For decades American Jews, like an abused spouse in a marriage, have kept going back to the Democrats, regardless of how much abuse they continue to get. But maybe Barack Obama has finally gone too far:
“I don’t think he’s pro-Israel,” Tisch says, voicing the suspicions of many. “I think the president comes to this from Jeremiah Wright’s church, and there’s no doubt in my mind that in Jeremiah Wright’s church, the Palestinians were portrayed as freedom fighters and not as terrorists.”
Tisch adds the flap is bound to influence the traditionally Democratic Jewish electorate, nearly 80 percent of which voted for Obama in 2008. “Now for the first time, there are a significant number of people in the organized Jewish community that feel that the president has gone too far,” Tisch says. It will be interesting to watch “what happens to the president’s approval rating among Jewish voters. I think this could really be an important point of demarcation for Jewish public opinion of the president.”
Other wealthy Jewish New Yorkers, who are active in the pro-Israel cause as well as Democratic Party politics, agree the issue could depress Jewish support for Democrats next November.
“Obama has done zero favors for the Democratic candidates in 2010,” says a prominent Democratic fundraiser who, like most of Jewish activists who spoke for this story, was unwilling to go on the record. “I know a lot of historical Democrats who are big check-writers and even bundlers, who have told me that until things settle down they have no interest in helping any Democrats.”
Another politically active Jewish billionaire confirms this assessment. “I think anyone writing a check now is doing it with shaking fingers,” this man says. “Not only is Obama is changing the nature of our relationship with Israel, he is pushing through health care legislation that will cost everybody more money, he is demonizing Wall Street and the ‘big fat cats,’ attacking people who gave a lot of money to the Democrats and their candidates for Congress and the presidential race. So this latest thing is the third strike.”
More and more rubes, like David Brooks, are figuring out who the rubes were.
Unfortunately, if history is any guide, once things “settle down,” they’ll go back for another beating.