The advocacy group Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) has launched an operation in New Hampshire to advocate for the U.S.-Israel relationship. DMFI had previously launched a similar effort in Iowa, which holds the first nominating contest in the Democratic primary.
In an interview, Mark Mellman, the group’s leader and a prominent Democratic pollster, told Jewish Insider that the organization had signed up over 400 New Hampshire Democrats to “carry a pro-Israel message” at campaign events. In Iowa, over 800 Democrats have pledged to do the same.
Mellman said the goal of the group was to “make clear to candidates and campaigns that there is really strong grassroots support for Israel in Democratic Party and making them and their views known.” He pushed back on the attention-getting activity of IfNotNow, a progressive activist group that has pushed candidates to condemn Israeli governmental actions and policies. Mellman said the group was “trying to do hit-and-run…campaigning and trying to trap people into ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers.” In contrast, he said, DMFI activists were trying to be “a little more thoughtful” in their efforts.
DMFI had already been active in Iowa. David Adelman, a prominent Democratic activist in Iowa, told JI, that the group had been working diligently. He said that he “heard from those in the Jewish community in Des Moines and in Iowa that they have been supportive of how [DMFI] is putting in the work, and from [campaign] staff about how DMFI has been a good resource on how to talk about the issues.”
Mellman noted that this was “the first time any pro-Israel group on the ground [was] doing organizing in these early states.” He argued that DMFI’s existence did not indicate a significant shift in the attitudes of Democratic voters on Israel and the Middle East. A poll conducted by Gallup earlier in 2019 measured support for Israel among Democrats at its lowest level in over a decade.
“Lets put this way,” said Mellman, “DMFI exists because while we think the Democratic Party we know is overwhelming pro-Israel. There is no question that we see some trends that are not reassuring and we want to respond to those trends and staunch problems before they become bigger and more serious.”