GOP Seeks Jewish Voters Disaffected by Dems Stance on Israel

Monday, 04 Aug 2014 07:35 AM

By Elliot Jager

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President Barack Obama's handling of the Gaza conflict and his call for an unconditional ceasefire could drive pro-Israel Jewish voters away from the Democratic Party, The Hill reported.

Jews are not single issue voters, Noam Neusner, who worked as a White House liaison to the Jewish community in the George W. Bush administration, told The Hill. "It takes a lot to move somebody from one party to another party once they have established a political identification."

Christian evangelicals are likely to feel more passionately that U.S. support for Israel is not strong enough than American Jews, a 2013 Pew survey found. Most American Jews have never been to Israel and only about one-third say they feel very emotionally attached to that country, Pew found.

Roughly one-third of Democrats stand with Israel in the conflict with Hamas in Gaza as compared to 65 percent of Republicans. Among church-going Republicans, support for Israel stands closer to 80 percent, according to a recent Gallup Poll. Nonwhite and younger Democrats tend to believe Israel is unjustified in its actions against Hamas, Gallup found.

"Conservatives say the overall stance of the administration has created an atmosphere of skepticism in the Democratic base toward Israel," Niall Stanage of The Hill wrote.

"The bigger issue is not whether the Obama administration imposes a ceasefire on Israel or not," Neusner told The Hill. "The bigger issue is with the Democratic Party electorate, namely academic elites, African Americans and younger voters. As those blocs of voters become more skeptical of Israel's right to defend itself — and that seems to be happening — that is going to make American Jews who are Democratic Party voters less comfortable in their own party."

Republican Jewish activist Tevi Troy said waiting for American Jews to shift to the Republican Party is like "Waiting for Godot" — "it never happens," the Hill reported.

Pollster and Hill columnist Mark Mellman found that in recent presidential elections Jewish voters have incrementally shifted away from the Democrats. In 2008, Barack Obama garnered 78 percent of Jewish votes. In 2012, he received 69 percent, The Hill reported.

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