Skip to content
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

The U.S. Elections and the Jewish Vote: Priorities and Concerns of American Jews, Implications for Israel

Filed under: U.S. Policy

When I was doing a doctorate at Columbia University, I read a book called American Federalism by Daniel Elazar, who showed that America was divided up into areas that were largely oriented politically by where their immigrants came from. So, for example, Minnesota was a state settled by very liberal Protestants. The same was true for the state of Wisconsin. And we saw who were the senators and congressmen who came from those states and they corresponded with that analysis.

During election periods, the entire system gets reoriented, not always but many times. There is an expression among political scientists in the United States who call this a critical election, an election that redoes the political map.

One becomes cognizant of the fact that you have political parties dominating the American political scene, and then a critical election comes around and things change.  A lot of the commentary about this election – including the Jewish community but not just the Jewish community – was that different groups in American society were going to alter their orientation as a result of developments that had occurred since the last election. That analysis was used with the Jewish community but also with the Black American community, also with the Latino community. So you’re in a new reality all of a sudden that you have to get a grip on and you have to understand.

I’m saying this is a means of introduction because I think if we can get a sense at the very beginning of where America is going, it will help us operate intelligently in the period ahead. I think nobody can really answer this with assuredness, but I believe that being cognizant of what is going on, of the debates in different communities and in different geographic parts of America, I think that will help the State of Israel understand its most important ally still today.