Rikki Schlott

Rikki Schlott

US News
exclusive

Meet the Jewish Americans who feel abandoned by the Democrats, now voting Republican for the first time

With the 2024 election almost upon us, Donald Trump is gaining a new cohort of voters: Jewish Americans who feel abandoned by the left.

According to exit polls, 77 percent of Jewish voters went for Biden in 2020. But a recent poll from the Jewish Electoral Institute found the president has lost 10 points on his lead against his rival.

Between college protests erupting into chants for an “intifada revolution,” Democrats like Jamaal Bowman leaning hard into pro-Palestine messaging, and progressive organizations like Black Lives Matter chapters celebrating the October 7th terrorist attacks, many Jewish Americans feel abandoned by their party.

Some lifelong Jewish Democrats feel an explosion of left-wing antisemitism has pushed them to re-register as Republicans — and vote for Trump.

The Post spoke to four local Jewish voters who made the switch in the wake of October 7th:

Jewish voters are leaving the Democratic Party in droves over leftwing antisemitism. Stefano Giovannini

Melissa Chapman: ‘I’ve been kicked out of left wing spaces

Melissa Chapman says the Democratic Party “betrayed” Jewish people. Stefano Giovannini

Melissa Chapman always considered herself a bleeding heart liberal — but she left the Democratic party after she claims it “betrayed” Jewish people.

“I’ve always been a Democrat, and I really believed that the Democrats were going to protect me, because I’ve done everything a good Democrat should do,” the 50-year-old Staten Islander told The Post. “Then October 7th happened, and I was completely abandoned.”

Chapman, a mom of two, runs a blog where she champions progressive causes, from LGBT rights and animal rights to Black History Month. However, after the Hamas attacks which killed 1,200 and took another 250 hostage, prompting Israel’s military to respond in Gaza, she found herself castigated online in the progressive social media communities she’d long been a part of.

Chapman says being pro-Israel got her booted from left wing spaces. Stefano Giovannini

“Even on my vegan Facebook communities, all the recipes became about freeing Palestine, somehow,” she said. “If you dissented in any way, you either got bullied, shamed, or just kicked out of the group. I was literally abandoned by every single community that I poured my heart into.”

In total, Chapman was booted from 20 online communities and called all manner of names, from ‘colonizer’ to ‘genocide supporter’ and ‘baby killer’.

“I was told to go back to Poland,” she recalled. “One person told me they hope that I burn in the ovens. If you support Israel, you’re immediately considered someone who’s supporting genocide, which is not, by definition, even true — but it doesn’t matter because buzzwords are taking over like wildfire.”

The experience of being squeezed out of progressive spaces caused Chapman to re-register as a Republican.

Melissa Chapman’s father was a Holocaust survivor. Stefano Giovannini

“It’s a horrible time to support Israel and be a Democrat, and I just don’t think there’s any space for us anymore,” she said. “As a Jew, you have to disown Israel in order to be accepted into the Democratic community.”

The post-October 7th reaction has caused Chapman to think often of her late father, who was a Holocaust survivor: “If he were alive today, I don’t know what he would say. I don’t know, but would he say this is like what happened in Germany before Hitler took over?”

As we head into election season, Chapman “1000%” plans to vote Republican down the ticket, from the local level to the presidential level.

“I never thought I would be voting Republican in my entire life,” she said. “But it’s like living in a twilight zone. As a Jew living in America, I don’t believe the Democratic Party has my best interest at heart.” 

Danny Cohen: ‘The Democratic party has a cancer’

Standup comic Danny Cohen says the Democratic Party abandoned him in the wake of October 7th. Danny Cohen

After a lifetime as a Democrat, Danny Cohen decided his party now “has a cancer” in the form of antisemitism.

“There’s been a hijacking of the Democratic Party,” Cohen, 56 of Brooklyn, told The Post. “Right now the Democratic Party has a cancer. It seems like all the antisemitism is just coming out of the woodwork.”

In the wake of October 7th, Cohen changed his party registration to Republican.

“The response from the left really shook me to my core,” Cohen, who was raised in a Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn, said.

“I can’t be part of that party anymore. I don’t want to have anything to do with these people. It’s a corrupt party now. It’s a hijacked party. This is not the party that I grew up with.”

Danny Cohen grew up in a Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn. Danny Cohen

As a Jewish person, Cohen says he feels uniquely unsupported by the left: “It’s no longer a party that is fighting for human rights because you can’t fight for human rights, except for Jewish rights.”

Over the past year, the standup comic says left-wing antisemitism has been overwhelming.

“We have ‘The Squad.’ We see what’s going on in college campuses. We see what’s going on during these protests. It’s taking to the streets, and it’s getting crazy,” he said.

Cohen says he’s actually excited to cast a ballot for Trump in November. Danny Cohen

“I’m not saying that there isn’t any hate in the Republican party — we have the KKK, the Proud Boys, Charlottesville — but they can’t even hold a candle to the scale of what’s going on on the other side.”

Accordingly, Cohen is planning to vote Republican for the first time.

“I’m passionate. I’m excited about it, actually,” he said. “It’s a fight against Jew hatred, and so now I’m excited about voting for Trump.”

As a gay man, Danny Cohen says he defaulted to the Democratic Party because he felt they supported his community. Danny Cohen

Cohen, who is gay, has also gotten pushback from his community: “A lot of my friends ask me, ‘What about gay rights?’ And I’m like, look, I have my gay stuff going on, but I’m a Jew first.”

“I want to get rid of the cancer [of antisemitism] first and then we can discuss all the other stuff because nothing matters in your life if your body is full of cancer,” he continued. “And it’s taking over the Democratic Party.”

Sarah Sarkin: Being a liberal was a huge part of my identity’

Sarah Sarkin once considered herself “as Democrat as can be” but now is voting Republican. Matt Wittmeyer for NY Post

Sarah Sarkin once took to the streets to protest Trump’s election in 2016, waving an “Anybody but Trump” poster. Now she’s voting for him in 2024.

“Being a mother and watching everything that happened in October made me make the switch,” Sarkin, who is raising her infant son in Syracuse, said. “Those images are still seared and tattooed into my memory, and it was just horrifying to see some of the reactions on the left.”

Although she considered herself “as Democrat as can be” until recently, Sarkin, 31, re-registered as a Republican.

“It was a lot of silence on the left, and that really speaks so loudly to how a party that I once thought was for equality and for protecting us is really not for equal rights,” Sarkin told The Post. 

“Being a liberal was such a big part of my identity, so it was a weird thing for me to switch over. But I’m at a different part of my life now, and it’s time for me to change.”

Although she protested against Donald Trump in 2016, Sarah Sarkin will be voting for him in 2024. Sarah Sarkin

After October 7th, the safety of her family and Jewish community became Sarkin’s number one priority, as a voter and as a mother.

Her local mom’s group chats were flooded with panicked posts about safety, local protests, and whether or not to send kids to school on the “International Day of Jihad,” called for by an ex-Hamas leader on Oct. 13. Out of fear for their security, Sarkin and her husband also decided to become first-time gun owners this year.

“I had never even held a gun, and it was scary, but we wanted to learn how to protect ourselves,” Sarkin said. “This became very real for us very soon. It happened in Israel, but it can certainly happen here.”

As November nears, Sarkin plans to cast her ballot for Trump because she believes his commitment to Israel is more resounding.

“At least for me, I need someone who’s a fighter and who knows where they stand.”

Sarkin bought a gun to protect herself in the wake of October 7th. Matt Wittmeyer for NY Post

Marin Faiella: ‘I’ve never voted Republican before’

Marin Faiella has never voted Republican in her life, but this November she’ll be casting her ballot for Trump.

“I think at the end of the day, it’s clear whose policies are aligned with a safer, stronger allied relationship with Israel,” she told The Post.

Faiella has always considered herself staunchly pro-choice and generally progressive. But October 7th upended her priorities.

“My number one priority is overall safety and security for myself as a Jewish person,” Faiella said. “If your basic 101 safety isn’t in place, then you can’t really advocate for any additional rights.”

Faiella, who lives in the West Village and works in real estate, says pro-Palestine demonstrations in New York City have been a wakeup call.

Maren Faiella says basic safety is her motivation for switching parties. Stefano Giovannini

“I saw what was on the streets — celebrations, people shouting and dressed as terrorists here in New York City,” she recalled. “After October 7th, I was just scared to death, in terms of being a Jewish person in the city.”

The progressives’ reaction to October 7th inspired her to change her registration from Democrat to Republican last November, but she says “the writing has been on the wall.”

“There were plenty of warnings that were preludes to what we’re seeing out in the open now, like Bella Hadid and the woke crowd that have been all in on Free Palestine,” Faiella said. Hadid is of Palestinian descent.

Although she was initially conflicted about re-registering as a Republican, she is feeling confident in her choice.

“I’m not anti-Democrat, but I’m definitely anti-extreme Democrats,” she said. “I continue to feel more and more confident and comfortable in my skin and my new affiliation. I can always change back, but this is where I feel it’s appropriate to be at this point in time.”

For Faiella, it all comes down to fundamental safety for the Jewish community.

“We could be Germany [in the] 1930s if we didn’t have the government and law enforcement on our side,” she warned. “If that ever changed, we wouldn’t be safe here anymore.”

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