Monday, August 06, 2012

Obama Losing Jewish Support--But How High Up Does It Go?

We all know that the polls show that Obama's support among the Jewish community now does not match the percentage that he received in the 2008 election.

Now, Jennifer Rubin writes that Obama loses more Jewish supporters.

According to Rubin, the count is at three--but these are three major influencers:
  • Aaron David Miller, adviser to six Secretaries of State and member of the U.S. Advisory Council of Israel Policy Forum, writes Warning: Turbulence Ahead, noting that
    "Unlike Clinton and George W. Bush, Obama isn't in love with the idea of Israel. As a result, he has a harder time making allowances for Israeli behavior he doesn't like...on Israel, he just doesn't buy the "tiny state living on the knife's edge with the dark past" argument -- or at least it doesn't come through in emotionally resonant terms...My sense is that, if he could get away with it, the president would like to see a U.S.-Israeli relationship that is not just less exclusive, but somewhat less special as well."
  • Nathan Diament, Director of the Institute for Public Affairs (IPA) of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, in Fight for Jerusalem, After Tisha B’Av, contrasts Obama with Romney on their differing positions on Jerusalem. While he originally came out with the famous statement as a candidate in 2008 that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided,” Obama followed that with his equally famous "clarification" following the Arab uproar. This is contrast to Romney's acknowledgement of
    "the simple fact that Jerusalem serves as Israel’s capital – without any explicit statement that it must remain so for eternity or remain undivided, and the Arabs protest and the U.S. Administration suggests it a gaffe. Facts are fact.

    Jerusalem is Israel’s capital."
  • Martin Peretz, former owner and publisher of the liberal The New Republic, writes that Obama and Israel are beyond rapprochement.
    Perhaps the circumstances wouldn't be so dire if the Obama administration were less "schizophrenic" in its approach to Israel. The arms transfers to Israel in recent years have been significant and admirable, Mr. Peretz says, yet Mr. Obama is plainly cool toward Israel's leadership and ignorant of its history.

    ...Such rapprochement, moreover, is foreclosed by Mr. Obama's indifference to the basic Zionist ideal, which was on full display in his 2009 Cairo speech to the Muslim world. There Mr. Obama cited the Holocaust—not millennia of Jewish ties to the land—as the basis for Israel's legitimacy. "It took him three-and-a-half years to get to the point where he could recite some version of Zionist narrative," Mr. Peretz sighs. "My father first went to Palestine in 1912"—that is, three decades before the destruction of European Jewry and the establishment of Israel.
But what is really going on here?

Is Miller really an example of Obama losing a Jewish supporter?
He is clinically examining how Obama relates to Netanyahu and Israel, but he is not revealing his own personal feelings.

Diament's post--and nowhere in the post does his name appear--addresses the issue of Jerusalem in the context of Tisha B'Av, not the presidential election.On the same day, July 30, the IPA came out with a press release: Orthodox Union Applauds Mitt Romney’s Clear Statement on Jerusalem, with Diament's name appearing as the contact. That was 3 days after the OU came out with a press release: Orthodox Union Applauds President Obama & Congressional Leaders for Enhancing Security Cooperation with Israel, also with Diament's name appearing.

There is no indication that either the OU or Diament are taking a specific stand--on the contrary, they are addressing the issues and praising or critiquing the positions of both Obama and Romney as they apply to Israel.

Peretz comes the closest to breaking with Obama. He notes that Obama is cool towards Israel, but that his support is schizophrenic, saying that the US supply of arms to Israel during the Obama administration has been "significant and admirable." That's pretty much what Diament and the OU's IPA said in their press release. Peretz criticizes Obama sharply, but he does not come right out and say Obama must go. That doesn't mean he won't do so later down the line.

All three, Aaron David Miller, Nathan Diament and Marty Peretz, may be critical of aspects of Obama's policy, but it is not clear that any of them is actually breaking publicly with Obama--at least not yet.

Jennifer Rubin may be right that Obama is losing Jewish support, but the examples for the most part at this point seem to remain the voters who appear in those ads being put out by the Republican Jewish Coalition about buyers remorse.

That may change in time, but that time has not yet arrived.


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