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October 26, 2016 9:58 am

What Jewish Voters Need to Know Before Election Day

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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton squaring off in the first presidential debate in September. Photo: Getty Images.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton squaring off in the first presidential debate in September. Photo: Getty Images. — With only a few weeks remaining before the presidential election, and early voting already underway in most states, Jewish voters may still be weighing their decisions.

Over the last year, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump have actively courted the Jewish and pro-Israel vote, especially as they seek to firm up support in key battleground states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania – all home to large Jewish communities.

How each candidate would support and strengthen the special US-Israel relationship has been discussed in numerous speeches and debates, and the issue has played a large part in crafting the platforms of both political parties.

The candidates have also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and addressed the premiere pro-Israel gathering, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) national conference, earlier this year.

In the days before November 8, looks at the candidates’ positions and what they have said over the last year regarding issues that Jewish and pro-Israel voters may find important.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Hillary Clinton:

  • She wrote in a September 2015 op-ed published by The Forward, that she is “deeply committed” to Israel “as a democratic Jewish state… and just as convinced that the only way to guarantee that outcome is through diplomacy. And while no solution can be imposed from outside, I believe the United States has a responsibility to help bring Israelis and Palestinians to the table and to encourage the difficult but necessary decisions that will lead to peace.”

Donald Trump:

  • He has drawn criticism from some within the pro-Israel community for saying, “Let me be sort of a neutral guy [on the conflict],” in an MSNBC town hall conversation in February. “I have friends of mine that are tremendous businesspeople, that are really great negotiators, [and] they say it’s not doable,” he added.
  • After a September meeting between Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, the Trump campaign said “that peace will only come when the Palestinians renounce hatred and violence and accept Israel as a Jewish state.”

US-Israel Relationship


  • In his speech at the AIPAC conference in March, Trump said he will work to prioritize the US-Israel relationship.
  • “When I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on Day One,” Trump said, in reference to the strained relations between President Barack Obama and Netanyahu. “We will send a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally, the state of Israel,” he added.
Republican nominee Donald Trump addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference earlier this year. Photo: AIPAC.

Republican nominee Donald Trump addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference earlier this year. Photo: AIPAC.


  • In her address to AIPAC, Clinton said the US will reaffirm that “we have a strong and enduring national interest in Israel’s security…We will never allow Israel’s adversaries to think a wedge can be driven between us.”
  • In a statement following the 10-year $38 billion memorandum of understanding signed between the US and Israel in September, Clinton said the deal “reaffirms the depth and strength of the US-Israel relationship – which is based on common security interests, shared values, and deep historical ties – and sends a clear message to the region and the world that we will always stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel.”

Palestinian statehood and the disputed territories


  • David Friedman, one of Trump’s main advisers on Israel, said in June that the Republican candidate would not support the recognition of a Palestinian state without “the approval of the Israelis.”
  • Trump has said that Israel should not cease construction in Judea and Samaria. “No, I don’t think there should be a pause…because I think Israel should have – they really have to keep going. They have to keep moving forward,” Trump told the Dailymail in May.


  •  Clinton has called Israeli settlement expansion “not helpful” in the efforts to resume peace talks with the Palestinians. “Administrations – both Democrat and Republican – have all adopted the same position that settlement expansion is not helpful,” Clinton said in an interview with the New York Daily News editorial board in April. “In the context of the continuing American interest in helping to bring the parties together to try to achieve a two-state solution to the conflict, I am in-line with prior Republicans and Democrats.”



  • Following a UNESCO resolution passed last week ignoring the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and its holy sites, Trump said in a statement to, he “will recognize Jerusalem as the one true capital of Israel. Jerusalem is the enduring capital of the Jewish people, and the overwhelming majority of Congress has voted to recognize Jerusalem as just that.”


  • Responding to the same matter, the Clinton campaign pointed to the 2016 Democratic Party Platform’s language on Jerusalem that states, “While Jerusalem is a matter for final-status negotiations, it should remain the capital of Israel, an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)


  • Earlier this year, Clinton came out strongly against the BDS movement during a debate within the Methodist Church, of which Clinton has been a lifelong member, over whether or not to join the movement. “I believe that BDS seeks to punish Israel and dictate how the Israelis and Palestinians should resolve the core issues of their conflict. This is not the path to peace,” Clinton wrote in a May letter to the heads of the Jewish Federations of North America. The Methodist Church ultimately rejected a resolution to divest from Israel.


  • While Trump himself has not made any statements directly about BDS, his top Israel adviser, Jason Greenblatt, strongly condemned it in a Fox News op-ed in June: “BDS is a modern manifestation of antisemitism, plain and simple. BDS hurts Israelis, Palestinians and the hope for peace. The BDS movement is not interested in promoting peace and coexistence. It is not interested in forging a better future for Israelis and Palestinians.”



  • The Republican nominee has been criticized for alluding to antisemitic rhetoric and tropes in speeches and social media posts, as  well as being slammed for the presence of anti-Jewish sentiment among some of his supporters.
  • In early July, Trump tweeted an image critical of Clinton featuring a six-pointed star, a pile of cash and the words “most corrupt candidate ever.” Critics contended the graphic invoked antisemitic stereotypes and found that the image had been posted days earlier on an antisemitic, white supremacist message board. The six-pointed star element was eventually replaced with a new image by the campaign. Trump refused to make a formal apology or explicitly acknowledge any wrong-doing.
  • Critics condemned the similarity to classic antisemitic themes in an October 13 speech Trump gave in West Palm Beach, where he said, “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of US sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors.” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), wrote in a tweet: “@TeamTrump should avoid rhetoric and tropes that historically have been used against Jews and still spur #antisemitism. Let’s keep hate out of campaign.”
  • The Trump campaign has been criticized for not strongly distancing itself from neo-Nazis and white supremacists, such as former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. The Holocaust denier and ex-Imperial Wizard of the KKK expressed his support for Trump during his bid for senator in Louisiana.
  • However, the Trump campaign has disavowed any antisemitism being promulgated and promoted by supporters. “We have no knowledge of this activity and strongly condemn any commentary that is antisemitic,” Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in a statement to The New York Times regarding an October report by the ADL detailing the antisemitism not uncommon among Trump supporters on Twitter. “We totally disavow hateful rhetoric online or otherwise,” Hicks added.


  • In an op-ed first published by in April, Clinton said that we must respond to antisemitism and protect religious liberty. “Today, there are new threats to religious liberty and an alarming rise in anti-Semitism. In many parts of Europe, we’ve seen synagogues vandalized and gravesites desecrated,” Clinton wrote. “We must confront these forces of intolerance. If I’m fortunate enough to be elected president, I would ensure that America continues to call out and stand up to anti-Semitism.”
  • Last summer, the Clinton campaign was forced to distance itself from comments made by anti-Israel Jewish journalist Max Blumenthal, son of longtime Clinton confidante Sidney Blumenthal, regarding the late Elie Wiesel. The younger Blumenthal said of Wiesel that he “spent his last years inciting hatred, defense apartheid and palling around with fascists.” Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s senior policy adviser, told The Jerusalem Post, “Secretary Clinton emphatically rejects these offensive, hateful, and patently absurd statements about Elie Wiesel.”

Iran nuclear deal


  • When the nuclear accord between Iran and the P5+1 world powers (US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) was announced in July 2015, Trump called the deal “very dangerous.” He said at the time, “Iran developing a nuclear weapon, either through uranium or nuclear fuel, and defying the world is still a very real possibility. The inspections will not be followed, and Iran will no longer have any sanctions. Iran gets everything and loses nothing.”
  • During his AIPAC speech, Trump vowed, “My number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.” He added, “I have been in business a long time…this deal is catastrophic for Israel, for America, for the whole of the Middle East… We have rewarded the world’s leading state sponsor of terror with $ 150 billion, and we received absolutely nothing in return.”


  • In September 2015, Clinton endorsed the nuclear agreement in a speech at the Brookings Institution, saying that, “diplomacy is not the pursuit of perfection; it is the balancing of risk.” However, Clinton went on to say the deal would work only “as part of a larger strategy toward Iran” and that “distrust and verify” would be her approach to handling Iran. She added, “I will not hesitate to take military action” if Iran still sought to develop a nuclear weapon despite the commitments.
  • In July, during her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, Clinton touted her early role in the nuclear agreement with Iran during her time as secretary of state. “I’m proud that we put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program without firing a single shot,” she said. “Now we have to enforce it, and keep supporting Israel’s security.”

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  • pennyanna

    Frankincense graham went all 50 states…every capital…people in every cities came to capital to pray for america….I’m a pray warrior….with hundred more…Last night I prayed 1:30 to 4:30 this morning. ..I ask the Holy Father
    Speak to me I ask for a sign..Father God is Donald Trump the anti-christ…
    I pray for Israel, worried about Un voted for Jerusalem be taken away from
    Jewish People the Temple Mound…I’ve been praying for Benjamin Natanyahu…This morning I heard that Donald Trump will fight for Jerusalem
    Back in the hands of Jewish people…I worried about unesco…I belive the Holy Father…Elohim, Jehovah…The Creator was heaven and earth bought
    Donald Trump, an business man, a rich man…to fight for Freedom to worship… this was my prayers for America and for Israel. ..

  • pennyanna

    Voting for Donald Trump/Mike Pence to mend united States Constitution,
    One God, One Flag, Mend supreme Court judges….Stop Abortion, killing God Created being …..Women has no right to kill our babies….Our relationship to
    Israel. ..and Jerusalem is Israel capital… was when King David, son of Jesse…Trump, Trump!!!!!

  • WillielomanIII

    Hillary supports the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Israel… Hillary would force Israel to give up Jerusalem… Hillary wants to establish and islamist terrorist state in the middle of Israel….hillary is very close friends with true antisemites, Hillary supports the anti-Jewish racist jstreet……hillary personally refused to move the American embassy to Jerusalem when she had the power to do so…. Trump supports a Jewish Israel and would never force Israel to destroy itself like Hillary noted above……trump is against the Iran nuke deal that give Iran a path to the bomb, Hillary supports it….trumps daughter converted to be a Jew, hillary forbid her daughter from converting…..all of Trump’s married children are married to Jews……Trumps company is run mostly by Jews… Hillary supported BLM after they added anti-Jewish racism to their platform… I could go on… No Jew should even consider voting for hillary

  • LtcHoward

    Rabbi Fisher presents a very compelling statement.

    Why this Orthodox Rabbi supports Trump

    By Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer, INN

    I am going to vote for the candidate that protects the Constitution and makes America what it can be – and was.

    I am an Orthodox rabbi. I am also an attorney and an adjunct professor of law. I clerked 20 years ago for the Hon. Danny J. Boggs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Judge Boggs, one of the most brilliant minds I ever have known in any of my walks of life, soon thereafter served as chief judge of the Sixth Circuit.

    Of course, I am disgusted by the stories that dominate the election campaign. I am disgusted as a law professor, an attorney, a father of daughters, and as a rabbi. Women making accusations that they have been sexually abused — Paula Corbin Jones who received an $850,000 settlement from Bill Clinton; Kathleen Willey who went to Bill Clinton in the White House, desperate for a job after her husband killed himself; Juanita Broaddrick, a Clinton volunteer who insists he raped her; the new list of women whose names I am only now learning who say that Donald Trump groped or kissed them against their will. The abused women whose reputations and lives were destroyed by Hillary Clinton, as she defended her husband’s public profile after each “bimbo eruption.” Hillary referred to victims as “looney tunes” and worse, her team including the likes of James Carville and Sidney Blumenthal characterized them as “trailer trash,” and Hillary most infamously ruined the life of 12-year-old Kathy Shelton, raped by a 41-year-old whom Hillary was required to defend. There was nothing wrong in Hillary defending—every accused criminal deserves a good defense. But Hillary destroyed the girl in the process and proceeded years later laughing about that case and regaling an interviewer with anecdotes of that tragedy.

    All of it disgusts me. So I have decided that on November 8 I am not going to vote for Clinton or Trump. Instead, I am going to vote for the federal judiciary. Along the way, I also am going to vote for an authentic economic recovery that will include repatriating trillions of dollars back home, for a stronger American footprint in the world, for a border that will protect Mexico from free-flowing American weapons that feed their drug cartels and that will protect America from the influx of potential terrorists and murderous drugs that now easily can pour through our porous borders.

    I am going to vote for a process that restores civil harmony in the inner cities by restoring respect for law enforcement even as we begin to address legitimate concerns that responsible African Americans have raised about bias. I am going to vote against sanctuary cities. I am going to vote for a stronger military that, after the past eight years, we now unfortunately will need to protect from Iranian terror exports and North Korean adventurism.

    I am going to vote for an end to bullying and ceaselessly blaming and threatening Israel, our strongest and only truly reliable ally in the Middle East, the only country in that region that truly shares America’s deepest values. And I am going to vote to stem the perilous slide away from America’s traditional social core values of hard work, self-help, trust in G-d, respect for religion’s central place in our lives, and the sanctity of life.

    If we do not have a robust rebound from the terrible recession of nearly a decade ago, let it not be because I voted based on some filthy talk that a candidate spoke 11 years ago. Let young Americans in our inner cities not continue to die in an endless spiral of gang violence because a tape recorded braggart childishly impressed a gullible young news journalist. And how sad it is to see men—Hillary’s male enablers like John Podesta, Rob Mook, Bill Clinton, and others no less cynical on the other side—preying on women’s legitimate and decent values by trying to sway voting blocs one way or the other based on issues other than the life-and-death concerns on today’s table.

    How will we explain to our sons or grandsons who one day would be sent overseas to fight to stop an enriched Iran—nuclear-enriched, hundreds of billions enriched—when America’s continued weakness and failure to stand strong now ultimately will leave us with no choice but to fight later? Shall we tell them: “Well, you see, we did not elect the candidate who would have stood stronger because 11 years earlier he was recorded saying the most disgusting things as he bragged on a bus to an impressionable journalist?”

    We elected John F. Kennedy. He certainly was no saint. U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) was deemed an elder statesman and moral vicar, despite a background of frolicking that reached its nadir with a woman left to drown at Chappaquiddick. We elected Bill Clinton twice, because the Silicon Valley economic explosion was afoot, and the cultural and media elite saw no reason to let a stained dress disrupt that. To this day, Clinton—one of only two U.S. presidents ever impeached—is the most honored statesman at Democratic Party conventions.

    Oh, how I wish this were a different election with different candidates! But my choice is set. One candidate will work for open borders and has a lifetime of proven public life that is stamped by two overriding symbols: failure and lying.

    She even lied about her first name. Who lies about their name?

    Cattle futures. Arriving in Bosnia under gunfire. Rose Law Firm billing records. Whitewater. The White House travel office firings. Donors’ privileged access to the White House Lincoln bedroom. The missing White House furniture. The missing 33,000 emails about “yoga schedules” and “wedding plans.” Repeating “I don’t recall” 39 times.

    Her reset with Russian President Vladimir Putin was a failure; he now holds Crimea and threatens all of Ukraine, even as he has extended Russia’s reach back into the Middle East. Her failures in Libya, leaving us with an ambassador murdered in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, and a failure to evacuate or support our troops are so legion that she never utters the word “Benghazi” during the campaign. The calculated and cynical lie blaming it all on a cheesy YouTube video that barely was seen by anyone. That is what difference it makes.

    African Americans and Latino Americans deserve what I have. They deserve economic opportunity, the kind of fabulous education that I got and that I gave my kids, which opened the kinds of doors that food stamps and “entitlements” never will match. The Obamas and Clintons know what a fabulous education is all about; they gave it to their kids. We owe African Americans and Latino Americans the best schools, charter schools, and magnet schools, where educators are selected and promoted based on merit and academic results and not coddled by arcane teachers’ union rules.n cabal, or her village pocked by fragmented special-interest sub-constituencies, each bewailing its own trigger-warning list of “microaggressions.”

    Moreover, we owe them the respect they deserve to aspire for what we cultivated in our own families: the message that Government assistance and “caring” never will replace or match the kind of wealth and personal pride one can acquire and attain by looking to one’s own hard work, devotion to family, sensible risk-taking, and willingness to delay gratification briefly in order to reap greater rewards in time. Trust in government never can replace trust in G-d, and every boy deserves to grow up with a working father as a role model.

    Perhaps most of all, I care about the federal judiciary—not just the Supreme Court. I remember what the Sixth Circuit was like when I clerked there 20 years ago. Our judicial system has been changed. Most of us do not see it. Most federal appellate decisions never get appealed, and most that get appealed never get considered by grant of certiorari. Therefore, when a federal appellate circuit issues a ruling, that becomes the law for four or six or more states.

    When perfectly reasonable voter-identification laws get thrown out, I look for the names of the judges who ruled. I see the Democrat presidents who appointed them. And when the Constitution is judicially upheld and a brazen presidential overreach is stopped by a court order, affirmed by an appellate panel, I look and see that those judges were appointed by Republican presidents. Our entire federal judiciary is on the line in this election, and these Article III judges all are appointed for life.

    How does one explain to a victim of an unfortunate appellate panel’s ruling that “I could have voted for a federal judiciary that would protect the Constitution and refrain from legislating from the bench, but a braggart was recorded 11 years earlier, boasting in filthy terms, saying that he then did filthy, disgusting things that were less filthy and disgusting than what his opponent actively defended her husband and clients for doing. So I am sorry for losing the federal judiciary. And for abandoning America’s influence in the world. And for allowing more destructive drugs to enter the country illegally by permitting the border to become even more porous. And for the economy remaining mired with no meaningful job growth or income gains. And for the loss of affordable health coverage and for losing access to preferred doctors. And for not voting finally for change to stem the steep decline in the Judaeo-Christian religious and social values that built this great country and that shaped America’s extraordinary character.”

    I cannot do that and cannot explain that. So I certainly will not vote for Hillary, the Clinton cabal, or her village pocked by fragmented special-interest sub-constituencies, each bewailing its own trigger-warning list of “microaggressions.”

    I cannot vote for a politically correct mélange of “safe spaces” that are truly safe for none but the Clinton-connected elite whose multilingual education boasts a fluency in Latin consisting primarily of the “quid pro quo” pay-for-play corruption they spread everywhere they go, from secret Wall Street back-room speeches at $225,000 a hit, to Qatar million-dollar birthday presents payable to Bill Clinton and redeemable in the State Department.

    Therefore, while I most definitely am not voting for Trump the Flawed, I definitely am casting my ballot for Donald Trump, the engine for the change America now needs.

    The writer is rabbi of the Young Israel of Orange County, member of the RCA Executive Board and former national vice president of the ZOA. An adjunct professor of law at Loyola Law School, he was Chief Articles Editor of the UCLA Law Review and authored the books “Sharon Against Time Magaz

  • RW

    Policy statements by candidates are not to taken seriously. Ever since 1967 every president has supported a two state solution. Some like Reagan and George W have been more sympathetic to Israel. Others like Carter and Obama less so I judge by the support given Israel by the base of each party From that perspective Republicans are are significantly more friendly than Democrats