Few other countries are watching today’s midterm elections more closely than Israel, which anticipates that Republican gains in the House and Senate will hem the Obama administration in somewhat when it comes to pressuring Israel on issues like settlements (though many believe the midterms will have minimal effect on Mideast policy, and Tablet Magazine columnist Lee Smith predicted Republican gains will give the president more cover to do as he pleases vis-à-vis the region).
In the House, Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) is likely to remain the only Jewish Republican, but he is also likely to become the majority whip (yay). In the Senate, if Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) is ousted, Chuck Schumer (D-New York) is likely to become the next majority (or possibly minority) leader; last week, he chastised the Obama administration for its emphasis on settlements: “The reason we don’t have peace in the Middle East is because a large percentage, I would say the majority … of Palestinians and Arabs do not believe there should be a Jewish state anywhere in the Middle East,” he argued. “Period.”
Do check in tomorrow to find out how the Senate’s Jewish composition changes. Two races that merit special attention due to their status as proxy battles on Mideast issues are Rep. Joe Sestak (D) vs. former Rep. Pat Toomey (R) for Pennsylvania’s Senate seat and, in a House district north of Chicago, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D) vs. Joel Pollak (R). Oh, and don’t forget Prop 19! We’ll be watching that too.