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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Barack Obama's Jewish Problem

Being I was born in bred in Florida and stayed there for the first 34 years of my life and I am Jewish, gives me a unique perspective about the Jewish population in Florida, especially the older Jewish men and women, so a New York Times article detailing Barack Obama's Jewish problem, truly came as no surprise to me.

At the Aberdeen Golf and Country Club on Sunday, the fountains were burbling, the man-made lakes were shining, and Shirley Weitz and Ruth Grossman were debating why Jews in this gated neighborhood of airy retirement homes feel so much trepidation about Senator Barack Obama.

“The people here, liberal people, will not vote for Obama because of his attitude towards Israel,” Ms. Weitz, 83, said, lingering over brunch.

“They’re going to vote for McCain,” she said.

There are multiple reasons that the NYT piece lists but this is where they start and it highlights what I said yesterday when I showed the videos of Obama answering questions about terror state leaders and his naive response saying he would meet with them with no "preconditions".

Obama is no friend to Israel, no matter how much he claims to be because you do not say you will talk to a group that has vowed to wipe Israel off the face of the earth and still expect the Jewish people in America to vote for you.

Younger Jewish members might fall for the Obama charm, but older members of that particular demographic will not trust Obama, not because of what people say about him, but because of his own words that will undoubtedly be shown in Florida, via the two videos I posted yesterday and others, over and over again before the general election in November.

Other reasons listed in the NYT article are unattractive, but there is a portion of older people, Jewish or not, that will not vote for Barack Obama because of his color.

It may wrong in this day and age, but according to one of the women interviewed for that article, Ms. Grossman, it is reality, as she says, "They’ll pick on the minister thing, they’ll pick on the wife, but the major issue is color."

American Jews hold two competing views of Mr. Obama, said Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington. First, there is Obama the scholar, the social justice advocate, the defender of Israel with a close feel for Jewish concerns garnered through decades of intimate friendships. In this version, Mr. Obama’s race is an asset, Rabbi Saperstein said.

The second version is defined by the controversy over his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., worries about Mr. Obama’s past associations and questions about his support for Israel.

“It’s too early to know how they will play out,” Rabbi Saperstein said.

Questioning Obama on his policy issues especially his constantly changing platform about Iran and terror states, is one thing, but some of the reasons given in the NYT article shows some serious bias against Obama, not because of his color but because of his lack of time spent in Florida because of the snafu over the primaries when Florida moved them forward and the Democratic leadership decided that the Florida primaries basically wouldn't even count, Obama did not campaign there, so that left Floridians to gather information, even completely wrong information, for themselves about Obama.

Because of a dispute over moving the date of the state’s primary, Mr. Obama and the other Democratic candidates did not campaign in Florida. In his absence, novel and exotic rumors about Mr. Obama have flourished. Among many older Jews, and some younger ones, as well, he has become a conduit for Jewish anxiety about Israel, Iran, anti-Semitism and race.

Mr. Obama is Arab, Jack Stern’s friends told him in Aventura. (He’s not.)

He is a part of Chicago’s large Palestinian community, suspects Mindy Chotiner of Delray. (Wrong again.)

Mr. Wright is the godfather of Mr. Obama’s children, asserted Violet Darling in Boca Raton. (No, he’s not.)

Al Qaeda is backing him, said Helena Lefkowicz of Fort Lauderdale (Incorrect.)

Michelle Obama has proven so hostile and argumentative that the campaign is keeping her silent, said Joyce Rozen of Pompano Beach. (Mrs. Obama campaigns frequently, drawing crowds in her own right.)

Mr. Obama might fill his administration with followers of Louis Farrakhan, worried Sherry Ziegler.

According to Representative Robert Wexler, Democrat of Florida, "South Florida is “the most concentrated area in the country in terms of misinformation” about Mr. Obama.

Perhaps so, but the blame for that lies directly on Obama for not taking the time to let Floridians get to know him.

Obama will try to go overcome these issues after the primaries are over but by then it will be too late for many many people in Florida and not just the Jewish vote.

The reason for that is because of first impressions, any people make snap judgments, right or wrong, about a person and first impressions are hard to change and many, especially older people, simply will not change their mind, nor bother to correct any misinformation they may have, especially when Obama's own words will be heard time and time again, which will simply reinforce their doubts about Obama in regards to Israel.

For Obama to be heard saying he would meet with the leaders from Iran with no "preconditions", to the older Jews, he might as well be saying he would have met with Hitler himself.

The fact is older Jews understand that you do not negotiate with a madman and when suicidal lunatic swears to kill you, you take him seriously and you do not reward those words by sitting down and having a cup of tea with him.

That is idiotic and for those that will not vote for Obama because of his naive, inexperienced foreign policy gaffes, they are well within reason and until Obama learns this basic fact, he will not be trusted by Jews.

But the resistance toward Mr. Obama appears to be rooted in something more than factual misperception; even those with an accurate understanding of Mr. Obama share the hesitations. In dozens of interviews, South Florida Jews questioned his commitment to Israel — even some who knew he earns high marks from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which lobbies the United States government on behalf of Israel.

“You watch George Bush for a day, and you know where he stands,” said Rabbi Jonathan Berkun of the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center.


Several interviewees said they had reservations about Mr. Obama’s stated willingness to negotiate with Iran — whose nuclear ambitions and Holocaust-denying president trigger even starker fears among Jews than intifada uprisings and suicide bombings.

Alan Dershowitz, a professor at Harvard Law School, made the point quite clearly and named the reality that Obama seems unwilling or unable to acknowledge or understand.

Israelis fear Iran “could be the first suicide nation, a nation that would destroy itself to destroy the Jewish nation,” Mr. Dershowitz said.

Then we have Obama's long time pastor, Jeremiah Wright, who even after his words were blasted across the world showing racism, anti-Semitism and hatred for America, Obama still refused to denounce him until the Wright finally started speaking negatively of Obama and saying that Obama only distanced himself from him because it was politically expedient.

The voters have every reason in the world to doubt Obama when he says he does not share Wright's views, after all, he sat in a pew listening to Wright for 20 years.

Some voters even see parallels between Mr. Obama’s foreign policy positions and his choice of pastor — in both cases, a tendency to venture too close to questionable characters.

“The fundamentals of meeting with Iran are the same as the fundamentals of meeting with Rev. Wright,” said Joe Limansky, 69, of Boca Raton.

The fact is there is not just one specific concern or reason given, but a variety of them. Some are misconceptions and others are right on target and some are downright racial, but for whatever the reason, these are people that come November, will not vote for Obama, whatever their personal reasons.

Florida was a critical state in 2000 and 2004 and Jews in Florida, on average, are older than Jews in other states as the article points out, in Broward Country, over half the Jews are over 59 and in Palm Beach County, half are over 70.

Those are voters that would have voted for Hillary Clinton, she is a known entity, but Barack Obama isn't and what they do know is what they have heard from his own mouth and that isn't going over very well.