Written by Yosef Hershkop
This past Monday, in a late afternoon news dump, we received final confirmation that Congresswoman Yvette Clarke will vote in support of the Iran deal being placed before the U.S Congress. Clarke, who represents the entire Crown Heights and also a nice chunk of other heavily Jewish Brooklyn neighborhoods, was always an assumed Yes vote, considering her political loyalty to the Obama machine and her overall extreme left-wing voting history. However, due to the surprising amount of pressure placed on her, she was actually – for a short amount of time – considering a maybe, and gave us hope that we could change her mind. Sadly, she went back to her initial plan and will be voting for the deal.
Clarke and her friends within our community will tell us that she’s always voted in support of Israel and that the few occasions where she bucked us, it was an honest mistake. We will also hear people say, “How do you expect a member of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote against the President on his signature foreign policy achievement when prominent Jewish Reps., such as Rep. Jerrold Nadler, are supporting the deal?” Those two points and any others which may be brought up are fair, but don’t make her terrible vote any better. We cannot sugarcoat this episode; we need to clearly enunciate that we won’t forget and we won’t forgive.
The big question is how we go about this. I don’t profess to have all the answers, but I can only repeat what I wrote in my previous column that we need to greatly increase our voting presence. Today the stakes are much higher. We aren’t arguing about tuition relief or more affordable housing or even about religious rights. We are speaking about keeping America – and especially New York – safe, and protecting our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisroel.
Countless experts have already pored over the details of this deal and what they say should frighten us all. Yes, at this point it is almost 100% certain that President Obama will win this round and his deal to arm a terrorist regime will go through, but we can better prepare ourselves for the next battle, as it’s only a matter of time until he (or his colleagues on the Left) come up with another nutty idea, and we must be better prepared to fight when that comes around.
If every eligible voter in the Crown Heights Jewish community does the following two things: a) registers to vote b) actually shows up on every Election Day – yes, even the boring, off-year ones – and VOTES, then, and only then, will we have sufficient political power. A large voting bloc is more influential than giving a politician a seven digit donation. I will add that we also need to make an effort to better reach out to non-Jewish voters within our area who may share common ground with us on major issues. For example, many neighborhood black churches could be strong partners when it comes to protecting the Holy Land, as well as on more local issues such as school choice, but if they don’t hear from us, they have no way of knowing that we want to work with them.
Just to give you an example of how even a small amount of votes matter: In the 2006 Democratic primary which ultimately propelled Yvette Clarke into Congress, she won the four-way race with only 31% of the vote and beat her closest competitor (a secular Jew) by less than 1,800 votes. The amount of Crown Heights Jews who are either unregistered or haven’t voted more than once in the last five years is significantly more than 1800 votes.
Clarke’s (our) district is consistently ranked among the 10 safest Democratic House seats. An easily attainable goal would be to make her have to fight for her next win, and also make national Progressive groups spend money on a race they originally thought was an easy win.
I hope that the CHJCC or other leadership groups within our community will take the plunge and finally figure out how to increase our voter turnout. Until then, I am happy to help anyone with their registration questions.
The author can be reached through Chabadinfo.com