In the days and hours before Election Day on Tuesday, American Jewish groups on both sides of the aisle were making their last statements and outreach efforts to bring out supporters in the Jewish community.
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) released the latest in a series of videos and highway billboards in heavily Jewish areas, urging Jews to switch their traditional affiliation from the Democratic Party to the Republicans. Over the weekend, volunteers made tens of thousands of phone calls to Jewish households in key locales such as Cleveland, Philadelphia and South Florida.
In the most recent videos, former Democrats Abroad Israel chair Bryna Franklin argued Obama was bad for Israel, while Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus said the president was bad for America’s businesses.
The RJC’s nine-minute documentary “Perilous Times,” which targeted what it called President Obama’s lack of support for Israel, has garnered a million views on YouTube in the run-up to November 6.
Prominent Republican mega-donor and philanthropist to Jewish causes Sheldon Adelson published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Sunday arguing that “the Democratic Party just isn’t what it used to be,” abandoning Israel and forsaking the American belief in charity and free enterprise.
Democrats, meanwhile, have pushed just as hard in the last days, publicizing endorsements for Obama from prominent Jews. The most recent endorsement videos show singer Barbra Streisand and former ambassador Dennis Ross arguing for a second Obama term.
A column last week in the Jewish magazine Tablet by Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, argued that Obama’s policies better represented “Jewish values.”
A microsite launched by the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), “Jewish Voter Test,” tried to make the same arguments.
These last-minute initiatives all shared a similar message: President Obama is an unequivocal supporter of Israel and has worked to advance Jewish values on social and economic issues. Barbra Streisand and other endorsers claimed that Governor Romney would dismantle some of the social policies Jews supported.
The NJDC has even spent the past week attempting to portray Romney as “duplicitous” in his hardline rhetoric toward the Iranian regime, both through a Times of Israel op-ed by former congressman Mel Levine and a second microsite titled “Romney and Iran,” arguing that he was personally — and as governor, allowed Massachusetts public pensions to be — financially invested in companies that do business with Iran, such as BNP Paribas and Barclays Bank.
(An examination of these claims by The Times of Israel noted that Romney’s personal investments are held in a blind trust, while his record on Iran divestment as governor was no different than the state governments of all 50 states, including Illinois, where Obama was a state legislator at the time. None of the 22 successful state divestment initiatives currently on the books in state governments nationwide had yet launched by the time Romney was out of office in 2007.)
Some of Obama’s most remarkable endorsements in recent days came from prominent Jews who had criticized Obama in the past, including former New York mayor Ed Koch, law professor Alan Dershowitz and former congressman Robert Wexler. All argued the president understood the security challenges faced by Israel, and would stand by Israel in a second term.