The Blog

Obama's Jewish Problem

7:57 PM, Mar 25, 2008 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

How close is Obama's church, and his former Pastor of 20 years, to Minister Farrakhan? Well, just months before Oprah endorsed Obama, the Church saw fit to publish an open letter by Ali Baghdadi, Farrakhan's Middle East adviser, to America's richest woman in advance of her trip to Israel with Elie Wiesel:

I must tell you that Israel was the closest ally to the White Supremacists of South Africa. In fact, South Africa allowed Israel to test its nuclear weapons in the ocean off South Africa. The Israelis were given a blank check: they could test whenever they desired and did not even have to ask permission. Both worked on an ethnic bomb that kills Blacks and Arabs.

Arabs have always supported the dismantling of this racist government. In 1962, African-Arab Sudan granted Mandela a passport to travel with to gain international support in his struggle to free his people. Libya, among other Arab states, provided Mandela and other African liberation movements, political as well as material support. As a result, Libya was designated by the White House as a terrorist rogue state. What a great honor!

Earlier today Matthew Yglesias noted Obama's lackluster performance among Jewish Democratic primary voters, a bloc that favors Clinton by a margin of 5 points. This even though, as Yglesias says, Jews "mostly fit into the upscale "wine track" category of Democrats in which Obama is doing well and historically Jewish voters have supported reformist liberals of Obama's ilk." Of course, Yglesias draws precisely the wrong conclusion from this--that "the attacks on him over Israel and some of the smear campaigns have had some effect."

If one assumes that the 'typical Jewish person,' as Obama might put it, is in the upscale "wine track," then it follows that that person is likely to be well informed on the issues--even if he or she is, in the event, unable to properly operate a voting machine. There is no reason to think that they are ignorant, and more to the point, there is no reason to think that the questions about Obama's disposition towards Jews and Israel are part of some smear campaign. Look at the people he surrounds himself with. Gen. McPeak, despite being summarily cleared of anti-Semitism by Marc Ambinder, has said the type of things that may give pause to the Jewish voter, particularly those who have some attachment to Israel. And Obama spent nearly $30,000 in just two years to subsidize the distribution of this type of anti-Semitic garbage in his own church bulletin.

Obama has a Jewish problem, whether or not it's merely guilt by association is irrelevant. Politics is about perception, and the perception is that Obama's one step removed from the Nation of Islam. If he wants to get the anti-Semitic stench of Trinity United off his campaign, it's going to take more than the all-clear from Marc Ambinder and Marty Peretz.