Jewish Roundtable at the DNC

— by Frances Novack

At the Democratic National Convention, the Jewish caucus held a couple of “round-tables.” On Tuesday of Convention Week, Democrats highlighted their strengths and also this year’s election needs. Congressman Jerry Nadler (NY-10), who represents the nation’s most Jewish district, pointed to the social, educational, and health programs that Jews had helped enact into law. Other speakers, including retiring Representative Steve Israel, urged attendees to give active support to Hillary Clinton to stave off the dangers of a Donald Trump presidency.

On Thursday, former Congressman Barney Frank (MA-4) discussed the party’s pro-Israel position, as expressed in the platform support for Israeli security and a two-state solution. He underlined the force of Democrats’ support of Israel and the marginality of any protest. Indeed, the Israeli flag was not burnt by Democrats at the convention, but by protesters against then DNC outside the convention’s security barrier. Nobody brought to the floor objections to the pro-Israel wording, despite media reports of protests against it, said Frank.

Unlike Tuesday’s session, the Thursday session did indeed have extensive discussion with questions from the audience in addition to speeches by such party leaders as Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA) and former governor Howard Dean (VT), criticizing Trump, praising Democrats’ commitment to social justice issues such as gun control, and recommending vigilance to support separation of church and state, endangered especially in “red” states.

Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Believe him? Someone who praises Saddam Hussein, Kim Jung Il and Vladimir Putin? He should get down from Trump Tower. The air must be too thin up there!

-Sen. Barbara Boxer

Howard Dean is “married into the tribe” with kids who have actively made the choice to commit themselves to Judaism, though he says they were always Jewish according to Jewish law. They feel Jewish because of the idea of Tikkun Olam. This is an emphasis on doing good deeds and on taking care of the world. He issued a call to action:

We all know the Sarah Silverman video encouraging young people to go to Florida and convince their zayde and bubbe (grandparents) to vote for Obama. Now we are in danger of letting Trump win if young people don’t turn out to vote… We need to tell our grandchildren, that just as we voted Obama for them, they need to get out and vote for Hillary for us.

billThe audience, people of varied ages from many places, appreciated the vision evoked by former Congressman Robert Wexler (FL-19), who cited President Obama, our first African-American president seen on TV embracing the first woman candidate, while a former president (Bill Clinton) wore a pin with her name in Hebrew as he looked on. Governor Dean called this apotheosis of American diversity the “Trifecta.”

The הילרי (Hillary) button was given to the former president by NJDC President David Harris and is available online. Harris never expected Bill Clinton to actually wear it.

After the political speeches, Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of the
Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, ended the program on a practical note, with a focus on Hillary Clinton’s support for Israel, such as her work to assure funding for Iron Dome and to broker a cease-fire in Gaza.

We Jews love action. We Democrats love action. We don’t stop at thoughts and prayers. We act. Our Jewish holidays revolve around Justice.

We love education as much as we love Chinese food on Dec 25. We cherish education as the antidote to ignorance, the basis of prejudice. That is why Trump and his supporters drive us crazy and why we must educate them because they will not educate themselves.

Regardless of what you think of Netanyahu he had high praise for Hillary Clinton’s ‘unprecedented strategic cooperation.’ She worked hard to get Iron Dome and Patriot missiles. She fiercely reaffirmed commitment to Israel’s qualitative edge.

He then outlined techniques for advocacy in this election cycle, stressing the necessity for “rapid response” to any charges raised, since the pace of communication via social media is so swift:

How can you get involved?

  • Rapid response. Being first matters in social media.
  • Rapid response requires you to do advanced thinking and concrete preparation before you hear the statements you know the opposition will make.
  • First, answer the attack with substantive refutation. Keep this short.
  • Second, use a pivot sentence. E.g. “But here’s the real issue.”
  • Third, redirect focus to the opponent. Discuss his or her flaws on the very issue your opponent brought up. “Donald Trump shouldn’t be one to talk…”
  • Stay on message, repeat yourself.

Steven Goldstein offered to help train groups of people for free because he wants to change the world…. by Skype or in person if you live in the Northeast. You can contact him by email.


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