Editorial | Make your voice heard at the polls

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With the California primary now only a few weeks away, campaign 2016 has finally come to the Golden State.

Pundits and politicians always seem to declare that this or that election is the most important of our lifetime, but the current one does strike us as exceptionally momentous. And whereas California’s primary has been somewhat of an afterthought in past presidential election years, this time the secretary of state predicts a larger-than-normal turnout.

Our cover story looks at the race from the perspectives of both major parties. The Democratic and Republican activists interviewed speak passionately about what’s important to them, serving as a reminder that Jewish voters are among the most engaged in elections.

Though disagreeing on most aspects of policy, those interviewed agree on one thing: Israel and its welfare remain a core concern of Jewish voters in both parties.

However, as a JTA story this week reveals, the definition of what it means to be “pro-Israel” seems to be shifting in this electoral cycle.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has sharply challenged Israel vis-à-vis construction in the West Bank and its treatment of Palestinians. The Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump has said he would be more neutral in his approach to Israeli-Palestinian affairs. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, in her speech to AIPAC last month, expressed unabashed support for Israel — but her message doesn’t seem to resonate as much with many younger Jewish voters, who are turning in increasing numbers to protesting Israeli policies, sometimes in ways that make older Israel supporters uncomfortable.

One thing is certain. If Jews don’t vote, then the multitude of voices is not heard. Though the conventional wisdom is that Jews constitute one of the most reliable voting blocs, in truth Jews need a little noodging, too.

That’s why the S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council, the Jewish federations in San Francisco, the East Bay and Silicon Valley, and the Board of Rabbis of Northern California are joining with colleagues in Southern California to promote a nonpartisan voter registration campaign in advance of the June 7 primary.

Time is short. The deadline to register to vote in the primary is May 23, mere days away. Online registration is possible at www.sos.ca.gov.

Israel matters, America matters and so does your vote. Make sure your voice is heard on June 7.