Politics & Media
Apr 28, 2008, 07:20AM

Obama's Jewish Problem Exaggerated

This thorough article breaks down how a few passionate voices can distort the media perception of Barack Obama's relationship with a key Democratic constituency: America's Jewish voters.

"Obama’s relationship with Wright has raised questions about whether Obama can count on the Jewish vote should he become the Democratic nominee. A host of earlier issues had already raised doubts about the Illinois senator for many Jewish voters. They took note that Obama expressed a willingness to meet with leaders of Iran without preconditions -- though these leaders have called for the destruction of Israel; that he expressed sympathy for Palestinians; that his foreign-policy advisers include former Carter National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and former Clinton National Security Adviser Anthony Lake, as well as other experts perceived as pro-Palestinian. Obama's long association with Wright seemed to validate all these earlier suspicions, and demonstrate to some Jews -- and several leading political pundits -- that Obama isn't fully pro-Israel.

But that doesn't tell the whole story. While these conservative Jewish groups have relentlessly criticized Obama and pointed to his poll numbers leveling off after the Wright controversy as evidence of Obama's electability problems with Jewish voters, there is little evidence that Jews have fled Obama in the Pennsylvania primary. These conservative groups could still play a significant role in the general election, influencing Jewish voters in swing states like Florida, Michigan and Ohio should Obama be the nominee. They undoubtedly will try to do this. But political experts agree that they represent a very small percentage of Jews. Most Jewish voters, they say, would remain a part of Obama's well-educated, affluent and liberal base.



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