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U.S. Midterm Elections: An Israeli Perspective

As the midterm elections approach, an increasing number of Israelis are concerned about how the outcome could impact the Jewish state. In the running are a number of far-left Democrats who hold anti-Israel positions. For example, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York) referred to Israel’s response to the Great March of Return as a “massacre” and is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, which supports the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) thinks Israel is an apartheid state. And Leslie Cockburn (Virginia) authored the anti-Israel book, Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship. With candidates like these, many Israelis worry that all the gains they’ve obtained under the Trump administration could be in jeopardy.

The upcoming midterms are strategically important because Israel has numerous security concerns along its northern border and related to Iranian aggression in the Middle East. Thus, many Israelis favor the status quo in the U.S. According to an American Jewish Committee poll, 77% of Israeli Jews support Trump’s handling of U.S.-Israeli relations.

While many Israelis are very supportive of the Trump White House, Zehava Galon, who heads the Meretz Party, stated publicly her disdain for America’s gun policies, the importation of Trumpism to Israel, and the increase in the number of anti-Semites running for U.S. Congress on the Republican ticket. Arthur Jones (R-IL), who was a member of the Neo-Nazis Party until 1980 and now heads his own neo-Nazi group called America First, is a Holocaust denier whose main criticism of Trump is his pro-Israel foreign policy. Bill Fawell (R-IL) blames the Israeli Mossad for the September 11 terror attacks. And John Fitzgerald (R-CA), another Holocaust denier who blames Israel for the September 11 terror attacks, is running on a platform of ending “the Jewish takeover of America.” While a 2016 poll found that 55% of Israelis were not concerned with the rise of domestic anti-Semitism under Trump, many Israeli leftists like Galon are greatly bothered by it.

However, Aryeh Shemesh, a leader of the Babylonian Jewish community in Israel, told the Haym Salomon Center: “Most Israelis are supporting Donald Trump and the Republicans because he has proven to act like one of us. This is the view of the majority of Israelis except for the leftists and the Arabs. Most of the leftists are Ashkenazi. The Mizrahis have a few leftists but the rest are with Israel and want to be done with this conflict. They see Trump’s deal of the century as the only way forward.”

Israel-based Moroccan Jewish activist Dina Levin noted that no president other than Trump has done what he has done for Israel. Levin specifically referenced the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, emphasizing the power of the U.S. to set an example for other countries to follow. According to Levin, even Bill Clinton, whom she considers to have been a great president for Israel, did not take this step. Although Levin’s background is in the left-wing Labor Party, she is impressed by Trump’s courage and leadership abilities, adding that she is not the only one associated with the Left in Israel who supports Donald Trump.

Levana Zamir, a centrist who heads the Central Organization for Jews from Arab and Muslim Countries and the International Association of Egyptian Jews, is pleased with Trump’s decision to cut off funding to UNRWA.

On record, Israel is trying to remain bi-partisan. Former Israel Consul General Dr. Yitzchak Ben Gad declared: “The policy of the State of Israel is by no means to intervene in the elections in the US or any other country. We have supporters from both parties among the Republicans and the Democrats. It is very important to be friendly with both parties. We hope that support from both parties will continue in the upcoming elections.”

Rachel Avraham is a fellow with the Haym Salomon Center and the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”

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