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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Jews (finally) having buyers' remorse over Obama

Edward Klein and Richard Chesnoff have written a five-part series on President Obama's relations with the Jewish community. They describe American Jewry as having 'buyer's remorse.' (The link is to the first part - I have other parts in the queue).
Obama has recently backed off from some of his public assaults on Israel, but he is still in trouble with large segments of the Jewish community. Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the coordinating body for 52 Jewish groups, estimates that Obama may have lost the support of as much as one-third of Jewish voters. That may overstate the case, but as we discovered during interviews with more than a dozen Jewish leaders over the past several months, many Jews have become so annoyed with the Obama administration that they have closed their wallets and are seriously thinking of sitting out the 2010 election. According to an analysis of Federal Election Commission records by the Washington Post, contributions to Democratic candidates from the financial sector, where Jews hold important positions, are down 65 percent from two years ago.

"I started breaking with Obama ten months ago," says Martin Peretz, editor in chief of The New Republic. "And I know that a lot of West Coast Jews are also having buyer's remorse. The gut of it is Israel. Will Jews mobilize for Obama in the fall elections? They might be too embarrassed to come out directly against him. But I'll give you one sign of the times: Chuck Schumer [New York's senior Senator] waited a year and a half before he stood up for Israel, and he's been having trouble raising money on Wall Street."

"The assumption on the part of the Obama administration is that because Jews are liberals, they simply will not vote for Republicans," says the Hollywood billionaire Haim Saban, one of the Democratic Party's mega-donors, who has privately expressed his dismay with "the leftists" in the White House. "Obama can invite the ten most prolific Jewish campaign bundlers to the White House for a discussion, and give a wonderful speech, and he'll think that this may resolve all his problems with American Jews. And it may--or it may not."

"The idea that we saw a black president in our lifetime is wonderful," says New York City's former mayor, Ed Koch. "It conveyed to us that this country has come such a long way. But I never fully accepted that Obama didn't hear his minister [Jeremiah Wright] make those awful anti-Semitic statements over 20 years. I wanted to believe him. I willed myself to believe him.... What he has done is break that trust. Like Humpty Dumpty, once you break it, you can't put it together again."
Unfortunately, the first paragraph of this excerpt bears out the premise of the third. A lot of Jews just won't vote Republican. They're disenchanted enough with Obama that they'll sit out the 2010 election. But they won't vote for a Republican despite the fact that significantly higher percentages of Republicans than Democrats support Israel and despite the fact that the Republican party has several strong, identifiable Jewish candidates this year (for example, in the House, Mattie Fein in California 36, Joel Pollak in Illinois 9, Asher Taub in New York 6, and we would have had Liz Berney in New York 5 but for Democratic interference in the Republican primary; and in the Senate, Mark Kirk in Illinois). While the Republican party of my childhood may have had an antipathy to Jews (I recall how the references to Jews in the Nixon White House tapes shocked and offended many Jews), today's Jews ignore the antipathy that many Democrats have for them (see, for example, Jeremiah Wright).

Why are so many Jews so blindly loyal to the Democrats? Why do the words of Judge Jonah Goldstein, the 1945 Republican candidate for mayor of New York City, still ring true?
"The Jews have three veltn (worlds): di velt (this world), yene velt (the next world), and Roosevelt."
I hope to find some answers.

Read the whole thing. Click through to the next section if you want - I'll post more on it later.


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