USA & Israeli Flags

In one week, Jews will vote in accordance with their values; the question is whether those values will be derived from Judaism or progressivism.

An I24News poll determined that 63.3% of Israelis would prefer to see President Donald Trump reelected, versus 18.8% for Joe Biden. The majority believe that electing Biden would be harmful to the relationship between the U.S. and Israel.

But this difference pales in comparison to a new poll from Ami Magazine, which determined that 83% of Orthodox Ameicans, and fully 95% of the Haredi, support Trump. 

The overwhelming majority of Israel’s Jews fled there escaping persecution elsewhere, primarily in the Arab world. They recognize Trump for his fairness and his friendship, and for a foreign policy that has spread peace and helped ensure their safety. Trump vacated the Palestinian Authority’s veto power over Israel’s self-determination and withdrew funding from the vicious pay-to-slay bounties for the families of terrorists. His opponent pledges to reverse this policy.

Rabbi Yaakov Menken
Rabbi Yaakov Menken

Politicians from both parties assured us that a massive conflagration would result if the U.S. were to move its embassy to Jerusalem as Congress directed in 1995. Trump proved them wrong. Thanks to his bold action, numerous countries moved or plan to move their own embassies. Israel now has peaceful relations with the UAE, Bahrain and Kosovo, a deepened relationship with Serbia, suggestions of a thaw with Saudi Arabia and multiple indications of future breakthroughs.

The same Ami Magazine poll showed overwhelming support for Israel in the Orthodox American community, and one might be tempted to dismiss the Orthodox as “one-issue voters.” But this would be wrong.

For those who adhere to Jewish religious tradition, the right to free practice of religion is cherished as a privilege. Attorney Nathan Lewin, a leading Orthodox legal advocate, described the present-day court as the best for religious liberties seen in his lifetime, even before the nomination of Judge Amy Barrett. 

Observant Jews endorse policies that build and support life, family and faith as good for all Americans. We insist upon private, parochial schools to educate our children. Orthodox Jews also recognize that denying funding to America’s finest is a recipe for disaster: The Bible demands judges and officers, for the alternative is anarchy.

Again, per the Ami poll, Orthodox Jews overwhelmingly believe that Trump is treated unfairly by a hostile media. And the Orthodox also know that as they were viciously attacked on the streets of New York City last year, the mayor did little to help. 

Yet in the larger Jewish community, the majority clearly plan to vote for Joe Biden. Why is their preference so wildly discordant with that of Israelis and the observant?

The answer can be summed up in the opening line of a news report by JTA from May of last year: “Senior Democrats in Congress embraced the agenda of the Reform movement, including gun control, immigration reform, abortion rights and dealing with climate change.”

It seems that the Reform movement has replaced classical Jewish, Biblical values with progressive politics. 

To confuse matters yet further, Conservative Judaism is similarly far from conservative. And, sadly, the largest and fastest growing segment of the American Jewish community today is “Jews of no religion,” unaffiliated with any Jewish movement. These are Jews who, in largest part, have fully adopted the progressive agenda.

An increasing number, though, now recognize that something is amiss — that the disconnect between the attacks upon the president they hear from the pulpit and his actual policies are exceeded only by that between the values espoused by their leaders and words of the Bible itself. 

Jews will vote in accordance with their values; the question is whether those values will be derived from Judaism or progressivism. It seems that either one leads inevitably to a particular choice.

Rabbi Yaakov Menken is managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values. A version of this essay was first published in Newsweek and is endorsed by the Michigan Jewish Action Council.