‘Politico’ says Jewish Democratic donors may abandon Obama, though they like Dennis Ross

Israel/Palestine
on 24 Comments

Lest you doubt the strength of the Israel lobby, here’s a long report at Politico by Ben Smith undermining Obama on Israel inside the Democratic Party– despite efforts by Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Ed Rendell to save the day. Obama is “losing the faith” of Jewish Democratic donors, Smith ventures, and then strings together the usual ultra-Zionist statements of fidelity to Israel from party activists.

The piece demonstrates the conservatism of Jewish Democrats on this issue– these are people opposed to dividing Jerusalem, though they’d never want to live there– the importance of Jewish money to the Democratic Party, and also the reason there’s been no Palestinian state for 64 years since it was promised, because American Jews with access are against it, and now have a fresh set of fears (Hamas) with which to attack the idea. Not a word here about the fearful Christian Zionists. No, on the Democratic side, the lobby is Jewish and wealthy. Also, notice how important the presence in the White House of Dennis Ross is to these Israel-backers, a policymaker who cares about Israel. Smith excerpts:

If several dozen interviews with POLITICO are any indication, a similar conversation is taking place in Jewish communities across the country. Obama’s speech last month seems to have crystallized the doubts many pro-Israel Democrats had about Obama in 2008 in a way that could, on the margins, cost the president votes and money in 2012 and will not be easy to repair.

“It’s less something specific than that these incidents keep on coming,” said Ainsman.

The immediate controversy sparked by the speech was Obama’s statement that Israel should embrace the country’s 1967 borders, with “land swaps,” as a basis for peace talks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seized on the first half of that phrase and the threat of a return to what Israelis sometimes refer to as “Auschwitz borders.”…

Most of those interviewed were center-left American Jews and Obama supporters — and many of them Democratic donors. On some core issues involving Israel, they’re well to the left of Netanyahu and many Americans: They refer to the “West Bank,” not to “Judea and Samaria,” fervently supported the Oslo peace process and Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and believe in the urgency of creating a Palestinian state.

But they are also fearful for Israel at a moment of turmoil in a hostile region when the moderate Palestinian Authority is joining forces with the militantly anti-Israel Hamas….

Some of these traditional Democrats now say, to their own astonishment, that they’ll consider voting for a Republican in 2012. And many of those who continue to support Obama said they find themselves constantly on the defensive in conversations with friends….

Even Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who spoke to POLITICO to combat the story line of Jewish defections, said she’d detected a level of anxiety in a recent visit to a senior center in her South Florida district…

“There’s an inclination in the community to not trust this president’s gut feel on Israel and every time he sets out on a path that’s troubling you do get this ‘ouch’ reaction from the Jewish Community because they’re distrustful of him,” said the president of a major national Jewish organization, who declined to be quoted by name to avoid endangering his ties to the White House…

Now [Cleveland lawyer Scott] Matasar says he’s appalled by Obama’s “rookie mistakes and bumbling” and the reported marginalization of a veteran peace negotiator, Dennis Ross, in favor of aides who back a tougher line on Netanyahu. He’s the most pro-Obama member of his social circle but is finding the president harder to defend.

“He’d been very ham-handed in the way he presented [the 1967 border announcement] and the way he sprung this on Netanyahu,” Matasar said.

A Philadelphia Democrat and pro-Israel activist, Joe Wolfson, recalled a similar progression.

“What got me past Obama in the recent election was Dennis Ross — I heard him speak in Philadelphia and I had many of my concerns allayed,” Wolfson said. “Now, I think I’m like many pro-Israel Democrats now who are looking to see whether we can vote Republican.”..

A top-dollar Washington fundraiser aimed at Jewish donors in Miami last week raised more than $1 million from 80 people, and while one prominent Jewish activist said the DNC had to scramble to fill seats, seven-figure fundraisers are hard to sneer at.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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24 Responses

  1. lysias
    June 29, 2011, 11:20 am

    Got to keep Obama on tenterhooks, just in case he might stray from the party line. Especially with the second flotilla about to sail.

  2. Donald
    June 29, 2011, 11:58 am

    “Most of those interviewed were center-left American Jews and Obama supporters — and many of them Democratic donors. On some core issues involving Israel, they’re well to the left of Netanyahu and many Americans”

    “Some of these traditional Democrats now say, to their own astonishment, that they’ll consider voting for a Republican in 2012. ”

    These people are insane. This makes no sense at all, even from a liberal Zionist perspective, unless of course the “liberal” aspect is mostly a self-serving facade. I can’t wrap my head around this. The Republicans are embracing their far-right lunatic fringe on every issue and because Obama isn’t quite as much of a bootlicker as they’d like him to be, they might vote for a Republican.

  3. iamuglow
    June 29, 2011, 12:01 pm

    I/P is a perfect example of how democracy in America works. Both parties could give, pardon the English, fck all what a majority of Americans want, while trip over each other pandering to the few voters with $$$. This is democracy? Nah, it aint.

  4. seafoid
    June 29, 2011, 12:04 pm

    it is time to call the Jewish leaders’ bluff.
    Do a cost benefit analysis of what the US gets for such tainted support.

  5. Woody Tanaka
    June 29, 2011, 12:15 pm

    Anyone who thinks that the Obama administration isn’t too much in the bag for Israel really needs to have his head examined. Anyone who thinks that and calls himself a liberal or progressive needs to be locked up in a padded room.

    • seafoid
      June 29, 2011, 4:32 pm

      This is worth reading in full

      link to nybooks.com

      “In appointing a new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Obama passed over the person who was said to have been his first choice, General James Cartwright, the former vice-chairman of JCOS: a skeptic on Afghanistan who had become a trusted adviser of the President. He has appointed instead General Martin Dempsey, who had served as head of Tradoc (Training and Doctrine Command for American ground forces). The Israeli newspaper Haaretz devoted a June 1 article to the appointment of Dempsey under the headline: “Obama’s New Security Staff May Approve Attack on Iran.” The author of the article, the military correspondent Amir Oren, finds it significant that Dempsey has studied closely the operations of the Israeli Defense Forces, and that he worked at Tradoc with an IDF liaison officer. This appointment can stand as the first of many footnotes to the encounter, in late May 2011, between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu”

      Bibi and the Lobby are going to bring disaster to the Jewish people. Americans are eventually going to wake up. Zionism is not going to go gently into that good night.

      • Woody Tanaka
        June 29, 2011, 7:02 pm

        I don’t have any great hopes for the American people. The average American is a fucking idiot – a religion-addled, functionally illiterate, bigot.

      • seafoid
        June 30, 2011, 3:40 am

        Zionists play the same role in the US as the Alawis in syria.
        You have a small, well connected group of outsiders effectively running the show.
        Bibi has Obama around his little finger. It can’t end well.

        link to nybooks.com

        “Mainstream Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, regarded them as ghulta, “exaggerators.” Like other sectarian groups they protected their tradition by a strategy known as taqiyya—the right to hide one’s true beliefs from outsiders in order to avoid persecution. Taqiyya makes a perfect qualification for membership in the mukhabarat—the ubiquitous intelligence/security apparatus that has dominated Syria’s government for more than four decades.

        Secrecy was also observed by means of a complex system of initiation, in which insiders recognized each other by using special phrases or passwords and neophytes underwent a form of spiritual marriage with the naqibs, or spiritual guides

        It does not take much imagination to see how such beliefs, programmed into the community’s values for more than a millennium, and reinforced by customs such as endogamous marriage—according to which the children of unions between Nusayris and non-Nusayris cannot be initiated into the sect—create very strong notions of apartness and disdain for the “Other.”

    • Abierno
      June 29, 2011, 4:48 pm

      With the exception of Mike Huckabee, we hear great praise for Israel from
      Bachman, Pawlenty et. al. but no real information on their position
      regarding setting boundaries for Israel, although they assent to their
      support for Israel as a Jewish state. Is the unspoken corollary, voiced
      by Mr. Huckabee that the Palestianians need to be moved out of all of
      Israel into a “Muslin” country? Given that Israel is the first stop in a
      foreign land for most presidential candidates (as well as Eric Cantor’s
      meeting with Netanyhu here), what promises have been made to Prime
      Minister Netanyhu and others? If the tacit promise were all of Judea and
      Samaria or virtually all of Judea and Samaria with all the natural resources,
      would it not be the case that Jewish donors would be more willing to fund
      Republicans? Would this knowledge significantly pressure Obama’s
      foreign policy toward Israel?

      • Woody Tanaka
        June 29, 2011, 7:03 pm

        All of their positions essentially amount to “The Jews get to live there until King Jesus comes back; don’t bother me with the specifics.”

  6. Dan Crowther
    June 29, 2011, 12:19 pm

    Barry and the O’s are really sticking it to Israel. I mean, if the president was really interested in keeping Israel as the regional hegemon, he’d be doing things like attacking Libya and Yemen while also allowing the Syrians to kill their own people; he’d allow Israel to fire on unarmed protestors, He’d have the state department issue warnings to americans involved in the upcoming flotilla, he would put additional troops and naval vessels in the Med and the Gulf…..oh wait, he’s already done all that? Sheeeit.

  7. Bill in Maryland
    June 29, 2011, 12:22 pm

    Obama has repeatedly signaled his weakness to the Lobby/ Netanyahu, caving on the settlements, etc., now he is stuck and must “dance to their tune”. Sad, very sad. Just hope they don’t now raise the ante by making him free Pollard or attack Iran to prove his bona fides.

  8. eGuard
    June 29, 2011, 12:38 pm

    The title of the piece is Obama may be losing the faith of Jewish Democrats. It does not cover the content: it should say “losing the money”. Another weasel title, for the reader to solve.

  9. GalenSword
    June 29, 2011, 1:18 pm

    If racist Zionist political donors defect to the Republicans, Zionists loose all power over the Democratic Party. American democracy could be redeemed.

  10. radii
    June 29, 2011, 1:46 pm

    Obama doesn’t slavishly kow-tow to every israeli demand as fast is israel likes and so now they ramp up the pressure on him to perform faster and do 100% of what they want, not just 98%

  11. American
    June 29, 2011, 3:57 pm

    Well, I am taking a fatalistic approach to the Dems-Repubs-Israel-AIPAC tug of war.
    Both parties have been corrupted by this, both are complicit in I/P and Israel support….about the only difference is the Dems might be less militaristic about Iran…might be, not for sure.
    What I think is –that the fatal ‘last straw’ for the US-Isr alleigence will come faster under the Repubs and be more long drawn out under the Dems buteventually come all the same.
    My reason for this is a belief that Israel is not going to change under either party. Both parties have empowered the lobby and Israel to the point where they believe that there is absolutely nothing they can’t demand and get away with, there are no limits for them.
    Like the zio interviewed the other day who said basically America ‘should and would’ have to ‘take a hit’ for Israel’s sake.

    So with either party, and given the nature of the zios and Israel, it’s just a matter of time until this occurs.

  12. Les
    June 29, 2011, 6:19 pm

    Published 20:13 29.06.11
    Latest update 20:13 29.06.11

    U.S. Senate passes resolution threatening to suspend aid to Palestinians
    Resolution 185 calls on Palestinians to halt bid for unilateral recognition at UN, calls on Obama to veto September vote.

    Published 20:13 29.06.11
    Latest update 20:13 29.06.11

    link to haaretz.com

    “Resolution 185, co-sponsored by 87 Senator, states the two-state solution as the official U.S. policy for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and also calls for a review of the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.

    It also calls for the Palestinian unity government to ‘publicly and formally forswear terrorism, accept Israel’s right to exist, and reaffirm previous agreements made with the Government of Israel.’”

    • Woody Tanaka
      June 29, 2011, 7:04 pm

      It’s a non-binding resolution. It’s a PR move that has no force of law whatsoever.

  13. optimax
    June 29, 2011, 9:55 pm

    For some reason I thought this was worth sharing. It’s short.

    link to happyplace.com

    It shows how slick some politicians are–and yes he happens to be Jewish.

    • Elliot
      June 29, 2011, 11:55 pm

      He could have made the point he wanted to make easily by just appearing side by side with his Asian wife.
      I know I’m gonna come across as insensitive but if there was a similar ad of a Jewish psychologist/social worker/doctor or Hassidic diamond trader – all stereotypical professions – I would not have found those offensive.
      I’m curious what the Asian community’s response to the ad was. That’s what counts.

    • annie
      June 30, 2011, 1:31 am

      that was strange.

  14. optimax
    June 29, 2011, 9:58 pm

    If the video doesn’t work, click youtbe and watch it there.

  15. dbroncos
    June 29, 2011, 11:42 pm

    Astonishing. Obama repeats the same mistakes over and over: He explains what his policy positions are (sort of) and expects his opponents to make constructive suggestions as part of reaching a consensus. In every major show down, all of his opponents have pissed in his face and left him holding the bag. Remember the bankers who couldn’t make it to his mandatory meeting at the White House? The insurance giants who agreed to play ball with his health care plan just before they ran ads about Obamacare “death panels”? and in these times of “shared sacrifice” he concedes tax breaks for the rich to Republicans who gave him nothing in return. Time and again Obama expects courtesy and respect from people who are willing to go to the mat in a smack-down death match.

    His approach to the Israel Lobby follows the same pattern. He offers a mild critique of Israeli policy and gets his face pissed all over by Netanyahu and Israel’s staunch supporters. He backs down and changes his tune at the AIPAC conference (too much DNC $ at stake). He offers them “yes” for an answer but now it’s too late -they’re no longer taking “yes” for an answer. And why should they? They know he’s weak so why not twist his arm to get even more concessions (free J. Pollard)? The man is out of his depth. His opponents are running circles around him. They know he’ll never go whole hog to win a fight because he doesn’t know how to win on this stage, at this level and he’s too afraid of losing.

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