Guest Post by Michael Fenenbock
The mainstream American Jewish leadership is hopelessly addicted to strategies that doom us to failure. Strategies that are guided by faulty assumptions and misplaced priorities.
Lets start with the most prominent. The idea that luring Jewish voters away from Obama can be injurious to the Administration is absurd. Focusing a response to the Obama administration’s outright hostility to Israel by hoping to reverse the Jewish vote is ill conceived.
Jews make up about 1.5% of total American voters. A percentage reduced by half over the last 50 years. As a percentage of the total voting population Jewish America is rapidly shrinking not growing.
Lessening their impact, American Jews are not concentrated in specific voter concaves. Jewish voters are very unevenly distributed throughout the United States.
Jewish voters are not block voters. The term “Jewish vote” implies a shared political perspective that binds Jews together as a voting block. Not so. Jewish votes scatter across an ideological spectrum. The religious swing conservative, unaffiliated swing way to the left.
As to Israel as an issue, analyzing the numbers, the gold standard voice of American elections, Michael Barone, concludes that the Obama Administration’s policy toward Israel has not hurt the President’s credibility with American Jews. That’s right, his enmity towards Israel has not hurt him with Jewish voters.
Barone concludes that, in the upcoming 2010 elections the Jewish vote “will not be a major factor in the large majority of seriously contested Senate and House races.”
The Jewish vote, in any meaningful sense, simply does not exist.
Our energy and resources need to be focused on a much larger audience.
The political landscape is not totally bleak. We can make President Obama pay a price for his hostility to Israel. We have friends… if we are smart enough and strategic enough to align ourselves with them.
Revolt is in the air among a wide segment of American voters. There is palpable discontent. A seething, boiling, anger directed at the Obama Administration and its policies. Polling tells us nearly half of all American voters identify with this nascent voter revolt. And President Obama’s job approval numbers are dismal.
When it comes to major issues confronting the nation, 48% of voters now oppose the President. We are witnessing a potential tsunami-like wave election in November. An election outcome that will significantly damage the Obama Administration.
How does this profoundly anti-Obama voter sentiment affect those who contemplate the future of the Jewish state with concern?
Let me be blunt. I find greater security in being feared than in being loved.
This ocean of discontented, anti-Administration voters almost universally supports Israel. These are our friends. This is our audience.
Here is where support for Israel resides. Here we find disgust and horror directed at President Obama and his liberal elite supporters. Among our friends President Obama’s foreign policy in general and his “hammer the Jews” strategy specifically are rejected.
We must associate ourselves with this voter revolt. We must join with their leaders. We must bring our issue to the forefront of their agenda. They want to be for us. They share our goal of damaging President Obama politically.
Our friends will publicly ally themselves with workable alternatives to 2-state. They will stand by our side in defense of a unified, Jewish Jerusalem.
Imposing a two-state solution is at the heart of the Obama foreign policy.
Make no mistake. For the President, there is no downside to his “hammer the Jews” assault. There has been no political price to pay. The Administration has suffered no political damage as a consequence of their policy.
To the contrary, the Obama Administration has systematically defanged opposition from the mainstream American Jewish leadership. Far from being passive, the Obama Administration continues its assault on Israel by trotting out its panoply of liberal Jewish American Obama supporters. And by boldly twisting the arms of mainstream Jewish leaders in an effort to undermine, if not topple outright, the Netanyahu government in Israel.
President Obama’s hostility toward the Jewish State far from causing him political angst has actually advanced his cause domestically by reinforcing his pro-Islam, anti-Israel bona fides with his core political base on the American left. And the American left controls the Democratic Party.
The current state-of-play is alarming. The situation is dire. The threat to the Zionist enterprise from the imposition of 2-State is immediate.
Imposing a 2-state solution . . . turning up the heat on Israel will continue to be the centerpiece of Administration policy . . . as long as there is no political cost.
It’s worth repeating. There is determined opposition to the President and his policies . . . opposition that is almost universally supportive of Israel. President Obama’s antipathy toward the Jewish state is not shared. “Hammer the Jews” is not a consensus policy in America. A 2-state solution is not a foregone conclusion.
There are things we can do. We are not without friends. We can fight back. We can cause damage. Real damage. Political damage. The kind they pay attention to.
The President is vulnerable. The American elections are ahead.
The ball is now in our court.
We should take up the challenge.
Michael Fenenbock is a veteran American political consultant. He and his wife Daphne Weisbart live in New York, but spend a great deal of time in Jerusalem