In early February 2021, Emory student Jasmine Jaffe appeared on “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd. Jaffe (no relation) is no novice to politics, nor is she shy about espousing her ideas in what some conservative critics consider a hostile climate on university campuses.
Jaffe, who previously interned for Marco Rubio, the Republican senator from her home state of Florida, said, “I’m most involved with Emory College Republicans. My freshman year I was secretary of that club and helped re-charter the organization after a hiatus. I moved up the ranks and eventually became president junior year, during the 2020 election. Currently, I serve as the state secretary for the Georgia Association of College Republicans, which is the overseeing body of all College Republican chapters in the state of Georgia.”
Out of Emory’s undergraduate student body of about 7,000, Jaffe estimates that some “5 to 8 percent identify as Republicans. … Maybe an additional 15 percent consider themselves apolitical, with right leanings that they don’t vocalize.” She plans to start law school after graduation and is currently sorting out acceptances.
AJT: How did you get interested in politics and how does Judaism fit in?
Jaffe: I grew up in San Diego and moved to Vero Beach at 13. I was raised by my father in a secular household. The extent of my Judaism was going to the JCC and celebrating Chanukah. My dad watched cable news, and I became fascinated. In 6th grade, I recited all the Republican presidential candidates (2012) and watched every debate from the primary to the general election. When I came to Emory, I wasn’t expecting to find such a strong Jewish presence. My friends all happened to be Jewish and brought me to Chabad and Hillel. I started to embrace Judaism. Finding a welcoming and strong community, I realized it was something missing from my life.
At first, I was embarrassed because I didn’t know prayers or Hebrew. My friends encouraged me to keep going to Shabbat services; I went on Birthright sophomore year. I had my bat mitzvah in Jerusalem, and I will always have a deep connection. I was thrilled when President Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem, as the only president to stick to his promise to accomplish it. I am a strong supporter and defender of Israeli sovereignty and have advocated it along with my other activism on campus.
I wrote an article here about it: https://emorywhig.com/anti-zionism-is-anti-semitism/. I feel that liberal Jews are more inclined to criticize Israel more generally than conservative Jews. I would chalk this up to liberals being fearful of individuals on their left, and they kowtow on Israel to appease those who they find as more progressive.
AJT: Some adults find politics divisive; is that what you are finding?
Jaffe: I actually only have one conservative friend, the rest are liberal. I don’t have difficultly socializing because there is a time and place for politics, and I respect that they don’t like talking about it constantly. I am in Sigma Delta Tau. Statistically, American Jews are quite liberal and that is also reflected in Emory’s Jewish student body.
AJT: Will you ever run for office? Who are your heroes?
Jaffe: I have no ambition to run for office. I hope to be active in politics as a volunteer. I don’t idolize politicians, but Marco Rubio is most emblematic of my politics (I interned for him, so I’m biased). Being from Florida, I am a huge fan of Gov. Ron DeSantis, mostly because he has really hit back against the media and defended his scientifically correct COVID policies. I appreciate Liz Cheney’s strong conservative record, but I think the course she is taking now is hurting the party unnecessarily, and she should be more of a team player.
AJT: How did you find yourself on “Meet the Press”?
Jaffe: A producer reached out to the president of the Emory College Republicans, requesting two people to interview.
AJT: Do you get any nasty comments on social media?
Jaffe: I haven’t been directly sent hate mail, but I’ve had hateful comments directed toward me. When we invited Heather MacDonald to campus in 2020, some social media posts tagged me as “a racist and sexist.” I haven’t received any Anti-Semitic hate, but the president of the Young Democrats emailed one of my professors that I was a “white supremacist.” Nothing ever came of it.
AJT: Do you find that professors have a liberal agenda?
Jaffe: The most stereotypical aspect of my college experience has been their extreme liberal bias. They speak without regard for anyone with any different opinions who might be listening, and spew leftist talking points like they are facts. It has been extremely frustrating because I like to speak up, but I’m not only up against the person who controls my grades, but also classmates who are very antagonistic to those with even the slightest opposing views. I have gotten into “tussles” with other students, but nothing dramatic enough to note with a professor. I am a double major in political science and philosophy. I think those departments have more of a left-wing bias than others.
AJT: Would you consider dating a liberal?
Jaffe: My boyfriend isn’t left-wing, but straight down the middle. I am generally opposed to dating someone with progressive policy preferences because we would have diametrically different values. I don’t need my partner to have the exact same politics as long as we share the same value systems, then I am content.
Find Jaffe walking her golden retriever, Brady, or watching the Los Angles Chargers or attending the Braves and Hawks games. Her full interview: www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/video/georgia-college-gop-we-have-a-good-shot-of-winning-governors-race-131493957863
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