Illinois' Ninth District: For Jews, a Choice Between AIPAC and J Street

For the Jewish community, the election of Barack Obama has presented a major dilemma. The candidate they voted for is not the president they got, especially when it comes to Israel. Even if you could conjure up the ghost of John Foster Dulles, you could not find an administration more hostile to the Jewish state and more unconcerned about the anti-Semitic fallout from pursuing policies based on antipathy to Israel.

Obama’s antagonism toward Israel has been eloquently addressed by such leading Democratic figures as former New York City Mayor Ed Koch and legal scholar Alan Dershowitz. Recently, actor Jon Voigt, in an open letter to Obama, poignantly took him to task for his hostility toward both Israel and Jews.

Jews have been jumping off the Obama ship in droves, but leaving Obama and voting Republican are two different things. In a fashion reminiscent of James Baker’s offensive quip, “F*** the Jews, they don’t vote for us anyway,” it is possible to think of Obama saying, “F*** the Jews, they’ll vote for us no matter what.”

Will they? The most palpable test of whether Jews are willing to move into the Republican camp can be found in the Illinois' Ninth Congressional District.

Running up from Chicago into the very trendy suburbs of Evanston and Wilmette, the Ninth then heads west through Skokie all the way to Des Plaines. This is a very affluent district with a substantial Jewish, progressive population.

Jan Schakowsky, the incumbent, is a sycophantic Obama Democrat and proud progressive. Her strangely shaped district is so Democratic that the only Republicans one is likely to encounter are tourists. She always wins big.

Her positions on Israel are right out of the J Street playbook and Evanston’s ultra-progressive Beth Emet Synagogue, which has become J Street’s citadel on the North Shore. Schakowsky is a member. Schakowsky and much of the Beth Emet crowd can best be described as “anti-Zionist Zionists.” The difference between the thinking at Beth Emet and that of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement is that the ISM knows its policies will result in Israel’s destruction. The Beth Emet crowd engages in the delusion that they support Israel.