The latest polls on how Jewish Americans regard Barack Obama do not bode well for the Democratic Party or the Obama administration. A new survey by the American Jewish Committee shows that “forty-nine percent of U.S. Jews approve [of Obama], while 45 percent disapprove of the Obama Administration’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations, according to the new survey. AJC’s earlier survey, conducted in March, found that 55 percent approved and 37 percent disapproved. In AJC’s 2009 survey, 54 percent approved, and 32 percent disapproved.”
The majority still stays loyal to the Democratic Party, but clearly, recent events have led to the disillusionment of many. The drift of Jews away from the Obama administration was surveyed in the now famous article by Ed Klein and Richard Chesnoff that was spiked by Vanity Fair, whose only explanation for their action was that they found no room for it. The authors posted it instead on the Huffington Post, somewhat of an alternative, but hardly one that gave it the same impact had it appeared in the magazine as originally scheduled.
As the authors explain, “today, a sizable number of American Jews are having a serious case of buyer’s remorse when it comes to Barack Obama. Recent polls of the Jewish community reflect a significant decline in support from 2008, when 78 percent of Jewish voters pulled the lever for Obama. According to a recent McLaughlin & Associates poll, a plurality of Jewish voters would now consider voting for someone else for president.” Given the historic loyalty of Jews to the Democratic Party, this is no small thing.
And the writers add that these polls “do not begin to measure the depth of displeasure felt by many of Jews over President Obama’s performance.” The main objection is Obama’s inept handling of American-Israeli relations, particularly its institution of the concept of “linkage.” As the Anti-Defamation League’s chairman Abe Foxman explained, “I came away from the meeting convinced that Obama has introduced a new and dangerous strategy and that it’s revealing itself in steps. Unlike other administrations, this one is applying linkage in the Middle East. It’s saying that if you resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the messiah will come and the lions will lie down with the lambs. All the president’s advisers on the Middle East, starting with George Mitchell, believe in linkage, and they’re telling the president you have to prove to the Arab Muslim world that you are different than previous presidents and you can separate yourself from Israel, distance yourself from the settlements issue. After all, settlements are something that American Jews don’t like anyway, so it’s a win-win proposition.”
Klein and Chesnoff continue at length to point out in great detail the extent of the Jewish leaders’ disillusionment with Obama and his team, and they offer particularly tough quotes to substantiate their argument. One in particular struck me. They quote suspense novelist Jonathan Kellerman, who is also a professor of Psychology at the University of Southern California. Kellerman told them: “My personal opinion … is that the bifurcation of Israel and Judaism is structurally fallacious. The Land of Israel is an essential ingredient of Judaism practiced fully. Thus, it is impossible to be anti-Israel and not be anti-Jewish. And in fact, the war being waged against Israel by the Muslim world is, at the core, a religious dispute. Radical Islamists no longer talk about Zionists; they come right out and broadcast their goal of eradicating worldwide Jewry.”