Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Forget About Israel--What Has Obama Done About Anti-Semitism?

The focus of the Jewish community has naturally been on Obama's Middle East policies and his relationship with and pressure on Netanyahu. Chicago attorney Pejman Yousefzadeh writes about another issue, one that has not received much attention: Obama And Anti-Semitism:
The inability or unwillingness of the Obama Administration to forcefully speak out against instances of anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party should also be a cause for concern. The demagoguery of Democrats like Rep. James Moran, who has stated that an “extraordinarily powerful” pro-Israel lobby—with “the strong support of the Jewish community”—was responsible for causing the United States to go to war with Iraq, is well known, but the Obama Administration has not decided to challenge him, or other Democrats like him, for seeking to profit politically from the popularization of anti-Semitic tropes. Nor has the administration taken on members of the liberal blogosphere for engaging in reflexive anti-Israel hatred and general anti-Semitism and for potentially causing a serious rift between liberals and American Jews, a rift that would harm the president’s political prospects and the Democratic Party’s electoral future.

Some might say that a lone Congressman or a handful of lefty bloggers are beneath the attention of the president of the United States. But while no American president wants to engage in rhetorical overkill, there are disturbing trends developing within the base of the Democratic Party that ought to concern the president and certainly concern the American Jewish community. A shocking 2009 poll revealed that 18.4 percent of Republicans blamed Jews for the recent financial crisis. That’s appalling enough, but even worse, the poll revealed that nearly a third of Democrats also blamed Jews for the near-collapse of the American economy. As the administrators of the poll wrote, this statistically significant difference was surprising “given the presumed higher degree of racial tolerance among liberals and the fact that Jews are a central part of the Democratic Party’s electoral coalition.” It would be in the president’s interests to fight against anti-Semitism in the liberal community, if only to prevent the defection of American Jews from the Democratic Party. But he seems to be unwilling to do so. If American Jews are not alarmed by this lack of action on the president’s part, they should be. [emphasis added]
Yousefzadeh concludes that the policies of the Obama administration in general could have a negative affect on Jewish support for the Democratic party. Of course, the threat of Jewish disillusionment with the Democratic party is an idea that is periodically brought out--often by Republicans. This 'threat' has never materialized.

Then again, we are seeing a level of disillusionment with an unusually popular candidate-cum-president the likes of which we have never seen before. Who knows how far those negative feelings may go or the backlash they may cause.

There is no reason for Republicans to get their hopes up, but Democrats would be wise to take a lesson from the anticipated shellacking they will take in the midterm elections and act accordingly.

Hat tip: Tevi Troy

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