America’s Latinos and Israel: A Relationship Too Important to Ignore

Latinos are not lost to Israel. There is a recipe for stemming American Latinos’ loss of support for Israel.

It’s almost too obvious a point that a positive relationship with America’s burgeoning Latino population is greatly in Israel’s long-term interest. It’s too important a demographic to ignore.

Two things are presently very evident. One, Latino numbers in America are exploding. Latino voters are enjoying ever increasing influence and importance in the nation’s political affairs. And two, the Latino view of Israel is worsening . . . and in a hurry.

While there still remains a generally positive view of Israel among Latinos, polling over the past years shows a steady erosion of support. Few Latinos are conversant with the basic facts about Israel and there are way too many expressions of anti-Semitic tropes present throughout much of current Latino views on Jews and Israel. Not least of which is a significant number of Latinos believe Jewish Americans have too much influence in American society and too much influence when it comes to policy about Israel.

It’s not that attention hasn’t been paid by Israeli interest to Latinos, it has, but Israeli outreach to America’s Latino population, despite all its good intentions, has failed. The results are disheartening. It’s just not working. Why?

The answer is the Latino demographic is too big and growing exponentially so fast that the conventional method of outreach aimed at sponsoring trips to Israel for  a select few leaders, while ignoring the much larger Latino general population, are simply insignificant. Fruitless. A pebble tossed in the ocean. Retail in a wholesale world.

Retail. Aiming outreach at a handful of select Latinos is a retail approach. Without question most of those making a sponsored visit to Israel become ardent supporters. But it’s retail. It has no impact on the huge Latino demographic and the polling that continues to see a shift away from support for Israel proves the point.

So, retail is nice, but to succeed with America’s larger Latino community, the pro-Israel community needs to invest in a wholesale strategy. Latino outreach that thrives can no longer be accomplished using retail methods.

Wholesale. There is only one delivery system that can support an informative, enlightened message about Israel and Israelis to the huge American Latino demographic. And that is Spanish language broadcast media and that means television, radio and social media.

Spanish language broadcast media is the most popular source of news and entertainment for Latinos. The reach and impact of Spanish language media titans like Univision is staggering. This is how you deliver a wholesale message.

Why Spanish language? Latinos may speak English at work, they may watch English language media, and most Latinos are certainly impacted by what they hear and see presented by English media but they trust Spanish. And trust is the critical variable.

Here’s the recipe. Invest in telling a Latino audience about Israel on Spanish language broadcast media.  And make the commitment long term because here’s the truth . . . Latinos are not lost to Israel’s story, Israel’s history or Israel’s current narrative. They just haven’t heard it.

We should not be sanguine. Israel may lose America’s Latinos. Latinos may end up politically polarized much as the African American demographic is currently. Every one of the current Democratic Presidential contenders who are very publicly dissing AIPAC are doing all they can to cater to Latino voters.

But with an investment Latinos can be enlightened and informed about Israel.

Latino loyalty is earned by reflecting cultural relevancy. Think about that and imagine for a second this scenario. A Latin cultural icon, say someone of such prodigious stature as, I don’t know, Vicente Fernandez, standing tall for Israel, unfolding the Israeli narrative, letting his celebrated voice be heard, by millions, for Israel on Spanish language broadcast media.

Someone of extraordinary Latino stature on Spanish language broadcast television, standing resolute for Israel, would simply change the prism through which Latino America viewed Israel and Israelis.


About the Author
Michael Fenenbock is a longtime American political media strategist based in California and New York. He and his wife Daphne Weisbart made Aliyah to Jerusalem in 2020. Michael has written extensively about Israel and Israel-U.S. relations.
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