Sunday, October 12, 2008

Columnists Clash Over the Hearts and Minds of Jewish Voters

Over at the Jerusalem Post, Jonathan Rosenblum, who writes from the perspective of the fervently Orthodox Jewish community, examines the reasons for support of Obama from younger Jewish voters, and finds them wanting. He sees only danger in Obama's naive belief in the power of words when dealing with the enemies of both the United States and Israel, such as Hamas and the Iran. Commenting on the call from Jewish-American comedienne Sarah Silverman for young Jewish voters to travel to Florida to convince their grandparents ("Bubby and Zaide") to vote for Obama, he concludes:

So an Obama presidency would likely result in an Israel living within indefensible borders and in the crosshairs of a nuclear Iran. Bubbie and zaidie should tell their progeny that in Jewish tradition wisdom flows from the elders to young, not vice versa.

New Republic Editor Martin Peretz makes the case for Obama in another Jerusalem Post column, entitled "There Are Reasons Why There Are So Few Jewish Republicans." The respective arguments of the two Jewish writers make for an interesting comparison, and I encourage our readers to draw their own conclusions. However, my impression was that Mr. Peretz uncharacteristically engages in the ad hominem attacks that typify the Left; basically, he argues that Jews reject the GOP because it is, in his words, "the camp of ignorance and bias. It is against science; it is against tolerance; it is against egalitarian law; it is against the tradition of the prophets; it is against religious and intellectual liberty; it is hypocritical."

His basis for reassurance regarding Obama's support for Israel comes down to "Trust me [trust Peretz, not Obama]." Quoting Joe Biden, who said, "I would never, ever have joined this ticket were I not absolutely sure Barack Obama shared my passion [for Israel]," Peretz concludes, "That goes for me, too. And I'm a stickler on this, even a bit fanatical."

I actually do not doubt that both Joe Biden and Barack Obama believe that they have Israel's best interests at heart. The problem is, as Rosenberg points out, that good intentions are no substitution for bad policy. Bill Clinton no doubt thought that he had Israel's best interests at heart. As Rosenberg notes, "The last time an American president [Clinton] made solving the conflict a high priority, Israel ended up with the Aksa intifada and open warfare."


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