. And it’s still a choice, despite all the inconveniences of being undocumented,” she said.

When she gained DACA status in 2012, “everything really changed.” The California Dream Act enabled her to receive state financial aid at UCLA, where she graduated with a double major in anthropology and Arabic.

While at UCLA, she participated in UndocuBruins, a research grant program for undocumented students and received funding to work with a South L.A. nonprofit that trains previously incarcerated people to work on urban farms in “food deserts.”

After she “decided that urban farming is really cool,” Rebecca completed a three-month fellowship at a Jewish community farm in Berkeley called Urban Adamah. Much like a kibbutz, the fellows live and farm together. This summer she worked as a garden educator at a Jewish summer camp in northern California and is now working with other UCLA grads at a startup nonprofit called COMPASS for Youth, which provides counseling for at-risk and homeless youth in Los Angeles.

Her undocumented status has inspired her to help others.

“I feel really blessed for that, because it’s opened my eyes and made me empathetic toward the stories of so many people that I wouldn’t have been able to empathize with beforehand,” she said.

“A lot of doors have been closed on me, and I had to push through a lot of doors. I got a lot of help [and] a lot of community support. … I’m grateful.”— Rebecca

While at UCLA, she was active at Hillel and in the Jewish community, but she had to navigate her place among the mostly Latino undocumented students and the feeling of guilt that accompanies a recognition of privilege.

“Ironically, my dad is also a construction worker, just like the dads of many of the undocumented folks that I know … [but] my dad’s been able to be more successful because he has resources, and he’s not Mexican, so he’s not looked at in a particular way. I look like a white person, so I don’t experience the sort of racist reality that comes with being undocumented in America.”

Rebecca’s mother is a self-published writer of poetry in Hebrew and English.

“A lot of [the poems] are about being away from home and being separated from her family. Her dad passed away while we were here, a few years into being here. So she wasn’t able to see him for the few last years of his life, and then not at his death, not at his funeral, and not now, many years later,” she said.

Rebecca was afraid of deportation, but becoming a DACA recipient “has given me breathing room,” she said. She’d rather move to Israel on her own terms than be deported, but hopes to stay here. She’s trying to make the world a better place in her own way.

“If America doesn’t want that, too bad,” she said. “I’ll take my American education and I’ll go somewhere else.”

Despite the fear that comes with being undocumented, “the immigrant experience is the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” she said.

“I was totally uprooted and I had to cope, and assimilated to something that was 100 percent foreign to me. And that was really hard,” she added. “A lot of doors have been closed on me, and I had to push through a lot of doors. I got a lot of help [and] a lot of community support. … I’m grateful.”

‘The dreams come true here’

In the heart of affluent Beverly Hills, 17-year-old Jason harbors a secret. His family came from Israel when he was 5, and someone posing as a lawyer botched their citizenship applications and disappeared. Their work permits expired, and now Jason, his parents, and his younger brother live in the shadows.

His friends don’t know. Neither did his girlfriend, whom he considered marrying in order to gain a path to legal status. His parents actually pressured him to propose even though he knew “she would freak out, like, big time” if she found out he was undocumented.

Jason became a DACA recipient in 2015.

“I had no idea what it was,” he said. In fact, until that point, his parents hadn’t told him or his younger brother about their immigration status.

“They didn’t know we were illegal because we didn’t want them to talk to their friends,” his father, Avi, said. “Only when the DACA program came out, after talking to Neil [Sheff, their immigration lawyer], only then we told the kids.”

Jason plays guitar and plans to enroll in a music program after graduating from Beverly Hills High School. But his immigration status has complicated his plans.

“I do want to travel at some point, and if I’m not documented I can’t do that,” he said.

Returning to Israel is not an option, his parents say.

“I have nothing to do in Israel,” his mother, Ravital, said. “It’s hard to live there. Here, it’s an easier life. The dreams come true here.”

Daniel, their 13-year-old son, wants to be an actor. Because he’s too young to gain DACA status, he can’t get a work permit and audition for roles.

“Now that [Trump] canceled it, it’s a lot harder. It’s impossible, unless I get married to an American girl,” Daniel said with a laugh.

Ravital owns a skin care company, and Avi works in software development. “We do everything by the book, and we find a way to pay taxes on time,” Ravital said.

“We probably pay more taxes than Trump,” Avi added.

Many of their Israeli and Orthodox Jewish friends are Trump supporters, and they fear social alienation if their immigration status is discovered. “Before you called, we closed all the windows around the house,” Avi admitted. “The stigma of people who are illegal here is very bad.”

‘Remember the stranger and the foreigner in your land’

There’s a disconnect between Jews and undocumented immigrants, says Beverly Hills immigration attorney Neil Sheff, who speaks Hebrew and Spanish fluently. About half of his clients are Israeli, and he hears a lot of rhetoric against immigration reform from his fellow Jews, even those born in other countries.

“Their responses are usually, ‘We came here the legal way.’ When many of the Jewish immigrants came here, the immigration laws were so relaxed and the process was so much easier, everyone could come here the legal way,” he said.

“Their plight isn’t really acknowledged by the greater Jewish community, especially the Orthodox Jewish community.” – Neil Sheff

Sheff believes there are many Israelis living in L.A. without documentation, as well as Jews from South Africa, Russia and an increasing number from France, looking to escape their country’s rising tide of anti-Semitism.

“Their plight isn’t really acknowledged by the greater Jewish community, especially the Orthodox Jewish community,” which supports Trump because they consider him to be pro-Israel, Sheff said.

The Torah extolls Jews 36 times to treat strangers well, “for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:21).

“It’s part and parcel of who we are as Jews to remember the stranger and the foreigner in your land,” Sheff said. “That should translate immediately to empathy for the immigrants here, whether they are immigrants who have been here for generations or just arrived.”

80% of Reform rabbis are Democrats. That’s higher than any other clergy.

A view of the KAM Isaiah Israel Synagogue in 2013. Photo by Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The vast majority of Reform and Conservative rabbis affiliate as Democrats, according to a new study.

The study, published Sunday by Yale University, found that more than 80 percent of Reform rabbis, and about 70 percent of Conservative rabbis, affiliate as Democrats. Both were among the top five most Democratic clergy of the Jewish and Christian denominations in the United States, with Reform rabbis topping the list.

Among Orthodox rabbis, nearly 40 percent identify as Democrats and a quarter as Republicans.

By contrast, Evangelical pastors are almost all Republicans, as are most Baptists. The Black Protestant African Methodist Episcopal clergy, as well as Unitarians, are heavily Democratic. Catholic priests are evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.

The study’s findings reflect existing data on the politics of American Jews. Solid majorities of American Jews consistently vote for Democrats — 70 percent voted for Hillary Clinton in the November presidential race — with polls showing that Orthodox Jews are more likely to vote Republican. Reform Jews have been on the front lines of protests against President Donald Trump.

Orthodox Jews make up about 10 percent of the American Jewish population, various studies show. One-third, or 35 percent, of all U.S. Jews identify with the Reform movement, 18 percent identify with Conservative Judaism, 6 percent with other movements and 30 percent with no denomination, according to the Pew Research Center.

The Yale study also shows that rabbis’ political views track with congregants’ views on policy. For example, 40 percent of Orthodox rabbis are Democrats, and some 40 percent of Orthodox congregants are pro-choice, while about 30 percent of congregants believe gays and lesbians should be legally allowed to marry. Likewise, large majorities of Conservative and Reform rabbis are Democrats, and large majorities of their congregants are pro-choice and pro-gay marriage.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, told JTA earlier this year that Reform rabbis’ generally liberal politics are a reflection of their Jewish values.

“The idea of Jewish spiritual community being about feeding the hungry, clothing the homeless, caring for the stranger — these are fundamental core pieces,” Jacobs said in January. “If we don’t talk about those things in our religious communities, we’re irrelevant.”

Orthodox Jews also cite Jewish values in explaining their support for Republicans, noting a preference for the GOP on Israel and conservative support for school choice programs and religious exemptions for various government mandates.

In total, the data cover 186,000 clergy, including approximately 2,700 rabbis. The data were collected via denominational websites cross-referenced with voter registration records. Some denominations and religions — including Mormons and Muslims — are not included due to lack of reliable clergy lists.

The data also show that the Reform rabbinate is the second-most female of any denominational clergy. Forty-five percent of Reform rabbis are women, as opposed to an average of 16 percent across the denominations surveyed. About a quarter of Conservative rabbis are women; nearly all the Orthodox clergy are men.

An analysis of the data by The New York Times found that rabbis on average lived in the most affluent neighborhoods of any clergy. The median household income of Conservative rabbis’ neighborhoods is nearly $100,000 on average, compared to a national median household income of $53,000. The Times article noted that average neighborhood income does not necessarily reflect pastors’ salaries.

Shabbat vote at issue in contested election of observant Jew as California’s top Democrat

Eric Bauman on Nov. 1, 2014. Photo from Wikipedia

Morris “Fritz” Friedman needed help to vote in the election for chair of the California Democratic Party, which took place on May 20, a Saturday.

As an Orthodox Jew, Friedman was forbidden from picking up a pen during Shabbat. So he asked a convention volunteer, Sean Kiernan, to fill out his ballot and sign it for him, casting it for Eric Bauman.

Bauman has since declared victory by a narrow margin of 62 delegates among some 3,000. But now, Friedman’s vote is at the center of an effort to unseat Bauman, himself an observant Jew from Los Angeles.

In contesting the election over alleged voting irregularities, the campaign for Kimberly Ellis, Bauman’s opponent, pointed to Friedman’s ballot as an example of double voting. Ellis is refusing to concede despite calls from Democratic leaders, including the speaker of the State Assembly, to back down.

“We believe deeply that not only did we not lose by 62 votes, but that we won this election outright and pretty handily,” Ellis said in a June 7 interview with the podcast “Working Life.”

In a June 5 “ballot review” on the campaign website, Ellis alleges that the signature of an employee of the Kaufman Legal Group, the law firm representing Bauman, appeared on multiple ballots. Kaufman Legal Group later identified the employee as Kiernan, who aided Friedman with his vote.

Some pro-Israel Democrats seized on Ellis’ challenge of Friedman’s vote as the latest transgression of a campaign with a shaky record on Jews and Israel.

“In challenging mismatched signatures, Kimberly Ellis is effectively targeting Orthodox Jewish delegates,” a group called Democrats for Israel Los Angeles said in a statement posted on Facebook.

The group also pointed to a vocal Ellis supporter who posted a cartoon on Facebook last month featuring an Israeli flag with the Jewish Star of David replaced by a swastika.

But Bauman said the double voting accusation is more likely an example of unscrupulous electioneering by the Ellis campaign than animus toward Jews.

“They’re casting about, and they have no real evidence that anything is actually wrong,” he said.

“I don’t think the singling out of a couple of Orthodox Jewish men was, per se, anti-Semitic,” he said. “I think it was just that they were grasping for straws.”

Paul Kujawsky, like Friedman, is an Orthodox Jew and served as a delegate to the May 20 convention. He believes he and Friedman were the only two Orthodox Jews to vote in the election for party chair. He said that having a helper sign the ballot on his behalf is a well-established practice that he’s used many times when votes occur on Saturdays.

“It’s pretty clear that [the Ellis campaign] knew it was not an issue of double voting but claimed it was, anyway,” Kujawsky said. “So it’s not about anti-Semitism, but it is about integrity.”

Neither Ellis nor her campaign responded to repeated requests for comment.

The party has referred the matter to its Compliance Review Commission, a body that adjudicates internal disputes. But Ellis’ campaign hopes to put the election in the hands of an independent third party, fearing the California Democratic Party itself is unduly influenced by Bauman, according to its June 5 statement.

Bauman, a former union organizer, has headed the Los Angeles County Democratic Party since 2000 and served as vice chair of the state party since 2009. LA Weekly has called him a “powerful boss” and a “kingmaker,” while the Los Angeles Times named him a “consummate party insider.”

A self-identified Zionist, Bauman is a member of two Los Angeles-area synagogues, the Orthodox Shaarey Zedek in Valley Village and Adat Ari El in North Hollywood, a Conservative synagogue where he wraps tefillin on weekday mornings. He keeps a kosher home in North Hollywood with his husband.

Culturally and politically, Bauman and Ellis are about as different as two California Democrats can get.

Ellis headed Emerge California, a nonprofit that aims to increase the number of women in elected office in California, from 2010 until this year, when she quit to focus on her run for party chair.

An African-American woman from the Bay Area, she attracted liberals disaffected with the party establishment, including many who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primaries, by pledging repeatedly to “redefine what it meant to be a Democrat.”

But before Ellis announced her run in August 2015, Bauman’s ascendance often was treated as a foregone conclusion. When friends wanted to draft her into the race, Ellis said in the June 7 “Working Life” interview, she told them, “That’s a preposterous idea and I’m not interested.”

Now, she claims to have won the election.

“Based on the information contained here, the actual vote count is in question,” her campaign said in a June 5 statement outlining the allegations. “It is believed that the wrong individual is serving as chair.”

Increasing Democrat disapproval for Saudi arms sale

Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, right, presents U.S. President Donald Trump with the Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud Medal on May 20. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

After the Trump administration signed a $110 billion weapons deal with Saudi Arabia, Senate Democrats are expressing growing concern over the arms agreement before today’s expected vote of disapproval. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) introduced S.J. Resolution 42 back in April to provide limitations on the transfer of air-ground munitions from US to Saudi Arabia.

Speaking from the Senate Subway on Wednesday, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) told Jewish Insider, that he will be joining Murphy and Paul in disapproval of the agreement.  Referring to the ongoing Saudi military campaign in Yemen, Van Hollen noted, “I believe that the sale of those weapons will simply prolong humanitarian crisis rather than resolve it.”

Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ben Cardin (D-MD) also announced that he will be backing the S.J. Resolution 42. “I have not been able to get satisfactory explanations from our administration in how they are monitoring the human rights issues in regards to the Saudis as well as their long term plans in arming the Middle East. This is part of a long range of arm sale,” Cardin told Jewish Insider.

Despite not directly impacting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, J Street has come out strongly against the weapons agreement. “Saudi Arabia is currently engaged in a bombing campaign in Yemen that has cost thousands of civilian lives. And it’s not simply a matter of collateral damage: UN experts say some of the worst civilian death tolls have occurred during strikes with no legitimate military target,” J Street emphasized in a statement.

For different reasons, AIPAC has also urged caution regarding the Trump administration’s deal. Calling on Members of Congress to scrutinize the deal, AIPAC says the “sale could dwarf Israel’s defense spending over the same period, including the $38 billion in pledged US security assistance.” The pro-Israel lobby expressed concern that the agreement could hurt Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME).

On the Republican side, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), one of the party’s most passionate advocates for human rights in the Middle East, explained that he would not be joining with Paul and Murphy on the resolution of disapproval. The Arizona lawmaker told Jewish Insider, “It’s important for our National Security as we see the Iranians killing Americans and an Iranian (campaign) in Yemen killing innocent men, women and children. I believe the best way to bring about progress is to continue the pressure that I have been exerting upon them for years.”

While explaining that he would back the Saudi Arabian Arms deal, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) stressed, “I hope it will be carefully monitored.” Noting the massive civilian casualties in Yemen, Rubio added, “If they (Saudi Arabia) continue to use it in that manner, we’re going to have a big problem with it. I have a huge problem with Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. But, the pragmatism of the region is one of the considerations.”

However, for many Democrats realpolitik is not a convincing enough reason to support a massive arms deal to Saudi Arabia. “Selling the Saudis precision-guided munitions that are going to be used to target civilians makes us complicit in this humanitarian and national security disaster. Saudi Arabia needs to see that there will be consequences if they ignore U.S. demands and target civilian infrastructure,” Murphy explained.

Republican Senator Todd Young (R-IN), Senate Democratic Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have all co-signed the resolution among others. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) noted that he is “inclined to support” the resolution. While it appears that Murphy and Paul’s resolution will likely be defeated given the overwhelming Republican backing, the growing support among influential Democrats for limiting arms sales to a major US ally signals a changing policy towards Saudi Arabia and an increasing willingness of Senate Democrats to invoke human rights concerns in critical foreign policy decisions.

James Comey, fired by Trump and reviled by Democrats, had admirers among Jewish security officials

FBI Director James Comey prepares to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on May 3. Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

“You make us better,” James Comey told the Anti-Defamation League in his final public speech as FBI director.

Judging from the applause in the conference room at the venerable Mayflower Hotel here, the feeling was mutual.

Mired in investigations of the scandals of 2016 (Hillary Clinton’s relationship with her email server) and 2017 (Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia), not a lot of love ended up being lost between the FBI director and either party.

Democrats called for Comey’s firing last year when a week and a half before the election he reopened the Clinton case because of emails found on the laptop of former congressman Anthony Weiner in an unrelated case.

President Donald Trump, who repeatedly praised the FBI director as a candidate, fired Comey on Tuesday, ostensibly because Comey treated Clinton unfairly last July — he excoriated her for her email habits in a news conference, but recommended against legal action.

The firing was drawing attention for its timing: Comey is delving into ties between the Trump campaign and transition officials who may have had ties to Russia.

Among the folks whose business it is to keep Jews safe – like those gathered Monday in the Mayflower for the ADL’s leadership summit – admiration for Comey was fairly unequivocal. To a degree greater than most of his predecessors, he made the Jewish story central to the FBI mission.

Comey required all FBI staffers to undergo a tour of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

“Good people helped to murder millions. And that’s the most frightening lesson of all,” he told a museum dinner in 2015. “That is why I send our agents and our analysts to the museum. I want them to stare at us and realize our capacity for rationalization and moral surrender.”

Comey, already known as a persuasive speaker, was especially adept at understanding what moved Jewish Americans. In his ADL speech this week, he recalled meeting a man who was not far from the scene when a gunman opened fire last June at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

“My name is Menachem Green and I’m Jewish,” Comey quoted the man as saying, pronouncing Menachem impeccably, and went on to say that Green was pleased to tell him that he ran toward the shooting alongside a police officer he learned was a Muslim.

“We were Jew and Muslim and Christian and white and black and Latino running to help people we didn’t know,” Comey recalled Green saying.

Comey also noted the “Muslim activists who raised over $100,000 to repair Jewish headstones in St. Louis and Philadelphia – that makes us better.”

The now former FBI chief also embraced one of the ADL’s signature issues, improving reporting of hate crimes by local authorities.

“We must do a better job of tracking and reporting hate crime to fully understand what is happening in our country so we can stop it,” he said.

Just a week earlier, Comey was due to receive a recognition award from the Secure Community Network, the security affiliate of the Jewish Federations of North America. Paul Goldenberg, the SCN director, said Comey was to be recognized for his work with the community in tracking down the perpetrator of dozens of bomb hoaxes on JCCs and other Jewish institutions.

“Director Comey put in extraordinary resources and showed tremendous commitment to the American Jewish community,” Goldenberg said, noting that the FBI had deployed agents to Jewish communities across the states.

Comey could not personally accept the recognition, and SCN delivered it to a surrogate, because Comey was on the Hill testifying to the Senate about how he handled the email and Russia scandals.

In his testimony, he noted one of the FBI triumphs of recent months as a defense of the agency – helping to solve the JCC bomb threats.

“Children frightened, old people frightened, terrifying threats of bombs at Jewish institutions, especially the Jewish community centers — the entire FBI surged in response to that threat,” Comey said in his opening remarks Wednesday to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In March, an Israeli-American teen was arrested in Israel on suspicion of calling in more than 100 bomb threats. Last month, the U.S. Justice Department charged the teen, Michael Kadar, with making threatening calls to JCCs in Florida, conveying false information to the police and cyberstalking.

“Working across all programs, all divisions, our technical wizards, using our vital international presence and using our partnerships especially with the Israeli national police, we made that case and the Israelis locked up the person behind those threats and stopped the terrifying plague against the Jewish community centers,” Comey said.

Comey may be gone, but the shock among Democrats – and some congressional Republicans — at his departure means his memory is unlikely to fade anytime soon.

“We must have a special prosecutor,” Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., the minority leader in the Senate, said in a statement delivered at a briefing for reporters late Tuesday. Schumer said he told Trump in a phone call that firing Comey was a “very big mistake.”

Trump fired back on Twitter, recalling that Schumer had said recently that he did not have confidence in Comey.

“Then acts so indignant,” Trump said, calling the New York lawmaker “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, which is also probing the Trump campaign’s Russia ties, said there was no contradiction between being appalled at Comey’s handling of the Clinton case and at his firing.

Schiff noted that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has recused himself from the Russia investigation because he had met with a Russian diplomat during the transition, had signed off on the firing.

“The decision by a president whose campaign associates are under investigation by the FBI for collusion with Russia to fire the man overseeing that investigation, upon the recommendation of an attorney general who has recused himself from that investigation, raises profound questions about whether the White House is brazenly interfering in a criminal matter,” he said.

Dating 101: Fingers Crossed

I have been quietly dating a lovely man for a few months. He is a wonderful father, grandfather, and son. He is kind, smart, funny, generous, gentle, and respectful. He treats me with a tenderness I have never experienced in a relationship before. He extends the same respect to my son, which I appreciate and admire very much. We have a wonderful time together and I feel nervous, but content.

We don’t have a lot of things in common, and are politically on opposite sides of just about everything, but he allows me to have my opinion. He also allows me to spend a lot of time trying to change his opinion. He is open to change and growth and knowledge. I adore this man am quite certain that if I can get out of my own way, we will be important to each other in a lot of different ways.

I have had a series of complicated and difficult relationships, and while my relationship with George is complicated in some ways and difficult in others, it is also easy, calm, nurturing, and fun. We laugh at many things, including each other, and I feel blessed to have stumbled upon this man. He is unlike anyone I thought I would ever date, but has all the qualities I was looking for in a man.

It is new, exciting, comfortable, and connected. I don’t know where we will end up, but being on this road with him has brought me happiness. I have been writing about my dates and relationships for years, always being clear that I only date Jews and Democrats. I am now dating a man who is not a Democrat or a Jew, and I am counting my blessings.

Time will tell what we become to each other, but we are both happy and hopeful. It is strange to be dating a man who is not Jewish, but I am working through it. It is frustrating to date a man who is not a Democrat, but he is working through it. It is unusual to be dating a man who takes such good care of me, so I am crossing my fingers and keeping the faith.

Steve Bannon’s 25-year-old protege has a liberal bubbe

Steve Bannon walking into the Oval Office after arriving back at the White House on Feb. 24. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Julia Hahn, the onetime Breitbart firebrand who is now a special assistant to President Donald Trump and reports to Trump’s influential consigliere Stephen Bannon, is elusive.

Not in her opinions: She became known at Breitbart for policing any signs of moderation among leading Republicans. Her targets included House Speaker Paul Ryan (a “double agent” and “migration enthusiast”), and Marco Rubio, the Florida senator defeated by Trump in last year’s primaries (“one of the most ardent and successful champions of the donor-class’s open borders trade and immigration agenda”).

[Related: The Jewish education of Stephen Miller]

But she was hard to track down, and did not cooperate with profiles like this one in the New Yorker that were inevitable for an increasingly influential 25-year-old. Information came from classmates at L.A. prep school Harvard-Westlake and the University of Chicago, who described a kind friend they presumed was liberal, in part because she’s a Jewish woman from California.

Thursday’s Washington Post scored a breakthrough interview with a somewhat closer source: Hahn’s Jewish grandmother, Lynn Honickman, a contributor to Jewish and Israeli causes — and the Democratic Party.

Honickman, like anyone’s bubbe whose confidence you gain sitting next to her at the seder, is loving — but also a little blunt.

“She really is the type to listen to other arguments, to learn from the people around her,” Honickman told the Post. “I think she took advantage of something she saw and is doing the best she knows how.”

But does she really buy into an ideology so alien to her grandmother’s?

“What she feels in this particular moment, could be different three days from now,” Honickman said.

You can almost see the barely perceptible shrug and the slightly cocked eyebrow.

‘He’s not all bad’: A Democrat defends Trump

President Donald Trump. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, I’ve been trying to decipher the indecipherable psyche of The Trump Voter.

I want to understand how a person of conscience could have voted for him and how such a person would defend the actions of his office. 

So I did a little research project by calling my Uncle Rich, a 76-year-old cardiologist and Trump supporter. As far as I know, he’s sane, rational and verifiably humane since he’s spent the last 47 years saving people’s lives.

Uncle Rich and I have been arguing about politics since I was 15. Last week, he emailed me an article about Trump doubling down against anti-Israel bias at the United Nations under the subject line: “He’s not all bad.” I gritted my teeth, took a deep breath and invited him to argue with me a little more — if not for the sake of heaven, then at least for the sake of my column.

First, I asked why on earth he’s a Republican.

“I am a registered Democrat and have been since I was 21,” he declared.

“I have voted both ways. I’m a great believer that America comes first and the parties come second. So, I’m open-minded to any candidate — Republican, Democrat, Black, white, Jewish, woman, etc.”

I asked him to describe his paramount political values, but he said they change with each election cycle. In 2016, his top concerns were: terrorism, the economy and health care.

“In the beginning, I was a little bit ambivalent about [Trump],” he admitted. “But as time went on, I began to see that he was serious. And he was willing to step out of an unbelievably successful business and into a job that I don’t know if I envy. I began to say, ‘Wow.’

“I felt this was a man who really recognized the problem of terrorism. I liked that he was vigorous and emphatic on the necessity of vetting people, particularly from certain areas. You know, profiling is a term I think gets a bum rap.”

This is only one area where Uncle Rich and I part ways. To me, profiling is a form of legalized discrimination that contributes in no small part to the mass incarceration of people of color and the poor.

“I profile in medicine,” he said. “If I see a person of a certain background, I’ll order certain tests based on their background. To say there aren’t certain groups of people who are more likely to be terrorists, that’s foolish. We need to be exquisitely careful in order to avoid a situation of tremendous, tremendous terror …

“As far as [economics], the man is a financial success.”

Never mind his bankruptcies? Or his record of failing to pay employees what he owed them?

“I’m a businessman myself. When I started in medicine, we were told not to be businessmen. We were told, ‘You’re a doctor, and you’ll work for oranges and grapefruits,’ which I would have. We were discouraged from negotiating with a hospital, for example. ‘Just take the job.’ [Trump] is a negotiator, and I became a negotiator.”

If Trump was such a negotiating wizard, I asked, what about his signature failure to “repeal and replace” Obamacare?

“Health care is an extremely complicated issue. At the end of the day, I think Republicans and Democrats want the same things: quality care, access and preventative medicine. Obamacare had great ideas — who could argue with what I just said? The problem is cost. This is a business problem.”

I argue it’s also a moral problem. Part of the reason the legislation failed is because its underlining interests were providing tax cuts for the wealthy and eliminating vital health care services for the nation’s most vulnerable: the old and the poor.

“I don’t think Mr. Trump wants a program where someone who is 64 can afford health care and someone who is 65 can’t. What makes America great is that we have the ability to create a system with some equality. Certainly, you’re going to have concierge medicine the way you can have a Mercedes or you can have a Chevy — but a Chevy is a good car!”

Then why don’t more rich people drive Chevys?

Still, I countered, the Great Negotiator failed to unify his party and pass his first major piece of legislation.

“You want to feel good about the fact that you were right? Come on! He’s been in office for three months. If you tell me three years from now that he’s failed in all his legislation, I’ll say, ‘You know, you’re right, I made a mistake.’ But not three months in.”

Well, what about Trump’s Russia ties? Should he get a pass on that, too?

“I’m not bothered yet because I come from a school of medicine where you have to deal with results. If we find out that Trump did things undercover with the Russians, then I’m gonna be upset about it. But I’m not gonna get caught up in the rumor mill. This stuff is still unsettled.”

It’s clear that where I see moral and legal transgression, my uncle sees a man who hasn’t yet hit his stride. Surely, though, he wouldn’t defend the terrible things Trump has said maligning women, immigrants and Muslims.

“He’s sometimes quick to speak,” Uncle Rich allowed. “He’s a hand-to-mouth guy, and sometimes what he says doesn’t go completely to his brain.

“What I was thinking when that was going on was: If we lived in a dictatorship, I would have been much more worried about Donald Trump than I am in the system we are in, which is a checks-and-balances system. Because a man who sometimes speaks like that may try to act like that.” 

Finally, Uncle Rich, we agree.


Danielle Berrin is a senior writer and columnist at the Jewish Journal.

Like kryptonite to campaign finance reform

When Hillary Clinton lost the Electoral College, most post-mortems faulted Democrats for failing to empathize with the anger and abandonment that non-coastal Americans were feeling. But last week, when Donald Trump sucked up to the (previously dishonest, subsequently gem-like) New York Times, “>ethics lawyer charged with telling Trump when there’s a conflict of interest, or the appearance of one, between carrying out his oath of office and jacking up his family’s wealth. When might that be? Don’t hold your breath.

McGahn’s “>ensured that the Court’s rulings for Citizens United and against the McCain-Feingold reforms would gut the regulation of money in politics, thereby paving the way for super PACs and for bogus “social welfare” nonprofits like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS. When a Washington lawyer “>commented, “He was consequential like a sledgehammer was consequential. He did his best to undermine the law.” Since his tenure at the F.E.C., according to “>lead story in Sunday’s New York Times – “World of Potential Conflict for a Developer President: Many Trump Partners Have Ties to Foreign Governments as Work Spans the Globe” – you know how thick Trump’s business ties are to the governments of the Philippines, Brazil, India, Turkey, Ireland and Scotland, to name a few. If a U.S. foreign policy decision appears to favor a Trump commercial project, it’s McGhan’s job to blow the whistle on the president. If you think that’s going to happen, I’ve got a golf course with a nice view of a wind farm that I’d like to sell you.

Eight out of 10 Americans martyk@jewishjournal.com.

Why are some of Donald Trump’s ‘worst’ tweets sent on Jewish holidays?

After the shooting death of Dwyane Wade’s cousin in August, Donald Trump tweeted, “Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!”

The previous month, he posted to Twitter a six-pointed star containing the words “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever” stamped on an image of Hillary Clinton and hundred-dollar bills.

A few weeks before that, the Republican presidential nominee responded to the Orlando nightclub massacre with a tweet saying, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.”

These tweets have more in common than just being ill-advised. They were also all blasted into the public discourse on Jewish holidays: Shabbat, Shabbat and Shavuot, respectively. And they suggest to at least one friend of Trump’s family that when the Republican candidate’s Orthodox Jewish daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner are off observing the holy days, Trump loses two of his most important filters.

In her profile of Ivanka Trump published Wednesday in the Huffington Post Highline magazine, Hannah Seligson credits the theory to an anonymous friend of the would-be first daughter and her husband. (Seligson’s list also includes the example of a Shabbat tweet of an image of Donald Trump as a train, a meme “tangentially” associated with the white supremacist alt-right movement.)

According to Seligson, the friend’s observation was that “some of Donald’s worst tweets of the campaign” came on Jewish holidays when Ivanka Trump and Kushner were “off the grid.” The couple observes the rabbinic laws that proscribe work or the use of electronic devices, among other things, on Shabbat, Shavuot and other holidays.

“It could be a big problem if the people who make our president not crazy aren’t available one day a week,” the friend told Seligson.

Of course, Trump has sparked outrage on days with no special Jewish significance. This summer alone, he has said gun rights supporters could take action if Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, is elected; called President Barack Obama the “founder of ISIS”; suggested the mother of a Muslim-American soldier killed in action was not  “allowed” to speak at the Democratic National Convention, and accused a “Mexican” federal judge of being biased by his background.

Amid public outcry, Trump went on to tweet about all these subjects, in some cases repeatedly. But the controversies didn’t start on Twitter.

If the theory about Jewish holidays is true, then, Ivanka Trump and her husband are most effective at reining in Donald Trump specifically before he gets himself into Twitter trouble. Ivanka Trump “is extremely scared of her father, like everyone else,” an anonymous Trump adviser tells Seligson. “She knows you can’t push him. She knows once he goes off on these things, he won’t back down.”

Kushner, a real estate tycoon in his own right, is “deferential” to Donald Trump too, according to Seligson.

Trump is a prolific tweeter, lobbing thousands of insults at at least 258 different targets on the social network, according to The New York Times’s politics blog, The Upshot.

And tweets he made before the campaign — before, one supposes, Ivanka Trump and Kushner would have started weighing in — have since come back to haunt him.

As Clinton pointed out in her July foreign policy speech cum Trump takedown, her rival tweeted in 2012 that the Chinese invented global warming.

In April 2013, Trump criticized Jon Stewart in a tweet, referring to “The Daily Show”  host by his given name, Jonathan Leibowitz. Many observers took that as an anti-Semitic put-down.

And on Wednesday night, Trump was on the defensive during a candidates forum over a tweet he posted in May 2013, suggesting that military rape is the inevitable consequence of putting “men & women together.”

For what’s its worth, all three tweets went out on a weekday.

Trump, Clinton campaigns redouble on tough Iran posture after report of exemptions

The Trump and Clinton campaigns issued tough-on-Iran statements in the wake of a report that alleges that negotiators allowed Iran secret loopholes in the nuclear agreement.

The Institute for Science and International Affairs, a think tank founded by a former United Nations nuclear weapons inspector, David Albright, said in a report released this week that Iran complied with most of the sanctions relief for the nuclear rollback deal when it was implemented in January, but it said, citing anonymous sources, that there were a number of exemptions.

The Obama administration strongly denied the thrust of the report, saying the deal was being implemented according to the letter. Parties to the deal were Iran, the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia.

The campaign of Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, pounced on Thursday, taking a shot at Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, who as secretary of state in President Barack Obama’s first term helped set the stage for the deal.

“The deeply flawed nuclear deal Hillary Clinton secretly spearheaded with Iran looks worse and worse by the day,” said a statement by the campaign attributed to Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency who is now advising Trump.

“It’s now clear President Obama gave away the store to secure a weak agreement that is full of loopholes, never ultimately blocks Iran from nuclear weapons, emboldens our enemies and funds terrorism,” he said.

Republicans have strongly opposed the deal. A number of candidates during the GOP presidential primaries pledged to trash it, but Trump, while decrying it as a giveaway, has said he would first consult with his national security advisers should he be elected president.

Clinton has in subtle ways sought to differentiate herself from the deal’s outcome, praising the deal, but suggesting she would be more vigilant in keeping Iran on track.

In a statement sent to JTA, Clinton’s campaign did not address the report co-written by Albright directly, but called for reauthorization of sanctions and sounded a tough note about how she would oversee its implementation.

“Hillary Clinton supports a clean reauthorization of the Iran Sanctions Act and believes Congress should get this done in short order when they return from recess,” said her spokesman, Jesse Lehrich. “And as president, she will also continue to enforce, and strengthen as necessary, sanctions on Iran’s support for terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missile activity.”

The Obama administration says it does not need a reauthorization of sanctions first passed in the 1990s and enhanced over the years, in order to force compliance, but would not oppose a reauthorization. Many – but not all – of the sanctions have been waived as part of the deal.

Democrats in Congress favor a “clean” reauthorization that they say would allow any future president to quickly “snap back” sanctions, while Republicans want to add new provisions to address Iranian misbehavior not addressed by the deal, including backing for terrorism and activities in other countries.

Democrats and Clinton oppose the Republican proposals, saying they are stealth maneuvers to undercut the deal.

“She has always made clear that while the historic deal passed last year represents a crucial step forward toward preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, we must proceed with a ‘distrust and verify’ approach,” Lehrich said of Clinton. “Maintaining the infrastructure to immediately snap back sanctions if Iran violates the terms of the deal is essential. Congress should put partisanship aside and send the president a clean ISA reauthorization bill for his signature.”

Citing a single anonymous “knowledgeable” government source, the report — first covered in the general media by Reuters – said the joint commission administering the deal allowed Iran to keep more than the prescribed amount of low enriched uranium. The joint commission comprises representatives of Iran, the six major powers and the European Union.

Under the deal, Iran is allowed to keep up to 300 kilograms of low enriched uranium, an amount too small to be turned into material sufficient to make a bomb. The report did not say how much uranium more than the 300 kilograms Iran was allegedly allowed to keep.

The report said also that the joint commission allowed Iran to continue to operate 19 “hot cells,” protected enrichment devices, that were larger than the six cubic meters prescribed by the deal. The deal allows Iran to keep the smaller hot cells to continue plutonium enrichment for medical purposes. The report said the larger hot cells “can be misused for secret, mostly small-scale plutonium separation.” It also noted that Iran under the deal was permitted to maintain the larger hot cells with the approval of the joint commission.

The report also noted that the joint commission allowed Iran to export a larger amount of heavy water than agreed under the deal, although this was previously reported. The report cited a “senior knowledgeable official” as saying that the exemptions were granted because Iran was not yet in full compliance by implementation day, Jan. 16 of this year.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee said it was “troubled” by Albright’s report. “If the report is accurate, this unwarranted leniency sets a dangerous precedent concerning adherence to the agreement,” it said in a statement. “No further concessions should be granted to Iran, and complete transparency related to the deal’s implementation must be provided.”

The Obama administration, in its responses, said that there were no shortcuts. The major powers “didn’t allow Iran any shortcuts implementing @TheIranDeal, and Iran’s commitments have not changed,” Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, said in a tweet.

John Kirby, the State Department spokesman, speaking Thursday to reporters, said that the parameters of the deal had not changed, but that the joint commission was empowered to “address implementation issues when they arise.” He noted that the workings of the joint commission were confidential.

Clinton: Trump has helped mainstream racism and anti-Semitism

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Thursday attacked Donald Trump for turning a blind eye on his white nationalist and anti-Semitic supporters and for spreading some of their messages on social media.

“This is someone who retweets white supremacists online,” Clinton charged in a campaign speech in Nevada. “His campaign famously posted an anti-Semitic image – a Star of David imposed over a sea of dollar bills – that first appeared on a white supremacist website.”

Clinton also brought up Trump’s tepid rejection of David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, and late condemnation under mounting pressure, to make a point that he’s been too slow in condemning anti-Semitism in order to appeal to the alt-right (Alternative Right) movement.

“From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia,” Clinton said. “He’s taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over one of America’s two major political parties… Of course, there’s always been a paranoid fringe in our politics, steeped in racial resentment. But it’s never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it, and giving it a national megaphone. Until now.”

“He says he wants to ‘Make America great again,’ but his real message remains ‘Make America hate again,'” she added.

Trump preempted the speech by “>compared Trump’s campaign to George Wallace’s run for president in the 1960′s as a similar example of “racism being inserted into the public conversation in a presidential election.”

“I’m not saying that Donald Trump is a racist or anti-Semite but the racists and anti-Semites have come out of the woodwork during this political season to support him,” Greenblatt told CNN in June.

Trump released a laconic statement in May, saying, “Anti-Semitism has no place our society, which needs to be united, not divided.” He followed up with an unequivocal rejection of bigotry and hate in recent campaign appearances.

Clinton camp: No plans for Israel trip

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is not planning to travel to Israel during the campaign, ABC News  “Don’t get any hopes up for a photo-op of Hillary Clinton at the Western Wall in Jerusalem,” ABC reported, based on conversations with the Clinton campaign.

“To date our assessment has been that it just does not ever make sense to do that given the amount of experience she has on an international stage and in international security,” Clinton’s communications director Jennifer Palmieri told ABC News. “So, if we had more time, it might be something that we would do. But at this point they haven’t found it to be worth how much time we would lose here.”

Instead, the campaign is exploring the idea of sending vice presidential candidate or former President Bill Clinton on Hillary’s behalf.

In her AIPAC speech in March, the Democratic nominee  The Clinton campaign did not respond to several requests for confirmation.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has so far said that he has no plan to travel to Israel before November. “I don’t know. I don’t know,” Trump told reporters last month when asked if he’s planning to travel to Israel after canceling a planned trip last December. “I haven’t set my schedule yet. It could happen.”

A recent  Netanyahu is  President Barack Obama — in 2008 — and Mitt Romney in 2012, traveled to Israel during the presidential campaign.

Hillary Clinton’s rise reminds of voices from the past

My freethinking French grandmother, having raised herself during the first world war while her parents were away serving the nation, believed wholeheartedly in the value of financial and professional independence for a woman. When she met my grandfather in the early 1930s in Paris, she was the rare, beautiful, young girl whose ambition transcended a good marriage and a solid family. She had what she believed was a great career for a woman — that of a secretary in a business office. For this, she had turned down many a proposal from local men, and she would have kept turning them down because she loved her job so much. If she married my grandfather, stopped working and followed him to Iran, she once said, it was to go on an adventure even greater than what she was already living. 

She had her adventure, bore and raised great children, but she paid for it with her — very precious — independence.  

My tall and dulcet-voiced great aunt, the prettiest of her parents’ 10 children and the smartest kid in her school, grew up dreaming of attending college. Aware of the impossibility of such an exploit in a family where marriage and motherhood were the priority, she tailored her ambition to completing high school. She got her diploma, and even worked for a few months as a schoolteacher. Then she succumbed to the general consternation that, at 18 years of age, she was quickly becoming unmarriageable, and agreed to marry one of her suitors. 

She narrowly escaped spinsterhood, bore and raised fine, successful children, but she paid for it with her life’s dream.  

I could go on, tell a thousand tales of able and ambitious women who would have liked to have had it all, realized or decided that it wasn’t possible, and chose marriage and family. You could say they were creatures of their own time and place, victims of societal mandates. Or you could say they were fulfilling their first and most important role. I do believe they were lucky to have children; lucky, too, to be able to raise them. I know there are millions of women with crushing jobs or vaunted careers who would gladly trade places with at-home mothers and wives. I know there are mothers who teach their daughters to avoid working as much as possible, because “work makes you old and makes your husband take a mistress.”

But I also know that regret, that perpetual sense of loss, that view of themselves as something less — less than women with higher education, financial independence, greater ambition; less than what they could have been had they not had to choose — has scarred so many women of my mother and grandmother’s generations. I know it because I saw it all around me as I was growing up, see it even now, especially now — now that the rules have changed and women are able to do, or at least want, it all. I see it in women who describe themselves as “just a housewife,” and who say, guilelessly, “I haven’t amounted to much” when taking stock of their lives. I see it in the awe and admiration they hold for powerful, professional women, in the deference they show these women.

And I know the longing, too — of young girls who are not allowed to go to school at all, who are given away in marriage when they should be playing with dolls, who become mothers when they should be starting middle school. 

“I was 15 years old when I had my first child,” an Iranian woman once told me. “Twenty years later, when I sent my youngest to kindergarten, I was already too old.”

I believe it was their regret, the sorrow I perceived in the women around me when I was a child, that later drove me to write. I remember looking at them when they gathered in someone’s kitchen or family room to talk about their husbands and children — looking at them and thinking about how sad they must be to have given up one dream for another, how strong they had to be to carry that sadness around for a lifetime. 

How strange, I thought, to be trapped and imprisoned in an existence you willingly chose; to be caged by the people you love most; to have a will that’s stanched by the yard walls around your home, a voice that carries no farther than the room you sit in. 

I think it was their voicelessness that drove me to tell these women’s stories; that has compelled me to say what I believe to be true despite some societal disapprobation; that has prompted me to denounce bias and injustice where I found them. 

It’s that voicelessness that makes me understand and appreciate the significance of what happened in this country last week: Hillary Clinton speaking at the Democratic convention to accept her nomination as the party’s candidate. Hillary, who was introduced by her daughter, Chelsea, praised earlier by her husband, Bill. Hillary who had the ambition, the gumption, the skill and confidence to be both a mother and a lawyer, a senator, a serious contender for the presidency. 

It’s not only that she’s a woman or a Democrat. To me, Hillary Clinton is a revelation because she has both the brain and the heart of a warrior. You can say a lot of things about her, and you’d probably be right about many of them, but you can’t say she isn’t the smartest person in a room full of smart people. You can’t say she hasn’t worked a lifetime to get to where she is, that she woke up one day and decided she wanted to be president, or that she draws her popularity from being just as ignorant and ill-informed as the people who vote for her. 

That quality so many people dislike her for, the so-called character flaw that was identified as “too much ambition” when her husband was president, was renamed “opportunism” when she ran for the Senate, and is now called “dishonesty.” That trait, I believe, is best defined as “having the guts and the goods to die without too many regrets.” 

I don’t care what your politics are or whom you’re going to vote for this November. For those of us who still hear the silence of so many women in our own lives, Hillary’s words, her presence on that stage, salved a wound that has, for too long, remained open.


Gina Nahai’s most recent novel is “The Luminous Heart of Jonah S.”

In speech of her life, Clinton promises a ‘clear-eyed’ vision

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said on Thursday Americans faced challenges at home and abroad that demand steady leadership and a collective spirit, and attacked Republican Donald Trump for sowing fear and divisiveness.

In the biggest speech of her more than 25-year-old career in the public eye, Clinton accepted the Democratic presidential nomination for the Nov. 8 election with a promise to make the United States a country that worked for everyone.

“We are clear-eyed about what our country is up against. But we are not afraid,” she said.

She presented a sharply more upbeat view of the country than the dark vision Trump offered at last week's Republican convention, and even turned one of Republican hero Ronald Reagan's signature phrases against the real estate developer.

“He's taken the Republican Party a long way, from 'Morning in America' to 'Midnight in America,'” Clinton said. “He wants to divide us – from the rest of the world, and from each other. He's betting that the perils of today's world will blind us to its unlimited promise.”

The speech was Clinton's turn in the spotlight after three days of electrifying appearances by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama, and Clinton acknowledged that some people still do not know her well.

“I get it that some people just don't know what to make of me. So let me tell you. The family I'm from, well no one had their name on big buildings,” Clinton said in a reference to Trump. She said her family were builders of a better life and a better future for their children, using whatever tools they had and “whatever God gave them.”

As she prepared to deliver her speech, people familiar with the matter said the FBI is investigating a cyber attack against another Democratic Party group, which may be related to an earlier hack against the Democratic National Committee.

The previously unreported incident at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, and its potential ties to Russian hackers, are likely to heighten accusations, so far unproven, that Moscow is trying to meddle in the U.S. election to help Trump.

Clinton said it would be her “primary mission” to create more opportunities and more good jobs with rising wages, and to confront stark choices in battling determined enemies and “threats and turbulence” around the world and at home.

“America is once again at a moment of reckoning. Powerful forces are threatening to pull us apart. Bonds of trust and respect are fraying,” said Clinton, a former secretary of state. “No wonder people are anxious and looking for reassurance – looking for steady leadership.”

Clinton, who is vying to be the first woman elected U.S. president, called her nomination “a milestone” and said she was happy for grandmothers and little girls and “everyone in between.”

“When any barrier falls in America, it clears the way for everyone,” the 68-year-old Clinton said in a speech that capped the four-day nominating convention.

Trump, a 70-year-old reality TV show host who has never held political office, is running just ahead of Clinton in a RealClearPolitics average of recent national opinion polls. They both garner high “unpopularity” ratings.

At a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Trump said he was being criticized at the Democratic convention by people who had been friendly to him before.

“I think we'll stay here all night because I don't really want to go home and watch that crap,” he said.

Inside the arena, it sounded at times more like a traditional Republican convention than a Democratic one. During retired General John Allen's remarks, chants of “USA!” filled the hall and large flags were brought in to be waved. Speakers, some of whom included military and police officers, made frequent mentions of religion and patriotism.

“I certainly know that with her as our commander-in-chief, our foreign relations will not be reduced to a business transaction, I also know that our armed forces will not become an instrument of torture,” said Allen.

Trump has portrayed the country as being under siege from illegal immigrants, crime and terrorism and as losing influence in the world. He has proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country and a wall along the border with Mexico to keep illegal immigrants out.

Khizr Kahn, a Muslim whose son was one of 14 Muslims killed while serving in the military since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, drew cheers when he pulled out a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution and said he wanted to show it to Trump.

“Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son the best of America. If it was up to Donald Trump he never would have been in America. Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims,” he said.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio called Trump a hypocrite who talked about opposing free trade deals to protect American workers but had the products sold by his companies made overseas.

“Now I've been fighting for a trade agenda for more than 20 years that puts American workers first and I can tell you that in all those years I've never ever seen Donald Trump,” said Brown, one of the most liberal members of the Senate.

“The only thing I've seen Donald Trump do when it comes to U.S. trade policy is run his mouth and line his pockets,” Brown said.

Bernie Sanders booed for urging delegates to support Hillary Clinton

Delegates for Bernie Sanders booed the one-time presidential candidate for telling them to support the presumptive Democratic ticket of Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.

In a speech to supporters Monday ahead of the Democratic National Convention, Sanders thanked them for helping create a “political revolution” and advance progressive causes. And despite the selection of a centrist vice president, and recent leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee showing favoritism toward Clinton during the primary process, Sanders told supporters that electing Clinton and Kaine was the only way to defeat Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“Immediately, right now, we have got to defeat Donald Trump,” he said. “And we have got to elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine. Brothers and sisters, brothers and sisters, this is the real world that we live in. Trump is a bully and a demagogue. Trump has made bigotry and hatred the cornerstone of his campaign.”

Delegates in response booed and shouted “no.” Norman Solomon, coordinator of the Bernie Delegates Network, an unofficial group, said that delegates may protest the convention speeches by Kaine and Clinton this week regardless of what Sanders asks.

“Change that’s worth a damn always comes from the bottom up, not from the top,” Solomon said at a news conference Monday morning. “He’s not running the show. He’s not running the social movement.”

Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, did not explicitly refer in his speech to email leaks revealed over the weekend that showed DNC staffers discussing possible ways to undermine his campaign, though he did praise the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. He spent the bulk of the speech restating the main points of his campaign and lauding his supporters.

“As I think all of you know, Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned yesterday as chair of the DNC,” he said to cheers. “Her resignation opens up the possibility of new leadership at the top of the Democratic Party that will stand with working people and that will open the doors of the party to those people who want real change.”

Reality ‘Trumps’ preference for much of Republican Jewish Coalition

Joel Geiderman’s view of a potential Donald Trump presidency has shifted since March.

Two months ago, in an op-ed in these pages, Geiderman — the California chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) and co-chair of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Emergency Department — wrote, “I would Dump Trump. If it came down to the choice between Hillary Clinton (another terribly flawed candidate) and him, I would either not vote at all or support a third-party conservative candidate, if that were an option.”

But last week, in an email to the Jewish Journal, Geiderman wrote that he was “encouraged but not yet convinced” by developments since March. Geiderman said Trump has “moderated his speech,” “made peace with some of the people he offended” and acted more “presidential.”

And Clinton, he said, has “moved further to the left, from offering free college for all, single-payer health care, to attacking Wall Street and banks.” 

“To be honest, for me, the balance has been tilted,” Geiderman said, and without saying outright that he plans to vote for Trump in November, he indicated he’s in a place similar to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. The Wisconsin Republican said early this month that he’s “just not ready” to endorse Trump, but has since met with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and wants the “party unified so that we are full strength in the fall.”

Is Geiderman’s movement in the past nine weeks representative of a shift among conservatives once-steadfast members of the #NeverTrump crowd? Or are most Republicans, regardless of who they supported in the primaries, already rallying behind their party’s presumptive nominee simply because, well, he’s not Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders?

“As this race materializes, and as we move through this process, and you really get people focused on a binary choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I think you’ll see a lot of the folks who have heretofore been critical coming around,” Matt Brooks, executive director of the RJC, said in an interview.

After Ohio Gov. John Kasich suspended his campaign on May 4 — one day after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suspended his — the RJC released a statement congratulating Trump, but that was not so much an endorsement of him as it was a comment on the prospects of a Clinton presidency, which the RJC said would “compromise our national security, weaken our economy and further strain our relationship with our greatest ally, Israel.”

In December, Trump generated controversy when he spoke at an RJC forum in Washington, D.C., comparing the many businesspeople in the room to him, specifically in regards to negotiation skills. “Is there anybody that doesn’t renegotiate deals in this room?” Trump said, evoking what critics said was a classical Jewish stereotype. “This room negotiates them, perhaps more than any other room I’ve ever spoken in.” 

He also said, “You’re not gonna support me because I don’t want your money. You want to control your politicians. That’s fine.”

RJC spokesman Mark McNulty rejected criticisms that Trump’s comments were anti-Semitic. The Anti-Defamation League, which has been highly critical of some of Trump’s comments during his campaign, also did not believe his remarks to the RJC were anti-Semitic.

In February, Trump was strongly criticized by many Israel supporters when he said he would try to be “neutral” between the Israelis and Palestinians. But the presumed Republican nominee has since taken a decidedly pro-Israel tack, particularly during his address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s Policy Conference in March, which many Jewish Republicans were pleased with.

“His speech at AIPAC was terrific,” Geiderman said. “He would probably be very good for Israel. The person I have concerns about is Mrs. Clinton.” Geiderman specifically criticized the former secretary of state’s support for President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, and “her attempt to punish Israel for extending some settlements contiguous to existing settlements.”

For some, like Florida businessman and RJC board member Marc Goldman, however, support for Trump is stronger than just party default. “There’s more reasons to vote for Trump than he’s just not a Democrat. He’s not out of the government,” said Goldman, who initially supported Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. “Anyone who’s been in business knows … whatever the product, service or what have you that you’re providing, if you’re not providing it in a way that is satisfactory to your customers, and profitable, then the inherent discipline is: You go out of business — so you’re living in reality.”

“I think he has a chance to be very good, and I think people are ready for someone who’s going to come in and break up some of that status quo,” said Dr. Richard Roberts, a prominent Republican donor in New Jersey, who also initially backed Walker. “Trump is now reaching out to experts in a lot of different areas, and that’s a big relief to know that he’s doing that.”

In mid-March, Roberts told Jewish Insider he was “dismayed” by a conference call he was invited to with top Republican donors in advance of the Florida primary. The group — which included Hewlett Packard President and CEO Meg Whitman, Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts, and hedge fund manager and RJC board member Paul Singer — was coordinating an anti-Trump effort, which Roberts characterized as a “disingenuous” attempt to “deny the groundswell of grass-roots voters their overwhelming choice.”

The RJC’s May 4 statement also focused on maintaining Republican majorities in the House and Senate, which most conservatives, #NeverTrump ones included, believe is important whether or not Trump is on the top of the ticket.

“We will support the nominee of the Republican Party,” said Ronald Krongold, a Florida real estate developer who initially supported the candidacy of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Asked whether the RJC will put its focus on Senate and House races more than it did previous election cycles, he said, “I believe it will be the same as it is in any presidential year.”

Brooks declined to answer the same question, saying he doesn’t “want to telegraph to the Democrats our playbook.”

Singer, who supported Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, has said he will not back Trump or Clinton. Politico published a piece May 16 saying “plenty” of RJC board members, in addition to Singer, will not get involved in the presidential race and will instead focus on down-ballot races.

Geiderman, when asked whether he sees a #NeverTrump divide among Jewish Republicans, as there appears to be among conservative pundits, said, “There is no actual divide.”

In late April, at an RJC’s board meeting in Las Vegas, Geiderman said RJC members “expressed different opinions” and “engaged in thoughtful conversation.”

“But that was during the primaries,” he said. “In the end, I think most will work hard to elect the Republican candidate. It’s too important to hold onto the Supreme Court and the Senate.”

Geiderman, who is scheduled to be honored by the RJC on Sept. 25 at the Beverly Wilshire, said that after he penned his anti-Trump op-ed in March, he offered to step aside as honoree if his words would present a conflict. But he was encouraged to remain the honoree. “Republicans have a big tent and value a variety of opinions. No one retaliated against me or spoke out against me,” Geiderman said. 

“There is no party orthodoxy.”

Sanders returns to childhood home in Brooklyn

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Friday returned to the Brooklyn neighborhood he was brought up as a child, kicking off his New York weekend with campaign rally outside his childhood home on E. 26th street in Midwood.

“Thank you for coming out to my old neighborhood. I spent the first 18 years of my life in apartment 2C right here,” Sanders said standing on a stage outside 1525 East 26th street. “Right on this street, I spent thousands of hours playing punch ball.”

As Sanders gave his traditional stump speech, some local Jewish teenagers yelled, “We love you, Bernie,” as one of them waved a campaign poster with “Shabbat Shalom” scribbled on the top.

“>fired back at the Jewish senator’s critics, accusing them of distorting his comments. “As many people know, Sen. Sanders, as a young man, spent months in Israel and, in fact, has family living there now. There is no candidate for president who will be a stronger supporter of Israel’s right to exist in freedom, peace and security,” Sanders’ spokesman Michael Briggs said in a statement. “The idea that Sen. Sanders stated definitely that 10,000 Palestinians were killed is just not accurate and a distortion of that discussion. Bringing peace between Israel and the Palestinians will not be easy. It would help if candidates’ positions on this issue are not distorted.”

The clarification wasn’t good enough for Assemblyman Hikind. After attempting to 

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Polling shows Sanders, Clinton tied in high favorability among Jewish voters

Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have virtually the same high approval ratings among American Jews.

Gallup said in a March 24 article on its website that an aggregation of Jewish respondents to its daily polling showed Jewish voters favor Sanders, an Independent Vermont senator, at 61 percent favorable, and Clinton, a former secretary of state, at 60 percent.

Sanders’ unfavorable ratings are 30 percent and Clinton’s are 35 percent.

Among Republican presidential candidates, only Ohio Gov. John Kasich has higher favorable than unfavorable ratings among Jewish voters, 45 percent to 28 percent. Kasich is last among candidates with delegates accumulated in the primaries.

The GOP front-runner, Donald Trump, a real estate magnate, scores 72 percent unfavorable to 24 percent favorable, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, 72 percent unfavorable to 20 percent favorable.

Gallup did not publish a margin of error, but said it had aggregated “a large sample of interviews” with Jewish respondents since January.

In the same article, Gallup said that among the general population, 24 percent agreed that the United States should move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, 20 percent disagreed and 56 percent agreed that they “don’t know enough to have an opinion.”

That was based on polling from March 9 to 14. Gallup did not publish a margin of error, but generally its daily election polling has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

All three Republican presidential candidates have said they would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Separately, a poll by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding found that Jews and Muslims are more likely to identify as Democrats rather than Republicans.

The January poll by the institute, which assesses issues of concern to American Muslims, found that Muslims are 44 percent likely to declare as Democrats, 41 percent as Independents and just 6 percent as Republicans. Jews, the poll found, are 50 percent likely to declare as Democrats, 29 percent as Independent and 16 percent as Republicans.

Catholics are equally split among the three categories — 34 percent Democrats, 34 percent Republicans and 31 percent Independents — and Protestants identified as Republican at 47 percent, Democrat at 25 percent and Independent at 24 percent.

The poll’s margin of error was 7 points for Muslims and Jews. Its data for Catholics and Protestants appeared to be culled from other polls.

Sanders and Clinton back in L.A.: A tale of two audiences

The enthusiasm among Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ supporters appears able to weather any political storm.

The self-described socialist senator from Vermont brought his campaign to Los Angeles on March 23 following wins Tuesday in Idaho and Utah and a loss in Arizona. Sanders was greeted by thousands of supporters at the Wiltern Theatre in Koreatown, most of them young, who had lined up for hours, covering more than five blocks of sidewalk, hoping for tickets to hear him speak.

“We have a lot of momentum, and a lot of people who have been wanting this for a long time,” said Cristina Donastorg, a 25-year-old aerospace engineer standing near the front of the line. She had been waiting for nearly three hours. Donastorg said that if Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton wins the nomination, she would vote for her rather than either Republican frontrunner Donald Trump or his main challenger, Sen. Ted Cruz, but would also be open to considering Ohio Gov. John Kasich, depending on how debates went.

Next to Donastorg was Aaron Reveles, 21, a UC Santa Barbara student. Reveles said he would vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party if Sanders loses, but said he still likes Sanders’ chances. “I feel like its gonna be neck-to-neck until the end,” Reveles said, raising his voice over the din of honking car horns of passing drivers expressing their support for Sanders.

The rally came a day after Sanders gained 43 delegates in Idaho and Utah and Clinton gained 44 in Arizona, pushing her count to 1,223 with 2,383 needed for the nomination. Sanders currently has 920 delegates, but the gap between him and Clinton is likely far larger than 303. There are also 712 superdelegates—unpledged Democratic party leaders—of whom 467 have declared support for Clinton, while only 26 have declared support for Sanders, which means Clinton may currently only be 693 delegates away from securing the nomination.

The day after Sanders’ rally, Clinton was in L.A. for multiple public appearances and fundraisers. She started with a roundtable discussion on homeland security at USC, and then spoke at a $2,700 per-person fundraiser in Santa Monica, taped an appearance on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and spoke at the Avalon Hollywood at an evening event alongside Estelle, Ben Harper and Russell Simmons.

At the USC roundtable, Clinton was joined by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti; the former Secretary of State addressed urban counter terrorism efforts and the importance of engaging Muslims in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in the wake of the group’s recent bombings in Brussels that killed 31 people and wounded 300. Joining Clinton and Garcetti were Jim Featherstone, former general manager of L.A.’s Emergency Management Department and now general manager of the National Homeland Security Association; Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council; Joumana Silvan-Saba, a senior policy analyst for L.A.’s Human Relations Commission; and Brie Loskota, executive director for USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture.

“To defeat this transnational threat, we need to reinforce the alliances that have been core pillars of American power for decades,” Clinton said, likely referring to America’s anti-ISIS Arab allies, a note she mentioned in her counter terrorism speech Tuesday in Stanford. She also implicitly attacked Trump and Cruz, both of whom called for more vigorous law enforcement and national security monitoring of Muslim neighborhoods in the U.S. “We need to rely on what actually works, not bluster that alienates our partners and doesn't make us any safer.”

The difference in Sanders’ and Clinton’s appeal among young Americans was evident at the two candidates’ L.A. appearances. At USC, approximately 100 students gathered outside the Ronald Tutor Campus Center to try to see Clinton as she left. And the event itself, which was limited to press and a handful of invited guests was formal, calm and largely uneventful.

The gathering for Sanders outside The Wiltern had the feel of a rally well before the actual rally even began, with vendors selling Bernie Sanders shirts, hats and pins; two women were arrested for disorderly conduct for walking around topless.

The rally also attracted some who were simply curious to hear Sanders in person. A man named Joseph, who did not want to give his last name in case his new employer isn’t a Sanders supporter, said he identifies as libertarian and had supported Republican presidential contender Rand Paul. Joseph said he graduated from Hillsdale College in Michigan, school with mostly conservative students.

“At this point, I’m kind of undecided, because I’m not warming up to Trump very much, even though I’ve voted mostly Republican in the past,” Joseph said. “I’ve heard some Bernie things, but better to get it live.”

At the back of the line, with little hope of being admitted inside, Amy Phan, 30, said she was “just here for the camaraderie.” She said that earlier in the day she had been thinking about who she’d vote for if Sanders is not the nominee, as appears increasingly likely.

“I was thinking whether or not I would even wanna vote at that point, even if it were her [Clinton] and Trump,” Phan said. “I don’t wanna see Trump, obviously, but it would be so sad that I would have to give up my vote to her.”

Behind her, Carlyn Blount, also 30, was clutching her purse and a copy of George Orwell’s anti-communist dystopian novel, “Animal Farm,” which she said she was looking forward to reading for the first time.

“I’m still trying to keep optimistic. It’s still possible,” Blount said about Sanders’ chances, adding that she would vote for Clinton if she’s the nominee. “I don’t think she’s as sincere, but she’s so much less evil than Trump.”

Hillary Clinton invited to speak at Golda Meir exhibition

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has landed a possible speaking role at a local New Jersey conference, which will feature a special photographic exhibition about the life of the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir after she expressed her admiration of Meir during her address at AIPAC’s annual policy conference on Monday.

Limmud FSU officials confirmed that they have invited Hillary Clinton to be an honorary speaker at its New York area conference, April 1-3, following her remarks at AIPAC.

During her speech at AIPAC, Clinton – aspiring to become the first female U.S. president – recalled, “Some of us remember a woman, Golda Meir, who led the Israeli government decades ago and wonder what’s taking us so long here in America.”

The Limmud FSU photo exhibition, “Where are all the women leaders? A tribute to Golda Meir,” will celebrate Meir as history’s only woman Mideast leader and will be followed by a special panel discussing the scarcity of women political leaders and its impact.

Limmud FSU New York is a volunteer-driven and pluralistic Jewish festival of culture, creativity.

Jeffrey Goldberg recently 

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Bernie Sanders trounces Hillary Clinton in overseas primary

American Democrats living abroad — including in Israel — overwhelmingly preferred Sen. Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in a primary for expatriates.

Democrats Abroad, the official Democratic Party arm for American expats, announced Monday that Sanders, I-Vt., received 69 percent of the vote in its primary to 31 percent for Clinton, the former secretary of state and U.S. senator. As a result, Sanders picked up nine pledged delegates, while Clinton earned four delegates.

The 34,570 voters participating in the primary — conducted by fax, email and postal mail — live in more than 170 countries around the world.

Among the 412 voters from Israel, Sanders, who is Jewish, received 249 votes and Clinton 160.

The only expats who favored Clinton over Sanders were those living in the Dominican Republic (350 votes to 53), Nigeria (4-1) and Singapore (149-107). Sanders enjoyed huge margins among the expats in Japan, winning 87 percent of the vote (1,178-176), and Egypt, with 89 percent (41-5).

Despite Sanders’ popularity among expats, Clinton is widely expected to win the nomination. She currently has 1,163 pledged delegates and 467 superdelegates, whereas Sanders has 844 pledged delegates and 26 superdelegates.

Sanders: Absurd to suggest I should drop out of presidential race

Responding to reports that President Barack Obama called on Democrats to rally around Hillary Clinton as the likely nominee, Bernie Sanders said he would not drop out of the race.

Obama privately told a group of Democratic donors on March 11 that Sanders was nearing the point at which his campaign against Clinton would end, and that the party must soon come together to back Clinton, the New York Times reported Thursday.

“The bottom line is that when only half of the American people have participated in the political process … I think it is absurd for anybody to suggest that those people not have a right to cast a vote,” Sanders, who is Jewish, told MSNBC in an interview on Thursday.

Clinton has won the Illinois, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio primaries — crucial victories that bolster her claim that she is her party’s only candidate who can win diverse states that will be pivotal in the November general election.

Sanders, a senator from Vermont and self-proclaimed democratic socialist, said he did not want to comment directly on Obama’s reported remarks but he pushed back on the idea that his campaign had run its course and he should throw in the towel.

The White House on Thursday said Obama did not indicate which candidate he preferred in his remarks to the donors.

Clinton, a former secretary of state in the Obama administration, has a large lead in the race for the Democratic nomination. Sanders said he will do better in upcoming contests in western states, after losing to Clinton in a number of southeastern states.

“To suggest we don’t fight this out to the end would be, I think, a very bad mistake. People want to become engaged in the political process by having vigorous primary and caucus process,” he said.

How delegates are selected

The Democratic and Republican nominees for the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election are decided in a series of state-by-state contests. The key to winning the nomination for each party is ultimately not about the popular vote, but about securing the number of delegates needed to win the nomination at each party's convention – July 18-21 in Cleveland for the Republicans and July 25-28 in Philadelphia for the Democrats.

The following is a guide to the nominating process:

Q: Is the delegate selection process the same for the Republican and Democratic parties?

A: No. The parties set their own rules. One thing that is the same is that at each party convention, a candidate needs to reach only a simple majority of the delegate votes to win the nomination.

Q: How many delegates are there?

A: The Democratic convention will be attended by about 4,763 delegates, with 2,382 delegates needed to win the nomination. The Republican convention will be attended by 2,472 delegates, with 1,237 delegates needed to win.

Q: I keep hearing about “superdelegates.” Are they different from other delegates? Do both the Republicans and Democrats have superdelegates?

A: Superdelegates, officially known as unpledged delegates, are a sort of wild card in the nominating process, but only the Democrats have them.

The category was created for the 1984 Democratic convention, and according to political scientists, they are a legacy of the 1980 convention when there was a fight for the nomination between President Jimmy Carter, who was seeking a second term in the White House, and Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. Members of Congress were frustrated by their lack of influence, because delegates elected to support one candidate could not switch to support another. So Democratic members of the House of Representatives led an effort to win a role for themselves. That resulted in the creation of superdelegates. Unlike other delegates, superdelegates may change what candidate they are supporting right up to the convention.

There is no fixed number of superdelegates because the group is defined by various categories whose members change from one election cycle to another. Here is who gets to be a superdelegate: 

All Democratic members of the House of Representatives and the Senate; the Democratic governors; the Democratic president and vice president of the United States; former Democratic presidents and vice presidents; former Democratic leaders of the U.S. Senate; former Democratic speakers of the House and former Democratic minority leaders. Throw in the members of the Democratic National Committee and the former chairs of the DNC and you finally have the whole pool of superdelegates.

Q: What about the other delegates? Do they get to choose which candidate to support?

A: Both the Democratic and Republican parties send delegates to their conventions based on the popular vote in the primary elections and caucuses held in each of the 50 states. But the parties have different rules on how delegates are allotted to a candidate.

The Democratic Party applies uniform rules to all states. In each state, delegates are allocated in proportion to the percentage of the primary or caucus vote in each district. But a candidate must win at least 15 percent of the vote to be allocated any delegates.

The Republican Party lets states determine their own rules, although it does dictate some things. Some states award delegates proportionate to the popular vote, although most such states have a minimum percentage that a candidate must reach to win any delegates. Some other states use the winner-take-all method, in which the candidate with the highest percentage of the popular vote is awarded all the delegates. Other states use a combination of the two methods.

States that use the proportionate method may instead use the winner-take-all method if one candidate wins more than 50 percent of the popular vote. 

In addition, the Republican Party requires that all states with nominating contests held between March 1 and March 14 use the proportional method, meaning that all the states holding votes on Super Tuesday will have to award delegates proportionally. 

Q: What happens to delegates if a candidate drops out of the race?

A: Another good question, because we have certainly seen that happen this year.

For the Democratic Party, in every state, delegates are reallocated to the remaining candidates.

For the Republican Party, it varies by state. In some states, delegates are required to stick with their original candidate at least through the first ballot at the Republican National Convention. In some other states, if a candidate drops out, his or her delegates may immediately pledge to another candidate. There is also a middle ground in which those delegates are reallocated to the remaining candidates.

Why the Republican Party is dying

Last Sunday, 2016 Republican presidential nominee front-runner Donald Trump appeared on CNN with Jake Tapper. Tapper — in the mold of many journalists of leftist persuasion — attempted to smear Trump with those who support him by asking Trump about former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Trump had repeatedly disavowed support from Duke, once in August 2015 and then again on Feb. 26. In 2000, Trump explicitly predicated his abandonment of the Reform Party on Duke joining it; he wrote, “So the Reform Party now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke, a neo-Nazi, Mr. [Patrick] Buchanan, and a communist, Ms. [Lenora] Fulani. This is not company I wish to keep.”

So when Tapper asked Trump about Duke and the KKK, Trump’s answer should have been simple: He should have said that he had already repeatedly disavowed any support from Duke and the KKK and told Tapper that he should have asked Barack Obama about support from anti-Semite Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and the Communist Party.

Trump didn’t.

Instead, he equivocated, and pretended ignorance. He said, “I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists. … I don’t know what group you’re talking about. You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I’d have to take a look.”

Trump’s followers defended him — defended the indefensible — vociferously.

All of which raises the question: Why is Donald Trump winning? What is driving millions of Americans into the arms of a personally authoritarian ignoramus, a blustering bully, a policy dilettante, a parodic mashup of Rainn Wilson’s Dwight Schrute from “The Office” and Joe Pesci’s Tommy from “Goodfellas”; a reality television star most famous for his tacky hair, tackier taste in women and tackiest taste in hotel adornments?

It certainly isn’t conservatism.

The left couldn’t be more excited about Trump’s rise — he provides them an easy club with which to beat the conservative movement. But the conservative movement opposes Trump wholesale. Fox News has made clear its disdain for Trump: In the first Republican debate, Megyn Kelly hit him with everything but the kitchen sink for his sexism and corruption. National Review ran an entire issue titled “Against Trump.” I’ve personally cut a video viewed more than a million times in just one day titled “Donald Trump Is a Liar.” This week, the hashtag #NeverTrump took over conservative Twitter, with thousands upon thousands of conservatives vowing never to pull the lever for The Donald. For months, Trump has had the highest negatives in the Republican field.

Conservatism stands for small government, individual liberty, constitutional checks and balances, strong national defense, and social institutions such as churches and synagogues promoting responsibility and virtue. Trump stands for large government (he’s in favor of heavy tariffs as well as government seizures of private property for private use, and he says he’ll maintain all unsustainable entitlement programs), executive authority (he has never spoken of the constitutional limitations of presidential power), and foreign and domestic policy based on personal predilection (he’s friendly to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin because Putin praised him; won’t take sides between democratic Israel and the terrorist Palestinian unity government out of his pathetic, egotistic desire to make a “deal”; and has never held a consistent conservative policy position in his life).

So what the hell is going on? What is driving the Donald Trump phenomenon? Why is it set to destroy the Republican Party?

Anger at ‘the Establishment’

Americans on all sides of the political aisle are angry with the way Washington, D.C., operates. That anger isn’t well defined — it’s not merely a specific anger over failure to negotiate by Republicans and Democrats, or anger over bureaucratic incompetence. It’s a generalized anger that the entire system has failed to operate properly — a feeling that they’ve been lied to about the supposedly booming economy, about the supposedly non-rigged game. A year-end CNN/ORC poll showed that fully three-quarters of Americans said they were dissatisfied “with the way the nation is being governed,” with 69 percent “at least somewhat angry with the way things are going in the U.S.”

Americans on the left believe that Washington, D.C., has climbed into bed with Wall Street and corrupted the political process to the benefit of the few; Americans on the right believe that Washington, D.C., has become a cesspool of government avarice in which those elected to stop the government from usurping power turn on their own constituencies in favor of promoting their personal political interests. In both cases, Americans have turned against the “establishment” — people whom they imagine defend the status quo in Washington, D.C., as not all that bad. If this seems vague, that’s because it is: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are widely perceived to be members of the “establishment,” but they disagree about virtually everything. Everything, that is, except for a generalized belief that it’s better to go along to get along than to stand strong against determined opposition.

On the left, this has resulted in the surprising rise of a 74-year-old socialist senator from Vermont who strongly resembles Larry David. On the right, it has resulted in Trump. Sanders will lose to Clinton on the left — the anger against the Democratic Party isn’t strong enough on the left to destroy the party wholesale for an openly socialist temper tantrum. 

On the right, however, the anger against the Republican Party is palpable. That CNN/ORC poll showed a whopping 90 percent of Republicans dissatisfied with national governance, and 82 percent angry with the way things are going in the country. Among Trump supporters, that number was 97 percent dissatisfied and 91 percent angry. Republicans look at their leadership and see people who lied to them over and over again: lied about how “mainstream” candidates such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would earn the love of the media and sweep to victory; lied about how if Republicans took over Congress in 2010, they’d stop Obamacare dead; lied about how if Republicans took over the Senate in 2014, they’d kill President Obama’s unconstitutional executive amnesty.

If this is the best the professionals in the establishment could do, many Republicans believed, then it is time for an outsider — someone who can take an ax to the system. Poll after poll for the past year has demonstrated that Republicans prefer an outsider to a candidate with experience in Washington.

Anger at political correctness

That generalized anger at the establishment alone wouldn’t have skyrocketed Trump to the top of the polls. After all, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has spent his entire career in the Senate ticking off the Republican establishment, to the point of calling McConnell a liar on the floor of the chamber. Republican establishment types hate Cruz with the fiery passion of a thousand flaming suns; they despise Cruz so much that former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole said he’d prefer Trump to Cruz, a perspective mirrored by much of the GOP establishment.

So why not Cruz instead of Trump? Because Trump channels a second type of anger better than anyone else in the race: full-scale rage at political correctness. Political correctness is seen — correctly — by non-leftists as a way of silencing debate about vital issues. Political correctness quashes serious discussions with charges of racism, sexism, Islamophobia and homophobia, and in doing so, destroys the possibility of political honesty as well as better solutions. The Obama administration has brought political correctness back from the brink of extinction to place it in the central halls of power: The White House and its media lackeys have suggested that legitimate criticism of Obama’s policies represents bigotry, that serious concerns about radical Islam represent Islamophobia, that real worries about encroachment upon religious liberty represent homophobia, and that honest questions about individual responsibility for crime represent racism. And establishment Republicans, eager to be seen as civil, have acquiesced in the newfound reign of political correctness.

Trump entered the race vowing to bring that reign to an end. Because of his celebrity, he’s been able to say politically incorrect things many Republicans believe must be said: that Muslim refugees to the United States must be treated with more care than non-Muslim refugees thanks to the influence of radical Islam, for example, or that illegal immigration brings with it elevated levels of criminality. He’s slapped the leftist media repeatedly, something that thrills frustrated conservatives.

But Trump has gone further than fighting political correctness: He has engaged in pure boorishness. His fans have lumped that boorishness in with being politically incorrect. That’s foolishness. It’s politically incorrect — and valuable — to point out that single motherhood rates in the Black community contribute to problems of poverty and crime, and that such rates are not the result of white racism but of the problematic values of those involved. It’s simply rude and gauche to mock the disabled, as Trump has, or mock prisoners of war, as Trump has, or mock Megyn Kelly’s period, as Trump has. The list goes on and on.

Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in Houston, Texas, on Feb. 25. Photo by Mike Stone/Reuters

The distinction between being a pig and being politically incorrect is a real one. But Trump and his supporters have obliterated the distinction — and that’s in large part thanks to the pendulum swinging wildly against political correctness.

Anger at anti-Americanism

Even the revolt against political correctness wouldn’t be enough to put Trump in position to break apart the Republican Party, however. Republicans have railed against political correctness for years — Trump isn’t anything new in that, although he’s certainly more vulgar and blunt than others. No, what truly separates Trump from the rest of the Republican crowd is that he’s a European-style nationalist.

Republicans are American exceptionalists. We believe that America is a unique place in human history, founded upon a unique philosophy of government and liberty. That’s why we’re special and why we have succeeded. In his own way, Trump believes in American exceptionalism much like Barack Obama does — as a term to describe parochial patriotism. Obama infamously remarked in 2009, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” Obama meant that dismissively — American exceptionalism is just something we do because we’re American, not because we’re actually special. But Trump means it proudly. His nationalism is a reaction to Obama’s anti-nationalism. It says: “Barack Obama may think America isn’t worthy of special protection because we’re not special. Well, we’re America, damn it, even if we don’t know what makes us special.” According to Trump, we ought to operate off of the assumption that Americans deserve better lives not because they live out better principles or represent a better system, but because they’re here.

This sort of nationalism resembles far more the right-wing parties of Europe than the historical Republican Party. The Republican Party has stood for embrace of anyone who will embrace American values; extreme European right-wing parties tend to embrace people out of ethnic allegiance rather than ideological allegiance. Trump uncomfortably straddles that divide. His talk about limiting immigration has little to do with embrace of American values and much more to do with “protecting” Americans from foreigners — even highly educated foreigners willing to work in the United States without taking benefits from the tax system. It’s one thing to object to an influx of people who disagree with basic constitutional values. But Trump doesn’t care about basic constitutional values. He simply opposes people coming in who aren’t us. There’s a reason so many of his supporters occupy the #altright portion of the Internet, which traffics in anti-Semitism and racism.

The rise of ‘The Great Man’

Trump poisons the brew of justified anger at the establishment, justified anger at the political correctness and justified anger at anti-Americanism from the left. People feel victimized by a government that centralizes all power in the back corridors of D.C., a media dedicated to upholding nonsensical sloganeering as opposed to honest discussion, and a president who sees America as a global bully and an international pariah in need of re-education. Trump has channeled that sense of victimization into support. 

But there’s one more spice he adds to that toxic concoction: worship of “The Great Man.”

Republicans have typically been wary of The Great Man. Democrats have not. Woodrow Wilson wrote in 1906, “The president is at liberty both in law and conscience to be as big a man as he can. His capacity will set the limit.” Franklin D. Roosevelt came as close to dictatorship in America as anyone in history. Barack Obama obviously sees little limit to executive authority; he chafes at constitutional restrictions on his power. The presidency, according to Democrats, is a position of elected dictatorship — at least when Democrats run the show.

Conservatives have always believed in the constitutional checks and balances. Republicans have not; there were Republicans who cheered the Bush administration’s abuses of executive power, for example. But as the proxy for the conservative movement, the GOP at least paid lip service to the idea that power resided in the people, then local government, then the states, and last and weakest, the federal government. Republicans supposedly stood for the proposition that the government was the greatest obstacle to freedom.

Trump overthrows all of that. Thanks to Obama’s usurpation of power, many Americans are ready for a Reverse Obama — someone who will use the power of the presidency to “win” for them, as opposed to using a powerful presidency to weaken the country. And that’s what Trump pledges to do. He pledges to singlehandedly make deals — great deals! He promises to make America great again, not through the application of constitutional liberties, but through the power of his persona. He’ll be strong, his supporters believe. When he expresses sympathy for Vladimir Putin and says at least Saddam Hussein killed terrorists and admires the strength of the Chinese government in quashing protest at Tiananmen Square (in a 1990 interview with Playboy), his supporters thrill. Because Trump is a strong leader. He’s no wimp. Give him control, and watch him roll!

Like Obama, Trump has built a cult following on worship of power. Big government has prepared Americans for tyrannical central government for a century. Republicans resisted that call.

Trump does not. 

Is this the end of the Republican Party?

If Trump is nominated, there will be a split in the national GOP. There will be those who hold their noses and vote for him, but who see him as a horrible historical aberration; there will be those who stay home altogether. There may be a third party conservative who decides to provide an alternative to the evils of Trumpism. The Republican Party will remain a major force at the local and state levels regardless; national elections do not reshape parties at these lower levels immediately.

But over time, they can. Is Trumpism temporary, or is it here to stay? The answer to that question may lie with the establishment Republicans, who will have to make peace with actual conservatives if they hope to stanch the rise of populism. Establishment Republicans got behind Jeb Bush in this election cycle, and they stayed behind him even as he flailed; they made clear they’d prefer Trumpism to hard-core conservatism. Now we’re seeing the result. 

The Republican Party can come back, but only if it recognizes that decades of standing for nothing breed reactionary, power-addicted, nationalist populism. That’s a hard realization, but it will have to be made. Otherwise, the Republican Party will, indeed, become the party of Trump rather than the party of Lincoln and Reagan.


Benjamin Shapiro is editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire, senior editor-at-large of Breitbart News, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show” and co-host of “The Morning Answer” on KRLA-AM in Los Angeles and KTIE-AM in the Inland Empire. He is also the author of The New York Times best-seller “Bullies: How the Left's Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America,” Simon *& Schuster (2013).