Two Jewish candidates running for Pennsylvania’s 7th district in 2020 rematch

“Israel is really the best ally that the United States has in the Middle East. It's the only democracy, and we need to make sure that we are supporting Israel," Scheller said.

American and Israeli Jews [Illustrative] (photo credit: REUTERS)
American and Israeli Jews [Illustrative]
(photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – Pennsylvania’s seventh district is gearing up for a rematch of the 2020 elections between incumbent Susan Wild, a Democrat, and Lisa Scheller, a Republican. Although Wild had the edge the last time the two Jewish candidates faced each other, this time may prove different, as the Cook Political Report placed the race at the “lean Republican” column and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball considered it as a toss-up.

“A lot of things are different this time,” Scheller told The Jerusalem Post. “Redistricting in Pennsylvania has moved the race to a more Republican district. But also, the environment in the country is moving things more toward Republicans as well.”

“A lot of things that are different this time"

Lisa Scheller

The Republican contender said that “a failed leadership, inflation, gas prices and energy crisis that put a tremendous pressure on folks who can least afford it” can change the outcome of the race this time.

“I feel very, very strongly about the US-Israel relationship,” she said. “Israel is really the best ally that the United States has in the Middle East. It’s the only democracy, and we need to make sure that we are supporting Israel and making sure that protecting Israel from its enemies is a priority.

“Growing up, we learned about the necessity of Israel being a beacon of light and hope to the rest of the world and a partner to the United States in protecting freedom,” she said.

Scheller's story and background

SCHELLER FIRST visited Israel in 1986, when she was 26. “I was almost convinced to make aliyah at that time, but I had other plans,” she recalled. “I have seen a very different view of Israel than most people have seen – from the Lebanese border to the Syrian border to Eilat.

“I began supporting Ben-Gurion University of the Negev through the American Associates of BGU (AABGU), the American fundraising arm of the university. This relationship has grown over the years,” she said.

“I have now committed in excess of $1 million personally to the university and am a member of the American associate's board of directors. I choose to focus my philanthropy on Southern Israel because I believe Israel’s security depends on settlement of the South.”

Later, she founded the Zin Fellows Program, which sends a mission to Israel every two years to develop new leaders for the university and was the founder of the Goodman-Scheller Graduate Program in Israel Studies at the Sde Boker Campus.

“It’s an international program taught in English,” she said. “And what it does is, it educates the students on the real Israel; we hope that those students then go back to their own countries all over the world and bring the news of what the Start-Up Nation is really about.”

SCHELLER SAID that, if elected, she would like to be active against Iran. “It is not only an existential threat to Israel, it is also a huge threat to the region and to the United States,” she said. “And I would like to see that Iran would never, ever have a nuclear weapon. The right direction is very, very strong economic sanctions on Iran: maximum pressure on Iran to stop its development of nuclear weapons in order to gain any kind of economic benefit at all.

 Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria November 29, 2021. (credit: EU DELEGATION IN VIENNA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS) Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria November 29, 2021. (credit: EU DELEGATION IN VIENNA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

“It is not only an existential threat to Israel, it is also a huge threat to the region and to the United States"

Lisa Scheller

Secondly, I believe that the Iran nuclear deal is a very flawed agreement and we should not be getting back into that agreement,” she said. “They are in the midst of supercharging their development of this nuclear weapon, which is extremely concerning to me.”

She also opposes the Biden administration’s plan to reopen the Consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem.

“I was very happy to see the embassy move to Jerusalem,” Scheller said. “In my last trip to Israel, I went to Jerusalem, I went to the embassy, and I was very excited because I do believe that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of the state of Israel.

“The notion of having a separate consulate in Jerusalem absolutely muddies the water about Jerusalem being the undivided capital. And I support the current legislation that ensures that the only American consulate in Israel is our US embassy.”

How significant is the Jewish vote in the county?

The Republican candidate thinks that “the Jewish vote does have an impact in the county, but unfortunately, the majority of the Jewish vote is Democrat,” she explained.

“And right now, I have a hard time reconciling what are the issues and why they feel that what is going on in Washington and what my opponent votes for in Washington regarding Israel is really what they want to see happening with the strong US-Israel relationship. That relationship right now is much weaker than it was even three years ago.”