With just under a year to go, Trump, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, would really like to fit in another one or two major moves—a grand peace plan, greenlighting Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley or the signing of a mutual defense treaty between the two countries.
This is a scenario some are now looking at, as Pete Buttigieg, even younger and less experienced than Obama was at the time, is having his moment. The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana is surging in Iowa, the first state to vote in February. He is now polling at 25 percent, leaving Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in a tight three-way race for second place.
Orthodox Jews are Trump’s strongest—and only—reliable support base within the Jewish community. Polling shows that more than half of those identifying as Orthodox voted for Trump in 2016. The president also enjoys strong approval ratings within the Orthodox community since taking office. This unlikely political alliance, between a segment of the population focused on family values and religious insularity and the flamboyant New York businessman-turned-politician, has many explanations:
J Street, the left-leaning pro-Israel lobby, wrapped up its three-day conference in Washington, DC last week. In an email to supporters summing up the meeting (and making a pitch for donations), the group’s president Jeremy Ben-Ami announced, “We’ve changed the conversation” about Israel, noting that the conference brought the issue of Israel to the Democratic presidential race agenda and that candidates have discussed, among other issues, their plans to “employ U.S. leverage to combat settlement expansion.” Or, in other words, J Street made using American foreign aid to Israel into an issue Democrats are willing to fight for.
Many in the pro-Israel community joined for a collective oy vey moment last week when leading Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren added her voice to a growing choir of progressives threatening to use America’s aid to Israel as a means of influencing Israel’s policy in the West Bank. Looking at the Democratic field, here’s where we stand: Three of the four frontrunners are threatening to cut U.S. aid to Israel. Biden stands alone in his refusal to join.
As always, Jewish voters will make sure their candidate is pro-Israel, in the broadest meaning of the term, and then they’ll move on to decide based on issues such as health care, the economy, gun control, etc., like any other voter. All candidates in both parties pass the pro-Israel test.