Jewish Americans represent a small portion of the overall electorate, but have tremendous clout in presidential campaigns because: 1) they donate to huge amounts to the candidate of their choice, and 2) they can tip the vote in favor of their candidate in the key swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Nevada. The Jewish vote is so important that it is doubtful Barack Obama can be re-elected without it. Nevertheless, Barack Obama has shown himself to be the most pro-Muslim, anti-Israel president in modern times. Considering Obama’s treatment of the Jewish community in general and Israel specifically, I cannot understand why the Jewish community continues to support him? Typically approximately 75 percent of the Jewish votes goes to Democrat candidates, including Obama.
I know that the Jewish community is tied by both history and emotion to the memory of the FDR administration and that it feels a deep attachment to black Americans because of their common cause during the Civil Rights movement. But much has changed in America and the world since the days of FDR and the follow-on days of the Civil Rights movement. America’s support of Israel has always been the number one issue for Jews during presidential elections. If that is still the case, their support of Barack Obama is hard to fathom.
In his book The Amateur, Edward Klein writes: “Obama entered office with the professed goal of bringing about an independent Palestinian state before the end of his first term, and he blamed Netanyahu, rather than his own misguided policies and the pitfalls of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, for preventing him from reaching that objective. Just six months before the Cannes summit, Obama set off a firestorm in Israel by calling upon the Jewish community to accept the 1967 borders, with agreed upon land swaps, as a basis for resuming negotiations with the Palestinians. Along with most Israelis, Netanyahu was shocked and appalled by Obama’s display of rank amateurism…Netanyahu was prepared to negotiate on the basis of the 1967 borders, but he wasn’t so naïve that he would give away that key negotiating point without demanding that the Palestinians…recognize the legitimacy of the state of Israel.”
Obama’s willingness to prod Israel into an unacceptable negotiating position with the Palestinians, his weak-kneed response to the nuclear threat in Iran, his snubbing of Benjamin Netanyahu, and his 20 years spent listening to Jeremiah Wright’s anti-Jewish diatribes are having an effect on his approval ratings in the Jewish community. According to Edward Klein, Obama’s disapproval rating in the Jewish community exceeds his approval rating (48 to 45). A majority of Jews disapprove of Obama’s handling of Israeli-American relations. A plurality of Jews (45 percent) disapproves of Obama’s handling of the Iran nuclear crisis. Finally, a majority of Jews (55 percent) take issue with Obama’s stand on the Palestinian issue.
Clearly the Jewish community is unhappy with Barack Obama, and with good reason. But will this dissatisfaction translate into votes for the president’s Republican opponent or even to Jews sitting out the election on November 6th? According to Edward Klein: “Malcolm Hoenlein, co-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the coordinating body for fifty-two Jewish groups, estimated that Obama had lost the support of as much as one-third of Jewish voters. Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the Palm Beach Republican Party, predicted that Obama would be limited to around 60 percent of the Jewish vote in 2012. While 60 percent is certainly less than the 75 percent Obama received in 2008, one cannot help but wonder about the loyal 60 percent. How can they possibly justify their continued support of Barack Obama?