Obama 2012 & The Jews - the ground just shifted

Whenever there’s a question on foreign policy at one of the Republican Presidential debates, no time is wasted and no ambiguity evident in the contenders overwhelming support for Israel.  Often they don’t even wait for a question, but proactively come out mightily in support of The Jewish State.


From Rick Perry to Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum et al., their backing is clear.   During the last decade, especially since President George W. Bush had to confront the reality of terrorism head on, the GOP has worked to position itself as the more supportive party, favorable and in line with Israel and therefore to many Jewish voters.


At the same time, for the past several elections, Democrats have taken the Jewish vote for granted. Behind the scenes, JStreet, the leftwing lobbying organization, has been overly influential on the Obama administration and has shaped and influenced its policy vis-à-vis Israel. 


As a representative body of the U.S., support for Israel is overwhelmingly strong in the Congress, as evidenced by the reaction to Bibi’s speech earlier this year.  For the Obama administration however and their advisors on the Middle East, they are out of sync with the electorate.  In fact, the Obama Administration has created more distance with Israel than any other President in history.


But even with issues over Reverend Wright and a middle name, “Hussein”, in 2008, Obama won 78% of the Jewish vote (the same as Senator John Kerry) as opposed to Senator John McCain’s 22%.


Yet this next election might be different due to a confluence of three events.


1.) Prior to yesterday’s win in the Brooklyn-Queens district where Anthony Weiner had been the Democratic Representative to Congress, a Democratic polling firm (Public Policy Polling) found that 54% of all voters in the Weiner district—and 68% of Jewish voters—disapproved of Mr. Obama’s position on Israel. Additionally, 37% of all voters—and 58% of Jewish voters—said Mr. Obama’s Israel position was “very important” in deciding their vote.


Yesterday, even in the heavily Democratic district where they have a 3-1 majority, Republican Bob Turner won.  Moreover, in a district that is 40% Jewish, Turner is a 70-year-old Catholic and won against David Weprin, a Jewish Democrat. 


If that’s not a wake-up call, then the Whitehouse needs to install air raid sirens from Israel.


Aside from a floundering economy that is like a weight around Obama’s neck, Israel was the issue.  Former Mayor Ed Koch, (and fellow blogger on Jpost) a Democrat, endorsed Turner in July as a way to "send a message" to Obama on his policies toward Israel.  At the same time, Weprin was criticized for his support of a proposed Islamic center and mosque near the World Trade Center site, in lower Manhattan.


2. In the midst of the upcoming U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood, the Obama Administration has only recently publicly said they plan to veto it in the Security Council.  Why the long wait in making a public statement and elongating the mystery?  Meanwhile, he has sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton off in a last minute attempt to beg and cajole the PA not to go through with it.  By not understanding that the PA is now one-half Hamas, due to their alliance, he’s dealing with a terrorist organization and one that does not and will not recognize Israel.


Not only will they not recognize Israel, but The Palestine Liberation Organization''s ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that any future Palestinian state should be free of Jews.  “After the experience of the last 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it would be in the best interest of the two people to be separated,” Maen Areikat, the PLO ambassador, said while in a meeting with reporters, in response to a question about the rights of minorities in a future Palestine.  Harkening back to Nazi Germany, and with only a small percentage of Jews making up the population in Judea and Samaria, we now have a potential country and member of the U.N. seeking to cleanse itself of the Jewish population and rid itself of Jews.


3. And if that’s not enough, former Democratic President Jimmy Carter has come out in support of the PA’s effort to secure statehood in the U.N.   How ironic that the man who equated Israel with Apartheid, is now supporting the first country since Nazi Germany to officially want to ban Jews.


Equating Carter & Obama is dangerous territory.  Politically, Obama should be mindful of the many comparisons to Carter, a one-term President who oversaw a country in a similar “malaise” and didn’t know what to do about it. 


But his association goes beyond just bad economic numbers.  After leaving office, Carter became one of Israel’s most vociferous critics and branded as such.  Simply by association and not genuinely distancing himself from Carter, Obama risks being categorized as another Jimmy Carter—a man all to many Jews have regrets about ever supporting.


Republicans see Obama as vulnerable on Israel and it makes for an effective wedge issue.  They will be sure to hammer it hard in the 2012 election.


Weiner’s seat could simply be the canary in the coalmine.


Abe Novick, Owner & President of AbeBuzz, is a writer and can be reached at [email protected]