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From some of the same group that couldn't vote straight in 2000, comes folks who can't think straight in 2008.  Many in the Jewish community in the southeast counties of Broward, Dade and Palm Beach, who nearly always vote Democratic, are planning to vote for John McCain this November.  Not because of McCain, although Zell Lieberman's support is a factor.  But rather because of Barack Obama.  And though they cite his perceived failure to toe the Zionist line as a factor, dig a little deeper and you'll find the real reason.  Plain and simple bigotry.  His race, his ancestors' religion, his name.  Whatever.  Those are the real reasons.  

"The people here, liberal people, will not vote for Obama because of his attitude towards Israel," Ms. Weitz, 83, said, lingering over brunch.

"They’re going to vote for McCain," she said.

Ms. Grossman, 80, agreed with her friend’s conclusion, but not her reasoning.

"They’ll pick on the minister thing, they’ll pick on the wife, but the major issue is color," she said, quietly fingering a coffee cup.

. . . .

Mr. Obama is Arab, Jack Stern’s friends told him in Aventura. (He’s not.)

He is a part of Chicago’s large Palestinian community, suspects Mindy Chotiner of Delray. (Wrong again.)

Mr. Wright is the godfather of Mr. Obama’s children, asserted Violet Darling in Boca Raton. (No, he’s not.)

Al Qaeda is backing him, said Helena Lefkowicz of Fort Lauderdale (Incorrect.)

Michelle Obama has proven so hostile and argumentative that the campaign is keeping her silent, said Joyce Rozen of Pompano Beach. (Mrs. Obama campaigns frequently, drawing crowds in her own right.)

Mr. Obama might fill his administration with followers of Louis Farrakhan, worried Sherry Ziegler. (Extremely unlikely, given his denunciation of Mr. Farrakhan.)

South Florida is "the most concentrated area in the country in terms of misinformation" about Mr. Obama, said Representative Robert Wexler, Democrat of Florida, the co-chairman of the Obama campaign in the state.

. . . .

"His father was a Muslim and you can’t take that out of him," said Ms. Chotiner, 51, who said she would still vote for Mr. Obama, out of Democratic loyalty. "Do I have very strong reservations? Yes, I do," she said.

. . . .

"The fundamentals of meeting with Iran are the same as the fundamentals of meeting with Rev. Wright," said Joe Limansky, 69, of Boca Raton.

Other voters called Mr. Obama’s endorsement by the Rev. Jesse Jackson problematic, because Mr. Jackson once called New York "Hymietown" (even though he later apologized) and has made other comments offensive to Jews.

Some of the resistance to Mr. Obama’s candidacy seems just as rooted in anxiety about race as in anxiety about Israel. At brunch in Boynton Beach, Bob Welstein, who said he was in his 80s, said so bluntly. "Am I semi-racist? Yes," he said.

Decades earlier, on the west side of Chicago, his mother was mugged and beaten by a black assailant, he said. It was "a beautiful Jewish neighborhood" — until black residents moved in, he said.

. . . .

Jack Stern, 85, sitting alone at an outdoor café in Aventura on Sunday, said he was no racist. When he was liberated from a concentration camp in 1945, black American soldiers were kinder than white ones, handing out food to the emaciated Jews, he said.

Years later, after he opened a bakery in Brooklyn, "I got disgusted, because they killed Jews," he said, citing neighborhood crimes committed by African-Americans. "I shouldn’t say it, but it is what it is," said Mr. Stern, who vowed not to vote for Mr. Obama.

So there you have it.  Every excuse in the book.  Wright is little more than a convenient whipping boy.  And Jesse Jackson?  That old chestnut?  They didn't seem bothered when Jackson supported the likes of Mondale, Clinton and Gore.  

In a back and forth on a thread yesterday I noted how the composition of Florida's electorate was not advantageous to Obama.  This merely confirms it.  Although I'm sure he'll get a majority of the Jewish vote, for example, without 80% or more support, he won't have a chance in the state, given the presence of other groups, such as Cuban-Americans, who will vote Republican.  Better for him to focus his efforts on other states and other regions such as the southwest.

Finally, as a Jew, I find the views expressed by the people I quoted shameful.  But it just goes to show that there are bigots in every racial, religious and ethnic group.

Originally posted to Paleo on Thu May 22, 2008 at 06:26 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  They need a serious education (8+ / 0-)

    Wow as a person born and raised Jewish - I am ashamed o these people - They need to be shown the Hagee clip on a constant loop and informed that McInSane McCane actively sought his endorsement -  Hagee is a antisemite in a friendly sheeps clothing- Hitler an agent from God !!! WTF!!  Tell that to my relations who were slaughtered in Baba Yar!! They need to see that!!

    "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." Oscar Wilde

    by bloomster on Thu May 22, 2008 at 06:32:01 AM PDT

  •  It's going to be tough down here (4+ / 0-)

    no matter the nominee. We've done a better job of flipping Congressional districts, and I have high hopes for a number of those, but statewide we're still an organizational mess. I hadn't considered the demographics as part of the problem, but it's so obvious when you think about it--Obama's weak spot has always been among older voters, and we've got those by the boatload down here.

    I want to die like my grandfather, peacefully in my sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

    by incertus on Thu May 22, 2008 at 06:33:24 AM PDT

  •  I've had it with old people. (11+ / 0-)

    And I'm "old people".  My husband is "old people".  His 68 year old twin brother, as racist as they come and living in Arizona, loves Obama.  Wants better for his children and grandchildren than they've been getting.  Believes him, trusts him.  When he listens to Obama he remembers a pride in his country he hasn't felt in 20 years.

    There is no doubt -- racism in this country is in great part generational.  The older you are, the more aware and affected you are by racism.  

    Time to join the 21st century, people.  Time to look ahead to a post-racial future, or this country is doomed.  We have an influx of voters and Democrats who are younger, civic minded, ready to make a serious commitment to this country and the world.  If the old people of Broward County think McCain will do better by Israel (I'd argue that Obama stands the best chance of actually helping the Middle East) and let John McCain privatize their social security, then they need more Aricept.  

    I'm off to give my husband his Aricept right now.  Keeps him a thinking human being.  

  •  Jack Stern is disgusting. He is a racist. (1+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:

    sitting alone at an outdoor café in Aventura on Sunday, said he was no racist. When he was liberated from a concentration camp in 1945, black American soldiers were kinder than white ones, handing out food to the emaciated Jews, he said.

    Yet he won't vote for Obama because he is black. He ignores all the good deeds the Black soldiers who gave him life.
    He is the kind of Dangerous Racist that this world needs to get rid of.

    I hope he supports the intefada (Palestinian Uprising against the Jews) because that  is the same logic the Palestinians ate using against the Jews in Israel.

  •  News flash (11+ / 0-)

    There isn't a county in this country that doesn't have bigots, racists, homphobes or whatever.  I'm guessing that had the person who wrote this wanted to, they could have found many more people who didn't think like this.  

    Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool-- how much worse lying lips to a ruler - Proverbs 17:7

    by Barbara Morrill on Thu May 22, 2008 at 06:37:25 AM PDT

  •  As a Jew, (3+ / 0-)

    it's the views "conveyed" by this tendentious and malicious article that I find shameful. "Hey,  let's stir up some of that OBAMA-WON'T-GET-THE-JEWISH-VOTE (of-over-80-retired-New-York-Jews-living-in-Florida-on a comfortable income) panic." And let's throw in a quote from a local rabbi talking about how essential it is for Obama to get THE-JEWISH-VOTE!

    Next week: Extry, Extry! Obama will lose the vote of eighty-year old Christian retirees living in gated communities in Arizona!!!!!!!!!

    No shit, Shmulie...

    •  Well but (0+ / 0-)

      Given that these communities normally vote very heavily Democratic, it is newsworthy. It pains me to read this, because this is my background and my mother had a condo in one of these communities until she sold it because she decided she was too young and didn't want to live in Florida.

      I do not think we can dismiss the issues here. I am glad Obama is going down to S. Florida, because I think Jews also identify with the Civil Rights movement and many do, in their hearts, want to do the right thing when it comes to issues like racism if they meet Obama.

  •  I know what you mean (5+ / 0-)

    Finally, as a Jew, I find the views expressed by the people I quoted shameful.  But it just goes to show that there are bigots in every racial, religious and ethnic group.

    As the descendent of formerly-discriminated-against-by-WASPs European ethnic groups, I'm perpetually disgusted by the "kick the ladder down behind us" attitudes towards other immigrants I hear around me - and by the Know-Nothing ethno-religious bigotry expressed in exactly the same words and memes used against our ancestors 100 years ago (and more recently!) without any trace of a clue.

    So, what, it was bad when it was done to us, but good when done by us? They Just Don't Get It.

    "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

    by bellatrys on Thu May 22, 2008 at 06:38:34 AM PDT

  •  Yesiree... having lived in FL (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dem in the heart of Texas

    I can say that although sometimes in Florida it may seem to be a little more "progressive" than Georgia and other southern states I've lived in, but oftentimes you're reminded of the same racism that pervades strongly throughout the South (and to be fair, everywhelse, just not in the same concentration.)

  •  this is funny (3+ / 0-)

    because I posted a diary directly above you expressing cautious optimism about Florida voters.  

    I do believe it's an uphill battle, but I think campaigning can make a difference, and the potential support is largely untapped - and yes, that some of these people may be swayed by further education.  If, closer to November, there is little movement, I'd support diverting resources elsewhere, but I think it's too early to write it off now.

  •  i read that too (2+ / 0-)

    what is it with many of these seniors (no offense) who can't see past their nose with obama??

    i liked that quote from the rabbi, though.

    "Rabbi Tucker said he had given money to Mr. Obama and would vote for him in the fall. "If association was the litmus test of identity, everyone would be a hopeless mishmash of confusion, or you’d have no friends," he said."

    at least some ppl have soe sense.

  •  Blame Hillary for this (7+ / 0-)

    Her campaign is still saying "Obama is unelectable" and that "Hillary is a better friend of Israel" here in Florida.

    Hillary is helping the GOP....plain and simple.

  •  Working on this as well (2+ / 0-)

    I read this article this morning closely and though I agree that it represents all the negative arguments I think its important to put them all on the table in order to knock them down.

    My mom (80+) lives in that area of FL for half the year and the other half in Israel.  She represents exactly what this article is talking about.  Won't come out and admit the bigotry but its there under the surface.  She also represents what Friedman was talking about in his editorial yesterday (which I'm going to send her in my next letter) those who don't understand that only if America is strong can it help Israel.  I doubt whether she'll vote for McCain and I'm working on her to get her over this.  

    It's going to take a lot of one on one discussions with each of these FL Jews but remember, they all have relatives elsewhere, younger and closer to Obama's demographics.  We each need to do our part and have these discussions.  Only with one on ones and showing news articles will this be changed.

  •  What's A "Semi-Racist"? n/t (2+ / 0-)

    Is that like that old Star Trek episode where these guys were half-black and half-white?

  •  I think you're making a big mistake. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dem in the heart of Texas

    "The people here, liberal people, will not vote for Obama because of his attitude towards Israel," Ms. Weitz, 83, said, lingering over brunch.

    "They’re going to vote for McCain," she said.

    Ms. Grossman, 80, agreed with her friend’s conclusion, but not her reasoning.

    "They’ll pick on the minister thing, they’ll pick on the wife, but the major issue is color," she said, quietly fingering a coffee cup.

    These are two people's guesses on what other people will do, based on nothing I can see.

    They aren't racist, they are pessimists who don't think much of their neighbors, and they could be wrong.

    How's "the same" been working for you, America?

    by Inland on Thu May 22, 2008 at 07:09:55 AM PDT

  •  Has anybody but BarbinMD (3+ / 0-)

    stopped to consider that perhaps they wrote the story first, then looked for interviews to make it work?

    If you refuse to vote for OUR PARTY'S nominee in November, the blood of a thousand back-alley abortions will be on your hands.

    by dhonig on Thu May 22, 2008 at 07:13:13 AM PDT

    •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dem in the heart of Texas

      Are you saying these people don't exist?  Or that they're lying to get in the paper?  I know similar stories from word of mouth.  And not just in Florida.

      If Hillary Clinton wins, the Democratic Party loses.

      by Paleo on Thu May 22, 2008 at 07:18:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No (2+ / 0-)

        I am saying these people exist everywhere, but that the story went searching for them, rather than getting a really representative sample of the population, even of the elderly Jewish population.  Remember, those elderly Jews, the ones everybody here seems so willing to call racists, were the people at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement.  Some of them died for it.

        Michael Schwerner would have had his 69th birthday two days after the general election this year.

        Andrew Goodman was a few years younger, but would still be receiving Social Security by election day.

        Miriam Cohen Glickman spent a week in jail after Medgar Evers was killed. She also taught reading in a church in Mississippi that was fire bombed.

        Jacqueline Levine marched in Selma, representing the American Jewish Congress.

        And many more.  

        Yes, I think the story cherry-picked, given the long history of Jewish involvement in the African American community and the fight for civil rights.

        If you refuse to vote for OUR PARTY'S nominee in November, the blood of a thousand back-alley abortions will be on your hands.

        by dhonig on Thu May 22, 2008 at 07:30:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Here in Broward County (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dem in the heart of Texas

    My goal this year is to register as many people to vote as I can thus I bring up the subject to all who cross my path.

    I have heard this from so many people, why they won't vote for him. For one reason or another they believe the lies and nothing you tell them, show them changes their minds. Once a person gets it in their heads it's very hard to erase.

    I really don't think SoFlo is the problem with taking the state. It's the northern part of the state. We always (mostly) vote for Dems here in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach (except for small pockets). It's the religious people in the northern part of the state that decide.

    Peace out

    by MomFromHlwdFL on Thu May 22, 2008 at 07:25:49 AM PDT

  •  There Was a Time (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dem in the heart of Texas

    There was a time in American that life was hopeful and one could live out the American Dream, but this was all under Democrataic rule.  Since Republicans have gotten into power, the dream has slowly died until it is now almost dead and in its deaththroes.  The GOP has done nothing for the American families or way of life, although they always spout "family values".  If we allow them to fool us again by their clever way of manipulating words like a "dagger" on their opponents and the use of their tricks - "now you see it, now you don't", then may be we deserve high gas prices, increased food prices, more wars, a loss of jobs, higher health-care costs and complete desolation of America, who will become a third-world country!

    Unfortunately, McCain and the GOP have no positive ideas on foreign policy or anything else. They say no the Farm Bill; No to the G.I. Bill, No to Global Warming; No to a higher minimum wage; No to helping those with foreclosure problems in otherwords no to charity and taking care of one's brother.  The Bible teaches us that anger only begets anger and that we should love.  What happened to these values we used to live by?  How can a party which pretends to be religious live with such an anti-Christian way?  They say and do the antithesis of the teachings of Christ!  

  •  These are the barriers to the Groundbreaker.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dem in the heart of Texas

    I have known all along that the first AA candidate would have to overcome some unique obstacles to win the election. I think it would be unrealistic to expect that bigotry would somehow disappear overnight. It will come in many forms, so I am not singling these people out.

    I considered this early on when deciding to push for Obama to run, and then to support his candidacy. My feeling was that this was the year: the public's dissatisfaction with bush and republicanism and the desire for change, along with the personal qualities and political skill of Obama, would be enough to attract enough new votes to offset the bigots.

    I also felt that this was also the opportunity to push hard against the entrenched interests of the blue dog/dlc Dems and push my party in a more progressive direction.

    I still think that is true, although I underestimated the degree to which the Clintons were willing to destroy the party in order to gain their "precious".

    My feeling is that if Obama fails, then I will never live to see a more progressive America and we will continue on our path to becoming a corporatist-run, industrial third world nation, increasingly out of touch and unable to compete with India and China in the global marketplace.

    Game on, Barack! You're my guy--now don't f--k it up.

    by Azdak on Thu May 22, 2008 at 07:28:52 AM PDT

  •  Look at the demographic (3+ / 0-)

    behind being Jewish.

    The 51 year old is reluctant but voting for Obama.  The rest, 69 and older, are not.

    Do not underestimate how much older people are closet racists, they may have learned to be quiet in public, but their thoughts haven't changed much from the time when they were young and blacks kept to their place, kept to their low paid jobs in service industries or factory floors where they were still the bottom of the food chain.  

    All the changes where their ideas and values were challenged, where white flight from many cities hastened urban blight.  And they are retirees sitting around reinforcing each others opinions (much as we do on a blog).

    Don't be ashamed of Jewish people.  Don't even be ashamed of old people.  As I become more and more of an old person, I am amazed at how much I can sound like an old person.  From the generation that didn't trust anyone over 30 its hard to think back that that was more than 30 years ago.

  •  NEWSFLASH: Voters r reluctant until they know him (0+ / 0-)

    Iowa is the best example of this fact.

    Black voters would NOT vote for him until they got to know him.  

    He is new to alot of people.  Rev. Wright's hateful psycho words and his embrace of Frakkahan has not helped either.

    Bottom line Senator Obama will protect Israel and be there for this beloved Country just like President's in the past.

    As soon as I stop worrying, worrying how the story ends, I let go and I let God, let God have His way. "It's the soldier, not.."

    by Lady Bird Johnson on Thu May 22, 2008 at 07:56:47 AM PDT

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