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Is the Democratic Party Becoming Anti-Semitic? A Search for Statistics

Is the Democratic Party Becoming Anti-Semitic? A Search for Statistics
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By Wednesday, 17 April 2019 02:51 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Recently I was asked by a local rabbi whether it was time for Jews to leave the Democrat Party. Was it now anti-Semitic?

As has been widely discussed, Representatives Omar and Tlaib revived many anti-Semitic tropes. However, are they outliers? Is there any statistical evidence that could help us see trends?

I could not find any polls directly asking how many Democrats had anti-Semitic leanings. However, there was one glaring datapoint in 2016 that went far beyond the words of a few leaders and hit very close to home.

I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, in the largest modern Orthodox community in the world outside of Israel and in the Congressional District that has more Jews than any other in America. One would hope that there would be no tolerance for even vestiges of anti-Semitism in a place like that.

Shockingly, a blatantly anti-Semitic candidate, Thomas Lopez Pierre, not only ran for the Democrat nomination for New York City Council on the Upper West Side, but he also made the ballot. His platform had one central issue: stopping “greedy Jewish landlords.” In his own words, “[t]hese Jewish landlords are using their ownership to engage in ethnic cleansing of black and Latino tenants.” He also made very clear he was running to unseat a Jewish incumbent. This is as close to a referendum on anti-Semitism in the Democrat Party as you can get, since he ran on virtually nothing else. The results were stunning. According to Ballotpedia, more than 25 percent of Democrats voted for him. A minority, to be sure, but a huge percentage of rank and file Democrats in NYC to endorse such blatant anti-Semitism.

While a more indirect measure of anti-Semitism, attitudes towards Israel can be a proxy for attitudes towards Jews more generally. This is because all too often anti-Semitism is masked as anti-Zionism. To be clear, being critical of Israel does not necessarily imply even a shred of anti-Semitism. However, every generation presents anti-Semitism in its own way, and holding Israel to a double standard or attempting to demonize and delegitimize Israel is the contemporary manifestation of anti-Semitism.

As measured last year by the Pew Research Center, the difference between the Democrats and Republicans in their views towards Israel could not be more stark.

When asked whether you sympathize more with Israel over the Palestinians or vice versa, Republicans sympathized more with Israel by a margin of 79 percent to 6 percent. Democrats favored Israel by the slimmest margin, 27 percent to 25 percent.

Among the Democrat Party’s ascendant progressive wing, sympathy rested with Palestinians by a margin of 35 percent to 19 percent. Again, this does not mean that the Democrats are anti-Semitic. If anything, the only truly reliable statement goes in the reverse direction — if you support Israel, it is clear that you are not anti-Semitic. The inverse does not logically follow.

Additional data was provided just last month by the Senate vote on the “Combatting BDS Act,” allowing states to oppose the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel.

It passed the Senate 76-23, and again the party divide is enormous. Republicans favored the measure 52-1. Democrats voted to stop BDS 24-21. On the surface, this still means that a slim majority of Democrats favor Israel, and it would be hard to argue that a proponent of Israel was anti-Semitic. Clearly the party is not rife with anti-Semitism. However, the vote is more troubling if you consider the significant shift from the vote on the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, which mandated moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

This move, finally executed by President Trump last year, has been met with significant criticism among Democrats. However, in 1995, every single Democrat senator voted to require the move save one. The evolution of the Democrat Party from 1995 when there was virtual unanimity to support Israel to today is dramatic.

Where is the Democrat Party going? For a potential answer, let’s look at the candidates running for president. Presumably they have the best pulse of the Democrat electorate and (perhaps cynically) are eager to cater to its wishes.

Again the recent Senate vote on the Combatting BDS Act is telling. While nearly 59 percent of the rank-and-file Democrat senators not running for president voted to protect Israel and stop BDS, 5 of the 6 (83 percent) who are running voted the other way. It shows a party that currently is still mildly pro-Israel, but will not be in the future. The paucity of top Democrat candidates at AIPAC is also striking, especially because there is a tradition of Democrat candidates for president speaking there. For example, in 2007 (one year before the 2008 election) both Hillary Clinton and then Senator Obama addressed the meeting. In 2016 Hillary Clinton addressed AIPAC again.

While not proving anti-Semitism, at the very least all the above data does show that a key concern of Jewish constituents, namely Israel, is no longer quite as important as it once was to Democrats. Even if not driven by anti-Semitism, it is a worrying trend.

Dr. Philip J. Rosenthal is the co-founder and president of Fastcase, Inc. (www.fastcase.com) and was the 2016 Republican, Conservative, and Independence Party nominee for Congress in the N.Y. 10th, the district that includes Wall Street and Ground Zero. To read more of his reports — Go Here Now.

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Recently I was asked by a local rabbi whether it was time for Jews to leave the Democrat Party. Was it now anti-Semitic?
democratic party, antisemitism, statistics
Wednesday, 17 April 2019 02:51 PM
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