President Joe Biden flew to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shortly after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

For majority of American Jews, in Biden they trust

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For majority of American Jews, in Biden they trust

President Joe Biden flew to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shortly after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

Joe Biden, king of the Jews.

The 46th president has stunningly low approval ratings, descending into the 30s. His backing among Blacks and Hispanics, regarded only two years ago as the bulwark of his electoral support, is approaching dangerously low numbers. The young people who rallied to his side and helped lift him into the White House are abandoning him, in large measure over his failure to embrace the Palestinian cause.

But standing tall with the president are America’s Jews. A poll by the non-partisan Jewish Electorate Institute found that three-fourths of Jewish voters back Biden’s policies in the Middle East war.

Educated in Catholic schools and a regular attendant at Mass, on paper Biden may be an unlikely hero for Jews. But his political profile – just liberal enough for progressive Jews, moderate enough to be acceptable to conservative-leaning Jews – has been palatable to Jews for decades.

Stranger things have happened. A shady reprobate who invested in casinos, was twice divorced, and is a serial adulterer is the darling of evangelicals. But Donald Trump wasn’t the first to pull that off; Four decades earlier, Ronald Reagan didn’t go to church and and yet was a favorite of religious conservatives.

As president, Biden has appointed four Jews to the Cabinet; 16 Jews to ambassadorships, including Canada, Germany, India, Japan, the European Community, Israel, and Jordan; and established the first National Strategy to Combat Antisemitism.

The alliance between Biden and Jews has been durable, and has only been reinforced by his support of Israel after the Hamas attack of Oct. 7.

Despite his earlier distaste for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he has consulted regularly with the Israeli leader. It is both the fact and the content of their interchanges that has reinforced Jewish support for Biden.

“President Joe Biden came here as an angel and the Israeli people were affected by that deeply,” said Rabbi Ezra Ende, who heads the Kehilat HaDror congregation in Jerusalem. “His care for the hostages was deeply felt and we feel that America is with us as an inseparable part in our battle for survival.

“President Biden touches the heart of Israelis,” Rabbi Ende continued, “and helps us feel cared for and safer.”

A recent poll found that nearly three in four Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 disapprove of Biden’s war policy.

For stalwart supporters of the Jewish state, for those who have long supported Netanyahu, and for those who take a hard line regarding the Palestinians, Biden’s rush to Israel’s side was both a powerful act and enduring symbol.

At the same time, for American Jews who are squeamish about the force Israel has projected in Gaza, and who shudder at the humanitarian cost of the Israeli offensive, Biden’s calls for restraint are welcome and provide a comfortable angle of repose in the Middle East crisis: Listen to Biden, this constituency urges, he’s friend, not foe.

Jews are providing one of the few safe corners of American political life for the president.

A New York Times/Siena College poll showed that only 33 percent of Americans support the president’s policies in the war, with 57 percent opposing. What is more worrisome for the Democrats looking ahead to the general election: Americans prefer the leadership in the Middle East of former president Donald Trump to Biden by a margin of 46 percent to 38 percent.

But the biggest alarm for Team Biden – and a forecast for the tensions young American Jews may face on campus and in their lives, along with a possible glimpse into the future of Jewish life in America – comes with the poll finding that nearly three in four Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 disapprove of Biden’s war policy. This age group, which gave Biden a 10 percent edge over Trump as recently as July, now sides with the former president by 6 percent.

A swing of that magnitude (16 points) in such a short time (six months) is both dramatic and significant. It helps explain the discomfort many Jewish students feel on college campuses and the political landscape they must traverse.

But the Jewish support for Biden remains strong.

The Jewish Electorate Institute poll gives Biden a 39 percent “trust” advantage over Trump in fighting antisemitism. And by a 3-to-1 margin, Jews said they would vote for Biden over Trump. The poll reflected an 8-point drop in support for Trump among American Jews.

Jews were not an important constituency in the Iowa caucuses nor will they be in the New Hampshire primary – contests for the presidential nomination of the Republican Party.

Jews are important in only two of the seven states considered general election swing states: Michigan and Pennsylvania, the latter being a state where Biden was reared and is adjacent to Delaware, his political base. So don’t expect to see Biden at a temple brotherhood breakfast meeting in Marblehead or Brookline this fall. He’ll be in Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh and West Bloomfield outside Detroit. Count on it. Θ

David M. Shribman, who won a Pulitzer Prize as Washington bureau chief of the Boston Globe, is executive editor emeritus of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and teaches at Carnegie Mellon University and McGill University.

One Response

  1. Jews who support Biden are mislead. His administration has been the worst possible scenario for Israel and the Jews. His predecessor was a wonderful friend to Israel starting with recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,moving our Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing the Golan Heights, establishing the Abraham Accords, stopping payments to the PA for their pay to slay policies, establishing that discrimination against Jews will give rise to a Title VI violation under the civil rights act. There were no wars in the Middle East under the Trump administration. Although Biden has Jews in his administration they are progressive lefties who continue to press for a two state solution (Biden himself) even though this is incomprehensible when your enemy wants you eradicated! Anti Semitism has flourished under Biden and has become mainstream. His DEI policies have only lead to more discrimination and attacks against Jews. If only the Jewish community would wake up and examine the facts they might n0t be so quick to support a President who has been a detriment to Israel and the Jews. Your Democratic Party is not the Party of your grandparents. It is the Socialist Democratic Party of the US with Biden at the helm
    Mr Schribman perhaps you too should rethink your position!

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