Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pigs Fly--And Donkeys May Follow: Is Obama Losing The Jewish Vote?

Ben Smith of Politico describes a dinner Obama recently had with some Jewish Democrats that turned into a screaming match.

Is this an indication that Jewish Democrats may be wary enough to desert Obama?
Obama’s speech last month seems to have crystallized the doubts many pro-Israel Democrats had about Obama in 2008 in a way that could, on the margins, cost the president votes and money in 2012 and will not be easy to repair.


“It’s less something specific than that these incidents keep on coming,” said Ainsman [prominent Democratic lawyer and Pittsburgh Jewish community leader]

The immediate controversy sparked by the speech was Obama’s statement that Israel should embrace the country’s 1967 borders, with “land swaps,” as a basis for peace talks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seized on the first half of that phrase and the threat of a return to what Israelis sometimes refer to as “Auschwitz borders.”
Apparently there are more and more signs that Jewish Democrats are showing real concern about the safety and security of Israel on the one hand--and growing suspicion and distrust of Obama on the other:
Based on the conversations with POLITICO, it’s hard to resist the conclusion that some kind of tipping point has been reached.

Most of those interviewed were center-left American Jews and Obama supporters — and many of them Democratic donors. On some core issues involving Israel, they’re well to the left of Netanyahu and many Americans: They refer to the “West Bank,” not to “Judea and Samaria,” fervently supported the Oslo peace process and Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and believe in the urgency of creating a Palestinian state.

But they are also fearful for Israel at a moment of turmoil in a hostile region when the moderate Palestinian Authority is joining forces with the militantly anti-Israel Hamas.

“It’s a hot time, because Israel is isolated in the world and, in particular, with the Obama administration putting pressure on Israel,” said Rabbi Neil Cooper, leader of Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El in Philadelphia’s Main Line suburbs, who recently lectured his large, politically connected congregation on avoiding turning Israel into a partisan issue.
There have been criticisms of Obama for being having moved peace negotiations backward after years of moving forward, of possibly being the president responsible for losing US influence in the Middle East--and now possibly the first Democratic President--going back to Roosevelt--to estrange the Jewish vote.

Now that's an accomplishment!

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