“Why Israel Should Be a Major Issue in the 2024 U.S. Presidential Election


The upcoming 2024 U.S. presidential election will primarily focus on domestic issues, as with its predecessors. However, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may play a prominent role in shaping the foreign policy narrative.

Negligible Influence of American Jews

Contrary to the myth of Jewish influence, it is virtually nonexistent in the dynamics of the American election, for several reasons.

Firstly, out of a population of 350 million voters, Jews constitute only 2% of the electorate. Furthermore, the majority resides in ideologically distinct states, not in crucial swing states like Georgia or Arizona. About 80% of American Jews live in seven states: New York, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois (all predominantly Democratic), Florida (recently Republican), and Pennsylvania (the only swing state). Nearly half of them reside in New York or California.

These Jewish populations are not in key states, and they are politically steadfast. For almost 50 years, they have consistently voted 70-75% for Democrats and even 85% for non-Ultra-Orthodox Jews. Despite repeated hopes from the Republican Party, this reality remains almost unalterable. American Jews are unlikely to change their political preferences, making them less appealing targets for campaign efforts.

Another misconception about Jewish influence pertains to financial contributions. Major donors predominantly come from health or defense lobbies, not pro-Israel lobbies. According to Open Secrets, during the 2020 election cycle, pro-Israel lobbies spent $3.6 million, a fraction of the overall $14 billion spent.

Finally, Israel plays a minor role in the political preferences of Jews, as shown by the graph below, with Israel being a factor in only 7% of cases in their political choices.

While Jews have minimal electoral weight, and Israel plays a minor role in their political choices, the same cannot be said for another religious community—Evangelical Christians.

Growing Influence of Evangelical Christians

While there around 7 million Jews, Evangelical Christians number around 100 million, and they wield significant influence in some swing states like Arizona (38%) or Georgia (28%).

For Evangelicals, two themes dominate: anti-abortion activism and, notably, Israel. This is one of the reasons they overwhelmingly support Trump, despite his moral, financial, and sexual controversies. Israel holds a high priority for these voters because they see the return of Jews to the Land of Israel as a harbinger of the Messiah’s return, mass Jewish conversion to Christianity, and the end times. For many Evangelicals, radical beliefs can be taken literally.

Netanyahu has consistently favored alliances with Evangelical Christians over American Jews, who lean politically liberal and are increasingly divergent from his own political ideals and those of his ultra-nationalist or ultra-Orthodox allies.

Evangelicals play a crucial role in Republican primaries, as no candidate can prevail against them. Their influence remains significant in general elections due to their substantial demographic weight and church-driven mobilization, especially in swing states where the election is decisive.

Another crucial role played by these churches is their ability to help the GOP broaden its appeal to Black and Hispanic minorities, typically solidly aligned with the Democratic Party. In 2020, 90% of Blacks and 60% of Hispanics voted for Biden. However, their religious affiliation makes them more receptive to the Israel theme than American Jews, who are primarily motivated by a societal vision, as discussed earlier. This Israel theme enables Republicans to marginally expand their audience among these communities that can influence the election. For instance, while 92% of African Americans voted for Biden in 2020, the figure was “only” 70% for Evangelical Blacks, and such a gap exists among Hispanics as well.

Key Theme for a strategic electoral constituency for Republicans, Israel offers another advantage—shifting the political debate to more favorable ground.

Israel, a Convenient Political Marker

Today, Israel has become a societal political marker, aligning with family values against what Republicans portray as the Democrats’ values of decadence. This theme becomes a priority in the ongoing political battle.

The Republican Party promotes a societal vision increasingly at odds with the aspirations of society, particularly on education, health care, and abortion, among other issues. Social themes such as wokeism or transgender rights allow the GOP to steer the conversation toward the family, presenting itself as the party of common sense against the Democratic party’s deconstruction narrative, associated with wokeism, propagated by major American universities.

Israel serves as a perfect angle of attack in this cultural battle, especially following the disastrous hearing of university presidents on December 5th. The disconnect between the expected common-sense discourse and the convoluted responses of these presidents has been a delightful surprise for conservative America. They can use these instances to their advantage in the cultural battle, especially against higher education. It is highly likely that these hearings will be featured in Trump’s campaign advertisements, offering a caricatured (and minority) view of liberal thinking. In this sense, Israel and anti-Semitism become powerful angles for Republicans to present themselves as a reasonable alternative to deconstructionist discourse, wokeism, not only on Israel but also on transgender, homosexual, racial minority, and women’s rights. The magnifying effect works even better since the Democratic Party often hesitates to denounce excesses within its ranks, while wokeism remains a minority view.

Apart from the ability to caricature their opponents, Israel allows Republicans to divert society’s attention to another subject—Trump’s excesses—and they are likely to capitalize on this.

Israel, the “Kosherizing” Machine for Trump

Since entering the political scene, Trump has consistently made outrageous, sexist, and racist remarks, and in many ways, he has become even more extreme. However, he cannot win without independent voters in swing states. It is crucial to present him as acceptable, and Israel provides this opportunity.

When Trump speaks derogatorily about immigrants as vermin soiling the American nation, dines with Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, or refers to African countries as “shithole countries,” Israel (and Trump’s grandchildren, being Jewish due to Ivanka’s conversion) is systematically invoked, notably with the transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, as a symbol of morality and anti-racism.

Israel also allows Trump to be portrayed as a skilled diplomat, especially with the Abraham Accords as an illustration, which conveniently draws attention away from his erratic diplomatic stance toward North Korea, lenient approach to Russia, aggressive stance toward Europe, or inconsistent approach to China.

As the role of UNRWA is questioned due to the presence of terrorists within it, the GOP can easily remind voters that Trump cut funding to this organization in 2018, and it was Joe Biden who reinstated its funding in 2021, conveniently omitting Biden’s suspension of funding amid serious accusations against the organization.

Beyond fundamental critiques of Democratic positions, Israel provides a final advantage for Republicans—stirring discord within the opposing camp.

Israel, a Point of Contention Among Democrats

It is within the Democratic Party that Biden encounters the strongest resistance to his staunch support for Israel, particularly among the youth. While 70% of the party sees the alliance with Israel as in the national interest of the United States, only 40% of young Democrats share this view.

Biden needs the support of the youth to win. Even if they don’t vote for Trump, their abstention would be catastrophic, as 80% of his margin of victory against Trump in 2020 came from these voters.

While open distrust towards Israel remains a minority within the Democratic Party, despite a few critically vocal representatives, the mistrust towards Netanyahu and his government is much stronger than within the GOP, which appreciates Netanyahu’s illiberal vision and depends electorally on Evangelicals who align closely with Netanyahu.

Thus, the GOP has a vested interest in making Israel a prominent theme in the upcoming campaign, as it stands to gain, while the subject is more explosive for the Democratic Party.

One of Israel’s longstanding advantages has been its status as a bipartisan cause in Washington. While this support remains bipartisan today, with some nuances, Israel may become a major point of contention in the upcoming campaign, potentially jeopardizing its consensual status in the U.S., posing significant threats and dangers for Israel in the medium term.”

Sebastien Levi


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