Tuesday, September 22nd 2020   |

For Democrats, the pendulum has swung back on Israel

Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) arrive to deliver remarks at the Alexis Dupont High School on August 12, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


WASHINGTON (JTA) —Democrats used their online convention this week to pitch the party’s case to the American people. They covered most issues, from health care to immigration to climate change to women’s and racial justice. Any Israel controversy was very much not on the table.

What appeared less than a year ago to be a party pendulum swinging away from conventional pro-Israel orthodoxies has swung back. The reason was simple: Joe Biden. The nominee was ready to compromise about lots with progressives, but not on the Israel issue. As soon as a controversy popped up this week over speaking rights for pro-Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour on a convention panel, Biden batted it away. 

I examine the back and forth here.

Blasphemy, blast for you
 Michael Adler, a longtime Florida-based Biden backer, and Steve Rabinowitz, whose Bluelight consultancy deals both with Democrats and Jewish groups, are selling Jewish-themed Biden/Harris merchandise, with funds going to the campaign. Some of the merchandise is unremarkable — the nominees’ names in Hebrew. Some of it is of the moment, featuring the Yiddish name that Kamala Harris’ Jewish stepkids have conferred on her, Momala, and the Trump mispronunciation of Yosemite that launched a thousand memes. But one item, a play on the nominees’ initials, may raise hackles: B”H (for Biden/Harris) also stands for the Hebrew acronym “With God’s help.”

Her first rodeo, kind of
Merav Ben-David, a scientist with deep roots in Israel, won the Democratic nomination for Wyoming’s open Senate seat. It’s a long shot in this most Republican of states, but Ben-David appears to be well settled into her Laramie surroundings — she has attended rodeos, she tells us.

Looming Loomer
Laura Loomer, an anti-Muslim provocateur who is Jewish, won the Republican nod in Florida to challenge incumbent Democrat Lois Frankel, who irks Donald Trump because his Mar-a-Lago residence is in her district. Loomer and Frankel are both Jewish, but that’s where the likeness ends: Loomer, 27, earned notoriety for celebrating the deaths of migrants. Frankel, 72, is known for her mom-like tendency to mentor freshman congresswomen. Loomer stands about as much a chance of winning in the district as Ben-David does in Wyoming — very little.

Noun, Verb, Soros
Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor and current personal lawyer to Donald Trump, is again blaming the liberal Jewish billionaire George Soros for something. This time he throws in a reference to Soros’ “sick background.” It’s unclear whether he meant Soros’ Holocaust survivor childhood.

At The New York Times, Glenn Thrush, Rebecca Ruiz and Karen Yourish examine why major Republican givers are shunning Trump. A number of them are well known for their Jewish philanthropy, like Bernie Marcus and the Adelsons.

Naftali Quartey of Baltimore scrolls through TikTok and uncovers a unique and social distance-friendly shofar blower.

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