Jewish Rep. Eric Cantor is set to be the new GOP majority leader in the House of Representatives, where he will remain the party’s lone Jew but the highest ranking in Congress in history.
American voters Tuesday voted for a total change in leadership for the second time in two years. U.S. President Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008 on the theme of “time for a change,” but beyond his success of being a great orator and becoming the first black president in the United States, his management of America’s ills convinced the voters it was time for another change.
The Democratic party lost a solid majority in the House, where the Republicans will now hold a majority of 52 seats, according to current results. In the Senate, the Democrats have held on to the minimum majority of 51 seats, with three other races "too close to call.”
The stinging loss of Democrats, where Jews field the most Congressional representatives and where Jewish voters usually cast their ballots, has cost at least five Jewish legislators their seats, including anti-war proponent Sen. Ross Feingold of Wisconsin. Other Jews who lost their seats are Florida’s Alan Grayson and pro-Israel Ron Klein, Steve Kagen of Wisconsin and John Adler of New Jersey. Another Jewish Congressman, Paul Hodes of New Hampshire, lost his bid to win a seat in the Senate.
On the plus side for Jews is Democratic Senator-elect Chris Dodd of Connecticut. Another new Congressman, David Cicilinne of Rhode Island, is Jewish by birth but also is a declared homosexual. Jewish Republican Mark Kirk, considered pro-Israel, won a seat in the Senate, and Jewish Sen. Barbara Boxer held on to her position as senator from California, fending off a stiff challenge from former HP executive Carla Fiorina.
Pro-Israel groups are not shedding tears over the loss of Jewish Senator Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania, who was backed by the left-wing J Street lobby.
The Republican sweep in the House of Representatives also means that several Jews no longer will head several powerful committees, including those that dish out foreign aid.
But the Jewish limelight remains on Cantor, a solidly pro-Israel politician who started out his career during his first year of college at The George Washington University, several blocks from the Capitol, where he worked as an intern for a Virginia Congressman. He "graduated” the next year to the position of the Congressman's driver.
After winning a bid for the state legislature, he won a seat in Congress, taking the seat of the same Congressman for whom he had worked. Two years later, he was appointed Chief Deputy Republic minority Whip and then became the GOP Whip in 2008.
He has co-sponsored legislation to stop U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority following Arab excavation work on the Temple Mount that is aimed at removing all signs of a Jewish connection to the holy site.
Rep. Cantor has scored the Obama administration’s policy of "engaging” Syrian dictator President Bashar Assad. He lambasted current Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who lost her reelection campaign, for meeting with Assad.
He also publicly lashed out at President Obama for the White House’s condemnation earlier this year of Israel’s announcement on advancement of the lengthy bureaucratic process to build 1,600 more residential units in a Jewish neighborhood in united Jerusalem. The houses are in an area claimed by the Palestinian Authority.
“Could the White House truly be this offended by an Israeli decision to build 1,600 homes years from now in a part of its capital city that everyone understands will remain a part of Israel in any future peace agreement with the Palestinians?” Cantor asked.
He also pressured President Obama to veto any United Nations resolutions that are biased against Israel after the May 31 flotilla clash with IHH terrorists.
Archive video: Cantor speaking during a visit to Israel for the "One Jerusalem" event, which protested the Annapolis summit: