Earlier this month, Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan told The New York Times that the choice that Jewish voters had in the Dem primary was “almost an embarrassment of riches” and that they felt “a certain amount of distress that they have to choose between the two because they are both enormously appealing to the Jewish community.” 

Maybe Hirsch is talking only about Jews who live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
He certainly isn’t talking about those who belong to the Republican Jewish Coalition, for instance. 

Columnist Suzanne Fields is amongst those for whom “Hillary’s kiss for Yasser Arafat’s wife Suha in 1999, after she accused Israel of poisoning Palestinian women and children, is still fresh in the memory of many Jews.”

For his part, Barack Obama recently met with 100 Jewish leaders in Cleveland to assuage their concerns over “his record, relationships and religion to Jewish voters,” notes the Chicago Sun-Times. Here’s why:

† Obama’s choice of Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski – who once endorsed The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, the 2006 book by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, which argues that America’s national interests are not synonymous with Israel’s – as an informal advisor to his campaign “appear[s] to have struck a chord among some Jewish organizational leaders, in addition to worrying some grass-roots voters,” reports Jewish Exponent. 

† Obama’s pastor and spiritual advisor Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ has also caused consternation in the Jewish community. An article by John Perazzo published in Front Page Magazine spotlights Wright’s core beliefs and teachings: 

Wright detects what he views as racism in virtually every facet of American life. In the business world, for instance, he attributes the high unemployment rate of African Americans to “the fact that they are black.” … 

In Wright’s calculus, white America’s bigotry is to blame not only for whatever ills continue to plague the black community, but also for our country’s conflicts with other nations. … 

Apart from America’s purported racism, Wright also despises the nation’s capitalist economic structure, viewing it as a breeding ground for all manner of injustice. “Capitalism as made manifest in the ‘New World,'” says Wright, “depended upon slave labor (by African slaves), and it is only maintained by keeping the ‘Two-Thirds World’ under oppression.” … 

Many of Wright’s condemnations of America are echoed in his denunciations of Israel and Zionism, which he has blamed for imposing “injustice and … racism” on the Palestinians. According to Wright, Zionism contains an element of “white racism.” Likening Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to South Africa’s treatment of blacks during the apartheid era, Wright advocates divestment campaigns targeting companies that conduct business in, or with, Israel.

Given Wright’s obvious low regard for the U.S. and Israel, it is by no means surprising that he reserves some of his deepest respect for the virulently anti-American, anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. 

Regarding Wright’s contentious pronouncements, Obama said that there were some he agreed with and some he disagreed with. 

† On NBC’s “Meet the Press” this past Sunday, Ralph Nader, who threw his hat in the ring as an independent candidate for president, reminded viewers that Obama was “pro-Palestinian when he was in Illinois before he ran for the state Senate.” In a statement released by the Republican Jewish Coalition, the group’s executive director Matt Brooks said, “Ralph Nader added to the debate on Senator Obama’s views on Israel and the Middle East and raised serious doubts and questions about the true leanings of Senator Obama on these important issues.”

† Russert followed up by grilling Obama on being endorsed by Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan during the Dem debate between Obama and Hillary in Cleveland, OH:

Russert: Senator Obama, one of the things in the campaign is that you have to react to unexpected developments. On Sunday, the headline in your hometown paper, Chicago Tribune, “Louis Farrakhan Backs Obama for President at Nation of Islam Convention in Chicago.” Do you accept the support of Louis Farrakhan? 

Obama: You know, I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic comments. I think they are unacceptable and reprehensible. I did not solicit this support. He expressed pride in an African-American who seems to be bringing the country together. I obviously can’t censor him, but it is not support that I sought. And we’re not doing anything, I assure you, formally or informally with Minister Farrakhan.

Russert: Do you reject his support? 

Obama:  Well, Tim, I can’t say to somebody that he can’t say that he thinks I’m a good guy. You know, I have been very clear in my denunciations of him and his past statements. And I think that indicates to the American people what my stance is on those comments. 

Rep. Stephen I. Cohen (D-TN ) and other Jewish Obama supporters counter that Obama has vigorously fought anti-Semitism in the black community. And after meeting with Obama in Cleveland, Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun, a progressive Jewish magazine, said in a statement that “the innuendoes and overt attacks on his alleged hostility to or indifference to the well-being of Israel are false.”

Be that as it may, Perazzo concludes his article about Wright’s influence on Obama by urging, “every American voter to determine exactly where those agreements and disagreements lie.”

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog.

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