Du bow digest germany edition april 12, 2012

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An American Jewish - German information & opinion newsletter

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Du bow digest germany edition april 12, 2012

  1. 1. AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION NEWSLETTER dubowdigest@optonline.netGERMANY EDITIONApril 12, 2012Dear Friends:With Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, the first two Seders of Passover (For theOrthodox there are still two more to go) over and done, it’s back to normal life formost of us. When I ran the AJC Office in Berlin, between the German and Jewishholidays I could barely find enough regular days in which to do my work. I didn’tcomplain.Even in this time of holidays the issues that are of interest to DuBow Digest have notquieted down. The Günter Grass poem caused quite a bit of controversy (see below)and it looks as if there may be some movement on the Israel – Palestinian peacefront with a meeting between P.M. Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority P.M. SalamFayyad scheduled for next week. The Jerusalem Post notes that the Palestinianshave agreed to the meeting, “if only because since they broke off the low-level talksin Jordan in January that lasted a month, they have pretty much been pushed off theworld’s radar screen – definitely not a place where they want to be.” Who knows?Maybe something good will come of it.My best wishes for the holiday season. Let’s get on with the news…IN THIS EDITIONGÜNTER GRASS – The Jewish response to the poem.AMERICAN JEWISH DONATIONS TO ISRAEL – How come American Jews keepthe financial contributions flowing?ISRAEL & THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL – Severing relations. I’d do the same.HATING ISRAEL – Isn’t it strange that there is no much international hostility towarda small country with only 7 million citizens? What triggers it? 1
  2. 2. OBAMA & THE PEACE PROCESS: NOT THIS YEAR –OR NEXT! – Don’t expectanything from Washington any time soon.WHO IS A JEW? – The eternal question – especially if your mother is not one.OBAMA & THE JEWISH VOTE – Does this group which represents less than 2% ofthe electorate merit such interest? Obviously it does.GÜNTER GRASSIn spite of the fact the German media has been replete with stories about GünterGrass’ now famous poem; this edition would not be complete unless I, in some way,dealt with it. By this time you have probably read the Israeli Embassy’s reaction andknow that Grass has been made persona non grata in Israel should he decide tovisit there – which, of course, he won’t! Perhaps the best thing I can do is to reporton some of the other Jewish reaction which has been practically unanimous incriticizing Hr. Grass. In that way you will get some sort of an idea of how the Jewishcommunity feels about it.Benjamin Weinthal, a Berlin based American journalist writing in The JerusalemPost noted, “According to Mr. Grass’s poem, Israel is the source of all bellicosity. Heairbrushes the threats of Iran’s leaders to wipe Israel off the map, including with anuclear strike, out of history. He further omits the blood-soaked repression of Iran’sregime against its own population. There is no mention of Iran’s judiciary hanginggays or stoning men and women. The tsunami-wave execution of Iranianadolescents is non-existent in Grass’s world view and writings.Journalist Petra Marquardt also in TJP wrote, “Günter Grass would likely object tothe idea that he is among those who demonize Israel as a Nazi-like perpetrator. Yet,he does so quite clearly when he refers to a possible Israeli strike against Iran’snuclear program as a potentially genocidal crime that can be anticipated. His “poem”is his attempt to avoid any German “guilt” for this “crime,” since Grass worries Israelcould use German-manufactured submarines to strike Iran. This concern stands instark contrast to Grass’s apparent silence about the role of German companies infacilitating Iran’s nuclear program.Ultimately, Grass demonstrates in his poem that the meaning of the pledge “neveragain” is very different for the historic perpetrators and their victims: for the formerWaffen SS recruit, the most important thing is to be never again seen as aperpetrator – and since he firmly believes Israel is eager to launch a devastatingattack on Iran, he has no doubt who should be blamed as the perpetrator.David Harris the Executive Director of AJC wrote, “Grass pulled the wool over theeyes of the German people and the world for 60 years, hiding his participation in theWaffen SS. Now he is trying to pull the wool over the world’s eyes about an Iranian 2
  3. 3. regime that threatens to destroy Israel, and is building the capability to achieve itsaim,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris.“Which country – democratic Israel or authoritarian, bellicose Iran – is the realmenace to regional and world peace? It is Iran that has called for a world withoutIsrael, not the other way around,” said Harris. “Why can’t Grass see what is sopainfully obvious?”In his poem, Grass charges that “Israel’s nuclear power endangers world peace,”and claims that Germany, due to the Holocaust, refrains from criticizing Israel.“Grass already has a published record of hostile positions on Israel,” said Harris.“The new Grass poem confirms that his thinking is inverted. He has reversed theaggressor and the intended victim. In doing so, he is totally out of step with his owncountry, and most of the world, when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program anddesigns on Israel.”So that you will know where I stand, what follows below is what I myself wrote in theAmerican Edition of DuBow Digest.”History tells us that once you’ve written and published something – it’s yours! Youmay wish you’d never put it out there but something written and published isindelible. It’s there for good. You may want to retract it but it’s too late. You maywant to say you were misunderstood and maybe you were. However, why didn’t youthink about how it might be taken before you put it down in black and white? If allelse fails – blame the media. A time honored political dodge. It’s equal inuntruthfulness as, “I’m leaving office to spend more time with my family”. “The poem, by the overly self-importance and puffed-up ego of the morallyquestionable Günter Grass should be criticized in the strongest possible terms.However, the poem itself and the articles surrounding it (even those that are criticalof Grass) have appeal for those in Germany that market themselves as “peaceloving” but have underlying feelings of hostility for Israel and for Jews.However, it is not the “anti” people that I am worried about. There is a strong feelingof pacifism in Germany in the general population as well as affection for Grass.Being opposed to Israel because of the Palestinian issue and now because of apossible Israeli strike against Iran does not help in strengthening support for theJewish state. Not a happy thought during the Easter season when love for Jews isfrequently at an all time low. No matter! What will happen politically, will happen!However, when something so vile appears, especially from a person with a soiledpast, outspoken criticism is the appropriate course.”I would be very interested in your opinion. If you will take the time to drop me a lineat dubowdigest@optonline.net I would greatly appreciate it and, if you wish, I’ll 3
  4. 4. publish it in the next edition.AMERICAN JEWISH DONATIONS TO ISRAELWhen I was a boy in the 1930’s & 1940’s growing up in the Bronx I often stood infront to the local subway station with a small blue and white container (In Yiddish itwas called a “pushky”) collecting money for the Jewish National Fund (JNF). The(mostly) coins were for the planting of trees in Palestine (It was not yet called Israel).I didn’t love doing it but it was seen as an obligation which all Jewish kids had.Since that time, with Israel becoming a state instead of a dream, one would assumethat the sense of obligation has diminished. Not so! In spite of the general thinkingthat voluntary contributions have begun to dry up, the truth is the exact opposite.Haaretz.com reports, “Donations by U.S. Jews to Israeli nonprofits have doubledduring the past 12 years, according to a first-of-its-kind study conducted byprofessors at Brandeis University.The study, scheduled to be completed in late April, disproves the widely held viewby many Israelis that philanthropic donations from the United States have droppedover time due to economic and political reasons. In fact, the study - previewed lastweek during a hearing by the Knesset Subcommittee for the Relations of Israel withWorld Jewish Communities - suggests quite the opposite.In 2007, various Israeli organizations received $2.1 billion from U.S. donors throughthe Jewish Agency and various "friendship" associations, according to findings byprofessors Theodore Sasson and Eric Fleisch, of the Cohen Center of ModernJewish Studies at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. This is double what U.S.donors contributed 12 years earlier, when only $1.08 billion was raised in the UnitedStates for Israeli organizations.While the research indicates that there was a 10-25 percent drop in donationsduring 2008 and 2009 - during the period of severe economic crisis in the UnitedStates - it suggests there was a substantial rise in donations in 2010, when the crisisbegan to subside.I don’t think it comes as any surprise to anyone that there is a strong familial bondbetween Jews living in the Diaspora and those in Israel. Even if money was notneeded, there would have to be some other method found to bind the two groupstogether. It’s not that the groups are always of the same mind regarding policies.They are not. However, that doesn’t make any difference. Family is family! It’s thatsimple.ISRAEL & THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL 4
  5. 5. The UN Human Rights Council, formerly the UN Human Rights Commission, has,over many years, spent a lion’s share of its time focusing on Israel’s allegedtreatment of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. This abnormalconcentration of its time has come about because of the large number of Islamicand, especially, Arab countries that have been members of the Council. Currentlysuch outstanding proponents of human rights such as Saudi Arabia, Cuba, andKyrgyzstan are members.With all sorts of unrest and civil war breaking out in the Middle East, the Council,rather than focusing on some of the problems that have emerged in the region andin Africa, have once again decided to investigate the situation in the West Bank(Judea and Samaria).The Israelis have had enough of the UNHRC and severed all ties with them. IsraelHayot reported, “Israel is severing its ties with the U.N. Human Rights Council untilfurther notice, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman declared on Monday. Thedecision was announced after the council, which has a highly disproportionaterecord of criticizing Israel, moved to establish a committee to study the ramificationsof Judea and Samaria settlements on the human rights of Palestinians.Lieberman on Monday convened senior members of his office to discuss severalpotential reactions to the council’s decision, and decided to take the drastic measureof cutting off contact.“All of our ties with the Human Rights Council will be severed,” he said. “Israel willno longer cooperate with or aid any representative of the council who visits Israel.”Lieberman’s decision means that Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N., Aharon Leshno-Yaar, will not attend council meetings and will not even speak with councilrepresentatives on the phone. Lieberman also instructed Foreign Ministry officials totry to convince U.S. government officials to sever their ties with the organization aswell, even if the attempt has very little chance of succeeding.Lieberman believes the decision to stop cooperating with the council will not havediplomatic repercussions for Israel.A senior Israeli diplomat said on Monday, “The Palestinians are adopting a strategyof unilateralism to avoid any agreement. Their primary policy is to continue alongthis line in the hopes of eventually obtaining unilateral recognition in the U.N.”Hamas leaders denounced Israel’s decision. “The council’s decision to investigateIsraeli crimes proves that the Palestinians are justified,” Hamas spokesman FawziBarhoum said. “Israel is perpetrating war crimes against the Palestinians and istrying to cover that up. The Zionist occupier’s decision is another attempt to extortU.N. institutions and the international community.” 5
  6. 6. After the vote in the council to investigate the influence of Jewish settlements onPalestinian rights, the ambassadors of Austria and Belgium in Israel received averbal slap on the wrist from Foreign Ministry officials for voting in favor of theestablishment of the committee, while other EU members voted against the move.Council President Laura Dupuy Lasserre called Israel’s decision “very unfortunate.”Lasserre said it was in Israel’s interest to cooperate with the investigation “if only forIsrael to be able to explain its policies and activities.”The last go-around that Israel had regarding human rights with the UN took placeafter a Turkish based flotilla tried to crash through an Israeli blockade of Gaza. TheUN report, as seen in Israel and by many others throughout the world, was very one-sided. The Israelis do not want to see another such report with the results decidedon before the investigation even begins.In the current instance, (Israel Hayom), “United States Ambassador to Israel DanShapiro said Monday that he understands Israels decision to sever its ties with theUN Human Rights Council, following its decision to probe its settlements policies. During a meeting with students at Tel Aviv University, Shapiro said that the Council"obsessively focuses" on Israel, while neglecting other human rights issues that arefar more important and urgent. Shapiro noted that the United States was the only member to vote against settingup the commission of inquiry, against ten European countries.It never pays to play in a game where the cards are marked or the dice are loaded.Pre-determined outcomes are something to be avoided and in this case the Israelimove seems quite justified.You should also read Israeli Deputy P.M. Danny Ayalon’s piece on the HumanRights Council. Click here.http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/03/30/theater_of_the_absurdHATING ISRAELI don’t think I’m too far out of line in saying that it is a general feeling among manyJews in the U.S. and elsewhere that there is an unfair, unjust widespread hate ofIsrael throughout many parts of the world. The popular thinking on the subject is thatanti-Israelism and anti-Semitism have become intermixed in the minds of many andsince the latter is so politically incorrect, it is easier and more acceptable to focushostility on Israel rather than Jews. I often wondered whether, as the old Peggy Leesong goes, “Is that all there is?”Victor Davis Hanson writing in the Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas has some 6
  7. 7. additional thoughts. They are worth considering. He writes, “Not long ago, theEconomist ran an unsigned editorial called the “Auschwitz Complex.” The unnamedauthor blamed serial Middle East tensions on both Israel’s unwarranted sense ofvictimhood, accrued from the Holocaust, and its unwillingness to “to give up itsempireIt is hard to fathom how a democracy of seven million people by any stretch of theimagination is an “empire.” Israel, after all, fought three existential wars over its 1947borders, when the issue at hand was not manifest destiny, but the efforts of its manyenemies to exterminate or deport its population. I would not otherwise know how tocharacterize the Arab promise of more than a half-century of “pushing the Jews intoMediterranean.”The Economist article is fairly representative of European anger at Israel, a countrythat is despised by most of the nations that make up the UN roster.What then are the sources for widespread hatred of Israel? Such venom cannot beexplained just by political differences with its Arab and Islamic neighbors. After all,take any major issue of contention—occupied land, refugees, a divided Jerusalem,cross border incursions—and then ask why the world focuses disproportionately onIsrael when similar such disputes are commonplace throughout the globe.Does the world much care about the principle of occupation? Not really. Considerland that has been “occupied” in the fashion of the West Bank since World War II.Russia won’t give up the southern Kurile Islands it took from Japan. Tibet ceased toexist as a sovereign country—well before the 1967 Middle East War—when it wasabsorbed by Communist China. Turkish forces since their 1974 invasion haveoccupied large swaths of Cyprus. East Prussia ceased to exist in 1945, after 13million German refugees were displaced from ancestral homelands that dated back500 years.The 112-mile green line that runs through downtown Nicosia to divide Cyprus makesJerusalem look united in comparison. Over 500,000 Jews have been ethnically-cleansed from Arab capitals since 1947, in waves of pogroms that come every fewdecades. Why are they not considered refugees the way the Palestinians are?The point is not that the world community should not focus on Israel’s disputes withits neighbors, but that it singles Israel out for its purported transgressions in afashion that it does not for nearly identical disagreements elsewhere. Over 75percent of recent United Nations resolutions target Israel, which has been cited forhuman rights violations far more than the Sudan, Congo, or Rwanda, where millionshave perished in little-noticed genocides. Why is the international community soanti-Israel?A new sort of fashionable and socially acceptable anti-Semitism looms large. Formuch of the past two millennia in the West, hatred of the Jews was a crude 7
  8. 8. prejudice, rich with state-sanctioned religious, economic, and social biases. By thesame token, dissidents, leftists, and anti-establishmentarians once took up thecause of decrying anti-Semitism, an Enlightenment theme until well after World WarII.No more—with the establishment of Israel, anti-Semitism metamorphosized in twounforeseen ways. First, it became a near obsession of the modern Left, whichassociated the creation of the Jewish state with a sort of Western hegemonicimpulse. That Israel was democratic and protected human rights in a way unlike itsautocratic neighbors mattered nothing. To the international Left, Israel was areligious, imperialistic, and surrogate West in the Middle East.After the 1967 war, when a once vulnerable Israel emerged victorious andapparently unstoppable, Jews lost any lingering sympathy from the horrors of WorldWar II and Israel became a full-fledged Western over-dog, closely associated withits new patron, the much envied and hated United States.There was a second facet of the new anti-Semitism. The establishment of the stateof Israel itself also served as a respectable cloak for anti-Semitism.Oil, of course, played an even larger role. By the 1960s, the West was heavilydependent on Persian Gulf and North African oil and gas, and by the 1990s, was ina rivalry with emerging economies in India and China to ensure steady Middle Eastsupplies. After the deleterious oil cutoff of 1973, the Arab world proved not just that itwas willing to use oil as an anti-Israel weapon, but also that it could do so quiteeffectively.On the flip side, since the 1960s, trillions of petrodollars have flowed into the IslamicMiddle East, not just ensuring that Israel’s enemies now were armed, ascendant,and flanked by powerful Western friends, but through contributions, donations, andendowments also deeply embedded within Western thought and society itself.The terrorism of the last thirty years loomed large as well.Intellectuals are not moral supermen, and supposedly courageous muckrakingwriters and journalists prefer, we have seen, to live without fear than to accuratelydescribe the situation on the ground in the Middle East. For many intellectuals, thechoice of lauding or disliking Israel was not just based on careerist self-interest, butalso on a careful calculus that Western nations, for all their talk of free speech, wereas terrified of terrorists as were the latters’ targets. Criticize or caricature radicalIslam, and a terrorist was more likely to get you than your fearful Westerngovernment was to protect you. Ask Salman Rushdie or Kurt Westergaard.Finally, Israel in the West has become analogous to something like the uncoolimage of Sarah Palin—a target of mindless and uniformed invective thatnevertheless serves as a sort of cachet or membership card into the right circles. 8
  9. 9. Will the image of Israel ever be reversed? Only if the above criteria are altered—adamning indictment that popular antipathy has little to do with the reality of Israel’spredicament.With the exception of seemingly equating Sarah Palin with Israel, I find myselflargely agreeing with Prof. Hanson. Hating Israel is a multi-dimensional matter. Iguess we just have to keep working at opening people’s minds. However, we alsoknow it is a long slow and, maybe, a never ending battle.There is actually more to Prof. Hanson’s article. To read it all click here.http://www.hoover.org/publications/defining-ideas/article/112386OBAMA & THE PEACE PROCESS: NOT THIS YEAR –OR NEXT!I don’t want to waste too much of your time with something that you probably alreadyknow – that Pres. Obama is not going to do anything or commit any energy to theIsrael – Palestinian peace process any time soon.. With the American electioncoming up and the Palestinians still unable to come together as a unified politicalentity, the peace process has gone to the bottom of the Presidential priorities list.Not only is at the bottom of this year’s list but according to David Horovitz writing inThe Times of Israel it may very well remain on the “Things to Do Later” list well intothe Obama second term if, indeed, he is re-elected. Horovitz writes, “The Obamaadministration, both Israeli and Palestinian leaders have concluded in the last fewdays, is deferring its hitherto intensive efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peaceagreement until after this November’s US presidential elections, at the earliest.The administration will remain engaged, the two sides understand, and it remainsconcerned at the potential for frictions on the ground to spiral out of control. But ithas internalized that the gulf between the sides, and the complex realities in theregion — with Arab states in ferment and Iran closing in on the bomb – meansubstantive progress is highly improbable.If he is re-elected in November, Obama may still not feel that he is in a position touse maximal leverage to seek progress, both sides further recognize; the post-election political realities may require greater compromise in all areas with theRepublicans, who will be averse to heavy pressure on Israel. Thus, say officials onboth sides, a new Obama-led push toward an accommodation — and toward aPalestinian state based on the parameters he set out in that State Departmentspeech — may not be feasible until the second half of a second Obama term. And,they add, who knows how circumstances in the region will have changed by then?With the U.S. removing itself from the arbiter role, my guess is that the Palestinianswill continue to push internationally for UN membership though I’m not sure wherethat will get them. The Israelis with the Iranian nuclear situation to worry about will 9
  10. 10. continue to strengthen and continue their building projects in the West Bank and tryto put with the continuing rocketing from Gaza without a second full blown invasion.However, if the radicals continue the terrorist activity a greater military responsemight yet come to pass.In my introduction at the beginning of this edition I mentioned a new high levelmeeting next week. Perhaps something will come of it. However, I’m not betting thefamily farm on it. We’ll see what happens.If you wish to read the Horovitz article click here. http://www.timesofisrael.com/a-us-push-for-peace-not-this-year-and-maybe-not-next-year-either/WHO IS A JEW?There is much intermarriage in the Jewish community – marriage between Jews andnon-Jews. These couples have children. Are the kids Jewish? Answer: Not in allcases. Under Jewish religious law one is a Jew if one’s mother is a Jew (matrilinealdescent) or one undergoes an accepted conversion. If a child is the issue of a non-Jewish mother and a Jewish father, the child, in the Orthodox and Conservativecommunities is not considered Jewish.However, in 1983 the Reform Movement in the U.S., facing growing intermarriageand losses in membership decided to accept the children on Jewish fathers(patrilineal descent) as Jews if, indeed, they were brought up in the Jewish religion.The Orthodox and Conservatives refused to accept this (what was seen as) radicalchange in religious law as did even some of the Reform Jews.Obviously, this split has caused considerable confusion and a not a little bit oftrouble. Since Germany is governed religiously by Orthodox law the problem existsin Berlin, Germany as it does in Berlin, Connecticut.Naomi Zeveloff writing in The Jewish Daily Forward wrote, “Rachel Brook, a 29-year-old vocalist living in Brooklyn, was born to a Jewish Israeli father and a non-Jewish mother. After her parents divorced when she was 3, Brook was raised by herfather as a Jew in a Reform synagogue. Last year, she decided to apply to cantorialschool at the Academy for Jewish Religion, but because AJR doesn’t acceptstudents with only a Jewish father, Brook was told she would have to convert.The administrators at AJR, a non-denominational school in the Bronx, told Brookthat it was nothing personal. In order for its graduates to be accepted at Orthodoxand Conservative institutions, AJR had to follow the traditional standard of Jewishlaw, which maintains that Judaism is passed down through the mother. AJR allowedBrook to go before an all-female beit din, or Jewish court, for her conversionceremony. While converting ultimately felt meaningful, Brook bristled at the idea of 10
  11. 11. others like her being asked to undergo a similar process. “It’s not worth losing Jewsover,” she said.Now, as the first children born since the decision are beginning to have families oftheir own, patrilineal descent remains one of the most controversial decrees inAmerican Jewish history. As Jews today gravitate away from movement-basedworship and toward pluralistic venues, the resolution appears to be taking on newurgency.Depending on whom you ask, the Reform movement’s acceptance of patrilinealJews — predated by 15 years by the Reconstructionist movement — was either aboon to American Judaism or a harbinger of its demise. Officials in the Reformmovement, now the largest denomination in America, say that their decision openedthe door for mixed marrieds who were intent on raising their children as Jews. Butcritics from the Orthodox and Conservative movements, and even from withinReform Judaism itself, say that patrilineal acceptance has diluted the Jewishcommunity beyond recognition, giving rise to a generation of half-Jews with tenuousreligious ties.Furthermore, they contend that patrilineal acceptance drove a wedge through theheart of the Jewish community, creating competing definitions of what it means to bea Jew.There is much more to the story which you can access by clicking on the link below.Of course, there are good arguments on either side. However, the weight of decisionis on the Orthodox – Conservative side since Israel, like Germany and the othercountries in Europe, is ruled by Orthodox law. Are we facing a genuine schism? Notyet. However, there is a genuine problem. No one ever said it was easy to beJewish. Click here to read the entire story.http://forward.com/articles/154009/patrilineal-jews-still-find-resistance/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=The%20Forward%20Today%20%28Monday-Friday%29&utm_campaign=Daily_Newsletter_Mon_Thurs%202012-04-03OBAMA & THE JEWISH VOTEWe still have about seven months to go before the American election but thepollsters are out taking soundings on how various groups in the U.S. will vote inNovember. Though Jews are less than 2% of the population, they are (mostly)unequally distributed in just a few States (New York, California, Illinois & Florida) sohow they vote on Election Day might actually have some impact.In the 2008 election then candidate Barack Obama received about 78% of theJewish vote. He will not do as well in 2012 but he still stands to get about two-thirdsof the Jewish votes cast. 11
  12. 12. Nathan Guttman writing in The Jewish Daily Forward notes, “With the battle over theJewish vote in full swing, a new poll suggests that Democrats have little reason forconcern: Jews are firmly in President Obama’s corner.And the reason, the poll suggests, has nothing to do with Obama’s views on Israelor Iran. It is all about the economy and social justice.The reason for Democrats’ strong showing in the poll, which was released April 3,lies in deeply rooted views of American Jews on social issues, including traditionalliberal stances on improving the economy and reducing the gap between rich andpoor.“Whoever wants to appeal to Jewish voters has to go through social values,” saidRobert Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, the not-for-profit,nonpartisan organization that conducted the survey. “Our poll shows that you cannotappeal to these voters through the single issue of Israel.”For Democrats, the main takeaway from the poll was Obama’s tight hold on Jewishvoters, virtually identical to his standing in the community in a poll taken in June2008.“This is where I’d expect him to be, so I think he’s in a strong position” saidDemocratic pollster Jim Gerstein, who predicted that Obama will add to his leadonce the GOP chooses its candidate.Not so, argued Matthew Brooks, executive director of the Republican JewishCoalition. He said that Obama should be at or near the 78% of the Jewish vote thathe won in the 2008 election.“This shows Obama has a real Jewish problem,” Brooks said.The survey showed that 62% of Jewish voters planned to support Obama in theNovember election, compared with 30% who said they will vote for one of the fourRepublican candidates.In June 2008, a Gallup poll showed Obama with a 62% to 31% lead overRepublican John McCain. Obama extended the lead to reach a 78% to 21% marginby November of that year.One of the new poll’s most pronounced findings was the very small number ofJewish voters who had lost their faith in Obama. According to the poll, just 7% ofJews who voted for Obama in 2008 now prefer a Republican candidate. 12
  13. 13. While much of the political debate within the Jewish community has centered inrecent months on the issue of Israel and on Obama’s relations with the Jewish state,the poll suggested that the issue was overblown. It backed up previous poll datashowing that Jewish voters did not view Israel as a deciding factor when voting forpresident.A majority of 51% pointed to the economy as the issue most important to their vote,followed by gaps between rich and poor (15%), health care (10%) and the federaldeficit (7%). Only 4% of Jewish voters said Israel was the most important issue forthem when deciding who should get their vote. Even when asked to name theirsecond-most-important issue, Jewish voters gave the issue of Israel only marginalimportance.The data would suggest that the Republicans’ focus on attacking both Obama’srecord on Israel and his troubled relations with Israeli Prime Minister BenjaminNetanyahu was having little, if any, traction.Even conservative pundits concede that Jewish voters are swayed more bydomestic issues, and the voters may be particularly sensitive to GOP candidates’conservative rhetoric.“Concerns about Obama and Israel have been trumped by the right-wing languageof Republican candidates,” said Frank Luntz, a Fox News contributor andRepublican pollster. “The Jewish community is looking at the fight over abortionsand contraceptives and religion, and they don’t like it.”Polls and opinions change so I am not so sure that Pres. Obama will be able to getback to the 78% he received in 2008. It is probably true that once the Republicansagree on a candidate there will be more focus and the feelings of Jewish votersmight change especially if the candidate (probably Mitt Romney) is perceived asvery conservative.In addition, I’m not all sure that the 4% importance rating those surveyed gave toIsrael. I have the feeling (without scientific grounding) that the future of Israel rates alot higher. Much depends on how the survey was worded.In any case, we have a long way to go until November. I’ll be updating you as wemove along.************************************************************************************************See you again in a few weeks.DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted byclicking hereBoth the American and Germany editions are posted at 13
  14. 14. www.dubowdigest.typepad.comClick here to connect 14

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