As the Republican Jewish Coalition publicly ignores vile, racist and misogynist comments by GOP front-runner Donald Trump, the National Jewish Democratic Council has been out in front condemning Trump for his remarks and for his, at least initial, refusal to disavow support from the likes of David Duke and other white supremacists and — all while urging its counterparts at the RJC to do the same. RJC, however, has been silent as Trump continues his demagoguery and exploits the public’s fears to gain support for his presidential campaign. Even when Trump invoked anti-Semitic stereotypes, RJC chose to stay mum.
Condemnations of Trump, though, are just the tip of the iceberg of NJDC’s work, as the organization continues to be a voice for America’s Democratic Jews. Unlike many organizations that focus on Israel alone, NJDC focuses on a wide range of issues.
The past year in particular was a busy one, with NJDC garnering more than 300 pages worth of media hits across America, Europe and Israel, and we engaged in a multitude of television and radio appearances throughout America and Israel. And NJDC played a significant role in garnering support for the Iran nuclear arms agreement. Not only did the White House liaison to the Jewish community Matt Nosanchuk and journalists at the Haaretz Conference in New York single out NJDC for its work on the Iran deal, but we also received a letter from President Barack Obama thanking us for our work on the deal.
In other areas, we spoke out on the protection of refugees, including those from Syria; advised the State Department on pushing back against various incidents of anti-Semitism in Hungary; assisted the Department of Transportation in its work regarding Kuwait Air’s refusal to carry Israelis; consulted with the White House behind the scenes on Jonathan Pollard’s release; and regularly participated in White House policy calls with Jewish community leaders. And, NJDC’s Women’s Leadership Network continues to advocate for key issues, many of which often are identified as gender-interest specific.
In this current election cycle, NJDC has debated the RJC on four different occasions — most recently last month when NJDC Chairman Greg Rosenbaum went head to head with RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks at the BBYO International Conference — and many times during the past several years.
NJDC continues to be the only American go-to organization that speaks for Jewish Democrats on a host of issues, with Israel’s safety, security and importance, of course included at the top of the list. Unlike our opponents, we do not use Israel as a wedge issue. While other groups promote particular policy agendas, NJDC promotes Democrats who share our Jewish values. Through door-to-door efforts, direct mail, live calls, events, teleconferences, and meetings with members of Congress and White House administration officials, NJDC will continue to educate and engage its constituency to ensure support for those who stand for our values.
NJDC maximizes Jewish support to win elections and is the premier organization to dispel smear campaigns launched by right-wing groups against Democratic candidates for office. In the 2012 presidential election, NJDC successfully targeted Jewish voters in six states with print ads, mail, targeted Web ads, Web videos and opinion articles. In the 2014 cycle, NJDC engaged an aggressive political plan aimed at supporting key Senate races and gubernatorial races.
With Jewish Democratic veterans Steve Rabinowitz, Aaron Keyak and the rest of the capable staff at Bluelight Strategies running its operations, NJDC will target key states so that we can maintain the White House and take back the Senate while gaining additional House seats. Indeed, while the other side takes up oxygen attacking one another in addition to their political opponents, NJDC now is working hard at strategizing and planning for the upcoming election.
Rather than attacking rival organizations, NJDC is taking initiatives to educate the American Jewish community about important pro-Israel and pro-peace steps taken by this White House and Democratic leadership. At the same time, NJDC is rallying Jewish support for other key issues such as maintaining affordable and accessible health care, including reproductive choice; violence against women; gun safety; Social Security and Medicare; immigration reform; and the separation of church and state.
Since 1914, American Jews have primarily voted for Democratic candidates. There are many good reasons for this fact. And, it must drive our Republican counterparts mad. As illustrated by the past two presidential elections, the socially conservative positions of most GOP candidates have been just too conservative for most American Jews. And we fully expect it to be the case in the upcoming one.
As RJC deliberates on whether it will throw its support behind Trump should he win the Republican nomination, NJDC is working hard at strategizing and planning for the upcoming election — one in which the Democratic nominee will be either a Jewish candidate or one with a long history of ties to Israel and the Jewish community.
With either nominee, Jewish values and Democratic values will be in line. The same cannot be said for the Republican front-runner.
Barbara Goldberg Goldman is a member of the NJDC executive committee and chair of the NJDC Women’s Leadership Network