Their new found disapproval of Obama goes beyond thinking that he is adopting a wrong policy. They also now believe that he holds both an anti-Israel and anti-Jewish bias, something they think he may have picked up from the black population among which he lived in his years in Southside Chicago. Much of the black population there was pursuing an anti-Semitic black nationalism we are too familiar with from Obama’s former pastor, Reverend Wright. Thus Joseph Aaron, a liberal who edits Chicago’s Jewish weekly newspaper, told them “What you do come up with is someone who doesn’t really understand our attachment to Israel or Israel’s importance to Jews as a people, a president who doesn’t have a gut love for Israel like some of his predecessors, but someone who understands the Palestinian position better than any president we’ve had, someone with no natural affinity for Jews or Israel, and someone who approaches the Middle East, as he does most everything else, dispassionately and with a burning desire to fix the problem.” What else would you expect from a good friend of Rashid Khalidi?
The problem with Obama’s strategy was nailed by my friend Robert J. Lieber, an expert on the Middle East and a professor of government at Georgetown University. As Lieber said, “The problem is naïveté in the Obama administration. The president came into office with the assumption that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is by far the most central urgent problem in the region — which it is not — and that it is the key that unlocks everything else in the region. And they believe the [Israeli-Palestinian] situation was ripe for progress, which it absolutely isn’t.”
Klein and Chesnoff make another major point. Rather than follow the overwhelming pro-Israel sentiment held by the American public, Obama instead had allowed himself to be influenced by the growing volume of anti-Israel anger coming from the left wing of the Democratic Party, especially from radical students on campuses, where calls for the “delegitimization” of the Jewish state have become strictly kosher. In part, too, the president probably placed too much weight on recent sociological studies that indicate a shift in American Jewish attitudes on Israel.”
The president’s gut instincts, therefore, push him to the left rather than to the center, on almost every issue that comes by his desk. Ed Koch, New York’s former mayor who campaigned among Florida’s Jewish population for Obama, now regrets his so doing. He believes, as the authors conclude their article by quoting him, that the trust and ties between American Jews and the administration cannot be restored. As Koch put it, “Like Humpty Dumpty, once you break it, you can’t put it together again.”
It is too soon, of course, to think that many of these same Jewish voters will not return to Democratic ranks after Obama is gone, or if Hillary Clinton becomes the Vice-Presidential candidate in 2012, when they again might vote for a new Obama team, hoping that Hillary will produce a new policy. But for the present, many of these voters will be pulling the lever for a Republican the first times in their lives, even in Florida.