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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘election’

NYC Mayoral Candidates Heavily Courting Orthodox Jewish Voters

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Mew York mayoral candidates are boning up on Jewish law and are learning about Jewish holidays as they attend Jewish events in the race for the large Jewish vote, especially in the Democratic primary.

There are no Jewish candidates to replace Michael Bloomberg, and the lack of a strong Republican candidate more or less puts a Democrat in Gracie Mansion next November.

Approximately 600,000 Democrats are expected to vote in the primaries, a large number of them black or Jewish. Outside of Manhattan, Jews account for more than 15 percent of the vote, according to The New York Times, and nearly one-third of them are Orthodox, whose population continues to soar.

“The seven or eight percentage points that the Orthodox Jewish vote makes up in a primary could definitely make the difference,” Councilman David Greenfield told Colin Campbell in 2012.

It is no wonder that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn attended a Tu B’Shvat “seder” earlier this year and met with Orthodox women who own or manage businesses in Williamsburg.

Polls give her a commanding lead over rivals with 37 percent of the projected vote and 40 percent of the Jewish vote, but future polls could change drastically, one way or the other, if Mayor Bloomberg endorses a candidate. He previously has said that Quinn is the only “rational” candidate but has since gone cold one her after she call for a new Police Department watchdog.

With the primaries five months away, she has plenty of time to go after the Jewish vote, but for the time being, she has not been overly noticeable at Jewish events. One point against her among Orthodox Jews may be that although she is married, she also is openly homosexual.

Her closest rivals are Bill Thompson and Bill de Blasio, who are running close to each other in the polls.

Thompson is a black who is highly regarded in many Orthodox Jewish circles and may be able to garner the Jewish vote to close the gap behind Quinn.

The Times reported last month that Thompson knows better than to shake hands with an Orthodox women and may even have learned a bit of Yiddish that his father, a former legislator, often used.

He is an Episcopalian, but his father’s second wife was Jewish.

“I still remember his bar mitzvah,” joked Ben Barber, an observant Jew who owns a linen business in Borough Park told the newspaper.

Last month, Thompson was the only Democratic candidate at a press conference who denounced Brooklyn College for hosting a Boycott Israel movement event.

Thompson also was the first comptroller to make city investments in Israeli bonds.

De Blasio has 18 percent of the Jewish vote, according to New York Mayor BlogSpot, which also reported Sunday that he attended the Belz annual dinner in February, where he was introduced as “the next mayor of New York City.”

The New York Times reported last month that de Blasio has been “attuned” to issues of business fines and parking that have irritated Orthodox Jews.

Quinn last week attacked a $1 million ad blitz against Quinn, who implied that it was financed “by those closely aligned with my opponents,” but de Blasio denied any connection with the campaign, whose spokeswoman Chelsea Conner said, “Frankly, the Quinn folks made an inaccurate statement Sunday night, they knew it as well as us, and they had to walk it back Monday morning.”

All of the other Democratic party candidates have marginal support except for John Liu who garnered 9 percent in the Marist poll.

Some Jewish leaders have noted “he hasn’t missed any Jewish event in the years he’s been in office,”  BlogSpot wrote.

No More Likud Primaries

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

PM Netanyahu said on Tuesday night, that he plans on canceling the primary system in the Likud, according to Channel 1.

Instead of Likud party members voting for which candidates they want to run for Knesset, it appears that Netanyahu wants to personally select and place each candidate.

Netanyahu’s message is that the party  list is what caused the Likud’s poor showing in the election, as opposed to his attacking his natural allies on the religious and the right, while not going after Yair Lapid at all, as well as the poorly organized and unfocused campaign that Netanyahu ran.

I’m Not Voting for Obama, that’s for Sure

Monday, January 21st, 2013

People can stop reading my blog if they like. They can unfriend me on Facebook, and remove me from their groups, but I will continue to write the truth. Believe me, I don’t write to upset my fellow Jews. I write, bezrat Hashem, to help them to see through the darkness that surrounds us in foreign lands.

Once again, let me try to explain. The plague of darkness in Egypt is described as darkness “mamash,” meaning darkness so thick and tangible that you could literally reach out and physically feel it. Up until the plague, there was darkness in Egypt, the usual darkness of the galut, but the Jews had become so accustomed to it, they didn’t sense it anymore. So Hashem had to turn it into a physical darkness as thick as glue to remind them that they were in an impure place where they didn’t belong.

Why were they blind to the darkness? Because when people grow up in darkness, they don’t experience it as darkness at all. That’s what they’re used to. In fact, to them it seems like light. If you tell them they’re living in the dark, they are liable to get angry. “What do you mean?” they exclaim. “It isn’t dark here at all. You’re crazy. You don’t know what you are talking about. You’re an agitator, that’s all.”

How do I know that the exile is darkness? Because I lived there, and now that I’m in Israel, I can see the enormous difference. And should you ask, “Who is Tzvi Fishman that I should believe what he writes?” The answer is that it isn’t Tzvi Fishman at all.

In this week’s Torah portion, Rashi informs us that only 20% of the Jews left the Diaspora during the Exodus (Shemot, 13:18). 80% of them told Moshe to get lost! That’s right, 80% preferred to stay in America, I mean Egypt, not wanting to give up the delicious Egyptian bagels, the gala Federation dinners, their college studies at Cairo University, and their careers.

Our Sages also teach us about the darkness of chutz l’Aretz (outside of the Land of Israel), as it says in the tractate Sanhedrin, on the verse in the Book of Lamentations, “He has set me down in dark places, like those who are long ago dead” (Eichah, 3:6) – “Rabbi Yirmeya said: ‘This refers to the learning in Babylon,’” which doesn’t have the same illumination as the Torah learning in Eretz Yisrael (Sanhedrin 24A).

Yes, my friends, there can be a Torah learning that is shrouded in darkness. For example, the spies in the wilderness were the leaders of their tribes, the most prominent Torah scholars of the nation, but they didn’t understand that Eretz Yisrael is the foundation upon which the entire Torah and nationhood of Israel stands, as the Gemara teaches: “There is no greater bittul Torah than when the People of Israel are removed from their place” (Chagigah 4B). Like the 80% who wanted to stay in Egypt, and who died in the plague of darkness, these scholars and leaders of the Jewish People wanted to stay in the wilderness and not make aliyah as Hashem had commanded again and again. The Gaon of Vilna teaches that this same myopic understanding of Torah, which denies the centrality of the Land of Israel to the life of the Jewish Nation, is a sin which reappears in every generation, and even Talmidei Chachamin are caught in its darkness (“Kol HaTor,” Ch.5).

In our time, there were three great visionaries who taught us to see the truth of the Torah in the events of our times. Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook; his son, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook; and Rabbi Meir Kahane, may their memories be for a blessing. Certainly, many other Rabbis shed light on our era, but along the path of my return to Torah and to Eretz Yisrael, these three Torah giants have been shining beacons of wisdom and truth, illuminating the world’s darkness. Each had his own style and individual stamp, with differences of emphasis and approach, but each one taught the Nation to see the Redemption that was taking place in our time, and to recognize the great light of Torah and tshuva contained in the ingathering of the exiles, the abandoning of galut, and the rebuilding of the Nation in Eretz Yisrael. It is a synthesis of their teachings that I am expounding, in my own inadequate way, and it is their genius in Torah, not mine.

Let me try to give you another simple example. Last night, I attended a wedding. There is nothing like a wedding in Israel, where there is concrete meaning to the saying that the holy union of the hatan and kallah (the groom and the bride), and the house they will inhabit, is an additional stone in the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple. When the band plays the verse of the song, “There will yet be heard on the hills of Judea and in the courtyards of Jerusalem, the voice of gladness and the voice of joy, the voice of the hatan and the voice of the kallah,” these words of the Biblical prophecy are coming true in front of your eyes.

And when everyone sings out the Psalm, “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, withered be my right hand! May my tongue cleave to my palate, if I ever not think of you, if ever I not set Jerusalem above my chiefest joy!” everyone present in that wedding hall in Israel means it. The words are not some abstract dream, spoken in some faraway land, but a living reality.

My friends, King David didn’t pen these words as just a pretty poem. On the wings of divine inspiration, he is teaching us that our love for Jerusalem is to be the guiding principle of our lives, even greater than the joy of our wedding, more cherished than our spouses, families, our villas, our Audis and Mercedes, more valued than our bank accounts, professions, and university degrees. We are to set Jerusalem above our chiefest joy, to struggle in its behalf, and to dedicate ourselves to its holy rebuilding.

“How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” King David asks.

The answer is that we can’t.

To sing the Lord’s song, you have to sing it in Israel.

A Big-Time Pollster In The Making?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

I come across Yair Michaeli standing amid the bustle of an Israeli shopping mall, a clipboard in his hand. He appears to be a serious-minded Israeli haredi. What is he doing in a place like this?

Yair, a 22-year-old graduate of prestigious Lithuanian and Sephardic yeshivot, is a licensed realtor but hopes one day to be the man all Israeli politicians turn to at election time – the premier pollster of Israeli politics.

“I was always interested in politics, even as a child,” says Yair. “First I made personal connections with all the haredi and religious parties and their leaders. Eventually I became interested in all the parties. Israeli politics is an amazing mix of personalities, ideologies and sheer energy. It is the most fascinating political process in the world, without a doubt.”

“So,” I ask him, “what is your method for polling?”

“As you know,” he replies, “there are many others working in the field, and there is no shortage of polls. First I gather all the recent polls done by other groups and factor the results together, arriving at an average score for each party running. Then I use my own special method.”

“Which is what?” I ask.

“Other pollsters try to get a random sampling of the population based on all kinds of statistical models. Then they call people on the phone. However, many people when polled by telephone don’t respond seriously. Sometimes the questions don’t resonate. So the results are inaccurate. What I do is more down to earth. I choose a sampling of locations and take my teams directly to places where people naturally come together. There we ask the relevant questions face to face. People get to consider the questions carefully and ask for explanations or clarifications.”

I look at him questioningly. “Is this really a superior method?”

“In a face-to-face encounter you can always see if someone is being serious with you or not,” he sys. “Sometimes people share their thoughts and feelings, and we take special note of this information. After tabulating the responses, we can see how far our results correlate with or diverge from the other polls. Sometimes there are big differences, which make us go back and retry our polling method. When we retry several times and our results remain consistent, we know we are on to something important which the other pollsters might have missed.”

As the Israeli election draws near, Yair works almost around the clock. He visits population centers and party activists. He is always eager to share his unique insights.

“In this upcoming election,” he says, “there are several new parties that have entered the race. This happens every election and ordinarily it is not statistically significant. New independent parties don’t usually register with Israeli voters. Most successful politicians have his or her power base in some pre-existing social context. This means that in Israeli politics the people end up getting more of the same old stuff term after term. But this time around it seems that something fundamental has shifted in voters’ attitudes. People are tired of running over the same ineffectual solutions time and time again. There is a breath of fresh air blowing this time, and I believe that at least one independent party has a fighting chance of getting into the next Knesset.”

“Which party is that?” I ask.

“The Calcala Party,” he responds. “But of course there are still lots of polls to be taken between now and Election Day, and Calcala has an uphill battle ahead of it.”

I ask him to sum up his own personal and professional goals.

“First, my goal is to provide accurate information to the politicians I consider worthy of my help. Second, I intend to become the main pollster for the Israeli political system.”

“You seem pretty confident,” I tell him.

“Yes, I’m confident I can do it. How? Well, if after the upcoming elections it turns out my polls were the most accurate at predicting the various parties’ performance, that will pretty much seal the matter.”

Maybe a little too skeptically, I press him: “So you really think you can pull this off?”

He replies with a smile: “Time will tell, time will tell.”

Republicans, Don’t Give Up!

Monday, November 26th, 2012

The difference between victory and defeat often comes down to morale. You’ve seen it in baseball games and wars. It’s that faint sense of air leaking out of the balloon. A weariness and malaise that kicks in when one side decides it can’t win and doesn’t want to be here anymore.

November 2012 was not a defeat. It was a loss in a close election that rattled the Democrats by showing just how much of the country had turned on their savior. It was a rebuke to Obama’s mismanagement of the country and the economy over the last four years.

Or it would have been if the Republican Party had not reacted to its loss by screaming and wailing in despair after their hopes were ludicrously inflated by establishment posters. Followed by running around like a chicken without a head because we fell 400,000 votes short of winning key states. And this defeatist behavior has helped the media create the myth of a second-term mandate.

The country did not repudiate us. The majority of Americans did not pledge allegiance to some rotten post-American country. The majority stayed home. And that is damning, but it’s also comforting because these are the people we have to win over. They don’t believe in Obama, but they don’t believe in us either. They don’t believe in politics because it isn’t relevant to their lives.

The more Republicans treat the election as a renunciation of everything that they stand for or a reason to give up on the country, the more Democrats posture as having won a tremendous ideological and cultural victory, instead of a limited strategic victory. Our reaction legitimizes theirs.

Republican consultants and pollsters fed the dream of an easy victory and that vision of an inevitable victory made the actual defeat much more shocking and devastating. It made people despair thinking that if we couldn’t win an election this “easy”, then it’s completely hopeless. But this was never going to be an easy ride. Not against the first black man in the White House with a money advantage and the media in his pocket. Not against opponents running a coordinated smear campaign while rigging the economy in their favor.

Obama may have Carter’s policies times ten, but he also has the image and the ruthless political machine of JFK. And even Reagan had to work hard to beat Carter. It wasn’t the easy ride that some Republicans like to remember it as. Even though the economy was a disaster, the hostages were in Iran and Carter’s performance had been so bad that he had a high profile Democratic challenger in the form of Ted Kennedy who took the fight to the Convention; Reagan did not break out until the debate. Now imagine Reagan running against JFK. The man in the cowboy hat might have won, but let’s not pretend that it would have been any easier than it was for Romney.

Beating Obama was possible and for a brief shining moment the window was open, when Romney had one good debate performance, but then it closed again as the storm blew in and the polls filled up with the handpicked demographics of the welfare state. And we lost, but we also won.

Win or lose, elections send a message and the message for this election to Obama was not, “We like what you’ve been doing the last four years. Great job!”

Obama lost his mandate. To win, he had to run a divisive campaign dependent on minority groups. And that locks him in a box outside the mainstream. Forget any of that nonsense about bringing the country together again. That is over and done with. The transformation of Obama from mainstream leader to bellicose mouthpiece for the left was completed at his first post-election press-conference.

Republicans might understand what this means if they weren’t busy with an opportunistic internal civil war. And if sizable chunks of the rank and file weren’t busy proclaiming that no election can ever be won again because the demographics of the country had changed so dramatically and everyone is so addicted to free stuff.

Neither one is true.

The demographics have not made it impossible for Republicans to win, not unless Republicans make that a self-fulfilling prophecy by jumping on the amnesty express. And you can beat Santa Claus, because our fat red man is a redistributor and does not give or take equally from all.But doing that requires spending more time making a case on the specific individual economic impact , rather than endlessly singing the wonders of free enterprise and depending on enough people to align with your economic philosophy to carry you over the top.

Likud Primaries a Mess as Members Wait Hours to Vote

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

“They don’t know how to run a war, they don’t know how to run an election, what DOES the Likud know how to do?” muttered one cold Likud member, 45 minutes into her wait to reach the Likud primaries ballot boxes Sunday morning.

Voting got off to a sluggish start when technical difficulties – which some are attributing to hacking – brought almost all the computerized voting stations across Israel to a grinding halt Sunday, forcing many voters to wait upwards of 2 and a half hours to cast their ballots. At Jerusalem’s Binyanei HaUma convention center, patient and apologetic staff members told crowds they did not know when the voting booths would be open, bringing out a few chairs for elderly voters who found standing in the cold difficult.

Ethiopian candidate Avraham Negusie

Ethiopian candidate Avraham Negusie

Meanwhile, enthusiastic representatives of the 60 candidates vying for the 12 highest spots on the Likud party list handed out pamphlets, cards and stickers explaining the policies and opinions of the voters.  Candidates Avraham Negusie (hopeful representative for the Ethiopian sector) and Daniel Tauber (head of Likud Anglos), were on hand in person to meet and talk to voters.

As voters waited, they discussed current events, politics, and the cold weather.  One voter from Samaria, Yechiel, expressed his disapproval of the Prime Minister – and current Likud party chairman – Benjamin Netanyahu.  “I am disappointed in the ceasefire.  I think it will just end up being something that buys time for Hamas to refuel, maybe at best a pause in fighting,”  Yechiel said.  “I wish I could vote Netanyahu out today.  I don’t think I’ll even vote for Likud in the real national elections.”

Others expressed their support of Netanyahu, who stands to be re-elected as head of the party.  “I think the same as before the war,” Mordechai from East Jerusalem said.  “I think Bibi should be re-elected.  He is the best option by far, proven over time.  I hope he will continue to prove it over the next four years.”

When groups of voters finally started to be admitted, they were treated to a simple explanation of the procedure of voting at several mock voting booths set up on and staffed along the sides of the entrance.

At noon, voters who had arrived around 10am were brought to a new indoor line, where they were told that only 3 of the  80 voting computers were working, causing the line to inch forward slowly.  More chairs were brought to accommodate the elderly, as well as teary-eyed children who had been dragged along for an Israeli democratic experience.  Another staff member came by to apologize again, saying rumors were circulating that the booths would be held open until 2am to accommodate all the voters who had arrived to vote and been discouraged by the long wait times (in the end, the elections committee decided to extend voting for two hours until midnight).

JewishPress.com reporter Malkah Fleisher voting.

JewishPress.com reporter Malkah Fleisher voting.

At 12:50 PM, the author of this article was called into a voting booth, and got to the end of her turn to vote when she realized she had been assigned to the wrong geographic voting area.  Asking for assistance from the polite and attentive clerks in front of her booth, an election day attorney was called.

Without asking the permission of the voter (me) or the elections staff, the attorney proceeded to push touch-screen buttons, erasing the voter’s choices in an attempt to restart the process (even as the voter protested that it was very clear to her how to vote, and that she had done everything correctly).  “Let’s see what this does”, the attorney said, as she wiped out my votes.

The screen promptly froze.  The clerks expressed their disapproval for the unilateral action on the part of the attorney, and called for a technician to come and fix the problem.  A technician, who was on his cell phone, looked at the screen, and told the clerks to attempt an action they said they could not do, due to the freezing of the screen and subsequently their own computers, and rushed off.

The Jewish Vote: Same Old, Same Old

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

In the wake of the presidential election, American Jews must once again ask a fundamental question that seems to defy both societal trends and a clear resolution: why do Jews overwhelmingly support the Democratic candidate, year after year, election after election?

That is not to say that the Torah conflates with the Republican platform, but rather that the lack of balance in the Jewish world is striking.

This is not something new, but has been the pattern for more than eighty years. (Late-nineteenth century Jews voted primarily for Republicans, being especially fond of Abraham Lincoln.) It was the late sociologist Milton Himmelfarb who several decades ago noted that “Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans,” i.e., they are part of the richest demographic but vote like the (then) poorest.

What continually fascinates is that, like the lure of Pennsylvania to Republican presidential candidates – it seems like it should vote for the Republican but never does – the Jewish vote tantalizes Republicans but never seems to materialize. Based on our race, status, education, employment, etc., Jews should be voting for Republicans but rarely do in significant numbers.

The Jewish vote remains the chimera of the political conservative. For more than eight decades the Jewish vote has averaged 75 percent for the Democrat, rarely deviating more than 5 percent above or below that figure. But until Herbert Hoover’s election in 1928, the Jewish vote fluctuated and was relatively balanced.

It needs to be emphasized that the focus is not on those Jews who are capable of choosing a candidate in either party (as I have done on occasion), but on the significant number of Jews who can never vote for a Republican and will always vote for the Democrat. Their polling booth needs only one lever. It just cannot be that the Democrat is always the superior candidate to the Republican.

In the 2012 election, nearly 70 percent of Jews voted for President Obama, slightly down from the last election (78 percent) but very much in line with other immigrant communities like Hispanics (71 percent) or Asians (73 percent).

But Jews are no longer a predominantly immigrant community, so why do the voting patterns of newcomers, or outsiders to the political system, persist among the Jews, who are in the mainstream of the establishment? And why are Orthodox Jewish voting patterns almost the mirror opposite of the non-Orthodox, with more Orthodox Jews voting for Mitt Romney and, give or take a particular race, for Republicans generally?

* * * * *

First, Democrats are widely perceived as the party of the poor, the downtrodden and the outcast, and Jews – persecuted for most of our existence – have a natural sympathy for the underdog. As charity is a great virtue (and a fundamental commandment) in Jewish life, Jews especially are drawn to a system that appears charitable on the surface – the redistribution of income from the wealthy to the poor – and government is seen as the vehicle of that charitable distribution.

The weakness in that argument, of course, is that Jews do believe in charity, but primarily as a private endeavor. The tithing obligation, or the dispensing of gifts to the poor in biblical times, were all private ventures, and not publicly coerced.

Notwithstanding that at different times in history the Jewish community itself intervened and assessed wealthy members a sum of money to care for society’s poor, that was always considered a last resort and not particularly efficient. The king never levied taxes to care for the poor, though the religious establishment might. Charity as a private act lends moral perfection to the donor; the same cannot be said for a coercive taxation system that distributes only a small sum of the monies collected to the poor.

(Those who view taxation as a form of charity are certainly welcome to pay the higher tax rate proposed by the administration, which is indeed permissible under federal law and would entirely eliminate the current controversy in Washington about the best means of avoiding the fiscal cliff.)

Of course, it would be unacceptable in a Jewish context to have a permanent impoverished class – multi-generational families of welfare recipients – as it should be in an American context. The trillions of dollars spent since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society initiated the War on Poverty has in fact exacerbated poverty, not alleviated it, with more poor in both real and proportionate terms today than when the programs started.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/the-jewish-vote-same-old-same-old/2012/11/21/

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