OPINION: Trump’s ‘Jexodus’ not based on reality

headshot_Alex Cala

Alex Cala

For years, American Jews, such as myself, have consistently voted Democrat, with a recent poll indicating that more than 75 percent of us voted blue in the 2018 midterm elections.

However, if President Donald Trump has his way, this will soon be a relic of the past.

Trump’s declaration on Thursday that the United States should support Israeli claims to Golan Heights is only the latest in a series of pro-Israel actions, actions which aim to appeal to Jewish voters and incite a “Jexodus” of these voters from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party.

If American Jews were comprised of mostly voters focused singularly on Israel, this would be a realistic scenario.

Trump’s visit to the Western Wall in May 2017, (the first for a standing U.S. president), along with his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, cemented him as perhaps the most Zionist president since Harry Truman, meaning this would grant him a large portion of “Jexodus” voters in 2020.

Unfortunately for Trump, the reality is that most Jews aren’t single-issue voters.

While we tend to view Israel as being a very important factor in our decision, it isn’t the only consideration in our political affiliation; like most Americans, domestic issues, such as the economy and immigration, are also very important to us.

The fact that President Trump is banking on Israel as his main selling point means he is unaware of this, and is a sign that his pitch to Jewish-Americans is crafted out of the same low-brow, identity-based rhetoric that handed him the presidency in the first place.

If Trump actually cared and understood Jewish voters, he could look to the Democratic Party for inspiration.

Instead of championing policies which advocate cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and the social safety net, many Democrats are calling for universal health care, a system that is already in place in Israel and agrees with the Jewish belief that places immense value on human life.

Instead of building walls and banning refugees, Democrats have repeatedly called to let these individuals into the U.S., echoing the sentiments of Jewish organizations like the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which remembers when most refugees weren’t Syrians or Central Americans, but Jews fleeing Europe after World War II.

Most importantly, the Democratic Party isn’t afraid to take initiative and stamp out racism in their ranks.

While it took intense media scrutiny and numerous offensive acts (including brandishing a Confederate flag and questioning why “white supremacist” is a dubious designation) until Iowa Republican Steve King was disciplined by his party in January, Ilhan Omar was almost immediately castigated by Democrats in March in wake of her anti-semitic tweets regarding Israeli influence in American politics.

As a group that has faced intense prosecution that often began with racist acts such as these, this should be yet another sign to Jewish voters that supporting a party and president whose ideas run contrary to some of our core values simply isn’t a good idea.

Polling data supports this and suggests that the “Jexodus” campaign isn’t doing much to help, with 71 percent of American Jews polled disapproving of the president, an all-time high.

While Trump can claim “Democrats hate Jewish people,” the fact remains that Jewish-Americans remain overwhelmingly Democratic, and there is little the president can do to change that.

This makes “Jexodus” an outrageous proposal, one that is meant to appeal to the identity politics that President Trump so desperately needs to win in 2020. I can only hope others think the same.

Alex Cala is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].