In a tweet on March 15, President Trump said that the Republican Party is “waiting with open arms” to welcome Jewish voters who he maintains are fleeing the “total disrespect” they have been shown by Democrats.
More recently, a March 26 article in the Wall Street Journal observed that growing criticism of Israel from the Democratic Party’s left flank has alienated some liberal Jews.
The president referred to the Jexodus Movement, rebranded March 21 as the Exodus Movement, whose goal is to get Jewish millennials to desert the Democratic Party, which has long been a political home for the vast majority of Jewish voters. Jexodus was created by Jeff Ballabon, an American media executive, lobbyist for Israel, and Trump political advisor and consultant. Elizabeth Pipko, an American author and model who worked for the Donald J Trump For President campaign headquarters in the Trump Tower in 2016, is listed as the founder of the new Exodus Movement.
“The ‘Jexodus’ movement encourages Jewish people to leave the Democrat Party,” Trump tweeted. “Total disrespect! Republicans are waiting with open arms. Remember Jerusalem (U.S. Embassy) and the horrible Iran Nuclear Deal!”
Politico reported on March 15 that Trump’s condemnation of Democrats as the “anti-Israel” party followed a series of comments from freshman Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) that were critical of U.S. politicians’ support for Israel. Some observers believed Omar’s comments were anti-Semitic in nature, and they prompted the House to pass overwhelmingly a resolution condemning bigotry. Some critics say the resolution didn’t go far enough in singling out the Minnesota congresswoman.
In a New York Times column on March 7, Bret Stephens, who is Jewish, wrote: “If Pelosi can’t muster a powerful and unequivocal resolution condemning anti-Semitism, then Omar will have secured her political future and won a critical battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. At that point, the days when American Jews can live comfortably within the Democratic fold will be numbered.”
The Wall Street Journal observed: “Growing criticism of Israel on the political left is testing what has long been one of the strongest alliances in U.S. politics: Jewish Americans and the Democratic Party.”
However, the Journal disputed the notion suggested by Trump that more Jews are signing up en masse to support President Trump’s reelection, even though the vast majority of Democratic elected officials remain pro-Israel.
Despite this, noted the report, several members of Congress, all Democrats, are publicly supporting a movement called BDS ( Boycott, Divest, Sanction) against Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. One of them is Omar, who earlier this month criticized “people who push for allegiance to a foreign country,” a comment widely interpreted as invoking an anti-Semitic trope that Jews aren’t loyal to their home country.
Although most American Jews have a strong attachment to the Democratic Party, there are big differences in political preferences among the three branches of Judaism in America.
Politically, Orthodox Jews (who make up 10 percent of Jews in America) are far more conservative than other Jews. Fifty-seven percent of Orthodox Jews describe themselves as Republicans or Republican-leaning, while just 36 percent are Democrats or lean Democratic.
Image: screenshot from theexodusmovement.com