Super Tuesday reaches Israel as expatriate US Democrats go to polls

Sanders’s Jewishness won’t sway most voters from casting ballot for Clinton

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March 1, 2016 01:09
4 minute read.
Hillary Clinton (R) and Bernie Sanders

Democratic US presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) talks about Senator Bernie Sanders (L) during the Democratic presidential candidates debate. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Thirteen US states go to the primary polls on Super Tuesday, but they won’t be the only ones choosing their parties’ candidates for president; Tuesday is also the first day of the Global Presidential Primary of Democrats Abroad.

Expatriate Americans who are members of the Democratic Party may vote either in their home state’s primary or the Democrats Abroad primary, which begins Tuesday and lasts until March 8. US citizens abroad can vote by email, fax, mail or in person at voting centers in 40 countries – although there is no voting center in Israel.

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Democrats Abroad will then hold caucus meetings, culminating in the Global Convention in Berlin in May, to choose 21 delegates for the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July.

Eight of those will be “super delegates” who are members of the Democratic National Committee and will have half a vote each at the convention.

Three of the super delegates are committed to vote for Hillary Clinton, and the rest are uncommitted.

Sheldon Schorer, spokesman for Democrats Abroad Israel, said that since he comes from New York, where there are many Democrats, he plans to vote in the Democrats Abroad primary, in which there are fewer participants and his vote will have a greater impact.

Though Schorer did not endorse a candidate, he said he thinks Hillary Clinton is the choice of most Democrats in Israel and, when asked, said he does not think the fact that Bernie Sanders is Jewish or volunteered on a kibbutz in the 1960s is a factor.

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“Electability is important. Clinton is more middle-of-theroad and more likely to attract uncommitted voters than Sanders, who positioned himself more to the left. So she is more electable,” he said.

Schorer said he would support whichever candidate is chosen at the Democratic National Convention.

“My concern, as a member of the Democratic Party, is to elect Democrats and not Republicans,” he stated.

In January, a USA TODAY/Rock the Vote poll showed that Sanders led Clinton 50% to 31% among Democratic independent women aged 18 to 34, but two voters in that demographic who spoke to The Jerusalem Post bucked that trend this week.

Like Schorer, Sarah Groner, 28, of Tel Aviv, said she thought Clinton had a better chance of winning the general election, and also was positive about Clinton’s political positions.

“While Bernie is attractive because of a lot of his anti-establishment rhetoric, I think that’s not a practical choice in the politics of Washington,” she stated.

“I see him as more left-wing than [current US President Barack] Obama, and Obama has had so much trouble getting legislation through. Washington is so polarized now that it will only be worse if Bernie [wins].”

When asked about whether the fact that Sanders is Jewish is a consideration, Groner replied “not at all,” and said the same about his positions on Israel, positing that he and Clinton are not different on that point.

“The fact that he’s not so affiliated with being Jewish is a sad tale of the status of American Jewish liberalism,” Groner stated.

Ayala Teitelbaum, 21, of Ra’anana, said she plans to vote in the Democrats Abroad primary because she is confident Clinton will do well in her home state of Colorado so she doesn’t feel a need to support her there.

“I’ve been a Clinton supporter for years and a Democrat my whole life, and I think she’s a better candidate than Bernie,” Teitelbaum said.

“She has the most experience, I agree with most of her policies, and I believe she is better for Israel.”

Teitelbaum expressed concern about Sanders’ foreign policy advisers who “might have not been the best” for Israel, whereas Clinton, she said, “has been a longtime supporter of Israel, including as secretary of state, and her husband was also supportive.”

As for Sanders being Jewish, Teitelbaum said she would be happy for the US to have a Jewish president, but not him.

“I don’t think Bernie has been so public about his Jewish identity. He’s talked about his parents as Polish immigrants, and not so much as Jewish. I don’t think he has been as open about his Jewishness as other people,” she remarked.

Nevertheless, Teitelbaum said, “If [Sanders] wins the Democratic nomination, I will still vote for him. I still believe in his values more than Republican values.”

Rechavia Berman, 45, from Karkur, reluctantly supports Sanders, saying he is “not the ideal frontman for the revolution,” but still better than Clinton, in his view.

“Bernie is more committed to change,” Berman said.

“Hillary’s commitment to any idea, except possibly to women’s rights, can be questioned. Bernie is willing to be adversarial enough to the power structure, whereas Hillary is both unwilling and incapable, because she is flesh of the flesh of the establishment… Hillary is too establishment to put her foot down when the elites egregiously screw over the little man.”

Berman pointed to Clinton’s major donors from Wall Street bankers and said of her speaking engagements through the Clinton Foundation that her “$225,000 speeches are the cherry on the cake.”

Sanders, however, is “proud to say he’s in the pocket of teachers, nurses, blue collar unions.”

As for foreign policy, Berman called Clinton a “neocon” and someone who “turns to muscular, non-thinking reactions to world events.” Still, he said she is most likely to get the nomination, and he will still vote for her because she is “10,000 times better than anything the Republicans can offer.”

Berman said his decision was not affected by Sanders’ Judaism, but said it’s “cool” that a major candidate in a party is Jewish.

“It’s nice to see Jewishness expressed in that kind of progressive thinking,” he stated.

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