A tweet from a chassidishe resident of Boro Park went viral today after he posted a photo of himself with his ballot next to a photo of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim American soldier who was killed in 2004 while serving in Iraq. Mr. Yosef Rapaport, who does independent media consulting, said that he woke up on Election Day and decided to dedicate his vote to Khan.
His tweet: “I’m an Orthodox Jewish Immigrant My vote is private. Dedicated in honor of US CPT Khan, his devotion makes (religious) freedom possible”
“I would probably not agree politically with Capt. Khan if he met me and we talked about world affairs,” Rapaport said. “I don’t know. I can’t be sure. That doesn’t diminish one iota the deep respect I have for him and his family for what they did for America. We owe them our deepest respect.”
Muslims’ religious practices are especially under attack right now, Rapaport said. “That should be frightening to every religious person,” he said. “When there’s an attack on one religious group it means my religious liberty is diminished.”
This summer Donald Trump lashed out at Khan’s parents, who appeared at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia the same night Hillary Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination.
Khan’s father blasted Trump’s rhetoric on Muslims and immigrants. Pulling his pocket version of the Constitution from his jacket, he questioned whether Trump has read it. “You have sacrificed nothing and no one,” Khan said.
During one of the presidential debates, Trump said his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country had “morphed” into a plan for “extreme vetting” of refugees.
Rapaport declined to say who he voted for, but he said leans left and, “you can infer.” He said he met Trump with several other Jewish representatives in New York City this summer and asked him about the Free Exercise clause of the Constitution. Rapaport said Trump’s answer to his question was fine, but he is still concerned about the larger talk about Muslims this election cycle.
“The attack on Muslim minorities causes great concern for me because we are in the same country, we are protected by the same rules,” Rapaport said.
A Hasidic Jew, Rapaport, who is 62, moved to the U.S. from Montreal to marry his wife 40 years ago. Now they have eight children and 35 grandchildren and live in Brooklyn. He and his wife’s parents were Holocaust survivors from Hungary.
He said that when his parents were in Hungary in the 1940s, there was a law passed that if one of your grandparents wasn’t born in Hungary, you could be exported to Poland where many Jews died in the Holocaust. That’s why he is so frightened by comments like one tweeted by Ann Coulter on Monday: “If only people with at least 4 grandparents born in America were voting, Trump would win in a 50-state landslide.”
“You can expel me to Canada the day he moves all the Mexicans,” Rapaport said. “I’m in line, right?
Jewish voters have been a reliable Democratic voting bloc since the early 1900s, and are twice as likely to have liberal political views than conservative ones, holding more liberal views on issues like gay rights and size of government. While Jewish Americans, who make up about 2.2 percent of the country, aren’t as big a voter bloc as other groups, they tend to vote at higher rates than the overall electorate.
While Jewish Americans lean heavily toward the Democratic Party, the opposite is true of Orthodox Jews, who make up about 10 percent of the Jewish population. According to a Pew Research Center poll in 2013, 57 percent of Orthodox Jews were or leaned Republican. Some Orthodox Jews favor Republicans more on issues related to Israel and private education, and Clinton has angered a lot of Israel-focused voters by supporting the Iran deal. Orthodox Jews also tend to express more conservative views on issues such as marriage and the size of government.
Trump is expected to win a large percentage of the Orthodox Jewish vote, but an August poll by the American Jewish Committee suggested about 50 percent of Orthodox Jews intended to vote Republican this year, down from 70 percent who backed John McCain in 2008. Many Jewish Americans have expressed concern over a rise in anti-Semitism by those who support Trump.
For his part, Rapaport is looking forward to life after the election.
“Can you imagine the language that has come into this campaign?” Rapaport said. “Who would imagine this is part of the talk during this election? It’s mind-boggling. I’m glad tonight it’s going to be over.”
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Sarah Pulliam Bailey