Chesky Blau: Leaning Away From a Democratic Vote

"I don’t think Hamas would have attacked if Trump had been president. And if they did, the conflict would have been over by now."
By | Apr 17, 2024
JPVP 2024
Chesky Blau

This interview is part of Moment’s Jewish Political Voices Project. To learn more about the project, click here. To see our other participants, click here. To see all posts from Chesky, click here.

Age: 48
Occupation: Rabbi, health-care industry contractor

Location: Brooklyn, NY
Party Registration: Democratic
Jewish Denomination: Orthodox (Hasidic)
Current 2024 Vote: Undecided but leaning Republican
2020 Vote: Joe Biden
Family: Married; 8 children and 2 grandchildren
News Sources: Ami Magazine, Yeshiva World News 

What are you seeing in your area politically?

The truth is, New York is Democratic. Everyone here is a Democrat, from the state Senate to the governor, mayor, down to the local Democrats. Democrats are more attuned to our social needs. Facilities and social programs are very, very important in New York, so it’s better to be a Democrat than a Republican. In our Hasidic community, we have a lot of kids. There are a lot of federal programs for children that we use in our community: child tax credits, food stamps, Medicaid and Section 8 housing assistance. 

Where I live, however, everyone isn’t the same. There is a lot of Trump support, and I think it’s because of Israel. He was the one who put the embassy in Jerusalem. He was for us. I would say in my part of Brooklyn, it’s 70-80 percent for Trump.

What issues are the most important to you?

The world is becoming so crazy. You never know what’s going to happen the next day. So the question is, which candidate is better if something happens and right away it escalates? Now, it’s China and North Korea and Russia. It’s so scary. 

Economic issues are also important. What it comes down to is the money. A lot of people have lost a lot of money. But there’s a lot of people who are going to tell you things are going good. It’s called Mazel! Personally, I have a job. Hashem gives everyone what they need! That’s what you have to believe. But it’s not easy.

If the election were tomorrow, whom would you vote for?

As a Democrat, would I vote for Biden? If it was a different candidate, like a solid Democrat, the whole conversation would be different. So it’s not like I’m voting Republican because I don’t like the Democratic Party. It’s more like the perception of Biden himself. Does that mean I would vote for Trump? It’s too early for me to decide right now. No, I’m serious! I don’t know. 

Trump likes to project himself as a strongman who inspires fear in foreign leaders. Is that an accurate perception? 

I don’t think Hamas would have attacked if Trump had been president. And if they did, the conflict would have been over by now. The hostages would have been back. He would have twisted arms, done something. When he was president, he met with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. No one had ever done that. He’s unorthodox, politically. But he gets the job done.

Is the rise of antisemitism influencing your vote or affecting your political outlook? 

Yes, 100 percent. In our neighborhood, there are people yelling antisemitic slurs. We have people on bikes and mopeds, and some of it may not be antisemitic but they’re going up to Jewish ladies and ripping their purses off their necks and flying away. On Shabbos we wear the fur hat, the shtreimel. We’ve had a few incidents with people on bikes who take them and then throw them away. It could be people who are mentally disturbed, but whatever—that’s not the issue. The issue is these kinds of things also happened in 1933, the year Hitler came to power in Germany. It’s very scary.

Is the Hamas attack of October 7 influencing your vote in November? 

It’s a tough question. The Biden administration was actually very supportive of Israel right at the beginning. But I think there’s something more that could have been done. I don’t know what, I can’t put my finger on it. I don’t want to say if it had been Trump, this wouldn’t have happened, or it would have been over in a week. But you know maybe he would have taken care of it in a more diplomatic way. I don’t know why they can’t get the hostages out.

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