A vocal group of anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox Jews — who call themselves "True Torah Jews" are vocally claiming victory on Monday for increasing President Barack Obama's support in the small village of Kiryas Joel in upstate New York.
The village, almost entirely populated by the Satmar Hasidic sect, has the highest poverty rate in the nation. The sect's leaders opposed the founding of the state of Israel on the grounds that the reunion of Jews in the Holy Land should await the coming of the Messiah.
According to the "True Torah Jews," only 7% of village residents voted for Obama in 2008, but in 2012, 42% backed him — a reaction to Romney's close ties with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, a man reviled by the anti-Zionist group.
The group sponsored a radio ad billing the election as an opportunity to repudiate Netanyahu's outspokenness about the U.S. election — even though the Israeli leader avoided taking a public stance on the race.
The full press release is below:
Dramatic Leap in Orthodox Jewish Vote for Obama, Accompanied by Radio Campaign, Makes Strong Statement in Election
WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- During the election season, the religious Jewish group known as True Torah Jews sponsored a series of radio ads expressing their disapproval of pro-Israel groups attempting to "influence the outcome of the election." The reference was to an ad that aired in swing states featuring clips of a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, intended to persuade Jews to vote for Romney. Another more explicitly anti-Obama ad featured a "debate" between the President and Netanyahu, using actual clips of their speeches taken out of context.
"We view these ads as an insult to our status as Americans Jews," said Yirmiyahu Cohen, a spokesman for True Torah Jews. "The Torah obligates Jews to be loyal citizens of their country, and to pray for its success and safety. Now a leader of another country comes and interferes in the election of our country. We felt we had no choice but to speak up and correct the impression this made.
The True Torah Jews radio ad stated the following:
"As the United States presidential campaign reaches its climax, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has voiced historically-unprecedented statements in an effort to influence the outcome of the United States elections. Moreover, these statements are being propagandized to American citizens as political ads, especially in critical swing states.
"American Jews are disturbed by these ads. This time, the Israeli prime minister has clearly crossed the red line. By recklessly interfering in United States elections, he may very well have damaged the image of American Jews. Therefore American Jews wish to repudiate this interference in the elections and clarify that, as always, the statements of Israeli politicians do not reflect the opinion of American Jews."
The ad ran many times over the final three weeks before Election Day on WABC and its affiliate stations throughout the United States.
In Kiryas Joel, a village in upstate New York whose residents are all members of the Satmar hasidic sect, many voters took this campaign a step further and voted for Obama - despite the fact that they hold socially conservative views and would normally vote Republican. In 2008, for example, Obama got only 7% of the votes in Kiryas Joel - 199 people voted for him, while John McCain picked up 2757 votes. In the 2012 election, however, 42% of the village voted Obama - 1442 votes, while Romney got 1904. The reason for this tremendous leap for Obama, was the voice of protest from the Satmar sect against the Israeli leaders for their attacks on the President.
"I usually vote for the Republicans," said village resident Joel Klein, "but this time I voted for Obama to show my protest against the Israeli politicians, and to show that they don't represent Jewish interests."
Klein added, "I have relatives in Israel and I help them out with money very often. I also donate to many charities in the holy land. But when their government mixes into American elections, that is a crime and it harms the image of Jews - not only in America but in the whole world as well."