Ral­ly­ing against Trump, Democrats launch group to tar­get Jewish vot­ers

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By MICHAEL WIL­NER Jerusalem Post cor­re­spon­dent

WASH­ING­TON – Se­nior Demo­cratic lead­ers at­tended the launch on Thurs­day of a group meant to serve as a bridge be­tween their party and the US’s Jewish com­mu­nity.

The Jewish Demo­cratic Coun­cil of Amer­ica will “ac­tively pro­mote to Demo­cratic of­fice­hold­ers and can­di­dates na­tional and lo­cal leg­isla­tive poli­cies con­sis­tent with the Jewish com­mu­nity’s val­ues, as well as a strong US-Is­rael re­la­tion­ship,” the group said in its launch state­ment.

Am­bas­sador to the US Ron Der­mer at­tended the Capi­tol Hill re­cep­tion, along­side Sens. Ben Cardin of Mary­land, Sher­rod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Penn­syl­va­nia, Michael Ben­net of Colorado, Tim Kaine of Vir­ginia, Chris Mur­phy of Con­necti­cut and Deb­bie Stabenow of Michi­gan.

Rep­re­sent­ing the House side were: Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi of Cal­i­for­nia, Demo­cratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Mary­land, Reps. Ted Deutch and Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz of Florida and Eliot En­gel, Nita Lowey, Grace Meng and Jerry Nadler of New York, among oth­ers.

Or­ga­niz­ers of the event of­fered nearly the en­tire list of law­mak­ers the op­por­tu­nity to speak, re­sult­ing in a long and steady stream of re­marks on why Amer­i­can Jews are over­whelm­ingly Democrats, and why their Demo­cratic pro­cliv­i­ties have only been re­in­forced in the era of Don­ald Trump. Most speak­ers high­lighted the com­mit­ment of Jews to tol­er­ance and pluralism, to equal rights for all, and to the dig­nity of im­mi­grants.

“Those val­ues are be­ing chal­lenged to­day – and it’s the Demo­cratic Party that is stand­ing up for those val­ues that I think are so im­por­tant to the Jewish com­mu­nity and to this great na­tion,” said Cardin, who is Jewish.

Sev­eral mem­bers ref­er­enced this sum­mer’s neo-Nazi rally in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, which drew ire from Amer­i­can Jewish groups but a tepid re­sponse from the US pres­i­dent, who claimed that “very fine peo­ple” had at­tended the march.

It was the clear­est and most fre­quent ex­am­ple used of a grow­ing wave of an­ti­semitism, na­tivism and xeno­pho­bia in the United States – and a need for Jewish po­lit­i­cal ac­tivism to re­turn to its Demo­cratic roots. Their fears ap­pear borne out in data re­cently re­leased by the Anti-Defama­tion League, which has iden­ti­fied a 182% in­crease in an­ti­semitic in­ci­dents in the months that fol­lowed events in Char­lottesville.

Der­mer praised the found­ing of the group, not­ing that bi­par­ti­san sup­port for the Jewish state is a “strate­gic as­set.”

“You can­not fly a plane with one wing,” the am­bas­sador said. “Is­rael thinks this is great, be­cause it gives us an­other way to en­gage with the Demo­cratic Party.”

The or­ga­ni­za­tion will be headed by Ron Klein, a for­mer con­gress­man from Florida, with daily op­er­a­tions run by Steve Rabi­nowitz and Aaron Keyak of Blue­light Strate­gies. Fund-rais­ing will be led by Fran Katz Wat­son and Lau­ren France of the Katz Wat­son Group.

“The Jewish com­mu­nity has al­ways been about a bet­ter fu­ture,” Pelosi said, jok­ing that more Demo­cratic law­mak­ers were in the au­di­ence than typ­i­cally at­tend her sched­uled cau­cuses. “It is a given, part of our value sys­tem, that we sup­port Is­rael – that’s not even a ques­tion... What the Jewish com­mu­nity has done do­mes­ti­cally in the United States has made a tremen­dous, tremen­dous dif­fer­ence.”

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