Jewish Voters Abandon Biden as Gaza Crisis Deepens and Antisemitism Rises

DezNook /
DezNook /

It looks like Joe Biden is in trouble again! The October 7 Hamas attack and Israel’s forceful response have thrown the president’s reelection campaign into chaos, and Jewish voters are not happy. It’s as if Biden can’t catch a break, but can you blame him when he keeps stumbling over the same issues?

Despite all the focus on how the Israel-Hamas war has hurt Biden with Arab-Americans and progressives who support Palestinians, it’s Jewish Americans—crucial in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Arizona—who are also feeling abandoned.

Biden’s campaign is trying to woo Jewish voters with initiatives like a “Jewish Women for Joe” Zoom call and hiring a faith engagement director focused on Jewish outreach. But Jewish leaders are grumbling that these efforts fall short. They feel ignored and left out in the cold by Biden and his progressive allies.

Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff have made some moves, like hosting a White House film screening about Hamas’s use of sexual violence and attending a groundbreaking ceremony at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. Still, these gestures seem too little, too late. Many Jewish Democratic leaders are worried about a shift towards Trump. Still, some are more concerned about Jewish voters opting for third-party candidates or sitting out the election entirely.

Jewish voters are vocal about their disappointment. Take Troy Zukowski, chair of the Michigan Jewish Democrats. He’s heard people outright ask, “How could any Jew vote for a Democrat?” His main concern isn’t Jews flipping to Trump but those who might vote third-party or not at all.

A recent White House briefing highlighted this discontent. During a Jewish American Heritage Month celebration, Biden officials faced tough questions about the administration’s stance on antisemitism and Israel. Why was a National Security Council official with a history of supporting Palestinian causes in college still in his job? Why were references to antisemitism scrubbed from Biden’s State of the Union address? The administration’s answers did little to quell the dissatisfaction.

Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, an observant Jew and a Biden supporter, tried to calm the storm, emphasizing that Jewish voters care about survival and dignity more than political allegiance. But even he couldn’t ignore the rising antisemitism and the troubling actions of the current Israeli government.

Biden’s longstanding support for Israel is now clashing with his political ambitions. Upcoming events, like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress and the Democratic convention, promise to be flashpoints, with expected protests and potential disruptions. Less than a month before the election, Biden will face the anniversary of October 7, with the unresolved Gaza situation.

Despite Biden’s deep-rooted stance against antisemitism, his campaign is floundering. He often cites his outrage at Trump’s reaction to the Charlottesville rally as a reason for his presidential run. Yet antisemitic incidents are becoming more frequent, even at protests near the White House, and Biden’s condemnation feels routine and insufficient.

Trump, on the other hand, is capitalizing on Biden’s missteps. Morgan Ortagus, a former Trump spokesperson, put it bluntly: “If you want pretty tweets, vote for Biden. If you don’t want dead Israelis, vote for Trump.” Though Trump’s history with Jewish voters is complex—he did better with them in 2020 than any Republican in decades—his abrasive comments and failure to propose real solutions often undermine his efforts.

But let’s not kid ourselves. The Democratic Party is at a crossroads, trying to balance support for Palestinians with alienating Jewish voters. Lee Zeldin, a former GOP congressman, warned that pandering to progressive voices like Rashida Tlaib risks losing Jewish support in critical areas.

The Republican Jewish Coalition plans to spend at least $15 million targeting Jewish voters, focusing on their safety under Biden’s administration. Trying to bolster Biden’s image, Doug Emhoff stresses his commitment to fighting antisemitism, reminding voters of the president’s support.

Yet the stark reality is evident. Jewish voters are disillusioned and angry. Biden’s efforts seem out of touch, and Trump’s brash rhetoric isn’t much better. But come November, Jewish Americans will have to decide: Who will genuinely stand by them? The choice could determine the election’s outcome.