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November 7, 2016 6:00 pm

Top US Jewish Leader: To Have Their Voices Heard, American Jews Must Get Out and Vote

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Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

American Jews must get out and vote on Election Day if they want to continue to be heard by politicians on matters of concern to them, a top US Jewish leader told The Algemeiner on Monday.

“I hear too many expressions of indifference, or people who are confused and conflicted and therefore say they are not going to vote,” Malcolm Hoenlein — the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations — said in an interview with The Algemeiner. “That’s a decision, but it’s a bad one. It’s very important that people go out and vote their conscience. Commitment to American democracy requires giving expression to the privilege and fulfilling the right and obligation each of us has to vote.”

Furthermore, Hoenlein noted, “many politicians may have limited capacities, but they can all count. And they know who votes and who doesn’t vote. You have to vote if you want to have a voice. If you fail to do so, don’t complain about the results.”

Hoenlein said he was “bothered” by displays of antisemitism during the presidential campaign. “I’m worried about the aftermath of this election,” he stated. “This has been a very divisive race. The question for the day after is will the American people be able to come back together again at a time when we have so many serious challenges facing us?”

Fissures within the Jewish community, Hoenlein said, were less troubling.

“I think Jews will focus quite quickly on the challenges ahead and the issues we have to address together,” he predicted.

Referring to a possible end-of-term lame-duck Israeli-Palestinian peace push by the Obama administration before the inauguration of the next president on Jan. 20, Hoenlein said, “There has been a lot of speculation, but no decision [has made by the administration]. I do think the president is focused on his legacy and will use these months after the election to consolidate his legacy, in both domestic and foreign policy. But there is not a lot of time and there may not be a lot of options.”

“We should be careful not to create a self-fulfilling prophecy, but at the same time we have to consider and be ready for any potential action or policy pronouncement, while also working with the incoming administration,” he continued. “The president acknowledged to me a year ago that there wouldn’t be enough time for a Palestinian state during his term, but he wanted to create the ‘predicates,’ and I think that could still be on his agenda. Or he could simply walk away and say the parties are not at a point where serious discussions can take place.”

Both Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her Republican opponent Donald Trump “have spoken against attempts to impose a solution on the Israelis and Palestinians,” Hoenlein said. “They are the ones who will have to bear the long-term consequences of any actions that are taken in the coming months, so clearly their voices will be very important.”

“I think all of them — the current president and the candidates — recognize that while outside parties can facilitate, if you want to have a really meaningful peace agreement, you can’t impose it,” Hoenlein went on to say. “It’s got to come organically from the parties. And right now, [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas has clearly indicated he is not prepared to talk. Going to the UN on ridiculous issues shows he’s not prepared to accept the existence of the Jewish state. To fight the Balfour Declaration, is that really where their resources should be going? To deny the existence of the Jewish temples and denigrate Christianity and Judaism, is that really where their efforts should be going? Or does it reflect the fact that not only is he not ready to discuss the future, he’s not even prepared to accept the past.”

Hoenlein said the first post-election priority of his group will be to “see who are people who are going to be around the new president and get off on the right foot.”

“We’ve already been in touch with people in both camps to talk about policy,” Hoenlein revealed. “We’re not going to have a honeymoon period. We’re not going to have a time in which the president will have months to adjust. We’re in the middle of a vortex right now. The world is spinning fast and developments are taking place rapidly. We have real crises, in places such as Syria, Iraq and Yemen, we have hot wars and cold wars. We have tensions between the United States and Russia. We have many countries that are teetering on the brink. So we have to do all we can to help assure that American policy moves in the right direction.”

Regardless of who wins the White House, Hoenlein expressed hope that the next administration will review America’s policy towards Iran and adopt a more aggressive approach.

“The renewal of the Iran Sanctions Act is coming up,” Hoenlein said. “I know there is strong support in Congress, and I hope the outgoing and incoming administrations will back even tougher sanctions. We know that Iran has taken advantage of this period [since the nuclear deal in July 2015] to expand its involvement in terrorism in the region and globally. We know that Iran is still moving ahead on its nuclear weaponization program and its missile delivery systems, and its provocative actions against the US and our allies are intensifying.”

“Today,” Hoenlein continued, “Iran claims it controls four Arab capitals — Beirut, Sana’a, Baghdad and Damascus. Its spreading its aggression across the region and also around the world, with its expansion of activities in places such as South America and Africa. We had better take this more seriously.”

Moreover, Hoenlein said, the next administration should look into “how we can help the people of Iran by promoting democratization. Iranians do not want the system of oppression to continue there.”

As Washington prepares the upcoming transition of power, ties between the US and Israel are on “very solid footing,” Hoenlein concluded.

“The American people are with Israel, Congress is with Israel and I think the Obama administration has demonstrated its commitment to Israel in the military and security realms in many ways, such as the new MOU that was signed,” he said. “And both candidates have asserted their support for the US-Israel special relationship.”

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  • Dale Baranowski

    To encourage Jews to vote is a veiled plea to vote for Clinton. After all, it’s a given that Jews will vote for Democratic candidates

  • Scorpio

    By having put all their goods in one basket, American Jews may be facing a dilemma of falling Jewish numbers and a loss of vigor in their support of Israel

  • Peter Joffe

    To all my Jewish brothers and sisters. There is only one thing that you need to think about today and that is your family and safety. Clinton proposes a flood of Muslims. Trump wants to close the door and keep America a Judeo/Christian country. Do you want peace and law in America? Vote Trump. Do you want rape and murder every day from Islam? Vote Clinton.

  • Victoria poupko

    This talk is partly demagogy, partly lie. The “future administration” will be ether enemy of Israel either friend. The Obama administration hate Israel but has a mask of friendship. Something in relationship is profitable for the US and the masquerade is continuing. Hillary is a secret enemy, she is a good friend of Arab leaders (as far as they donate money to her “Humanitarian” Fund”).It should be clearly said: American Jews, Vote for Trump. He is our friend.

  • allioops

    the anti-semitic actions displayed during the campaign were solely coming from the Drumpf supporters; and from Drumpf himself

  • Isahiah62

    Personally if people are so confused that they are unable to discern the pro-Israel guy and the party that truly supports not giving more land for no peace, from the person and party who has destabilized the Middle East, empowered and funded all Israel’s enemies, worked for same and lied to make sure Iran got $150.00 billion, made an under the table deal for nukes in 10 years, takes money from pro ISIS countries, spoken against Bibi and blames “settlers’, and LOVED SUHA and Arafat, a person who says Israel is an occupier and oppressor, the very not pro Israel party, that supports jewhater groups like BLM and SJP, I hope those moral equivalence fans don’t vote at all.

    If any person does not think HRC will try to bring back the failed peace plans of her husband, that birthed only more intifada each time, she that supported now ethnic cleansed GAZA in exchange for rockets, and tried to install Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and has put HUMA as her asst, they are fooling themselves to think that is support for Israel.

  • Gnomercy9 ✓Jewish

    If we truly wanted our voices heard we would stop being an automatic vote in exchange for a handful of lame platitudes and empty promises and start demanding that politicians compete for our support.

  • Wayne Scott

    As a young black male, I’ve seen my community flailing and struggling due to the disastrous impacts of the Obama political agenda, and I refuse to allow the possibility of a Clinton presidency to extend that suffering. After eight years of promises of hope and change, 2 out of 5 black boys and girls live in poverty. Compared to white Americans, African-Americans are more likely to own fewer homes and are more likely to be unemployed.

    The policies of the Obama administration have done little to help people of color, yet Clinton has unwaveringly defended them at every turn. In a recent speech in Detroit, Trump pointedly said: “If Hillary Clinton’s goal was to inflict pain on the African-American community, she could not have done a better job.”

    Trump’s message to young people of color is simple: what do you have to lose?

    In my young optimistic eyes, after the last eight years of the Obama presidency, there is little left to lose. There is only room to do better, and there is only one goal: to make America great for every American.

  • Jack

    If Our Arab cousins had truly been serious about Peace they would have changed their Educational Curriculum post Oslo. They would have raised an entire generaton on the concept of Peace with Israel. Just like so many other mistakes made by the Palestinians they raised a generation on hate, death and War

  • rimmshot

    Black Hats will vote Trump and be left in the cold the day after. She’s no fan of ours but better to be on her good side!

  • Noah Rosenblum

    American Jews need to wake up and vote for Trump !!!!

    Hillary is not right for America, Jews and Israel !!!!

  • watsa46

    Two candidates for change. A good one and another.
    Socialism, like many other systems, enslaves the “Human Spirit” for the benefit of the masses. That is what they claim!!! Then Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and many more were all on the left/far left. Results: > 150 Million lost their lives over a period of two or three decades, last century. Anybody remember? You don’t learn that in Western academia!

  • Reb_Yaakov

    What allows Jews to be heard is verbalizing and personifying Jewish values, very different from secular partisan politics. Jewish voices are not being heard mainly because there are very few of them and because their message is not one many people want to hear, just as the prophets experienced.

  • Bob

    If you are Jewish and vote for Hillary, you hate Israel and America.