The post-election dialogue continued among local Jewish community leaders this week. More than 50 representatives from Jewish community organizations gathered on Thursday, Dec. 8 for a discussion featuring Northeastern Illinois University Assistant Professor of Political Science William Adler.
"Last month's results articulated deep divisions throughout our country -- divisions that also are reflected within our own Jewish community," said David T. Brown, chairman of JUF's Jewish Community Relations Council, which hosted the discussion. The meeting followed
a Nov. 22 conversation on the same topic
, organized by the Jewish Federation's Government Affairs Committee.
In his presentation, Adler shared exit poll data on Jewish voters that confirmed the trend of past elections: a majority of Jews (70 percent) voted for the Democratic presidential candidate, while about 25 percent voted Republican.
Of the issues Jewish voters identified as most important to them during the campaign, Adler said that Israel was ranked ninth, with the economy, health care, and fighting ISIS and terrorism at the top.
"Jews decide how to vote the same way as everyone else does: based on the issues that matter both domestically and internationally," Adler said. "Historically, there is a correlation between the economy and voting for the incumbent party. If the economy is strong, the incumbent is likely to get a higher percentage of the vote."
Adler also discussed some of the top "Jewish moments" from the past campaign, and concluded with what he believes to be the top four issues that the Jewish community will face in the coming years: the changing U.S.-Israel relationship; the future of the Iran deal; the rise of hate crimes due to increased white nationalism; and the developing relationship with the Muslim community.
Discussion during the meeting centered on addressing the phenomenon of fake news, the rise of the so-called "alt-right" -- an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism -- and the false comparison of the white supremacy and Zionism. The conversation also focused on the possible effects of Donald Trump's presidency on local politics.
Referencing JCRC's recent
, Brown said, "it is our hope and expectation that moving forward our community finds ways to discuss and handle our differences with respect and civility."
JCRC Executive Director Emily Sweet closed the meeting by addressing the implementation of the anti-BDS legislation in Illinois and updating members on the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016, which was recently introduced in Congress. JUF's Washington, D.C. representatives are closely monitoring the legislation's path forward.