June 10, 2024
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Hubert Humphrey and Golda Meir in 1970.

My daughter is in the final stages of her social work degree and is currently doing fieldwork in Lod. I recently picked her up from her Lod office, which is located on Hubert Humphrey Street. Looking at the street sign hearkened me back to my youth, when it seemed that all Jews were Democrats. We were so entrenched in the Democratic party that my father was actually invited to Jimmy Carter’s presidential inauguration ceremony. Even though that was over 40 years ago, the support has endured, as 70% of American Jews have consistently voted Democratic.

Jews have been strongly associated with the Democratic Party ever since the days of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, which was his solution to the deepest economic depression in US history. As new immigrants and a racial minority, the New Deal’s public welfare and social legislation resonated so deeply with Jews that by the 1940 election, FDR received 90% of the Jewish vote. The Democrats’ civil liberties and individual rights platform were aligned with American Jewry’s values, and many Jews played a prominent role in the African Americans’ civil rights movement.

Hubert Humphrey was the mayor of Minneapolis from 1945 until 1948, and then served as Minnesota’s senator from 1949 until he was elected vice president in 1964 under President Johnson. In 1968, Humphrey ran for president and lost to Richard Nixon. He returned to the Senate in 1971, and served there until he passed away in 1978.

Humphrey’s domestic political identity was in line with FDR’s liberalism and New Deal principles. In fact, Humphrey’s nickname “The Happy Warrior” was an allusion to both his infectious optimism and his indefatigable efforts on behalf of minorities.

Throughout his career, Humphrey was a strong supporter of Israel and the American Jewish community. Often referring to Israel as “this tiny democratic state in the Middle East,” he admired the country’s values and stood squarely with Israel during her most difficult times.

Humphrey and Golda Meir in 1969.

Because of his deep friendship with the Jewish state, Hubert Humphrey became a confidant of Israel’s leaders, including prime ministers Golda Meir and Menachem Begin.

One of many examples that highlights his staunch support for Israel happened in 1975, after the United Nations General Assembly disgracefully adopted a resolution that linked Zionism with racism. Speaking in the Senate, Humphrey declared that “the charge of racism against Israel is so manifestly absurd, one’s first reaction is not even to dignify the charge with substantive response. But recent discussions and inquiries make it clear that there is much ignorance and confusion about the nature of Israeli society, the result of massive propaganda efforts designed by Israel’s adversaries to support their absurd charges.”

He minced no words when stating that the “sinister implications” of the resolution “… only add obstacles to the struggle for peace in the Middle East and … threaten the usefulness of the United Nations itself.” Humphrey’s words were unfortunately prophetic, as these sinister implications have been realized globally.

Sadly, antisemitism has also become more commonplace and virulent on the domestic front, even among American Jewry’s historical allies, whose civil rights causes were championed by the Jews. We are fortunate that there are brave Democratic leaders who support and are concerned for Israel. However, during these challenging times, American Jewry feels the void that has existed ever since Hubert Humphrey and his moral compass left the national stage.


Gedaliah Borvick is the founder of My Israel Home (www.myisraelhome.com), a real estate agency focused on helping people from abroad buy and sell homes in Israel. To sign up for his monthly market updates, contact him at [email protected].

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