"Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, reaffirms its historic commitment to encourage informed, individual involvement in civic affairs, including voter registration and participation."
— Hadassah Voter Challenge Policy Statement, 2000
During this past week, Hadassah representatives have been actively following the outcome of the midterm elections and participated in a series of conference calls with our partner organizations to better understand the results. As women and members of the Jewish community, there are some aspects of this election that have a particular significance.
The United States is ranked 90th in the world for the number of women in elected office. During the campaign season many termed this another “Year of the Women” citing the 160 women on the ballot across the country, many of whom ran for prominent seats. Four states voted in female governors, three for the first time. However, despite the large number of women on the ballot, the percentage of women in Congress failed to increase for the first time in 30 years. Women’s advocates are looking forward to the remaining weeks of the 111th Congress, which will include a key vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act and a possible vote on the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
The Jewish community has been closely following Congressman Eric Cantor from Virginia, the new House Majority Leader and now the highest ranking Jewish member in history. He is known as a strong ally of Israel and will be in the strategic position to give voice to the concerns of Jewish Americans. Another notable ally of Israel, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from Florida, will likely become the new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen has also been a vocal advocate for sanctions on Iran and drawing attention to its human rights abuses.
In the wake of the election results, leaders from both parties have spoken out to affirm their support for Israel and the concerns of the Jewish community.
Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks said, “[Republican] leaders will not hesitate to speak out firmly on Israel's behalf when Israel's bitter enemies press to delegitimize the Jewish State. We know that affinity for Israel and dedication to Israel's security are broad and deep in the ranks of the Republican caucus - very much including the newly elected members, most of whom have already built bonds of trust with pro-Israel constituents.”
National Jewish Democratic Council President and CEO David A. Harris said, “Congress has long been broadly bipartisan when it comes to support for the U.S.-Israel relationship, and that's a success story of the American Jewish community. The entire Senate Democratic leadership team has been powerfully supportive of Israel, and Senate Majority Leader Reid has led the charge on an array of issues, including biting sanctions against Iran. We fully expect this tradition of bipartisan support will continue as the newly elected Senators begin to serve their terms.”
Prior to the election, Hadassah joined over 100 other Jewish organizations in signing the Statement on Civility, part of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ Civility Campaign. The campaign calls on the Jewish community to be respectful of all views, promoting open dialog despite any differences or disagreements that may exist. Hadassah encourages its members and all elected officials to accept and promote a culture of civility and cooperation in order to handle the many challenges and goals of women, the Jewish community and the American people.