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American Jewry wants to hear from US Presidential candidates about American interests, not foreign interests

As the 2016 presidential race gets into motion, Torah Jews are concerned about the fact that some of the candidates, when addressing Orthodox Jewish audiences, have made a point of voicing their support for the State of Israel above all other issues.

For example, Ted Cruz said in a phone call during his first swing through Iowa as a presidential candidate, “I share a great many values with the Jewish community and the Orthodox community. Chief among them is a passionate dedication to strengthening our friendship and alliance with the nation of Israel.”

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Mike Huckabee's website says, “In a world of uncertainty, evil, and moral insanity, Israel is a shining light of moral clarity. The enemies of Israel are the enemies of America."

Rand Paul, who entered the race in early April, is a self-proclaimed strong ally of Israel, despite his libertarian ethos of limited government spending, which includes U.S. support to Israel. In 2013 he visited the holy land on a trip bankrolled by GOP funder and pharma-executive Rich Roberts. In January that year, Paul told Breitbart “I think [what] we should do is announce to the world, and I think it is well-known, that any attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on the United States.”

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The great Biblical prophet, Jeremiah, proclaimed G-d's message to all of Diaspora Jewry: "Seek out the welfare of the city to which I have exiled you and pray for it to the Almighty, for through its welfare will you have welfare." (29:7). This message has been a cornerstone of Jewish conduct in exile throughout history. Wherever Jews have lived over the last two thousand years, they have been loyal citizens and supported the leaders of their country.

Under American democracy, this principle takes on additional meaning. We have the right to choose our leaders, but our choices should be based on what we feel is best for America - not for a foreign country.

It is our position that dragging the interests of "Israel" into American politics fuels anti-Semitism and creates a potential danger to Jews worldwide, including those in the Holy Land.

That's why it is disturbing that the American public sees the way these candidates talk while jostling for the Jewish vote, and gets the impression of American Jews as people who vote on one issue: the State of Israel.

This impression would be far from correct. The vast majority of Jews, especially the Orthodox, vote on other issues such as values, the economy and foreign policy. Actually, these candidates are not courting the Orthodox Jewish vote - because for Republicans, the Orthodox Jewish vote hardly plays a role. The Orthodox community is 10 percent of the Jewish population, a group that, in turn, makes up about 2 percent of the U.S. population and is heavily concentrated in Democratic-leaning urban areas. Rather, their purpose is gather campaign funding from wealthy pro-Israel donors, not all of whom are Jewish.