Maya Alleruzzo / AP
Israel, which is estimated to have the world’s third-largest community of qualified American voters abroad, is seeing record-high participation in this year’s elections, activists say. Local Republican and Democratic Party. Judging by the popularity of President Trump in Israel and the demographics of the expatriate American community in Israel mainly Orthodox Jews, polls believe many US voters in Israel voted for the president.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians do not support Trump at all, a recent poll found. But some Palestinian Americans living under Israeli rule in Jerusalem have avoided voting in the US election, for fear that the election will flag them with the government as US citizens. Palestinians with US citizenship may be deprived of Israelis from a city claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians.
The president’s differing preferences stems from Trump’s favor for Israel over the Palestinians. His policies attracted opposition from free Jewish groups and Palestinian rights advocates in the United States. But they have won Trump support from many US Jewish voters residing in Israel.
Trump activists in Israel have perhaps staged perhaps the most obvious re-election campaign outside of the United States. Last month, a convoy of motorbikes with Trump flags raced through Jerusalem’s cobblestone Old City through Palestinian stores. Trump posters in Hebrew are posted on a minibus in Tel Aviv, the heart of the free Israel. This week, Israeli settlers read prayers for a Trump victory at Abraham’s Bible tomb, a temple annoyingly shared between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank.
Etana Hecht, an Israeli-American voter who came to Jerusalem with a fleet of decorated cars in the Middle East, said that the Trump administration “pointed to and overturned the script. Trump flags. She praised the foreign deals. Trump’s deals are mediated between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, deals that bypass the Palestinians but leave Israelis enamored.
“We are looking to make our son’s mitzvah bar in Abu Dhabi,” Hecht said.
The administration continued to issue statements supporting Israel ahead of Tuesday’s elections. David Friedman, US ambassador to Israel, posed in front of camera last week to reveal new US policies supporting Israel’s controversial West Bank settlements and its claims to Jerusalem .
Jews in Israel favor Trump more than Jews in the United States. A survey last month found that 75% of US Jews favor Democratic candidate Joe Biden and 22% favor Trump. But recent Israeli polls have shown almost the opposite. A survey released on Monday found 70% of Israeli Jews liked Trump and 13% liked Biden, with 17% uncertainty.
Prospectors suggested that the pro-Trump stance in Israel could shake some Jewish and Protestant voters in America.
“American Jews living in Israel say, ‘Hey, he’s fine’ – I think that has some effect on voters,” including their relatives in America, Mitchell Barak, opinion pollster. said Israeli-American ants. A poll he conducted of US citizens in Israel in 2016 found that 49% favored Trump more than 44% for Hillary Clinton.
But the US voting rate in Israel tends to be low. According to US government data from 2018, Israel is home to about 183,500 qualified US voters – only Canada and the UK have more. But only about 15,600 US voters registered Israel’s mailing address during the 2016 presidential election, according to data compiled and provided to Barak by a US voter data mining company.
According to Dahlia Scheindlin, an Israeli-American pollster in Tel Aviv, even if all US voters in Israel vote, they are scattered among several US states and this number will not be enough to influence. to the vote count of any state.
“In short, it’s not about us,” she said.
However, some US immigrants to Israel who stopped voting in US elections decades ago are voting this time.
“Previously they thought it was inappropriate to live here, but this time they felt highly motivated,” said Marc Zell, Chairman of the Republican Overseas Party.
The Democratic Party of Israel said it led a campaign away from society due to the coronavirus epidemic but its membership doubled. An online voter registration platform favored by Overseas Democrats has tripled the number of users in Israel this election season compared to 2016.
Heather Stone, president of the Overseas Democrats in Israel, said: “This is the real game – helping voters vote day in and day out for months – not flashy car races on day. before the election, ”said Heather Stone, president of the Overseas Democrats in Israel.
Biden said she received support from a number of unexpected locations, such as the Orthodox Orthodox city of Beit Shemesh, and Efrat, an Israeli-occupied West Bank Jewish settlement.
“There was an increase in membership from Efrat. Before we had a few. … [Now] we have a large cluster, dozens, “said Stone.
Although Palestinians hope for Biden for a more rational U.S. policy in the Middle East, qualified US voters in the Palestinian regions are harder to quantify and many refuse to vote.
Palestinian-American businessman Osama Salah said he knew US citizens in East Jerusalem did not vote in the US election because they feared Israel would take away their local residency if the US Embassy shared information. news of their voter registration with Israel.
HaMoked, a Palestinian rights group, says there is no evidence that voting in the US elections puts Palestinian Americans at any risk. The US Embassy in Jerusalem said sharing citizens’ personal records, such as voter registration, without their consent is against US law.
But under Israeli law, Palestinian residents of Jerusalem with US citizenship or leaving Jerusalem for more than seven years run the risk of losing their residency in the city. An Israeli lawyer, Adi Lustigman, a Palestinian American, often struggles to restore their residence.
Some US citizens married to local Palestinians are having a protracted legal struggle to obtain Israeli residency documents. They worry that registering to vote and showing political partying could cause them trouble with Israel or assume that voting means wrongly aligning with the US government.
Kefah Abukhdeir, a Palestinian-American in Jerusalem, of Atlanta descent, said she was unable to recruit enough other activists to start her own Palestinian Overseas Democracy chapter.
“People don’t feel safe being part of something that will be tied to America,” Abukhdeir said. “They are threatened because they think they’ll be on some sort of mesh.”
Sami Sockol contributed to this report from Jerusalem.