heard last night

David Axelrod says Orthodox voters were Obama’s opposition in Jewish community

‘The opposition that Barack Obama received, and frankly, Hillary Clinton received, [that] Joe Biden receives, comes from an Orthodox community’

Lauren Gerson

Political strategist David Axelrod joined Friends of the LBJ Library members to speak about his memoir, "Believer: My Forty Years in Politics," at the LBJ Presidential Library on February 25, 2015.

David Axelrod, the former White House advisor to President Barack Obama and current CNN contributor, attempted to draw a correlation between religious observance and political views among Jewish voters during a Zoom conversation on Monday evening. 

“The American Jewish community is not a monolithic community… but the vast majority of the American Jewish community is a progressive community, very much in keeping with the values of the Jewish community,” Axelrod said. “And the opposition that [Obama] received, and frankly, Hillary Clinton received, [that] Joe Biden received, comes from an Orthodox community that is viewing the entire American political scene through the lens of ‘a two-state solution is not in the interest of Israel,’ and that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s program is the program that should be followed.”

“And so, you know, there’s a quarter, maybe as much as 30% in that cohort,” Axelrod continued. “It does not represent the whole American Jewish community, and there are many, many people in the American Jewish community who love Israel, and share the concerns about how how this Palestinian issue is dealt with.” 

Axelrod, who was a top strategist on both Obama’s 2008 presidential run and his 2012 reelection bid, made the comments at an event hosted by the Bennett Center for Judaic Studies at Fairfield University.

Later on in the conversation, Axelrod, who currently heads the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, doubled down on his concerns over the Orthodox community’s growing influence in politics.

“Certainly, there are places, in New York for example, where you’ve seen a growing ultra-Orthodox community becoming more active in politics,” he said. “And I think there will be some of that effect. The question is whether the rest of the Jewish community stays, remains politically active. And I think it’s really important that that be the case.”

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