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51st: Two Jews, Three Synagogues UPDATE

Barack Obama did himself no favors yesterday at the UN. He lost both his integrity and good chunks of the Jewish vote (along with the votes of many others). He heightened divisions in the Jewish community over the United States' unstinting support of Israel's seizure of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.Scanning reactions today, it looks to me like Jews on the Left are appalled; Jews on the Right are gleeful. There's a good chance the Left will sit at home in November 2012 and, in spite of Obama's pandering, the right will go for the Republican presidential candidate.The Palestinians have good reason to be deeply disappointed, but if they're lucky, the peace process will pass from American hands and be taken up by others with more brains and more integrity."Obama speech was shattering to liberal Zionists."Kiss of death: "Lieberman Praises Obama's UN General Assembly Speech."UPDATE and a few more items of interest: "Obama sold Israel Bunker-Buster Bombs." And a man who knows peace talks has this to say: Bill Clinton: Netanyahu isn't interested in Mideast peace deal.Henry Seligman always an incisive commentator on these matters has this to say: "The American insistence on aborting the Palestinians initiative and returning them to a peace process in which their fate remains dependent on Israel is shameful. It stains Americas honor. It will not succeed, for the Palestinian decision to defy the American demand is itself a declaration of independence; that genie cannot be returned to the bottle."Quasi-wonky but worth a read: "The Future of the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership" a study from CSIS that has the virtue of being honest about the issues. Available for download.

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Peggy, I'm not sure this makes sense, since Jews make up a tiny fraction of the electorate. "The Jewish vote" doesn't matter in terms of winning or losing national elections, and it seems likely that Obama actually strengthened his sagging ratings among all Jews. Christians, especially of the Evangelical and Zionist variety, are the real target here. That's where the votes are, and that's where the support for Israel (and opposition to Muslims) comes from. No?

Margaret, here's a little op-ed piece worth reading.http://www.tnr.com/article/world/95020/un-palestine-israel-security-coun... don't throw it into the trash before giving it at least two glances and one attempt at empathy.

A NY Times article today says that despite Republican efforts to gain more Jewish votes, Obama remains popular with Jews, who continue to be more supportive of him than American voters in general. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/23/us/politics/jewish-voters-and-presiden...

David G..."The Jewish vote doesnt matter in terms of winning or losing national elections, and it seems likely that Obama actually strengthened his sagging ratings among all Jews." The graph in the Times story linked by Irene (above) says that Obama's ratings have not fallen as much among Jews as among all adult Americans; however, it shows that it has fallen from 84 percent to 54 percent among Jews. May be a temporary decline, but a big one that has the DNC deep into convincing Jewish constituents that Obama is pro-Israel, which he continues to prove that he is. The Jewish vote is an important factor in national elections because of the electoral vote, Florida often being cited as a state where that vote has a big influence. Ditto New York, Pennsylvania, Jersey, and probably Illinois. The Jewish community also contributes generously to the Democratic Party and its candidates. The DNC's hustling in recent weeks certainly underlines the importance of that support. So Jews may be a tiny fraction of the electorate but they have a big influence on elections.You know the evangelical world better than I, but the conservative, Zionist contingent didn't go for Obama in 2008, and I don't see them switching to him in 2012. What evidence do you have?

David Smith: From Halevi's TNR op ed: "But in the present atmosphere Jews should resist the temptation for self-blame. Apology is intended to heal. Yet those demanding apologies of Israel arent seeking reconciliation, but the oppositeto criminalize the Jewish state and rescind its right to defend itself."The piece is certainly heartfelt, but do you agree that his description of what is going on is very much his personal opinion? Netanyahu is making enemies of his neighbors and they are reciprocating. It is charming that you consider (per your comment on Peter Nixon's post) the TNR a "certified liberal" web-site; have you seen the certificate?

I hate to keep saying this but Clinton is correct: Bibi is the problem and our differences really don't make a major difference.

The piece is certainly heartfelt, but do you agree that his description of what is going on is very much his personal opinion?

It's all opinion, here and there. Conversations become heated only because we forget that :O)

Sometimes there are actual events that appear to be more than opinion: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-s-political-tsunami...

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About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.