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Cross Posted at The Progressive Zionist

As the election season heats up, there is an attempt by the Republican Party to peel off Jewish voters from the Democratic Party and crack the Presidents second most loyal voting group. Jewish Americans voted for President Obama in droves in 2008 with 78% of our vote going to help the President's election.

Since then, Republicans have used all manner of slander as well as outright lies to make the President seem like an enemy of the Jewish people and an enemy of Israel. They rely on outright racism, pretty catch phrases and worn out cliches to try to scare American Jews into voting against the best interests of our community.

However, these distortions still can't hide a record of President Obama that speaks volumes indicating his friendship and support for the American Jewish community.

Let's take a quick look at some of things:

First of all there is the tired Republican cliche that President Obama has "radical friends" and associations with those who would be anti-Jewish or anti-Israeli. One of these is that President Obama is friends with and takes advice from noted anti-Zionist Rashid Khalidi. Relying on "some professor that knew President Obama at the University of Chicago" they state that he was friends with the President on a personal level, implying that Khalidi was an advisor to Obama. Of course the President denied this saying (warning link to a Conservative Site - I am not using this as evidence to prove a right wing talking point - I am using it as an illustration to prove my point):

"You mentioned Rashid Khalidi, who's a professor at Columbia," Obama said. "I do know him because I taught at the University of Chicago. And he is Palestinian. And I do know him and I have had conversations. He is not one of my advisors; he's not one of my foreign policy people. His kids went to the Lab school where my kids go as well. He is a respected scholar, although he vehemently disagrees with a lot of Israel's policy."

Now whether Senator Obama liked/likes Mr. Khalidi on personal level or not is one thing. But clearly, Mr. Khalidi was not an advisor nor to the President. Indeed, here is what Mr. Khalidi had to say regarding President Obama's record on Israel in an interview with the Israeli news paper Haaretz:

Q. Finally, on the issue of your relations with President Obama

A. I don’t talk about that.

Q. Are you disappointed with him?

A. I had low expectations and my low expectations were more than fulfilled. He’s done considerably worse than I would have expected. But I never assumed that this would be someone who would be able to break the whole mold of American politics. And he didn’t. Quite the contrary. This has been an Administration that on certain key issues has been almost as bad as and sometimes even worse than the Bush Administration.

Oh well, so much for those worried that President Obama was carrying water for the "radical" Rashid Khalidi.

Now, it would be very simple for me to pick apart Republican lies piece, by piece, by piece. BUT, instead I would like to focus on the positives and not give their lies the print they certainly don't deserve.

For instance, for the first time a U.S. President has declared month of the year Jewish History Month. That right, President Obama declared May, 2011 to be Jewish History Month. Here is the Presidential proclamation:

......This same spirit is found in the countless Jewish Americans who, through their every day actions, work to provide a better life for future generations by joining hands with all who seek equality and progress. This month, we remember that the history and unique identity of Jewish Americans is part of the grand narrative of our country, forged in the friendships and shared wisdom between people of different faiths.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2011 as Jewish American Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to visit www.JewishHeritageMonth.gov to learn more about the heritage and contributions of Jewish Americans and to observe this month with appropriate programs, activities, and ceremonies.

(See the whole proclamation at the link listed above)

What more, can our community ask. We have a President that actively promotes Jewish culture in America. Want more... the President started and still hosts Presidential Seders. YEP that's right. For the First time as a candidate in 2008 and forward the President brought Passover to the White House.

Top aides like David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett will attend, but so will assistants like 24-year-old Herbie Ziskend. White House chefs will prepare Jewish participants’ family recipes, even rendering chicken fat — better known as schmaltz — for just the right matzo ball flavor.

If last year is any guide, Malia and Sasha Obama will take on the duties of Jewish children, asking four questions about the night’s purpose — along with a few of their own — and scrambling to find matzo hidden in the gleaming antique furniture.

That event was the first presidential Seder, and also probably “the first time in history that gefilte fish had been placed on White House dishware,” said Eric Lesser, the former baggage handler, who organizes each year’s ritual.

Ok... so let's see.... so far, the President declares a month of the year Jewish Heritage Month, and hosts seders as well as beginning it as a White House tradition. That hardly sounds like an enemy of the Jewish people. In fact that sounds like a good friend.

Of course we also have the Chairman of the American Jewish Congress Jack Rosen saying this:

American Jewish Congress chairman Jack Rosen, who hosted Obama fundraiser at his private home, acknowledged the concerns generally in his introduction of the president. But Rosen praised the president’s record.

“America’s never been as supportive to the state of Israel” than since Obama took office, he said.

Now, let's look at the Presidents record with regards to Israel. Earlier in the article we saw that a leading anti-Zionist considers the Obama administration worse than the Bush administration with regards to their goals. That hardly fits with Republican lies regarding the President. But lets look at what the Israelis say regarding the President.

First we have noted anti-Zionist and Israel hater (/snark) Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the current administration.

Fareed Zakaria: You know that there are people in the United States who’ve criticized President Obama for not supporting Israel strongly enough. Do you believe that President Obama is a very strong supporter of Israel?

Ehud Barak: He is extremely strong supporter of Israel in regard to its security. Traditionally, the president will support Israel in keeping its collective military edge and taking care of its security needs. But this administration is excelling in this. And it could not have happened without the immediate direct support of the president. So I don’t think that anyone can raise any question mark about the devotion of this president to the security of Israel.

What is that not enough for one? Well let's see what Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu had to say about the President after he supported Israel in it's quest to stop the Palestinians from unilaterally declaring Statehood at the U.N.:

"I would like to express my gratitude to the president of the United States, Barack Obama," Netanyahu said. "I asked for his help. This was a decisive and fateful moment. He said, 'I will do everything I can.' And so he did. He used every considerable means and influence of the United States to help us. We owe him a special measure of gratitude."

or this from the Prime Ministers office on April 16, 2011:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his deep appreciation to US President Barack Obama and the American Congress, and said: "Approving the transfer of $205 million for the Iron Dome will help protect Israeli citizens against rocket attacks from Gaza."  

"The US' enduring commitment to Israel in decisive times is a testimony of our shared values and the longstanding ties between the two nations," said Netanyahu in a statement published by the Prime Minister's Office

.

Still not good enough... how about the Israeli people themselves:

While in 2010, fewer than half of Israeli Jews polled expressed favorable views of Obama, 54 percent of Israelis expressed a favorable view of the American president. Thirty- nine percent expressed negative views, the same percentage that say that they are discouraged by the administration’s policy in the Middle East.

Finally, we have The Presidents actual record on Israel.

First of all in terms of sheer aid to Israel the President has pushed through legislation assuring Israel of American levels of aid through 2018. This does not include his extra funding of $ 205 million for Iron Dome. A system that is working to protect Israelis now from rockets from Gaza. This is up and above pledged aid in the regular U.S. arms package. Would someone who is NOT a true friend of Israel do that?

Further, the President has worked tirelessly to bring real peace to the Israeli people. He has stuck to and reiterated the American position for the last 44 years that there be Two-States and that Israel has a permanent home in the Middle East. He has backed up his words with deeds (see the above paragraphs). When his critics lie about his insistence on 1967 borders they are doing just that... lying. President Obama did not say that. He spoke of secure borders based on the 1967 but WITH MUTUALLY AGREED LAND SWAPS. He realizes that Israel has security and historical rights to some of the land gained in the Six Day War. He has repeated that. That has been an American (and Israeli position - witness UN Res. 242, Taba, Oslo, Annapolis, the Olmert Negotiations) for years. Our President merely stands by that.

He also realizes that the real greatest threat to Israel is the that of the Occupation and that to have a lasting peace and to be able to maintain the nature of Israel as a Jewish State and Democracy, that it is important that there be a fair Two State Solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

In the end, there can only be one conclusion. That President Obama is good for the Jewish People and good for Israel. To say anything else simply is to not speak the truth.

Shalom.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I suppose in the short run (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sunbro, Terra Mystica

    American Jews who are fixated on Israel would be pleased by all the right wing pandering. I just hope they realize that their "friends" are eagerly awaiting the Jews' mass conversion or torment (Torquemada, redux).

  •  Israeli Government (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sunbro, isabelle hayes

    bad for Jews, bad for Israel

    •  Not according to the Israeli People (0+ / 0-)

      HOWEVER... that is not the subject of the diary, so thanks for your concern but please keep the commentary on topic.

      Thanks in advance.

      •  It is on topic (3+ / 0-)

        since the Obama administration has, per your diary, strongly supported the Israeli government. So if Sal2012 is correct that the Israeli government is "bad for Jews" and "bad for Israel", it follows that in that respect at least the Obama administration has been "bad for Jews" and "bad for Israel".

      •  How about according to you? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        isabelle hayes

        Americans supported the Bush presidency.  But I think it wouldn't be unreasonable to say that Bush was bad for America.

        •  It's not unreasonable to say that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Corwin Weber

          nor is it unreasonable for one to say that the Netanyahu Gov't is bad for Israel. However, the Israeli people at this point in time disagree with you. You may disagree with them about that but that is your opinion.

          Either way I don't see the connection to the diary. I am say President Obama is a friend to Israel because he centers on Israeli security and maintaining that. I don't think of it in terms of who is in power. I think of it in terms of helping the Israelis maintain an edge over their enemies, and that is an American committment regardless of who is in Jerusalem as PM.

          •  Well it seems like you are being a bit (0+ / 0-)

            hypocritical.  You say my post is not related to this diary for some reason, but then you use a non-sequitur "Israeli people don't agree with you."

            •  Let me know when you want to have (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Hoodoo Man, Corwin Weber

              a serious discussion about the issue, not a series of "One off" exchanges where you spout false generalizations berift of any content. K?

              Your post was just another way to take a swipe at Israel and Israelis who for some reason are people that you like to spend a lot of time taking swipes at.

              Your post is completely irrelevant to the diary. I just answered it to be a nice host. However, I shouldn't have as it only encourages your ridiculous little one-offs.

              •  Well if you bothered to read my post you would (0+ / 0-)

                see I was taking a swipe at the Israeli government, not Israelis in general.  You willfully mischaracterized my position so you can continue this false narrative that people who don't like Israel just blindly hate Israelis in general.

                And I do take swipes at institutions I don't like.  Imagine that.  Like the GOP and Israeli government.

    •  This is not an appropriate response as a guest in (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      volleyboy1

      this diary.

      If you have an issue with the topic of the diary you may respond in a factual manner.

      The above statement does not qualify.

      Reported.

      "Stay close to the candles....the staircase can be treacherous" (-8.38,-8.51)

      by JNEREBEL on Mon Dec 12, 2011 at 10:55:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for doing this great analysis/survey (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sunbro, volleyboy1, Terra Mystica

    volleyboy1.  Given how keenly aware of how many risks of political volitility could impact the security of Israel, the US, and entire world, I would think, Israeli's, of all people, would be extra sensative to the dangers of having some of these Republican right wring zealots in the White House.  

    Some few may be encouraged to hear blatant extreme political pandering from the like of Palin, Bachman, Perry, and Gringrich, however, it shouldn't require too much extra thoughtfulness to realize the advantages of having an intelligent, wise, knowledgable, and experienced President, like Obama, who listens to, and understands our foreign policy professionals, and who an be trusted by foriegn leaders to act in competent, and reliable ways, in the White House.

    Minor differences in policy, can by managed, as all countries try to steer in the direction of global and regional peace, security, stability, a two state solution, and other common national security, economic, and social interests and goals.  

    But, imagine the dangers, and potential for major destabilization some of these extreme ideologues could cause, if they should become President at such a critical time.

    Not a single one of the GOP candidates can hold a candle to President Obama when it comes to foriegn policy competence, knowledge, capacity to learn, integrity, ability to work well with foreign leaders, our own military and intelligence professionals, and all the others involved.

    Thanks, Volleyboy1, for raising our awareness of the many points of view, and improving our confidence that many others seem to agree.  This is a substantial amount of work, which I will add to my hotlist.

     

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 11:11:55 AM PST

  •  When it comes to cultural sensitivity (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    isabelle hayes

    and foreign affairs, I feel Obama is at his highest point. He seems to be able to diplomatically handle people of all ethnic backgrounds and embrace these diversities. I feel he is considerate and level in regard to both Israel and Palestine, in regard to many traditionally marginalized groups like Islamic people and others, and this is really one of my key places of admiration for him. This is what I actually believe will be what is remembered about him: he has not been ethnically divisive as most Presidents have been. He has been better than any when it comes to respecting other cultures.

    I don't respect that the GOP always tries to peel off Jewish voters either. And yes, they sure do.

  •  Your quote of gratitude from Netanyahu is about... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hoodoo Man

    the Cairo Embassy, not statehood.

    Anyway, Obama may not be as strong a friend as you say, but America is a great friend to Israel. Both states benefit from the relationship in many ways.

    The glowing statements and symbolic gestures offered do not necessarily address the substantive criticisms that Obama's movement to determine radical groups as moderates is a mistake that will make it more dangerous for Israel and American interests.

    For example, Abd al-Rahman al-Rashid asks whether Islamists can be democratic, prepared to respect the rules of democracy, which has not happened in Sudan, Algeria, and Gaza. He says:

    the nature of “ideologicaled” parties and political Islamic groups, intellectually and tactically, consider other parties as unacceptable, no matter how much they talked about tolerance and adaptation to democratic thinking.

    [...]

    they have an exclusionary stance against women and other religions and sects’ followers, in addition to the right of expression and personal freedoms, which do not agree with their belief.

    As to statements of moderation by Islamist party leaders, he says:

    Of course, these speeches are public relations acts, and could only be believed by someone ignorant about the region or by the logic of the religious parties. If the claim of freedom of faith is true, it expresses the opinion of few leaders only, because the majority of leaders and cadres of these groups consider cleansing the society as their first duty, and it would not be long before they topple the tolerant leaders.

    Rather than label him in negative fashion, does the diarist (or others) believe there is any substance to these remarks about the anti-democratic regimes established by Islamists in power?  In conjunction, how should we treat political parties and movements that use democracy to explicitly destroy it?

    Parenthetically, without considering the recent remarks by Panetta, Clinton and even Gutman, the diary seems oversimplified.

    I am NOT saying that Obama is Israel's enemy. Sad that I must say that. I am NOT saying that Gingrich is Israel's friend, either. Sad that I must say that. I just believe that strengths and weaknesses should be on the table when it comes to making good decisions.

    •  Possibly however.... (0+ / 0-)

      First of all, thanks for the correction. You are right about the Netanyahu thanks. I stand corrected. However, that shows even more that America is a friend to Israel by aiding their besieged embassy....

      As for:

      Anyway, Obama may not be as strong a friend as you say, but America is a great friend to Israel. Both states benefit from the relationship in many ways.

      How is President Obama NOT as strong a friend as I say? I think I have more than proved that he is quite as strong of a friend as I posit. His actions and words both speak to that.

      As for the Obama administrations judgement on the Islamist governments and movements. I think that this is more of a function regarding taking a nuanced view of different factions within the governments and people that had thrown off their dictators.

      Whether or not the Administration thinks these are "moderate" forces is something to discuss. However whether they are or not is not indicitive of whether the President is a friend to Israel or the Jewish people or both. The President of the U.S. has many things to take into consideration in his decision making, and his first responsibility is to the health and welfare of the United States.

      Understanding political systems in the Middle East is not an easy task. As for what the Islamists in Tunisia and Morocco will do... let's see. I can say that we should not have supported their military dictators and as long as the elections were fair who are we to say BOO! Sometimes democracy is messy but if that is what their people want....

      •  As my comment said. (0+ / 0-)

        I am not convinced he would be so strong a supporter of Israel if America was not stronger.

        It's a matter of opinion, not proof. I think the current movement that projects the Muslim Brotherhood as a moderating force is a mistake, among other things. If so, despite the friendship, it hurts both Israeli and American interests.

        The US cooperation with the OIC on defamation of religion is another area of concern for anyone that cares about freedom of expression and religion.

        In other words, it's a mixed bag, like is so many things.

        •  No it really is a matter of proof. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Corwin Weber

          Funding Iron Dome was an Obama thing. Securing funding for Israel was an Obama thing. Supporting Israel in the U.N. was an Obama thing. Supporting Israel around the world has been an Obama thing.

          As for democracy in Egypt... Well that has nothing to do with us (Jews or Israel) in the sense of American friendship or not. It has to do with supporting a process that is democratic rather than autocratic.

          Again let me quote Ehud Barak:

          Traditionally, the president will support Israel in keeping its collective military edge and taking care of its security needs. But this administration is excelling in this.

          Take it up with Israeli Defense Minister Barak, He seems to agree with me.

          •  It is your belief. (0+ / 0-)

            You act like supporting Israel around the world would not have occurred under Bush or Clinton or any other American chief executive.

            You may think it's democracy, but I define it as more than a mere election.

            So Barak agrees with you, but have you provided all his observations?

            Is Barak the only one who gets to put forth an opinion?

            I hear what you are saying, but am not fully convinced that you address the weaknesses set forth, especially the way to deal with parties that use democratic means to destroy democracy.

            •  Again... no.... it is fact (0+ / 0-)
              You act like supporting Israel around the world would not have occurred under Bush or Clinton or any other American chief executive.

              Don't be ridiculous. Clinton and G.W. supported Israel, most American Presidents without an (R) next to their names would support Israel. Who would deny that. BUT... This President has gone up and above to support it. That is a fact. And it is supported.

              You may think it's democracy, but I define it as more than a mere election.

              Again, who denies that it was not important. BUT it is still democracy. That too is a fact. No one blows off what is happening but the fact of the matter is that it is the Egyptian people exercising their rights to vote whether you like it or not. That is what it is.

              Is Barak the only one who gets to put forth an opinion?

              Certainly not... But Ehud Barak is the Defense Minister of Israel and his opinion on Israeli security counts for a whole lot more than most anyone else on the matter. Shlomo Aronstein on the streets of Tel Aviv may also have an opinion but Barak's opinion in this case is far more authoritative.

              I hear what you are saying, but am not fully convinced that you address the weaknesses set forth, especially the way to deal with parties that use democratic means to destroy democracy.

              I am not addressing that here - but I think that would be an interesting diary topic.

              •  You made it seem like Obama is special (0+ / 0-)

                when you made a big deal that he supported Israel around the world, not me.

                We have different views about what constitutes democracy. Once more, it is not just an election to my mind.

                Yes, Barak is entitled to his view, but there is not just one view.

                It seems that being right is most important to you, and I think you have not addressed the issue of whether Obama's desire to see moderation in the Brotherhood, or cooperate with the OIC, will inure to the benefit of Israel, irrespective of some perceived friendship.

                •  No.... (0+ / 0-)
                  You made it seem like Obama is special when you made a big deal that he supported Israel around the world, not me.

                  Well, I think that President Obama has been very supportive of Jewish issues and Israel. Is he "special" in that regard... no. But if that is a concern of parts of the American Jewish Polity then yes it should be pointed out how positive he is in this area.

                  We have different views about what constitutes democracy. Once more, it is not just an election to my mind.

                  Quite possibly, though I am not sure how you can view Democracy outside of the electoral process.

                  Yes, Barak is entitled to his view, but there is not just one view.

                  Yes, everyone is entitled to their viewpoint including those lying sacks better known as Republicans. However, some viewpoints are more telling, true and relevant than others. Ehud Barak's opinion (as Defense Minister of Israel) about whether the President is strong for Israel is far more relevant than other yours or mine and when you take a position on this issue that needs to be taken into account.

                  It seems that being right is most important to you,

                  As you often say... let's just get facts about this. We can discuss this issue factually. The little asides don't help. And yes, in discussions I like to know that I am correct in my facts.

                  I think you have not addressed the issue of whether Obama's desire to see moderation in the Brotherhood, or cooperate with the OIC, will inure to the benefit of Israel, irrespective of some perceived friendship.

                  I think everyone hopes that there will be some moderation in how people run their nation with the U.S. I don't think anyone is fooling themselves into thinking that the Brotherhood is a "moderate" group outside of some silly people here. But as I said previously, I would love to see where the administration has taken the stance that the Brotherhood is moderate, (with full context quotes please not reports from MEMRI or other organizations).

                  It's funny, the only place that I have seen commentary about the Brotherhood being "moderate" or being forced to moderate, outside of this place (DKos) is in Israeli Newspapers. Like this article:

                  Ultraconservative Islamists make gains in Egypt elections

                  The Nour Party is the main political arm of the hard-line Salafi movement, which unlike the more moderate Muslim Brotherhood is a new player on Egypt's political scene.

                  and in other articles talking about how the Brotherhood will have to moderate to rule Egypt.

                  Look citizen, I personally don't believe for one minute that the Brotherhood is moderate. But so far the Egyptians have voted with a large plurality for either the Brotherhood or the Salafists to the Right of them. That is the result of Democracy. IF the Obama administration does not take a hard look at how to deal with this they could lose influence in that nation and then what?????

                  What would you have him do?

                  •  Wish I had time to continue... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Hoodoo Man

                    but on the other hand it also seems the points are being repeated.

                    The comment about winning is because you seek to prove things that I believe are incapable to prove. I am just looking to have a discussion that does not turn into the more common DKos insult-a-thon.

                    To me, the fact that you need to diary the matter indicates that there is an issue here. Even then, it's not all or nothing. Obama has made mistakes and done good things, too. I believe he has less affinity for Israel than you do, but in the end knows and believes that friendship with Israel is an fundamental American interest.

                    I think his approach to the MB and OIC is troublesome and does not exactly portend friendship to Israel. I believe both are anti-democratic. The issue of using democracy to destroy democracy is at the heart of this matter and which must be ultimately be faced on the world order.

                    We have the human right to a social and international order in which universal rights and freedoms can be fully realized. There is not a valid right in a democracy to seek to destroy it.

                    How Obama handles these issues are also a measure of his friendship.

                    There, I said I did not have the time, but took it anyway. On to other things. Have the last word, until the next time, which I will surely read and consider.

                    •  Fair enough... I will take the last word. (0+ / 0-)

                      First off, thank you for this:

                      Have the last word, until the next time, which I will surely read and consider.

                      I appreciate it that you take the time to read and consider. That is all I can ask.

                      To me, the fact that you need to diary the matter indicates that there is an issue here.

                      I very much do think there is an issue here. According to the latest AJC Poll, Republican lies and misdirections are working to a small degree with the American Jewish Polity. I think the truth needs to come out regarding the President.

                      I believe the President has far more good will and affinity for the American Jewish Community than you do, and I believe his actions prove that. However, in any case, I heartily agree with this:

                      in the end (President Obama - vb1 added for context) knows and believes that friendship with Israel is an fundamental American interest.

                      As to the rest of your comment I believe that is for another diary, one that explores the roots of democracy. I think the President has done the best he can here and I am not sure how I would do something different. That the Egyptian population voted overwhelmingly for either Right Wing Religious Polities is indicative of how far that nation needs to progress towards becoming anything resembling a liberal democracy, but it also speaks to the burgeoning of democracy in that nation.

                      Again, if that is what the Egyptian people want, then that is what they want. I think we have to make our foreign policy decisions based on what they actually do.... not what we think they will do.

                      If the President supports democracy and development of democracy then I feel he is a friend to the Jewish people. But that too is a matter of opinion.

  •  Curious (3+ / 0-)

    Obama is "good for the Jewish People"? What does that even mean? Did "the Jewish People" around the world take a vote on our interests? I must've missed that memo. Anyway, shouldn't we judge him according to universal principles of justice, law, human welfare, and so on, rather than how well he has allegedly advanced the interests of a particular ethnic/religious/political/other narrow sector or group?

    How good has he been for Palestinians? Does that even matter to you?

    You and other liberal Zionists often declare - and not wrongly - that Israel's rejectionism, its settlement construction, and so on are bad for Israelis and go against Israel's long-term interests. In fact if I'm not mistaken you even argue that Israel's long-term survival as a Jewish and democratic state depends on an end to the occupation. Yet here you cite the Obama admin's continued military, financial and political support of one of the most right-wing and rejectionist Israeli governments in history as evidence that Obama has been 'good' for Israel! If you really believe that settlements are bad for Israel, and indeed will in the long run lead to its destruction, isn't the fact that Obama has done little or nothing (beyond standard rhetoric not reinforced with material pressure) to force their dismantling or even halt their construction evidence that he has been, not 'good', but a catastrophe for Israel?

    •  So who do you want to win in November? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      volleyboy1

      And what would be your strategy to assure victory in Florida, which may end up once again as decisive?

      You seem to be missing the point of the diary, which is to counter the tactics of the Repubs, who are trying to pull away Jewish voters from the Democratic party, particualarly in Florida.

      My own opinion is that now should be a time in which Obama declares his own view of a fair two state solution, including a very clear statement about borders including land swaps to make them "defensible," the US lack of support for a "right of return," starts cracking down on illegal settlements (which have never involved East Jerusalem) and pushes the Palestinians to stop incitement in PA controlled media.  He also needs to tell the Palestinians to cut the crap and get back to the negotiating table.

      Nobody is going to refuse to vote for Obama if he is truly pushing both sides to peace.  The Repubs are claiming that Obama is only pushing Israel.

      I suspect that you don't really care who wins the election.  My sense is that you just come to this site to bash Israel.  Maybe you'll surprise me and provide a thoughtful substantive response on election strategy.

      •  My purpose here (3+ / 0-)

        isn't really relevant, is it? My comment is either correct or it isn't. Let's stay focused shall we?

        Right now you haven't defended the diary as being true or morally sound or internally consistent. Instead you've defended it as an effective piece of propaganda: true or not, the 'line' advanced by the diary is a good response to Republican propaganda in that if Jewish voters are gullible enough to believe it, they won't defect to the Republicans.

        My response to that is two-fold. First, I'll restate my original objections: the line of argument advanced in the diary both prolongs the horrendous suffering of the Palestinians and, according to arguments made by liberal Zionists like this very diarist, threatens the future of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Those consequences are not trivial.

        Second, I also disagree with your defence of the diary purely in terms of its effectiveness as propaganda. That defence assumes 1) that American Jews - the most liberal demographic in the country - would, if they believed that Obama was putting material pressure on Israel to force it to agree to a two-state solution (i.e. if the Republican charges were true - of course in reality they aren't), defect in significant numbers to the Republicans; and 2) that even if the preceding were true, the best response would be to pander to the Republican line of criticisms instead of seizing the opportunity to persuade people that actually putting pressure on Israel (or 'both parties' if you prefer, as if enormous pressure wasn't already being exerted on the Palestinians) is key to securing a peaceful settlement of the conflict. You haven't argued for either of those two statements, you just presuppose them. But there's good reason to doubt that they're true.

        For example polling evidence is very clear that liberals in general, and American Jews in particular, are increasingly alienated from Israel and opposed to its policies, both domestically and vis-a-vis the Palestinians. Moreover criticism of Obama's policy from the left - accusing him of not doing enough to pressure Israel to end its rejectionism - is a more effective way to combat criticism of him from the right than pandering to that criticism, because a) it creates a space to criticise the assumptions and principles of the Republican critique, rather than accepting its force but denying that it applies to Obama; and b) if people see that Obama is coming under criticism from both the right and the left, they'll tend to think that he's somewhere in the sensible middle, whereas if you cede the ground to the critique from the right you just move the whole argument rightwards. (I'd have thought people would have grasped that point that by now). It would also have the nontrivial effect, c), of creating pressure on Obama to actually do something to end the suffering of Palestinians and make Israel more secure by  progressing towards a negotiated solution - see above.

        Finally you're looking at this from the perspective of Obama, or from the perspective of his campaign manager. That's an odd viewing angle to pick, since you are neither Obama nor his campaign manager. The job of Obama's campaign manager is to assess the balance of electorally-relevant forces and on that basis determine how to maximise chances of reelection. The job of citizens and activists by contrast is to work to change that balance of electorally-relevant forces with a view to changing government policy (to changing the assessment of his campaign manager, if you want to put it like that). So if one wants the Democrats in future to put more pressure on Israel to end the occupation and withdraw to its legal borders, one works to create pressure on them to do that, which means criticising, not simply defending, existing policy. You implicitly claim that any efforts in this direction would threaten re-election. That seems like scaremongering to me; at any rate, like I said above, you haven't even attempted to demonstrate it.

    •  There is a lot to address here and I am (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Corwin Weber, fizziks

      about to go to cocktails, and dinner, but, after that (later tonight or tomorrow AM) I will be happy to address your points.

      However, understand the perspective that I am writing from. Anyway, I think you raise some reasonable questions that deserve a response. Forgive me if I am tardy on that but I shall get to it when I have more time.

      Thanks.

    •  Ok... I promised a response. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Corwin Weber, fizziks, MBNYC

      First of all you need to understand the context of this diary/article. I wrote this from the perspective of a Jewish American who thinks that the Obama administration is a friend to the Jewish community, and I wanted to clear up the misconceptions of Repulican critics that have been making inroads into our (Jewish American) polity.

      Obama is "good for the Jewish People"? What does that even mean?

      To me it means someone who cares about issues and concerns that are important to the Jewish people and someone who is willing to act as an advocate for our issues.

      Did "the Jewish People" around the world take a vote on our interests?

      Certainly not but Jewish political attitudes in the U.S. are polled and those polls are fairly accurate. Here is the latest:AJC Poll 2011

      Anyway, shouldn't we judge him according to universal principles of justice, law, human welfare, and so on, rather than how well he has allegedly advanced the interests of a particular ethnic/religious/political/other narrow sector or group?

      Yes and no. Of course we should judge him on his overall views but I also believe that we should judge him on his views towards narrow sector. Let me explain. I assume in my writing that President Obama, more than any other candidate in 2012 (ones in the two parties that actually have a chance of getting actually elected) has an overall view that has a far more liberal view of politics than his opponents. SO... at that point I drill down deeper to see how he feels about this narrow sector.  Now if President Obama was say like one of his Republican opponents overall, I would never write this because I can't stand their overall views of the world. Do you follow?

      How good has he been for Palestinians? Does that even matter to you?

      With the exception of racist crank Ron Paul, he is far better for the Palestinians than the whacknuts on the Right.

      Does it matter to me? Yes, in the sense that I care about all human beings and would like to see everyone succeed regardless of race, ethnicity, religion and so forth. That said, in my case I favor Jewish Interests in this area over Palestinian interests. Just as many here (and I believe you are in this category) favor Palestinian interests over Jewish interests.  Please note... however, that I do not mean this in "zero-sum" terms. What does that mean? It means that for both people to prosper and flourish does not mean one side has to be completely defeated. For instance, I oppose the Likud coalitions policies on internal Israeli treatment of their minority population as well as their seeming acceptance of "Eretz Yisrael HaShlema".

      Yet here you cite the Obama admin's continued military, financial and political support of one of the most right-wing and rejectionist Israeli governments in history as evidence that Obama has been 'good' for Israel! If you really believe that settlements are bad for Israel, and indeed will in the long run lead to its destruction, isn't the fact that Obama has done little or nothing (beyond standard rhetoric not reinforced with material pressure) to force their dismantling or even halt their construction evidence that he has been, not 'good', but a catastrophe for Israel?

      I think this is a rather simplistic aspect of your comment. While I do (as you say) feel that the Occupation is catastrophic for Israel in most of it's aspects I don't view aid to Israel only through those lenses. I view our aid to Israel as aid to a friendly nation and as it helps Israel maintain an edge against those who want to destroy it or end it's existence as the National Homeland and State of the Jewish people is ok with me.

      I personally think peace on the ground has to come through direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis. I think the U.S. can act as a broker to make this happen and can do more to that end. I do think that we need to influence the Israelis to end the building of settlements and move towards policies that are more in line with stated American Foreign Policy. I believe however, the best way to do that is through "behind the scenes" negotiating and small arm twisting. All polls show that the Israeli Polity is strongly in the Nationalist camp.

      In your posts you insist we (America and England) take a nuanced view of the Palestinian/Arab world but you insist on "ham handed" actions with regards to the Israelis. Well I am suggesting we take a nuanced view of both sides.

      I promised you a response though and so here it is.

      •  You won't be surprised (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Friendlystranger

        to discover that I disagree with almost everything in your response, but an extended exchange probably won't do anyone much good, so I won't respond point-by-point.

        As a concluding remark, though, what puzzles me about your position is that it doesn't take the most urgent current threat to Israel's long-term existence - continued occupation and conflict - seriously. This might make sense if you were make sense if you were opposed or indifferent to Israel's long-term existence, but not if you're someone for whom Israel's existential security is very important.

        Most Israeli liberals and increasing numbers of liberal Zionists in the US see the perpetuation and perpetual expansion of the occupation as the primary threat to Israel's existence as a Jewish and democratic state. Even the likes of Jeffrey Goldberg now say that the settlements are leading to a one-state solution. It's not difficult to see why. Already many serious analysts of the conflict have concluded that a two-state solution is no longer feasible because Israel's control over Palestinian territory is so entrenched and the Palestinian economy and political structure has been so warped and rendered dependent by that control. And most of those who believe a two-state solution remains achievable think the window of opportunity is closing, not least because with each passing day the constituencies calling for it on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides shrink.

        We should be clear about what it means if Israeli liberals are right: Israel's continued existence is under threat as a matter of urgency. And the US is actively increasing that existential threat by subsidising and enabling Israeli rejectionism.

        One would think, given the above, that liberal Zionists would be more vocal and fanatical than anyone about demanding that the US stop supporting Israel's occupation and applying its considerable leverage to pressure it to accept a two-state settlement. Instead there is a huge discrepancy between that extremely alarming Israeli liberal analysis and your (quite representative among American liberal Zionists) advocacy of extremely gradual, moderate, 'behind the scenes', minimal US pressure.

        Your position would make sense either if you believed that other threats were more serious to Israel's long-term security than the occupation, and that therefore exacerbating the latter is justified in order to counter the former; or if you don't think the occupation is a lethal threat to Israel's existence as a Jewish and democratic state. The first strikes me as highly implausible, given Israel's overwhelming military dominance in the region and the stated willingness of all or virtually all its neighbours to make peace on the basis of the international consensus two-state settlement; and the second would put you at odds with the Israeli liberal consensus and makes little sense given that continued occupation dooms Israel to increasingly extreme right-wing authoritarianism at home and ultimately its degeneration into an internationally isolated and despised apartheid state.

        If on the other hand the Israeli liberals have it right, and that the most urgent current threat to Israel's existence is its own rejectionism, then by enabling that rejectionism the US is doing more to destroy Israel - certainly to destroy everything that's good about Israel - than any Palestinian militant group or any Iranian cleric. What you advocate completely fails to reflect the urgency of this situation, and its effect - though surely not its intention - is to enable and increase the most serious threat to Israel's existence today, justified by the need to oppose secondary threats that are far less serious and far less urgent. That's a terrible miscalculation and the consequences can only be tragic.

    •  Uncivil response. (0+ / 0-)

      Unnecessary insult.

      "How good has he been for Palestinians? Does that even matter to you?"

      "Stay close to the candles....the staircase can be treacherous" (-8.38,-8.51)

      by JNEREBEL on Mon Dec 12, 2011 at 11:03:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is only marginally about Jewish Voters. (0+ / 0-)

    It is principally about Jewish campaign contributions.  Big ones.  Big, single issue ones.  Big single issue ones that have traditionally supported the Democratic Party, but that might go "right."  A few hundred million worth.  Big, easily directable ones.

    Jewish voters are, as has been pointed out repeatedly here, and correctly, are solidly democratic.  Sure there may be voter blowback in FL for strenuously encouraging Israel to make peace, but that would be offset by a solidly Dem MI or CO for the same reason.

    Not to mention the general uplift for taking a principled stand on this issue among the knowlegable and hungry "left."

    •  This will be a close election (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      volleyboy1, Corwin Weber

      2012 won't be decided in MI or CO.

      It will be decided in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

      Perhaps Florida is very different from NY-9.  I think Florida can be different, but only if the Obama campaign stays on message and does not allow the Republicans to falsely out-Israel the Democrats.  I'd be curious to know what are the substantive reasons why you think Florida does not matter in 2012 or why you think I/P issues aren't important in winning Florida.  

      I think Obama keeps Jewish votes and contributions in Florida by stressing his pro-Israel record.  He does so not only by "strenuously encouraging Israel to make peace," but by equally strenuously pushing the Palestinians to make peace.  He needs to tell the Palestinians to cut the crap and get back to the negotiating table, and to make crystal clear that the US never will support the idea of a "right of return."

      I think many of the pro-P commenters on d-kos, unfortunately, have more of a "single issue" focus than most Jewish voters.  

      Terra, this is the real world.  Like the Republicans, you would prefer it if Obama sided against Israel.  However, I/P is one of the issues that could have a very serious effect on whether we keep a Democrat in the White House or we get four more years of another George Bush.  What do you wish for?

      •  This is absolutely right (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Corwin Weber

        In going over the AJC poll the information in there is saddening and it just goes to show how we have to continue to get the message out that President Obama is good for the Jewish people to combat the poison of Republican lies.

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