A Sincere Warning: 2024 Election and American Jews
This article was written by Samantha Wampold, Pinsker Centre Policy Fellow '24, and was originally published in The Times of Israel.
Source: The Telegraph
Since October 7th, the Israeli people and their supporters have been in disbelief over the deadliest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. Jews in the diaspora may be asking themselves how to assist our Jewish brothers and sisters from thousands of miles away. While there are resources available to us to donate directly to IDF soldiers and reservists, as well as families who lost their loved ones and homes in the tragedy, the American public must understand now, more than ever, that this is the time to start thinking about a future presidential candidate who aligns with the values of the American people and will support the safety of the American Jewish community.
Those in the Jewish Diaspora have unfortunately witnessed horrific antisemitic attacks in Paris, Dagestan, New York, and London, to name just a few. It has become increasingly and unfortunately apparent to the American public that if even our beloved country, the land of the free, is no longer safe, where else will the Jewish people be able to seek refuge? Israel is the only country in the world that instated a Law of Return, which welcomes all Jews around the world seeking safety. The American Jewish community needs to understand that this tragedy serves as a wake-up call to the world in its support for Jewish safety. To move forward, we must analyze the current presidential candidates and seek out those willing to fight for the safety of the American Jewish community and support the world’s only Jewish state.
First, there is current President Joe Biden. Biden is an 80-year-old Democrat who Americans fear cannot take on the role of President for another four years. If re-elected, Biden will become the oldest President in American history. That being said, Biden’s age is not the only reason to be suspicious of his worthiness in asserting the country’s highest honor of serving as president.
While Biden did visit Israel after the massacre, his response to the Jewish community that remains inside the US has been deafeningly silent. Biden reiterated that his support for the American Jewish community and Israel is “ironclads”; however, he has not visited a single college campus or spoken to Jewish students who have been assaulted or directly impacted. Since that fateful day, there has been a heavy increase in antisemitic attacks on campus. At Cornell University, students posted alerts online, commanding others to track down Jewish students and then proceeded to encourage them to “follow them home and slit their throats.” Another student at Cornell commanded these ‘activists’ to “rape and kill the jew women, before they birth more jewish hitlers.” The impunity enjoyed by these terrorist inciters is sickening and must be condemned by the Biden administration. These comments align far too closely with the propaganda spread by the Nazi regime and shames the US. Suppose the American public does not think critically before electing a presidential candidate; the culture on US campuses will further deviate from peace and inclusivity, and Jewish students will have to seek out other methods to pursue higher education.
In this situation, where some students fear wearing a Kippah or Magen David (Star of David) on school grounds and where other students are afraid to speak up and challenge their professors, national leadership is desperately needed. As American citizens, we cannot let this reality continue for our children and the future of this country. These statements and actions have no place at our universities, and the fact that the President has not understood the true scope of the problem should be noted as another major concern.
Former president Donald Trump, the father of the MAGA movement, is a man who does not need an introduction. It is no secret that Trump is loved by a fair share of Israelis and Israel supporters around the world. Trump is the man who recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights, cut $200 million of US aid to UNRWA (Controversial UN aid organisation in Gaza and the West Bank that is constantly embroiled in vile antisemitism scandals), and recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.
While it is true that Trump has fought assiduously for Israel, that is not due to an underlying affinity for the Jewish people. Rather, it is due to the support from the Republican Party, many of whom are Evangelical Christians (who make up the largest Israel lobby in the US- CUFI) and conservative Jews who support these policies. However, it is difficult to predict if Trump will remain in a position of high influence in the coming months. As one of the three former Presidents who was impeached by Congress, it is no surprise that Trump is facing difficulty with the law yet again. Most recently, he is dealing with a fraud trial that may lead to his loss of the infamous Trump Tower. The effect that this case, alongside the multitude of other serious accusations like the classified document trial and the election racketeering trial in Georgia, will have on the upcoming election remains to be seen.
Ron DeSantis, the current Governor of Florida, has been considered a probable challenger to Trump for the Republican Party nomination. DeSantis has restated his support for Israel by deploying two cargo planes holding 85 pallets of donated supplies to Israel, including hospital gowns, surgical gloves, IV kits, hygiene products, and children’s toys. He has commented that “with the lack of leadership in Washington, we [as Floridians] are stepping up to help our allies in Israel.” Florida is a state with a significant Jewish population and a high concentration of Christians that support Israel’s right to exist and defend itself. Indeed, DeSantis has faced immense backlash for his controversial decision to ban pro-Palestinian groups from Florida college campuses. He claimed that the SJP and BDS’s appalling material support of Hamas, a US-proscribed terrorist organization, is not a First Amendment issue. Rather, DeSantis justified a ban using the Patriot Act, which was enacted in 2001 to prevent other terrorist attacks. DeSantis restated that all college students are allowed the right to peaceful protest. Still, when they post online graphics defending the Hamas terrorists and praise them, it is without hesitation, incitement of terrorism. Notably though, DeSantis has been critiqued for his controversial decision to remove all Jewish Studies courses, majors, and minors. The University of Florida, notably, has more Jewish students “than any other public college in the United States.” DeSantis has consistently expressed a desire to ban all “woke” concepts from the Florida state curriculum. This conclusion leaves Jewish Floridians and students questioning the link between the “distasteful” woke programming and courses exploring Jewish history, culture, and identity.
Nikki Haley, former South Carolina Governor, and UN Ambassador, shares with DeSantis the possibility to top Trump as the Republican Party nominee. Haley has been noted as the Jewish Republicans’ “best candidate” by Jewish Insider. While serving as UN ambassador, Haley has called out the “disproportionate focused and unending hostility toward Israel.” She supported Trump in the contentious decision to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and urged Trump to decertify the Iran nuclear deal. She promised to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism federally and criticized the Biden administration for excluding anti-Zionist rhetoric as a depiction of antisemitism. Haley was praised as the only Presidential candidate thus far for claiming that “Denying Israel’s right to exist and calling for Israel’s annihilation is just another form of antisemitism.” Haley has decades of experience fighting for the values of the American public. She will be the only capable candidate with a steadfast stance on the situation and a proposed plan for tackling it.
While Americans should not consider Israel as their foremost concern when selecting a candidate to govern the country, the persecution of Jews in the US since the October 7th massacre cannot simply be ignored. Since that indelible day, forever marked in the minds of Jews around the world, there have been multiple affronts across the United States. Most recently, ten members of the Democratic party voted against condemning the Hamas attack, which burned and beheaded babies, raped innocent women, and captured over two hundred hostages that remain in captivity in Gaza. If these elected representatives are unable to clearly denounce a terrorist attack, that should serve as a clear warning sign to the American people. Who is representing us? Do they share our values of freedom and safety? It should be no secret to the American Jewish community that their decision of who they vote for in the 2024 election will have a tacit impact on the American government’s concern and support for the Jewish community. We must gain a deeper understanding of how these candidates view the Middle East, what their hopes are for the future of the American public, and the safety of Jewish people as loyal citizens of this country.
Samantha Wampold, born in Seattle, WA, is now pursuing a postgraduate degree at King’s College London, studying Terrorism, Security & Society. She recently graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in Global and Regional Studies. Samantha is also a policy fellow at the Pinsker Centre, a campus-based think tank that facilitates discussion on global affairs and free speech.