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With friends like these ... (ISRAEL HAYOM OP-ED) Richard Baehr 04/03/12)Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=1671 Israel Hayom Israel Hayom Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Last week, several people emailed me a Huffington Post article written by a longtime Democratic operative from Chicago who has spent much of the last two years singing the praises of U.S. President Barack Obama, especially when it comes to Israel. The same author has in the past sent out emails featuring long lists of alleged evidence to support the claim that Obama has not only been a great friend of Israel, but has in many ways been better for Israel than any president before him. This “evidence” has been incorporated into emails from other Obama supporters and widely circulated in an effort to stem the tide of defections among the president’s Jewish supporters from 2008, who might be wavering in 2012.

While Jews make up barely 2 percent of all Americans, due to their higher median age and higher voter participation rates, Jews make up 2.5 to 3% of all voters. On the other hand, America’s Jewish population is concentrated in states that are not expected to be competitive in the 2012 presidential race. Six states -- New York, California, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts and Illinois -- contain almost two-thirds of the Jewish population in the U.S., and all are safe Democratic states. Of the “battleground states” that would decide a close election – Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Virginia, Nevada, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania - only three have Jewish populations greater than the national average: Florida (3.4%), Nevada (2.8%) and Pennsylvania (2.3%).

Despite this, the competition for Jewish votes is intense. Obama won 78% of Florida’s Jewish vote in 2008 (the same percentage that year’s exit polls estimated on the national level). If the Republican candidate could reduce that to 65% in 2012, that could translate into a net shift of more than 100,000 votes in this one key state, with 29 Electoral College votes at stake. As recent history has shown, Florida has been decided by a lot less than 100,000 votes in recent presidential elections.

With Passover arriving on Friday night, the latest offering by the author of the Huffington Post article was an attempt (pretty feeble, if satire was the goal) to create a new Republican Haggadah.

If you like lame, you won’t find much that is lamer than this:

“After drinking the first cup of wine, most Jews wash their hands, but the Republicans stay seated and wait for the water to trickle down. Most Jews then eat a green vegetable, but the Republican Haggadah follows the ruling of Rabbi Reagan that ketchup qualifies as a vegetable. Ketchup is not green, but green is the last thing any Republican would want to be. (Reagan does have this in common with Moses: Neither ever set foot in the land of Israel.) Next we break the middle of the three matzot. Most Jews break the middle matzah into two roughly equal pieces, replacing the smaller piece on the Seder plate and hiding the larger piece as the afikoman. The Republican Haggadah asks the leader (or in Republican parlance, the Seder CEO) to keep 99 percent of the matzah for himself and let the other participants share the remaining 1 percent.”

If you are not doubled over with mirth at this point, read on.

The important part of the Haggadah article came further on, and was a new version of “Dayenu,” full of the oft repeated list of all the great achievements and efforts of the president for Israel, with this response added after each:

“But that is not enough for our Republican friends.”

Sadly, for the “Obama loves Israel” defenders, some events from the last week have made their narrative a lot harder to sell. Even before last week, various polls had shown that Obama’s approval rating within the Jewish community was way down from 2008. Of course, Obama’s approval rating is way down among all groups, except African Americans, suggesting that the 2012 will be a lot closer than that of 2008. Concern among the Obama team about a reduction in contributions from American Jews, and his dropping approval scores, have led to strategy sessions on how to once again secure the Jewish vote, and prompted new Jewish outreach hires. Clearly the proliferation of articles and lists about Obama’s great deeds will be part of the message.

At the same time, opponents of Obama, and especially those who do not trust the president’s alleged support for Israel, have been compiling lists of their own. These include (only in part):

• The harsh public criticism of Israel on settlements, including within east Jerusalem (with demands that were new from an American president).

• The pressure on Congress to delay passing new sanctions in 2009 against Iran (to allow diplomacy to fail miserably first).

• The resistance against new Congressional sanctions on Iran in the last few months with a demand for waivers and further delays in implementation (for Obama, the political price of higher gas prices at the pump clearly outweigh applying more pressure on Iran).

• The public call for a return to the 1967 lines as the basis for land swaps between Israel and the Palestinians.

• The president’s seeming boycott of visits to Israel, as he regularly jets around the region visiting Muslim countries, some of them multiple times.

• The repudiation of a letter from former President George W. Bush to Israel’s former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon before the Gaza withdrawal.

• The at times disrespectful and cold treatment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan was showered with praise almost in proportion to his level of Israel bashing.

A 30-minute video, “Distance: The Story of Obama and Israel,” was released by the Emergency Committee for Israel and provides a lot more ammunition to support the list above.

Two events last week almost certainly created new problems for Obama’s Jewish defense team. First came the “open microphone” comment by Obama to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, with a “message to Vladimir [Putin]” on how things would be different in Obama’s second term when he had more flexibility (in other words, he could give away the store on missile defense in Europe much more easily).

How might this flexibility affect Israel’s supporters in the U.S., and Israel itself, once the president is elected to a second term and does not need to raise anymore money from the Jewish community or secure their votes for future elections?

The second issue concerned the almost totally clueless “deer in the headlights” comments by State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on the status of Jerusalem. After losing a court battle (which the administration sought) about whether an American could list Jerusalem, Israel, as his place of birth on his passport, the State Department was forced to erase and reissue an itinerary for a visit by State Department officials to a list of Middle East locations, including “Jordan, Israel and Jerusalem.” In the rewrite, the list appeared as “Amman, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.” Then, to top it off, the spokeswoman argued that all of Jerusalem was disputed territory, and none of it, including west Jerusalem, was considered by the State Department as part of Israel http://www.carolineglick.com/e/2012/03/the-state-departments- jerusale.php . Here we see some of the flexibility that we can expect more of beginning in 2013 -- ignoring acts of Congress when they do not please nations the president deems important to please -- and Israel is not one of them.

So far, Obama’s water carriers in the Jewish community have not yet issued a response to either event from last week. What we can be sure of is that when they do, they will find a way to argue that these things are just more evidence of how the president loves Israel and has its back, and always will. They might also add that two plus two equals five, except when it equals three. Dayenu.


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