I am a part of a rare but growing constituency in this country, a right-wing Jew. For some reason which I cannot fully understand, most Jews are as conservative as Ted Kennedy. That my friends, is the conundrum of Senator Barack Obama for the liberal Jewish community. He is so very right for them (and they are so wrong) on most domestic Issues and he makes them so uncomfortable on one important foreign policy issue, Israel. That’s one of the reasons behind this “appeasement flap,” Obama is trying to show the liberal Jewish community that he will be strong on Middle East issues.
Why should he even care? Jews are less than 2% of the Population, but they vote solidly Democratic and their vote is concentrated in large states such as Florida, New York, and New Jersey. The fact is, that in a close election Jews can be the margin of difference in states representing 94 Electoral College votes thats 35% of the states needed to win the Presidency.
The most disturbing thing Obama said in week’s interview with the Atlantic was when he said “my job in being a friend to Israel is partly to hold up a mirror and tell the truth.” That is nice political talk for, “I Know what you need more than you do, despite the fact that my kids sleep in nice safe home in the suburbs and many of yours sleep in a bomb shelter.”
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Obama and the Jews
By BRET STEPHENS
America’s Jews account for a mere 2% of the U.S. population. But they have voted the Democratic ticket by margins averaging 78% over the past four election cycles, and their votes are potentially decisive in swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania. They also contribute an estimated half of all donations given to national Democratic candidates. So whatever his actual convictions, it is a matter of ordinary political prudence that Barack Obama “get right with the Jews.” Since Jews tend to be about as liberal as the Illinois senator on most domestic issues, what this really means is that he get right with Israel.And so he has. Over his campaign’s port side have gone pastor Jeremiah Wright (“Every time you say ‘Israel’ Negroes get awfully quiet on you because they [sic] scared: Don’t be scared; don’t be scared”); former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski (“I think what the Israelis are doing today  for example in Lebanon is in effect – maybe not in intent – the killing of hostages”); and former Clinton administration diplomat Robert Malley (an advocate and practitioner of talks with Hamas). The campaign has also managed to clarify, or perhaps retool, Mr. Obama’s much-quoted line that “nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.” What the senator was actually saying, he now tells us, is that “nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people from the failure of the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel, to renounce violence, and to get serious about negotiating peace and security for the region.” Still more forthrightly, Mr. Obama recently told the Atlantic Monthly that “the idea of a secure Jewish state is a fundamentally just idea, and a necessary idea, given not only world history but the active existence of anti-Semitism, the potential vulnerability that the Jewish people could still experience.” I can think of no good reason to doubt the sincerity of Mr. Obama’s comments. Nor, from the standpoint of American Jewry, is there anything to be gained from doing so: The fastest way to turn whatever dark suspicions Jews may have of Mr. Obama into a self-fulfilling prophecy is to spurn his attempts at outreach. Yet the significant question isn’t whether Mr. Obama is “pro-Israel,” in the sense that his heart is in the right place and he isn’t quite Jimmy Carter. What matters is whether his vision for U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East – and the broader world view that informs it – will have ancillary effects favorable to Israel’s core interests. Take Hamas and Hezbollah, which pose the nearest threats to Israel’s security. Mr. Obama has insisted he opposes negotiating with Hamas “until they recognize Israel, renounce terrorism and abide by previous agreements.” He also calls Hezbollah a “destabilizing organization.” But if Mr. Obama’s litmus test for his choice of negotiating partners is their recognition of Israel and their renunciation of terrorism, then what is the sense in negotiating without preconditions with Iran and Syria? Alternatively, if the problem with Hamas and Hezbollah is that neither holds the reins of government, what happens when they actually do? Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2006; Hezbollah sits in the Lebanese cabinet. Would Mr. Obama be willing to parley if, in the course of his administration, either group should come to power? Or take Iran, which Israelis universally see as their deadliest enemy. Yes, there are arguments to be made in favor of presidential-level negotiations between Washington and Tehran – perhaps as a last-ditch effort to avert military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities. But does anyone seriously think Mr. Obama would authorize such strikes? Instead, Mr. Obama says he favors “tough diplomacy,” including tighter sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps. Last fall, however, he was one of only 22 senators to oppose a Senate resolution calling for the IRGC to be designated as a terrorist organization, a vote that made him a dove even within the Democratic Party. Mr. Obama argued at the time the amendment would give the administration a pretext to go to war with Iran. It was an odd claim for a nonbinding resolution. Or take Iraq. Israelis are now of two minds as to the wisdom of the invasion of Iraq, mainly because they fear it has weakened America’s hand vis-à-vis Iran. Maybe. But is it so clear that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq wouldn’t further strengthen Iran’s hand, and consolidate the so-called Shiite crescent stretching from southern Iraq to the hills overlooking northern Israel? Finally, there is Israel itself. In the Atlantic interview, Mr. Obama declared that “my job in being a friend to Israel is partly to hold up a mirror and tell the truth,” particularly in respect to the settlements. Yes, there are mirrors that need to be held up to those settlements, as there are to those Palestinians whose terrorism makes their dismantlement so problematic. Perhaps there is also a mirror to be held up to an American foreign-policy neophyte whose amazing conceit is that he understands Israel’s dilemmas better than Israelis themselves.