Kehila News Israel (KNI) interviewed a small number of self-described liberal and conservative Americans now living in Israel to learn their thoughts about the November presidential election. While the sampling is small and unscientific, we can take heart that any conclusions we may draw from them are likely to be as valid as data provided to the media preceding the election by the nation’s most highly regarded pollsters.
Thanks to the following Americans in Israel for sharing their thoughts below. The reasonableness of their responses, given the apparent calls to hysteria in the states, were both surprising and encouraging…
Bill, an American-Israeli citizen who made Aliyah to Israel in 1995, broke open a (marked down) bottle of Trump Vodka and took a “celebratory sip” after the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, was named President Elect following the election of November 8th. Bill voted absentee, formerly served in the Israeli military and has lived in Israel for the past 16 years. His most trusted information sources were the Drudge Report and Fox News. The best thing about the election outcome, per Bill, was the benefit he feels Trump’s policies will bring to American small businesses in a revived US economy. The worst consequence, he feels, is the negativity and violence that has followed the election.
Betsy Gordon did not celebrate the election outcome. Like Bill, a dual citizen of both the US and Israel, she has lived in the land for thirty years. Being a former California resident and Clinton supporter, she did not vote in the election because, hailing from California, she anticipated there would be no need. (Her assessment was spot on; Hilary Clinton carried California over Trump by that state’s biggest margin of victory in a presidential race in 80 years.) Unlike Bill, Betsy, whose most trusted source for election news was CNN, saw nothing good about its outcome. The biggest negative, in her opinion—although she does not believe that Donald Trump himself is a racist—is the resulting empowerment she feels has been endowed upon bigots and xenophobes in the United States as the result of Clinton’s defeat. Surprisingly, and not unlike the responses of other, self-identified liberals we spoke with for this piece, Betsy was not willing to say that she was disappointed in the outcome. Not yet.
“Give Trump the benefit of the doubt,” she said. “Give him 100 days and if he succeeds I will be happy to have been wrong. I’ll be rooting for him to succeed.”
Lesly Bertell is another Hilary supporter who, although not pleased with the election results, said she was willing to give Donald Trump a chance and hopeful that he would succeed. Lesly has lived in Israel for 26 years and maintained dual citizenship. She did not vote in this election and her most trusted news outlets are CNN and Sky News. Though “concerned” by the outcome and aware of Hilary’s possible lead in the popular vote, she accepts the Electoral College system and understands why it is necessary.
“Give the guy a chance,” she told KNI, “I will respect his position. If I trust God, then I have to trust Him in this.”
Regarding the post-election riots and demonstrations, Lesly believes that similar demonstrations would have followed the election on behalf of Trump if he had lost.
Bruce voted absentee for Trump. He made Aliyah to Israel in 2011 and was too old to serve in the Israeli military. He followed the campaign closely. His most frequented news sources—he balked at using the word, “trusted”—were the links provided at the online Drudge Report. He felt that the foreign media dealt more fairly with Trump than the major media in America.
While Bruce relates that Donald Trump ran, at first, what he called a “shoot-from-the-hip” campaign, he also believed that the American media grossly amplified his pitfalls and eagerly assigned broad and generally negative attributes to his mistakes. The media’s biggest error in sizing up Trump’s candidacy, according to Bruce, was best described by journalist Salena Zito in a September article in The Atlantic, “The press takes [Donald Trump] literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”
Peter did not vote. Like Betsy, he supported Hillary Clinton and assumed that his home state, which had traditionally voted Democratic in past elections, would not need his vote to assign its Electors to Hillary. Again like Betsy, he was correct. Peter has lived in Israel for three years. In his estimation, he did not follow the election closely but he seemed very well-informed. His most trusted news sources were the New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post and the Jerusalem Post. Peter was not disappointed in the election’s result.
“I don’t know yet,” he said. “I hope the results will shake up America. Millions of jobs have disappeared among white, Christian, working class Americans…and Hillary virtually ignored them. That may have cost her the election.”
Andrea made Aliyah to Israel three years ago. She preferred Clinton to Trump but did not vote for the same reasons provided by Betsy and Peter. Like them, she was correct; Clinton carried her home state handily. Andrea followed the election by discussing the campaigns with her husband. She has no preferred news source, preferring to treat them all skeptically. Though her candidate lost, Andrea hesitated to characterize her reaction as disappointment.
“This outcome has the potential to open a lot of minds about support and underlying assumptions [in American politics].” Andrea does have concerns, however, about whether Donald Trump will appoint good advisers and be willing to take their advice.
Harvey Blatt made Aliyah to Israel in 1994. He followed the campaigns closely. His most trusted news outlet was Fox News. Harvey voted absentee and considers the likelihood of “improved relations between Israel and America” as the most beneficial result of Trump’s victory. The worst part of the campaign process, per Harvey, is many Americans’ penchant for focusing on personalities while sometimes ignoring important issues. Harvey has no worries about Donald Trump’s ability to get things done. “I’m looking forward to a wonderful few years,” he said.
Midge Blatt has lived in Israel for over 22 years. She originally supported Ben Carson, then Ted Cruz and followed the Republican and Democratic campaigns closely throughout. She voted absentee and cited “God and prophecy” as her most trusted source of news.
“God’s man won,” she told KNI. “If He had wanted Hillary to win, I would have accepted it but I am extremely pleased with the outcome.”
Thanks again to all those who contributed to this piece for their insight, perspective and honesty. The full names of some of them are provided with permission.