Jewish Journal


November 10, 2008

Phil Weiss talks about Obama and Jewish power



On Election Day, a newspaper in Greece ran this headline on its front-page: “The anticipated victory of Obama in the U.S. elections signals the end of Jewish domination. Everything changes in the USA and we hope that it will be more democratic and humane.”

Jewish groups, like the American Jewish Committee, were incensed. But I immediately thought of one America Jew who shared that hope: Philip Weiss.

A magazine writer who blogs at Mondoweiss much more obsessively than this guy, Weiss is an anti-Zionist—he prefers “post-Zionist”—who hopes to change the conversation about Jewish power in American politics. He’s tired of talk about Jewish influence being taboo, of Jews who criticize their own being termed self-loathing and of Israel getting what he sees as a free pass in international politics and in mistreatment of Palestinians.

Weiss represents a segment of American Jewry who are deeply assimilated, passionately progressive and apathetic about Israel at best, and I often link to Weiss, though I typically don’t share his perspective. A fan of “Israel Lobby” authors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, Weiss knows he is out on a limb and is the first to admit that he gets a lot more hat tips from neo-Nazis and anti-Semites than any journalist would be comfortable with.

For the past few months, Weiss was hopeful that Barack Obama would win the presidency without traditional Jewish support. After Obama won last week, receiving 78 percent of the Jewish vote, I e-mailed him the following questions, which are in bold. His responses follow:

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