Mideast Politics Tilt Queens to GOP. Next: Queens Tilts the Mideast

The Republican upset victory in the Brooklyn-Queens special election to replace ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner is obviously bad news for Democrats. But it has more far-reaching ramifications, most of them bad, according to this take by Haaretz’s new New York bureau chief, former CNN commentator and onetime Forward Jerusalem correspondent Chemi Shalev.

Shalev thinks there are plenty of reasons for Democrat David Weprin’s loss, including anger at Obama over the miserable economy and especially the influence of social issues among the district’s many conservative Catholics and Orthodox Jews. But Republicans are certain to package it big time the way former mayor Ed Koch pitched it, as a “message” to President Obama about his policies toward Israel. (Here’s what the Republican Jewish Coalition is saying the morning after.) And that could cause a heap of very real collateral trouble, Shalev says.

For one thing, there’s going to be a negative impact on Jews and pro-Israel advocacy within the larger American body politic.

Beyond that, it’s likely to increase tensions in the Middle East. Here’s where Shalev, for years one of Israel’s most respected diplomatic writers, gets most subtle and alarming:

Here is how the anti-gay Family Research Council has been spinning it: same sex marriage is the “only” reason Turner beat Weprin. Here is a shocked response on the Village Voice blog. Ben Smith at Politico does a good job here of weighing the various factors that played into the vote. Also Julie Bolcer in The Advocate does a good job here of teasing out the various issues, including the fact that the district’s Orthodox community leans more Modern Orthodox than Haredi, which suggests that Israel was a bigger issue than same sex marriage. But there are also secular, Conservative and Reform Jews, especially in Queens, and we don’t know how they voted. I’m told there were no exit polls, which means we may never know. That will leave the spinmeisters free to create whatever reality they want.

Written by

J.J. Goldberg

J.J. Goldberg

Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg is editor-at-large of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).

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Mideast Politics Tilt Queens to GOP. Next: Queens Tilts the Mideast

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