Barack Obama may yet succeed in doing what no Republican has yet come close to doing, which is to create Republican Jews (yes, some Jews voted for Reagan, but because of his personal magnetism, not his ideology. And then they went back to voting Democratic).
There’s no question that Obama’s approach to Israel has turned off pro-Israel Jews. Starting with the Cairo speech, in which he equated the Palestinian ‘pursuit of a homeland’ to the Holocaust, foundering through the US reneging on commitments to allow building within existing settlements, and coming apart on the rocks of his apparent acceptance of an Iranian bomb, Obama’s Israel policy has been a shipwreck. And it’s obvious that this is just fine with the majority of the Democratic Party that elected him.
Of course not all Jews are Zionists, and there is probably no hope for the anti-Israel J Street — who opposed Israel’s military action in Gaza and even endorsed a performance of the antisemitic play “Seven Jewish Children”. But some relatively centrist Jewish Democrats are beginning to have second thoughts about Mr. Obama.
Recently, the Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, Alan Solow — a Chicago native who was a long-time Obama backer — publicly criticized Obama’s stance on Jewish building in Jerusalem. Although Solow was present at Obama’s recent meeting with Jewish leaders, apparently he was not satisfied with the explanations he received.
Maybe the Obamacrats have calculated that few American Jews today, especially young ones, are enthusiastic supporters of Israel. But keep in mind that while the J Street types are vocal in their anti-Zionism, my guess is that the ‘silent majority’ of American Jews still does not want an American policy which is actively hostile to the Jewish state. And that is how the Obama Administration, increasingly, appears.
What is keeping these Jews on the Democratic side today are domestic issues, and of course the impression the Republicans give of hopeless incompetence. It will be interesting to see how far Obama has to go in a pro-Arab anti-Israel direction to cause them to jump.