Jewish Democrats Ready Push for Obama

Aim To Focus on Social Issues and Israel To Swing Tight Vote

Road to Charlotte: President Barack Obama campaigned in Ohio as Democrats gather to nominate him for reelection.
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Road to Charlotte: President Barack Obama campaigned in Ohio as Democrats gather to nominate him for reelection.

By Nathan Guttman

Published September 04, 2012, issue of September 07, 2012.
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The real push will come right after the convention wraps up, when activists fan out to swing states with large Jewish populations. Simas offered a list of talking points which the campaign believes highlight Obama’s achievements in his first term: Healthcare reform, ending the war in Iraq and setting a timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan, education, fair pay for women, environment, clean energy, immigration, LGBT rights, women’s health and support for the middle class.

Obama’s record on Israel, according to Ira Forman, national Jewish outreach director for the Obama campaign, should be the first issue raised in conversation with Jewish swing voters. But after mentioning Obama’s support for Israel’s security, surrogates and activists were urged to move on to domestic issues, where Democrats feel they have the edge when it comes to priorities of Jewish voters.

Helping out with the effort to counter Republican attacks regarding Obama and Israel is a new and somewhat lengthy video which praises the president’s support for Israel.

Democrats are also aware of the fact that their convention comes at a time when tensions between Obama and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu are reaching a new high, with both sides taking opposite views regarding a possible Israeli pre-emptive attack against Iran. Republican candidate Mitt Romney alluded to these differences in his acceptance speech in which he accused Obama of “throwing Israel under the bus” only to be met by an angry vice president Joe Biden who described Romney as wishing to take America to war.

Wasserman Schultz, speaking to Jewish activists at the convention, echoed Biden’s sentiments, saying that while all options for dealing with Iran are on the table, America is a “war-weary nation” and should refrain from “bellicose” remarks and from “chest beating.”

In an uncharacteristically passionate address to Jewish activists, Alan Solow, former chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations and a close friend of Obama, urged them to fight hard for every vote. He spoke out against what many Jews refer to the “kishkes factor,” the Yiddish term for gut feeling, that elusive sentiment that still makes some Jewish voters suspicious about Obama, the nation’s first black president.

“I really resent the kishkes question,” Solow said. “It reflects the kind of double standard our community should be ashamed of.”


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