Saturday, June 06, 2009

American Jews, Israeli Jews and President Obama 

(Note: I apologize in advance that I am asking a bunch of questions, but I do so humbly and with no intent to offend, and hopefully to stimulate civil discussion.)

Following President Obama's Cairo speech, a number of polls were taken in Israel regarding Israeli attitudes towards the POTUS and his policies towards Israel:
"The poll queried 501 respondents representing a cross-section of the Israeli population. It said 53% thought Obama's policies towards Israel were bad, while 26% said they were positive."
In last year's election, the National Jewish Democratic Council used exit polls to estimate that 78% of American Jews voted for then-Senator Obama, very much in line with the 79% of the Jewish vote that Democratic presidential nominees have averaged over the previous four elections. American Jews have been an important part of the Democratic Party coalition since at least FDR. Nonetheless, there is apparently a disconnect currently existing between Israeli Jews and American Jews with respect to President Obama. Is this a real phenomenon, and if so, is it sustainable over time, or does it even matter?

What is the domestic political calculation for President Obama and his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel (an Orthodox Jew who knows many Israeli politicians personally, and does not view Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu as particularly helpful to the restart of some kind of peace process, and, while part of the Clinton White House, is rumored to have tried to undermine Netanyahu's administration 10 years ago) -- how much pressure do they believe they can apply to the Israeli government regarding West Bank settlements and other matters before there is push back on the part of current coalition government in Israel that has consequences in the United States, reducing that 78% figure? Or, is it the case that the administration feels that it is a long time until 2012, the 78% figure is not going to change much anyway (and it's not as if the State of New York's electoral votes are at risk, though Florida is less certain), and now is the time to try and drive a wedge into AIPAC to re-orient it away from Likud policies and more toward Labour policies?

Israeli politics is reasonably complex, and there is a significant peace wing within Labour that is adamantly anti-settlement. The announced policy of the Obama administration calls for zero settlement growth (even zero "organic growth" -- adding on to an existing structure to allow for an increase in family size), though critics of the focus on settlements like to point out that before there were any settlements, Israel was attacked on more than one occasion, and also that the deal that was offered at Camp David in 2000 provided the Palestinians with 98% of the West Bank, to no avail. According to former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco Marc Ginsberg, posting over at HuffPo in support of the POTUS, there are approximately 280,000 Israelis living in 121 distinct settlement areas, and, in his view, there are relatively benign settlements and less benign settlement types, making the issue somewhat more complex.

If the NJDC figures cited above are accurate, then American Jewish politics are somewhat less complex and more predictable. Is there any plausible scenario (excluding a major conflagration, which is bad for everybody) such that the actions of the Obama administration towards Israel start to have significant domestic political consequences?

From the standpoint of actually solving the Arab-Israeli conflict, does any of this really matter, as long as Hamas doesn't even acknowledge Israel's right to exist as a state, and especially if Hezbollah wins elections in Lebanon during the upcoming week?


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 07, 01:21:00 AM:

Here's another question you should really ask. What happens if the Israelis due to Obama's hostility decide their strategic situation is so dire that there is nothing to lose and attack Iran? How will Obama fare with US Jews then? Does he think they'll continue to support him them? What about Congress that is more beholden to the Jewish vote?

Where is the notoriously vocal and pro Obama Wexler hiding? During the campaign he vociferously defended Obama against accusations that Obama had an unseemly anti semitic and anti Israeli background.
Now Wexler's been MIA from his heavily Jewish district in Florida since his boy Obama threw Israel under the bus...come out come out wherever you are...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 07, 02:06:00 AM:

Benanjeri Netanyahu, self-styled leader of the ODIME
(Only Democracy in the Middle East), is planning another democratic assault on Gaza’s women and children shortly. Will the US stop him – that’s the big question.  

By Blogger Whiskey, at Sun Jun 07, 03:29:00 AM:

Iran, who holds the reins and control Hamas and Hezbollah has said they will NEVER recognize Israel and WILL destroy Israel, killing all five million Jews there.

Obama, is pretty much OK with that. He's a Muslim, and OK'D Iran's nuclear weapons, saying he can't pick and choose which nation has them (except the US and Israel which are forbidden them).

As for US Jews, most would gladly see Israel nuked out of existence as long as they are part of the hip and cool crowd. Obama is their God, their magical talisman, they worship him as the PC-Multiculti "Magical Negro" (to quote Spike Lee's essay of the same name) and don't care about Israel at all.

Since none of the fashionable people do, and that is what matters for the 75% of Jews who are SWPL first.

For the 25% of Jews who are religious, Israel does indeed matter a lot. But they are like Married women, a small minority.

Israel is toast. Even if Israel strikes Iran first, Obama WILL order an invasion of Israel and strikes to destroy it. He's a Muslim. And the Media, SWPL, Women (who are intensely anti-Israel and pro-Muslim) will all back him to the hilt.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 07, 04:03:00 AM:

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 07, 02:06:00 AM:

Benanjeri Netanyahu, self-styled leader of the ODIME
(Only Democracy in the Middle East), is planning another democratic assault on Gaza’s women and children shortly. Will the US stop him – that’s the big question.

I wonder if your buddies in Hamas flush with Obama's cash will be able to stop the "democratic" assault and the poor helpless women and children of Gaza? Probably not.  

By Blogger Mike, at Sun Jun 07, 09:47:00 AM:

Sadly, I think this points to a moral crisis in the American Jewish community. Most of us are divorced from our religion and from Israel. Rahm Emanuel is a case in point - there's no way someone with such a famously profane mouth is very religious (or can see well past personal political gain).

The Israel Lobby is a paper tiger and Israel's only strong American ally, Zionist Christians, were knocked off-balance by Obama.

While I don't use the same reasoning as Whiskey (Obama is a garden-variety Leftist, not one of King Abdullah's sleeper cells), I'm every bit as pessimistic.

Israel must sink or swim on her own.

Unfortunately for the rest of the world, history repeats - the Jews are the canary in the coal mine. If Israel is unsuccessful in defending herself, nuclear threats and detonations will become a regular part of the human condition.  

By Blogger Christopher Chambers, at Sun Jun 07, 10:20:00 AM:

Here it is, one mo' time...redux...encore...yow. The boy cain't hep it...cut and paste and enjoy!


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 07, 12:03:00 PM:

Yo, Chrissy, ain't you got some crotch-grabbing and siring kids out of wedlock to do?!?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 07, 12:07:00 PM:

White dude w/ 103 IQ = convenience store clerk. Black dude w/ 103 IQ = Georgetown professor. Ain't affirmative action grand!  

By Blogger Kinuachdrach, at Sun Jun 07, 12:51:00 PM:

"Even if Israel strikes Iran first, Obama WILL order an invasion of Israel and strikes to destroy it."

Whiskey puts a lot of effort into pointing out the elephant in the corner of the room -- and does good service by naming that from which polite company averts its eyes. Still, this is a step too far.

Obama ordering US forces to invade Israel? That is a recipe for revolt by the US armed services and open civil war in the streets of the US.

Since, as Whiskey points out, Obama depends heavily on the support of single women who will fair rather poorly when the bottles & bullets start flying domestically, Obama knows that ordering military intervention against Israel would be his last command.

Promising Israel full support and then leaving them to twist in the wind -- now that's the Obama style!  

By Blogger Escort81, at Sun Jun 07, 01:05:00 PM:

Christopher - I agree with you that the video is offensive, specifically and especially because of the racial epithets used. Whether a bunch of beered up teenagers or 20 somethings -- who are still old enough to serve in the IDF and should know better -- are indicative of the whole of Israeli youth (or the entire electorate) is another question. The people interviewed seemed to be a combination of American and Israeli Jews, but my favorite was the young lady who claimed to be a Political Science major and did not know immediately who Netanyahu was -- there is enough idiocy there to almost make me call BS and say the video is a set-up. That said, except for the racial aspect (as deplorable as that is), such a vituperative tone is one that all presidents deal with in certain foreign quarters, and if you are George W. Bush, most foreign and domestic quarters.

I am guessing that President Obama is actually quite popular among a significant portion of the Israeli electorate, skewing toward Labour.

In any case, the point of the post was to look at the intersection of Israeli political attitudes toward the POTUS and the political attitide of American Jews toward the POTUS, and whether there is any point in comparing the two. Some of the data in some of the polling was not that negative toward President Obama and his policies, so monolithic characterizations or interpretations are not that enlightening. It is clear, though, that there have been subtle but important changes in U.S. policy toward Israel since Bush left office, and Israelis recognize that.

Looking at the last Democratic president, Arafat was a frequent guest at the Clinton White House, and there were grumblings about that in some parts of the NJDC base in the 1990s. But I would submit that President Obama is currently a much more powerful political figure than Clinton at the same point in his first term (basically, 52% vs. 41% of the vote in 2008 and 1992, respectively), but also comes with more perceived baggage with respect to Israel because of the Rev. Wright / Farrakhan nexus.  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Sun Jun 07, 01:13:00 PM:

Yep, that's Chrissy's idea of "journalism" - a crappy YouTube video made by a couple of bush-league anti-Zionist propagandists. Not exactly Edward R. Murrow - wait, Murrow was a Joooo, probably part of the anti-BO conspiracy too lol.

Try this one on for size, Chrissy - "Jooos killed the first Messiah, now they're going after the second". That'll help you jerk off tonight.

PS to TH - sorry, but you knew damn well there wasn't going to be any "civil discussion" with Chrissy on this topic.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 07, 02:06:00 PM:

My dad always said that for me to know a man, you just need to know what kind of company he keeps. Your college classmate or friend (Chambers) is an racist here on your blog. He's the one that stirs the drink, just to see what the reaction on this site will be. Your approval of his stirring the drink, makes me wonder if you're not the same as chambers. If not, you are really suffering from a massive dose of white guilt, to allow this on your blog.  

By Anonymous Pastor Hanson, at Sun Jun 07, 02:26:00 PM:

Mike, I just wanted you to know that not all "Zionist Christians, were knocked off-balance by Obama." Some of us are still very much around.  

By OpenID cubanbob, at Sun Jun 07, 02:49:00 PM:

"By Anonymous, at Sun Jun 07, 02:06:00 AM:

Benanjeri Netanyahu, self-styled leader of the ODIME
(Only Democracy in the Middle East), is planning another democratic assault on Gaza’s women and children shortly. Will the US stop him – that’s the big question. "

Flushing turds down the toilet is the exact description you were looking. Indeed those turds should be grateful the Israeli's do not treat them like the Egyptians did from 1948 to 1967. But then again turds are always stinky but never greatful.

Netanyahu should propose to hold the peace talks in the capital city of the liberated free Kurdish Republic after he has had a chance to pray at the Grand Synagogue of Mecca.  

By OpenID cubanbob, at Sun Jun 07, 02:53:00 PM:

Christopher Chambers said...
Here it is, one mo' time...redux...encore...yow. The boy cain't hep it...cut and paste and enjoy!


Sun Jun 07, 10:20:00 AM"

Real Americans despise Hussein. Only idiots,parasites, Muslims and Communists love Obama. Which flavor and scent of turd would you say best describes you?  

By OpenID cubanbob, at Sun Jun 07, 03:13:00 PM:

As long as the point of departure for the peace talks is acquiescing to Saudi Arabia and the other hard line Arab States along with brow beating Israel not only will they never come to satisfactory solution but rather it encourages the Muslim extremists.

A better and more likely realistic solution for both sides is for the US to completely disengage from the Palestinian issue in total. No sponsoring of talks, no aid to the Palestinians, no support of the UN in this area including withholding of funding and allowing the Israelis to ignore and if need be kick out both the UN and EU from its territory when it comes to the Palestinian issue.

If that is accomplished then and only then will the Arabs be forced to confront two distinct choices; all out war against Israel in which they may win but suffer such ruinous losses as to be worse than losing or deal with the Isreali's realistically and accept a solution that is livable for both sides. For all of their bluster, the Arabs need to sell oil and they have never really suffered defeat on the scale that Germany and Japan have had to. Once they are bereft of Daddy Yankee or the now defunct Papa Bear to pulling their chestnuts out of the fire, that realization would do more to actually get them to negotiate seriously than any other measure short of abject defeat. Get out of the way, stop interfering and let the parties deal directly with each other.  

By Blogger Georgfelis, at Sun Jun 07, 08:25:00 PM:

Bob, wasn't that roughly W's policy? Obama has duplicated so many of them I'm losing track.  

By Anonymous jimmyk, at Sun Jun 07, 09:22:00 PM:

"Civil Discourse", Oh my... Well the way I see it, the Jews who support Obama are the same type of Jews who marched peacefully to the cattle cars and then to the gas chambers. The Israeli Jews, discounting the "why can't we all get along, collectives" have the upper hand and should make the Palestinians an offer they can't refuse. Take what we offer or get your asses kicked again and again and again.  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Mon Jun 08, 02:22:00 AM:

"the Jews who support Obama are the same type of Jews who marched peacefully to the cattle cars and then to the gas chambers"

As Chrissy will assure you I'm no fan of BO but that's a little harsh. I'm not quite as convinced as some that BO is out to screw Israel; rather he makes me think of Humphrey Bogart's line to Mary Astor in "The Maltese Falcon": "I hope you're not just fiddling around hoping it will turn out all right in the end".

Charles Krauthammer has perceptively pointed out that BO's Cairo speech contained approximately zero policy substance. BO, or at least Axelrod, is politically astute enough to know that Dems are still vulnerable on national security and that even liberal American Jews will let BO throw Israel only so far under the bus. So the speech was mostly yet another exercise in BO being all things to all people. This approach helped him get elected but it may not work as well with Israelis and Palestinians, to say nothing of Russians, Chinese, Iranians and NORKs.

In another thread Chrissy, with his inimitable combination of arrogance and idiocy, boasted that BO is "large and in charge". Allow me to point out that the same was once true of David Dinkins until he decided he could throw Jews under the bus and let a lynching take place in New York City. Now he is a disgraced historical footnote.  

By Blogger davod, at Mon Jun 08, 09:36:00 AM:


"Charles Krauthammer has perceptively pointed out that BO's Cairo speech contained approximately zero policy substance."

You make it seem as if Krauthammer is neutral -link please.

Also from Krauthammer:

A Concoction Of Canards For Cairo Crowd

"In the 16 years since the Oslo accords turned the West Bank and Gaza over to the Palestinians, their leaders — Fatah and Hamas alike — built no schools, no roads, no courthouses, no hospitals, no institutions that would relieve their people's suffering. Instead they poured everything into an infrastructure of war and terror, all the while depositing billions (from gullible Western donors) into their Swiss bank accounts.

Obama says he came to Cairo to tell the truth. But he uttered not a word of that. Instead, among all the bromides and lofty sentiments, he issued but one concrete declaration of new American policy: "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," thus reinforcing the myth that Palestinian misery and statelessness are the fault of Israel and the settlements.

Blaming Israel and picking a fight over "natural growth" may curry favor with the Muslim "street." But it will only induce the Arab states to do like Abbas:

Sit and wait for America to deliver Israel on a platter.

Which makes the Obama strategy not just dishonorable but self-defeating."

The NYT's was duly impressed:

"Mr. Obama offered few details for how to solve myriad problems and conflicts around the globe, but he offered up his own biography as a credible connection to his audience. While the message touched upon a litany of challenges, it boiled down to simply this: Barack Hussein Obama was standing at the podium as the American president."  

By Blogger Diogenes, at Mon Jun 08, 10:22:00 PM:

Would someone explain how Muslims can overcome directives of their OWN core religious beliefs?

"Islam's learned officials, sheikhs, muftis, and imams throughout the ages have all reached consensus—binding on the entire Muslim community—that Islam is to be at perpetual war with the non-Muslim world until the former subsumes the latter. Indeed, it is widely held by Muslim scholars that since the sword-verses are among the final revelations on the topic of Islam's relationship to non-Muslims, that they alone have abrogated some 200 of the Qur'an's earlier and more tolerant verses, such as "no compulsion is there in religion."[9] Famous Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) admired in the West for his "progressive" insights, also puts to rest the notion that jihad is defensive warfare:

"In the Muslim community, the holy war [jihad] is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force ... The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defense ... They are merely required to establish their religion among their own people. That is why the Israelites after Moses and Joshua remained unconcerned with royal authority [e.g., a caliphate]. Their only concern was to establish their religion [not spread it to the nations] … But Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations."[10]"

Raymond Ibrahim
Middle East Quarterly
Summer 2009, pp. 3-12  

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