1. The Presidential Election
In past Presidential election years, political experts, teachers and Pro-Israel political advocates would try to focus people’s attention on the Congressional and Senate races and away from the Presidential races. The claim was that Congress is an equal branch of the government and the results of congressional elections are just as important as the Presidential race.
This claim has been weakened by the Iran deal. Presidents and their administration have become adept at circumventing Congress through executive action. This was demonstrated to our communities’ detriment with the successful signing of the Iran deal. While the Pro-Israel community successfully convinced the majority of the American people and Congress that the Iran deal was a horrible mistake, the President was able to maneuver past both and carry out his erroneous deal.
Who is better for Israel? Like good Jews we all know the answer, and like good Jews, we can’t agree. We can state that both candidates are committed to strengthening the important foundation of the US-Israel relationship; foreign aid, top military cooperation and diplomatic cover at the United Nations. The US-Israel relationship will be strong no matter who wins. Polls have shown Clinton in the lead, but as in many close elections, polls have proven mistaken. This will be nail biter until the end.
2. The Senate
Who will end up controlling the Senate? Will Senator Charles Schumer, the consummate “Shomer Yisrael” (A play on the Senator’s Hebrew last name that means he is the guardian of Israel that he is fond of citing), become the new Senate Majority leader? Will the Republicans maintain control and ensure that their more conservative agenda is what plays in America? The Senate results, and which party is in control will greatly affect how the new President is able to carry out his or her plans. On Israel issues, whether the Senate switches to Democrat or remains Republican, it won’t matter much. Both sides and candidates are Pro-Israel. The only area we might see a difference is if the President decides to drastically change the Iran deal. A democratically controlled Senate would be more reluctant to approve a big change, but a Republican Senate would be eager to change the Iran deal. No one knows which way the Senate will turn, predictions in the polls and the media head both ways and we’ll have to wait to see.
3. The House of Representatives
As in the Senate, the House is controlled by a strong Republican majority and that is not expected to change in this election. With a Republican majority, Speaker Ryan can be expected to continue his reign over Congress. The House Republicans have always been staunchly Pro-Israel, leading approval of financial aid to Israel, including missile defense funding above the MOU signed between President Bush and Prime Minister Olmert. The House Republicans also led the charge against the Iran deal, and invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress about the pitfalls of the Iran deal. Even if the Democrats somehow overcome all odds and win the House, Israel can expect a friendly House, with Democratic members of the house continuing their strong financial aid to Israel.
4. Mark Kirk vs. Tammy Duckworth (Illinois Senate)
As a Congressman, Mark Kirk was one of Israel’s best friends and greatest supporters in the House. When President Obama gave up his Senate seat to become President, Illinois shocked America when it elected Republican Kirk to take Obama’s traditionally Democratic seat. Kirk has been a staunch ally of Israel in the Senate, saying about the Iran deal, “Tens of thousands of people in the Middle East are going to lose their lives because of this decision by Barack Hussein Obama.” Kirk’s stance against Iran isn’t limited to words; he has authored legislation that set sanctions against Iran as well. Kirk’s opponent, Tammy Duckworth is no great friend of Israel. She has said that U.S. funding for Israel’s missile defense systems is not the “best solution.” Duckworth has been a vocal supporter of the Iran nuclear agreement. She is a darling of J-Street and its unhelpful activism towards Israel. This race is too close to call.
5. Marco Rubio vs. Patrick Murphy (Florida Senate)
As a Senator, Marco Rubio has been the kind of friend that Israel will always need and can always count on. He is well known for his fiery speeches on the Senate floor on behalf of Israel. Many in the Pro-Israel community were deeply disappointed when he didn’t win the Republican nomination for President and most experts believe he’d demolish Hillary Clinton in a one on one race.
Pro-Israel Floridians were energized when Rubio decided to re-enter the race for the Senate. Rubio is a strong supporter of Jewish rights to Judea and Samaria, the only Senator to refer to the West Bank by its Jewish name and was a staunch critic of the Iran deal. His opponent Patrick Murphy has accomplished nothing during his two terms in the Senate, and turned his back on Israel with his vocal support of the Iran deal. Many viewed his refusal to join with other Floridian Democrats against the Iran deal as stance made to curry favor with the President to earn the President Obama’s endorsement for his Senate run. Most polls have Rubio winning.
6. John McCain vs. Ann Kirkpatrick (Arizona Senate)
As a Senator, John McCain has been a strong friend of Israel, making Israel’s security a priority throughout his career. McCain has written and sponsored many bills to ensure a strong and safe Israel, and is considered a vocal ally of Israel in the Senate. He faces a tough challenge this year against Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick. While Kirkpatrick has been vocal on many issues in support of Israel and has visited Israel, she is endorsed by J-Street and supported the Iran deal. This race is too close to call.