President Obama’s May speech at the State Department in which he called for a return to the 1967 borders finally caught the (full) attention of the Jewish community. But let’s remember that Mr. Obama has been steadily prodding Israel since he arrived in the White House: his decision to use the aggressively anti-Israel United Nations as a stage for demanding an end to settlements, his objections to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and cancelling a presidential meeting with Netanyahu, for instance.
Sadly, however, many in the Jewish community ignored warning signs that Mr. Obama would not be a stalwart supporter of Israel throughout the 2008 presidential campaign. The fact is, many Jews who may have supported Obama’s more collectivist economic prescriptions, like the proposed healthcare overhaul, were unwilling to acknowledge that Israel was not a top priority for the president.
Hindsight is 20/20. But looking back Obama’s lack of commitment toward Israel was evident, not through speeches but through his choice of friends and advisors. It was no secret that Obama spent twenty years building a relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright; that he had ties to Rev. Pfleger, a defender of anti-Semitic statements made by Louis Farrakhan; that he attended celebrations for historian Rashid Khalidi, a staunch critic of US-Israeli relations; and that he maintained a slew of anti-Israel and/or anti-Semitic advisors on his campaign staff, including Zbigniew Brzezinski, General Tony McPeak, Robert Malley and former Congressman David Bonior.
Matt Brooks already did a great job reviewing Jewish voting records over the past three decades and explaining how changes in marginal support could be devastating to Democrats in 2012. The reality is, Democrats have been lucky up until now. But the time has come that they may have to start courting the Jewish vote again.