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Are Jewish Democrats Turning Away From Obama?


"Some kind of tipping point has been reached."

Since his May 19 speech on the Arab Spring and with the increasingly vocal support of Israel coming from Republican challengers, more and more Jewish Democrats are having trouble picturing themselves voting for President Obama in 2012.


"David Ainsman really began to get worried about President Barack Obama’s standing with his fellow Jewish Democrats when a recent dinner with his wife and two other couples — all Obama voters in 2008 — nearly turned into a screaming match."

In 2008 Jews voted for Obama in droves, exit polling at 78 percent for the then Senator from Illinois. As general approval of the President has declined since the inauguration, Mr. Obama and chief campaign advisors know his reelection could hinge on once again securing the Jewish demographic.

Tention between Obama and Democrat Jews intensified with his May 19 speech calling for Israel to return to the country;s 1967 borders with "land swaps," claiming returning to the old borders would improve Israel security. POLITICO's Patrick Gavin on MSNBC this morning:

Democrat National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz facing local "anxiety" towards President Obama when arriving home is stunning considering 67 percent of her constituents in Broward County and 58 percent in Miami-Dade supported Obama in 2008. POLITICO is speculating Obama may be facing a decline from Jewish Democrat support based off reactions from several dozen recent interviews with individuals from the community.

"Based on the conversations with POLITICO, it’s hard to resist the conclusion that some kind of tipping point has been reached.

Most of those interviewed were center-left American Jews and Obama supporters — and many of them Democratic donors. On some core issues involving Israel, they’re well to the left of Netanyahu and many Americans: They refer to the 'West Bank,' not to 'Judea and Samaria,' fervently supported the Oslo peace process and Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and believe in the urgency of creating a Palestinian state.

But they are also fearful for Israel at a moment of turmoil in a hostile region when the moderate Palestinian Authority is joining forces with the militantly anti-Israel Hamas.

'It’s a hot time, because Israel is isolated in the world and, in particular, with the Obama administration putting pressure on Israel,' said Rabbi Neil Cooper, leader of Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El in Philadelphia’s Main Line suburbs, who recently lectured his large, politically connected congregation on avoiding turning Israel into a partisan issue."

A May 2010 poll, a year prior to his disastrous May 2011 remarks, found that only 42% of U.S. Jews would re-elct the President Obama. For many Jews, suspicion and dissatisfaction towards President Obama brings back old wounds.

"The qualms that many Jewish Democrats express about Obama date back to his emergence onto the national scene in 2007. Though he had warm relations with Chicago’s Jewish community, he had also been friends with leading Palestinian activists, unusual in the Democratic establishment. And though he seemed to be trying to take a conventionally pro-Israel stand, he was a novice at the complicated politics of the America-Israel relationship, and his sheer inexperience showed at times."

Some spectators have dismissed recent frustrations claiming every four years Republicans go out of their way to say Jewish voters are moving right, and then come election they never do. Perhaps. But we all know how President Obama is when it comes to change. His record in Middle East foreign policy and what some consider an anti-Israel attitude could lead him to becoming the Democrat that pushes Jewish support to its limit.

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