Poll: American Jews feel threatened, blame Trump

One reason for the dissatisfaction with President Trump may have to do with his appeals to white nationalists.

A couple embrace near a growing memorial across the street from the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in Poway, California, on April 29, 2019. A gunman opened fire two days before as about 100 people were worshipping, exactly six months after a mass shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue. One person was killed in the Poway attack. (AP Photo/Greg Bull)

(RNS) — A survey of 1,000 Jewish voters released Wednesday (May 22) by the Jewish Electorate Institute shows 73% of registered Jewish voters believe Jewish Americans are less secure than they were two years ago, at least in part, respondents said, because of the way President Trump has handled anti-Semitism.

The poll’s release coincides with a two-year spike in violent attacks against U.S. Jews, which doubled in 2018, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s yearly audit of anti-Semitic incidents. The data appeared the same week as a rash of fires that were intentionally set at Jewish centers in Massachusetts and Chicago.

READ: ADL study: Violence against Jews doubled last year

The poll, conducted by Greenberg Research, shows 71% disapprove of Trump’s response to anti-Semitism. Nearly 60% believe he bears at least some responsibility for last year’s shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and last month’s shooting at a synagogue in Poway, near San Diego.

“We have a Jewish community, not under siege, but facing great insecurity, blaming President Trump for a lot of it, becoming very engaged and politicized by it, and prioritizing a range of domestic issues that align them to vote Democratic in 2020,” said Stan Greenberg, a longtime pollster for Democrats.

Graphic courtesy of Jewish Electorate Institute

The poll comes as Republicans are moving to capitalize on growing anti-Semitic incidents with an aggressive campaign to siphon off the Democratic Party’s lock on the Jewish vote.

In Las Vegas earlier this month, prominent Republican Party donors gathered at GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson’s Venetian resort for a briefing on a planned $10 million-plus effort to boost Jewish support for Trump, Politico reported.

The latest poll suggests that Jewish voters may be difficult to sway.

Seventy-one percent disapprove of Trump’s overall job performance, while 70% view him unfavorably and 67% would vote for a generic Democrat over Trump, the poll finds. The one segment of the American Jewish population that supports Trump is Orthodox Jews, who represent about 10 percent of the U.S. Jewish population.

Graphic courtesy of Jewish Electorate Institute

One reason for the dissatisfaction with Trump may be his appeals to white nationalists during his campaign and in response to the Charlottesville, Va., Unite the Right rally in 2017. After the New Zealand mosque massacre in March, the president dismissed white nationalists as a “small group of people” who present no “rising threat.”

Asked what was most concerning to them from a list of options, 38% of American Jewish voters said it was Trump’s encouraging of ultraright extremists to commit violent acts. By contrast, 27% identified Democrats’ tolerating of anti-Semitism in their ranks.

The poll also found that Israel ranked at the bottom of a list of 16 policy priorities for Jewish voters. Health care, gun safety laws and combating the influence of white supremacists ranked much higher among their most urgent policy priorities — even as 90% of Jews ranked themselves as “pro-Israel.”

The online survey took place May 6-12 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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