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Republicans don’t want to curb anti-Semitism; they want to weaponize it – ThinkProgress

Republicans try to lure Jewish voters from the Democratic Celebration through the use of Israel and anti-Semitism as wedge points and by making a marketing campaign — that turns the story of Jewish slavery into one thing of a quip — to focus on millennials.

President Donald Trump has gone as far as to say that Democrats don’t care about Jews or Israel.

However the so-called “Jexodus” that the White Home and different conservative lawmakers have trumpeted is little greater than a barebones web site created by a political operative with shut ties to the Trump marketing campaign and different far-right causes.

Republicans are insisting there’s a sizable and rising motion amongst American Jews — particularly youthful ones — to desert the Democratic Get together for supposedly embracing anti-Semitism, or at the very least anti-Israel positions. Trump himself made the case this week by way of Twitter, sign boosting certainly one of his personal former marketing campaign staffers who’s now purportedly the face a brand new group calling itself “Jexodus.” 

“Jewish individuals are leaving the Democratic Social gathering. We noticed plenty of anti Israel insurance policies begin beneath the Obama Administration, and it acquired worsts & worse. There’s anti-Semitism within the Democratic Get together. They don’t care about Israel or the Jewish individuals.” Elizabeth Pipko, Jexodus.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2019

The “Jexodus” that Trump promoted to his 59 million followers? It’s little greater than a touchdown web page, arrange the day earlier than the 2018 midterm elections, directing individuals to sparse Twitter and Fb accounts. The very first thing on the homepage states: “We’re proud Jewish Millennials uninterested in dwelling in bondage to leftist politics.”

One may fairly assume the “we” in that sentence refers to a set of like-minded Jewish millennials, however the truth is all the “Jexodus” operation is the brainchild of Jeff Ballabon, a far-right Trump marketing campaign adviser in his mid 50s. Ballabon has been predicting an finish to the Jewish group’s help for Democratic candidates for greater than a decade, and his “Jexodus” marketing campaign is simply the newest effort to deliver his empty promise to fruition.

“Any time you create a brand new time period for the aim of utter partisan politics, it’s actually damaging, and I feel it’s the damaging weaponization of anti-Semitism,” stated Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Spiritual Motion Middle of Reform Judaism, a social justice group. He additionally famous the sheer irony of making an attempt to make a portmanteau of “Jew” and “Exodus.”

“It makes it exhausting to distinguish what is actually anti-Semitism and what’s partisan politicization,” Pesner stated.

For the previous few weeks, congressional lawmakers of all political persuasions have gone to nice, typically embarrassing, lengths to exhibit their unwavering help for Israel, their disgust with anti-Semitism, and their disapproval of colleagues who don’t equally fall into line.

The newest iteration of this age-old ritual started with a collection of tweets final month from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who used some troubling language that purchased into anti-Semitic tropes to degree criticism towards the pro-Israel foyer in the USA.

The White Home referred to as on Omar to resign. Democrats, loath to cede any floor on the difficulty of Israel, demanded Omar apologize for her feedback, which she did. And conservative political operatives shortly seized on the chance for their very own political achieve.

The attract of politicizing anti-Semitism to the detriment of Democrats’ electoral prospects was sufficient to get Ballabon booked on conservative cable information following the flair-up over Omar’s tweets. In early March, he appeared on Fox Enterprise Information and repeatedly referred to as Omar “filth” earlier than host Stuart Varney stepped in and requested if he felt snug utilizing such robust language about one in every of two Muslim ladies in Congress.

“I’m utilizing this as a Jew,” stated Ballabon. “I’m utilizing this as somebody whose household instantly feels threatened — actually threatened, bodily threatened — within the tradition that’s being created now by the mainstreaming by the Democrats of those sorts of individuals.”

Ballabon appeared much more snug days earlier, when he took the stage on the annual Conservative Political Motion Convention to formally announce his “Jexodus” marketing campaign alongside Sebastian Gorka, the previous Trump administration staffer and a sworn member of a Hungarian Nazi group.

Ballabon’s selective concern about anti-Semitism is a microcosm of the GOP’s angle towards the difficulty.

“The Republican technique is to one way or the other weaponize the cost of anti-Semitism as a way to drive a wedge within the Democratic Celebration,” stated Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the progressive group J Road, which advocates for a two-state answer to the Israeli-Palestinian battle. “It’s the cynical and political manipulation on the fitting to show this right into a political soccer.”

It’s additionally not a brand new tactic. Republicans have for many years tried to undermine Jewish help for Democratic candidates, with every try falling flat.

“There’s a continuing effort by Republican operatives to peel off Democratic voters,” stated Ben-Ami. “It simply doesn’t work. American Jews are a base-Democratic constituency.”

Because the flip of this century, the smallest proportion of Jewish voters to help a Democrat in a presidential election was 69 %, for President Barack Obama’s reelection. In 2016, 74 % of Jewish voters supported Hillary Clinton and 24 % backed Trump. Within the 2018 midterms, the margin grew even additional, with Democrats capturing 79 % of Jewish voters.

“[Jewish voters] usually are not budging,” stated Ben-Ami. “This can be a failing political technique, and isn’t going to serve them nicely.”

Certainly, the Republican fixation on Omar’s feedback seem to have little to do with combating anti-Semitism. If something, the get together has spent the final three years demonstrating a willingness to tolerate and even brazenly embrace anti-Semites and have interaction in anti-Semitism themselves when politically expedient.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), one among simply two Republican Jewish members of Congress, hosted a fundraiser final yr with Gorka and white supremacist Steve Bannon, the previous Trump aide who has been linked to white nationalism by the Republican Senate Management Fund. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) considers himself a white supremacist. A number of avowed neo-Nazis gained Republican primaries through the 2018 midterm elections. And when violent gangs took to the streets in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 shouting “Jews won’t substitute us” to counter-protesters, Trump initially refused to sentence them, saying there have been “very nice individuals” on each side.

If Jewish voters make up a base constituency of Democratic voters, anti-Semites have turn out to be vocal supporters of Republicans.

Whereas Republicans say they care concerning the well-being of the Jewish individuals, their ardour truly is Israel. Way back to the presidential marketing campaign, Trump prioritized the far-right’s lengthy standing effort to maneuver the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, over the robust objections of a lot of the worldwide group, Center East coverage specialists, and members of his personal cupboard.

Trump has no stronger overseas ally than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And whereas the overwhelming majority of voters in his personal nation disapprove of him, Trump’s approval scores in Israel are overwhelmingly constructive.

Republicans’ help for Israel just isn’t about profitable significant numbers of Jewish votes. It’s, nevertheless, about profitable evangelical ones.

For starters, Jews make up a tiny fraction of the American citizens. The Pew Analysis Middle estimates that lower than 2 % of People determine as Jewish, and a disproportionate quantity stay in closely Democratic areas like New York, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay Space.

Comparatively, evangelicals make up 1 / 4 of the citizens, they usually help Israel virtually as overwhelmingly as Jewish voters. A central tenet of evangelical Christianity is that Israel was ordained by God as a house for the Jewish individuals. A 2017 ballot of evangelical attitudes towards Israel discovered that 69 % consider Jews have a historic proper to the land, and 80 % consider that the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 was the achievement of biblical prophecy that may shepherd the return of Jesus Christ.

The thought of a sovereign Jewish homeland is shared by an awesome majority of Jews as properly, however for American Jewish voters, Israel shouldn’t be a prime voting challenge.

“Jewish voters perceive that the Democratic Celebration just isn’t solely pro-Israel, however that it additionally shares their considerations about a variety of home points,” stated Halie Soifer, government director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America. “Most Jews usually are not one-issue voters.”

Polling backs it up. Within the 2018 midterm elections, simply four % of Jewish voters recognized Israel as one among their two most essential points when deciding whom to vote for. In reality, Israel didn’t crack the highest 10. Jewish voters share the identical considerations as non-Jewish People, with well being care, gun violence, the social security internet, the financial system, and immigration making up the highest 5 voting considerations.

“The meant viewers for a lot of Republicans is their base for whom their difficulty is definitely not about one of the best pursuits of Israel,” stated Ben-Ami, of J Road. “It’s a values situation. Israel has grow to be objectified.” 

And the lack to have an trustworthy, nuanced dialog about Israel, Jewish  settlements, and Palestinian sovereignty is damaging, stated Pesner.

“It’s completely not solely affordable, however it’s accountable to be crucial of the federal government of the State of Israel,” Pesner informed ThinkProgress. “Whether or not one is a Jew or not a Jew, that in and of itself is just not anti-Semitism. It truly is harmful if we will’t have an trustworthy dialogue about Israel.”

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