With Roy Moore defeat, US Jews breathe a sigh of relief
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With Roy Moore defeat, US Jews breathe a sigh of relief

Jewish Democrats say Alabama judge's loss is a 'Hanukkah gift for the American people,' Jewish Republicans say a win 'would have buried GOP in 2018'

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

Senate candidate Roy Moore seen after casting his vote in Gallant, Ala., Dec. 12, 2017. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images via JTA)
Senate candidate Roy Moore seen after casting his vote in Gallant, Ala., Dec. 12, 2017. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images via JTA)

WASHINGTON — US Jewish leaders from both sides of the aisle breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday after Democrat Doug Jones clinched a stunning victory over Republican Judge Roy Moore in the closely watched race for an Alabama Senate seat.

“Thank God that Alabama residents came to their good senses and defeated someone who has a bigoted, racist past and would have been a very negative force on the national scene,” Ron Klein, chair of the newly formed Jewish Democratic Council of America, told The Times of Israel.

“His views are antithetical to what most Jewish values are and many of our beliefs. He is someone I think any Jewish person, either Democrat or Republican, would not want to get behind.”

Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones speaks to reporters after voting at Brookwood Baptist Church in Mountain Brook, Alabama, on December 12, 2017.(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP)

JDCA had tweeted the night before that Jones’s win was a “Hanukkah gift for the American people,” noting the evening coincided with the first night of the Jewish holiday.

Meanwhile, Klein’s counterpart at the Republican Jewish Coalition also expressed relief, emphasizing that the association with Moore would have hurt GOP candidates in the years ahead.

“Short term pain, long term gain,” tweeted Norm Coleman, national chairman of the organization. “Roy Moore and Steve Bannon losing tonight is big win for the GOP. We will survive 2 years of D. Jones. Moore would have buried GOP in 2018.”

Though backed by US President Donald Trump, the GOP and heavily championed by former White House aide Steve Bannon, many Republicans chafed at Moore’s extreme views, including that homosexual conduct should be illegal and that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress.

Had he won, it was expected an internecine fight would erupt within the Republican Party over what to do about the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

“I have to say that this is a far better feeling,” tweeted Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the liberal Jewish Mideast advocacy group J Street, comparing Tuesday’s election to last year’s presidential race, shortly after the contest was called.

At the same time, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, said in a statement that the moment — in which a Democrat won in a deep red state — was “an example of the political revolution in action.”

“This is a victory not just for Jones and Democrats,” he also tweeted. “It is a victory for justice and decency.”

Moore’s candidacy galvanized worldwide attention because of the numerous women who accused him of sexual misconduct.

One woman alleged that he made sexual overtures toward her while he was a local prosecutor in his 30s, and she was 14. Other women also stepped forward to say he made unwanted advances on them, and one accused him of sexual assault.

At a rally this week, the former judge’s wife, Kayla Moore, also raised eyebrows as she tried to deflect charges of anti-Semitism directed at her husband.

“Fake news will tell you we don’t care for Jews,” she said at a rally for her husband in rural Alabama on Monday evening. “Well, one of our attorneys is a Jew. We have very close friends who are Jewish and rabbis.”

Her comments sparked both immediate ridicule and an outcry that swept well into Tuesday.

Kayla Moore, the wife of US Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks at a campaign rally, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, in Midland City, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
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