December 17, 2011 | 4:23 pm
On Thursday, the “Emergency Committee for Israel” took out ads in major U.S. newspapers questioning Obama’s record on Israel. The ads accused the Obama administration of treating Israel “like a punching bag,” and quoted “cheap shots” made by U.S. officials about the Jewish state. Daniel Treiman, criticizing the ECI in a JTA piece, is right: The Emergency Committee for Israel’s ads include a quote from Haaretz’ Zvi Bar’el that was taken out of context. On the other hand, the Committee is also right: Obama’s most senior Secretaries recently developed the bad habit of punching Israel for no good reason.
President Obama spoke to Reform Jews: Obama was alluding to a stepped-up campaign by Republicans, led by the 2012 GOP presidential candidates, to question his backing for Israel – attacks aimed to drive a wedge between Jewish voters who supported him overwhelmingly in 2008 as well as to appeal to evangelical Christian Zionists.
If you’re interested in the relations between Reform Jews and Israel, I suggest you read these two interviews – one with an Israeli Reform rabbi and one with an American Reform rabbi. My favorite line – one that I think is profoundly controversial – is this one: “if we cannot succeed in building a vibrant Reform Movement in Israel, the long term legitimacy of the entire Movement will suffer”. Just think about the implications of what Rabbi Kaplan is saying here.
And while Obama is working to solidify Reform support, his rivals are trying to court the Orthodox Jewish vote: “If secular Jews are ‘the ATM for many liberal Democrats, then certainly the Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox are rapidly becoming the ATMs for conservative candidates,’ said Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic consultant recently ordained as an Orthodox Jewish rabbi.”
All this will not change the way American Jews vote, writes Devin Dwyer: “while the Republicans’ politically charged claims might help rally conservative primary voters, including Jews, there are few signs their comments on Israel will alter the longstanding Democratic allegiance of the Jewish voting bloc headed into 2012.”
Aamer Madhani (USA Today) isn’t so sure: “It’s unlikely that the Republican nominee will be able to win the Jewish vote outright in the 2012 presidential election, but two backers of GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney think the party’s eventual nominee might be able to steal enough votes from President Obama to make a difference in several swing states.”
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