As this nation prepares for the 2020 election, it is important to explore the major trends, issues and practices that will shape this nation’s political culture. Here are a few observations: The 2020 Presidential campaign will be amongst the most historically significant and politically divisive. This will possibly be also the most expensive presidential campaign in American history. The 2012 presidential election (Obama vs. Romney) cost nearly $3 billion. As the impact of technology continues to expand, much of the 2020 campaign will be managed on social media, making it the first election to employ all of the various media options.
The Election Season is Upon Us! What Can We Expect in 2020
As incidents of anti-Semitic behavior occur on a daily basis, it may be important to examine the new strains of violence that we are experiencing and to revisit Jewish communal responses in fighting such hate. In this disruptive political environment, there appears to be a new license given to those who are committed to attacking Jews, Judaism and the State of Israel. When anti-Semitism is playing out in its full fury, one finds specific Jewish communal behavior patterns emerge against this backdrop of hate and violence. How are Jewish institutions and individual leaders responding to the rise of anti-Semitism?
When Anti-Semitism Arises: A Study in Jewish Communal Behavior
For America’s Jews, the 2020 election will be all about Donald J. Trump! In a deeply divided electorate, you find voters who are solid supporters of this President, just as one identifies other Jewish constituencies opposed to 45! As we approach the impeachment process, the intensity levels in connection with the President will be ratcheting up. American Jews can be found to be both anxious and angry when talking about this President. His supporters are angry, believing that the President has been maligned and misrepresented, while his opponents might be described as anxious in connection with his actions and messages, concerned as well about his conduct in office. The depth of passion and politics might best convey how divisive this election will play out inside the Jewish community.
The Times of Israel
Impeachment, Anti-Semitism, the Election: The Trump Presidency & U.S. Jews
As Jewish leaders gather in Chicago this week for the URJ Biennial, a new American story is emerging that will have profound implications for the Reform Movement and America’s Jews collectively! The demographic character of America is being recreated. The political culture of this society is experiencing new and significant stresses and threats. The American economic story is transitioning in significant and challenging ways. The role and place of religion in the United States is undergoing profound change.
The New American Reality and What It Means for Jews
Possibly no other social reality is more defining of the American condition than the issue of loneliness! A recently completed Cigna study indicated “high levels of loneliness,” revealing that nearly half of Americans always or sometimes feel alone (46%) or left out (47%). Fully 54% said they always or sometimes feel that no one knows them well. But this pattern is not unique to the United States, a BBC survey of British citizens reported that nearly one-half of Britons over 65 consider “television or a pet their main source of company”. There are today in Japan a half a million folks under the age of 40 “who haven’t left their house or interacted with anyone for at least six months”. In Canada, the share of solo households is now 28%, and across the European Union that number is 34%.
With the announcement earlier today in Israel of the intention of the Attorney General to pursue charges against Benjamin Netanyahu for “bribery, fraud and breach of trust,” one sees an interesting, if not uncomfortable, parallel between the political fortunes of both the Israeli Prime Minister and President Donald Trump. As the House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee pursues evidence of the President’s efforts to use US military support for the Ukraine to advance his own political interests, what will be the outcome of such an inquiry on the future of the Trump Presidency? In the case of the Prime Minister, how will his political future be impacted by such legal actions?
The Times of Israel
This political moment: what lies ahead in the American-Israel relationship?
There exists a Jewish backstory to Thanksgiving! In connection with this holiday, we can observe the alignment of national customs with Jewish values and practice, a pattern that marks the distinctiveness of American Jewish behavior. Unlike other holiday observances, Thanksgiving provides an opportunity for Jews to express their Americanism in consort with their Judaism. Over time this has taken different forms of expression.
Experiencing Thanksgiving: Some Jewish Reflections
Thirty years ago this month the Berlin Wall fell, and with it we would see the demise of the Soviet Union. During my tenure as the director of Los Angeles JCRC (Jewish Community Relations Committee), the human rights campaign for Soviet Jewry represented a Jewish community priority. The JCRC’s Commission on Soviet Jewry regularly sent small groups to Russia to meet with Refuseniks involving those Jews who had requested the right to leave the Soviet Union but whose petitions had been denied. The cornerstone of this effort was built around religious freedom and the right of an individual to be free to emigrate.
Encounter in Moscow: One Moment in the Soviet Jewry Saga
This past week alone, California experienced 9 wild fires, with more than 25,000 acres burned, 138 structures destroyed, and thousands of families and individuals displaced. As these fires raced across California, we witnessed a different communal paradigm. Disasters bring individuals and institutions into alignment! This pattern of collective action can be documented. Few conditions, outside of such threats, create the level and depth of collaboration and institutional engagement.
In the Aftermath of the California Wildfires: What We Are Learning About our Community and Ourselves?
“The first Gilded Age saw massive wealth inequalities, hyper-partisanship, virulent anti-immigrant sentiment and growing concern about money in politics.” It also witnessed a significant uptake in anti-Semitic behavior! Some American economists are defining this current period of affluence and growth as our nation’s “second gilded age.” The first “Gilded Age” followed the Civil War (1870-1900) and it would be marked by greed and corruption often at the expense of the working class. With the growing political influence of the business and industrial sector, the “Robber Barons” would employ their economic clout. Intimidation was used to exploit workers and to hold down wages. The economic divide of that era is being recreated in today’s American marketplace, as we are experiencing the most significant income inequality in this nation’s history.
The New American Jewish Gilded Age: Examining Wealth, Anti-Semitism, and More