Chicago resident Pejman Yousefzadeh had an interesting piece yesterday in Tablet on Obama’s strained ties with the American Jewish community. According to Yousefzadeh, tensions between Obama and the Jewish community date back before his presidency, as “Obama also sought, while plotting his political ascent, to back away from past positions and statements that would not be well-received by the Jewish community.” As part of this effort, he told a Palestinian-American activist in 2004, “Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race.”
Yousefzadeh also goes through the familiar litany of Obama administration slights towards the Jewish community, including his sense that the administration’s snubs of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu “served to needlessly alienate” Israel. But Yousefzadeh adds another disturbing issue to the mix, as he takes Obama to task for being insufficiently hard on anti-Semitic statements from the left: “The inability or unwillingness of the Obama Administration to forcefully speak out against instances of anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party should also be a cause for concern.”
In sum, Yousefzadeh concludes that “no one should be surprised if, as a result of the Obama Administration’s policies and practices, the Democrats’ hold on the American Jewish component of its base is permanently damaged by an approach that evokes precious little of the enthusiasm that the community showed for him in 2008.”
I’m from the Show Me State when it comes to predictions that Jews will forswear their longstanding allegiance to the Democratic party, but Yousefzadeh certainly makes a good case that Jews should reconsider the 78 percent share of the Jewish vote they gave Obama in 2008.