The little Jewish corner of the New Jersey delegation was hardly united in designation: two were delegates for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), two were for Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and one was an unpledged “superdelegate.”
They were united in opinion, however: The time had come to unify the party and back the presumptive nominee.
I asked the group what they expected from Clinton’s speech in a precious few minutes before ushers hustled me off the convention floor in Denver (reporters are allowed on the floor, but apparently are not permitted to report.)
“As a staunch and passionate supporter of Hillary Clinton, I have every confidence she will stress the importance of real change and the need to defeat John McCain,” said Steven Goldstein of Tenafly. (Clinton did, and judging from the reception, hit a home run.).
“We don’t want four more years of Republican rule,” agreed another Clinton delegate, Pat Sebold of Livingston. The others nodded in agreement.
After thinking a bit, Goldstein felt he needed to add a caveat – but not about Clinton’s speech. Anticipating Obama’s acceptance speech Thursday night, he said: “As a Jewish delegate, I would like him to touch on Israel. Am I a one issue voter? No. But that issue is paramount to me.”
Archive for August, 2008
Two views of Obama’s chances among Florida’s elderly Jews, via JTA.
First, this report on two state legislators:
Florida state Sen. Nan Rich told JTA that Obama surrogates have been “shocked” by the hostility they have encountered at condominiums in her area aimed at their candidate.
Steve Geller, who serves as the Democratic minority leader in the Florida state Senate and represents parts of Broward County, said he was nearly chased out of the “condos” — shorthand for retirement communities — when he said he backed Obama.
“I’ve noticed almost a mob mentality,” Geller said. “I can change people’s minds in a group of five or 10. When there’s 300 people in the room, they feed off each other and don’t want really to listen to us.”
And then there’s this, from a press op for Jewish lawmakers:
Asked twice about reports from two Florida state legislators of having encountered hostility toward the Democratic candidate from Jewish seniors in South Florida, Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) offered a conflicting view. He reiterated that Obama’s support among Jews in South Florida was “substantial and growing” and that this week’s convention – and Hillary Clinton’s Tuesday night speech – would change the mind of any holdouts.
Both Wexler and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) also asserted that Obama would do as well as any Democrat has done among Jewish voters – a stunning prediction considering that Obama is currently garnering 61-62 percent, almost 20 points lower than the high-water mark of Bill Clinton’s 80 percent in 1992 and significantly lower than John Kerry’s 75 percent four years ago.
Madonna plays the Nazi card:
Amid a four-act show at Cardiff’s packed Millennium Stadium, a video interlude carried images of destruction, global warming, Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, Zimbabwe’s authoritarian President Robert Mugabe – and US Senator John McCain.
Jewish organizations reacted swiftly. Here’s the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center:
Madonna’s Hitler-McCain Analogies Deplorable, Reform Movement Says
Washington, D.C. August 26, 2008 – In response to pop star Madonna’s recent on-stage video montage comparing Presidential nominee Sen. John McCain to Adolf Hitler, Mark Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
“Of course, the task of artists such as Madonna is to provoke audiences. But even in that context, her offensive comparison of Senator John McCain to Adolf Hitler is beyond the pale. This deplorable, ill-conceived analogy consists of nothing short of a smear campaign that further divides an already politically tenuous American public.
“Political ideologies and candidate preferences aside, it is beyond preposterous to suggest that Sen. John McCain’s political career has anything in common with the work of one of the most nefarious dictators in history, or that Sen. McCain’s presidential campaign bears any resemblance to the Holocaust, which claimed the lives of more than nine million Jews and other minorities.”
My neighbor Larry Yudelson has made good on his promise – threat? — to write a rebuttal to David Klinghoffer’s recent polemic, How Would God Vote: Why the Bible Commands You to Be a Conservative.
How Would God REALLY Vote? A Jewish Response to David Klinghoffer, written by Larry and Yori Yanover, is out from Larry’s own Ben Yehuda Press.
According to the catalogue:
In “How Would God Vote,” David Klinghoffer claims that “The Bible Commands You to Be a Conservative.”
We disagree. How Would God REALLY Vote: A Jewish Rebuttal to David Klinghoffer explores Klinghoffer’s book, showing the errors of commission and omission. It examines Biblical verse and Rabbinical commentary overlooked by Klinghoffer, even as it analyzes the actual consequences of taking Klinghoffer’s beliefs and arguments seriously.
Oh, it’s on. It’s on.
By the way, Larry reminds me that he belongs on my list of former “mentees,” mentioned in my column last week, who have gone on to publish books. Years ago I edited him at the Washington Jewish Week when he was freelancing from New York and Jerusalem.
Daniel Pipes re-treads the thesis first put forth by Edward Luttwack in the Times, suggesting “Muslims puzzle over Obama’s present religious status” and that “Should Obama become president, differences in Muslim and American views of religious affiliation will create problems.”
Times ombudsman Clark Hoyt did a good job in showing the ways Luttwack’s essay was “incorrect or highly debatable.” But Pipes’ oddly anti-climactic ending suggests even he is not sure what this all adds up to:
In sum, Muslims puzzle over Obama’s present religious status. They resist his self-identification as a Christian while they assume a baby born to a Muslim father and named “Hussein” began life a Muslim. Should Obama become president, differences in Muslim and American views of religious affiliation will create problems.
“Will create problems”? For whom? And will these problems be any different or more severe than any others a president would face from the Muslim world? It’s not as if the mullahs are thrilled that George Bush is United Methodist, or McCain is a Southern Baptist born Episcopalian. Do the mullahs hate apostates any more than they hate infidels?
Since when do we give a flying what the Muslim world thinks about OUR choice for president? Is Pipes suggesting we should appease the Muslim world by picking a president who doesn’t “puzzle” them?
Really, the corollary of Pipes’ argument is that the only candididate who would not “create problems” is a fully practicing Muslim. And G-d, or Allah, forbid, that we create problems with the Muslim world — certainly George Bush made avoiding “problems” with the Muslim world the cornerstone of his presidency.
(Imagine an essay like this being written when Lieberman was running for vice president. The author would troll for public and press opinion about how the Muslim world might react with “puzzlement” or even fury if a Jew were a heartbeat from the presidency. Imagine if that same essayist would conclude, ominously, that a Jew on the ticket would “create problems” or that “Al-Qaeda would likely ‘exploit his background.’” The Jewish world would go nuts.)
I can’t imagine Pipes, whose lecture in Livingston next month is titled “Combating the Radical Islamic Enemy,” really worries about puzzling the poor imams. But if that’s not his point, then all you’re left with is a cut and paste catalogue of Muslims who will not accept Obama’s self-definition — as if to suggest that we shouldn’t either. But Pipes wouldn’t stoop that low — would he?
Catch me tonight on the NJN News, New Jersey’s public television newscast (schedule is here). Zachary Fink interviewed me about Biden and whether he helps or hurts Obama with the Jews.
Here’s an early peek at our cover this week – a glorious celebration of the Jewfro in honor of Max Gross’ new book, From Schlub to Stud: How to Embrace Your Inner Mensch and Conquer the Big City.
Max was the editor in chief’s assistant and all around go-fer/writer/bagel-buyer when I worked at the Forward. I show up briefly in the book as the unnamed managing editor who has this bit of advice when Max can’t get a distraught member of the public off the phone: “Tell him to call the suicide hotline.” I’d like to think I said something infinitely more sympathetic, but I’ll take Max’s word for it.
Max has since gone on to become a reporter for the New York Post, and his book is a funny and even sweet exploration of the kind of unkempt, bearish, outsider male my mother, of blessed memory, called a “glom.”
NJJN‘s Debra Rubin reports the latest on the flap over the Edison schools vote on Rosh Hashana:
Under a firestorm of criticism from religious, community, and political leaders, education officials in Edison are asking the state to help reschedule a school funding vote that conflicts with Rosh Hashana.
On Aug. 19, a letter from John DiMuzio, Edison’s superintendent of schools, was “hand-delivered” to state commissioner of education Lucille E. Davy asking that she allow the district to reschedule the Sept. 30 vote, moving it to either Sept. 23 or Oct. 7, the Tuesday before or after Rosh Hashana.
The referendum seeks $57.8 million to expand and build schools…
“I don’t know if the commissioner can do anything, but we want to try,” said DiMuzio.
In fact, it may now be up to the state Legislature. Read the whole story here.
I wish this guy luck:
“I hope to bring Hollywood celebrities-such as Will Smith, Tom Hanks, Miley Cyrus, Kanye West, Angelina Jolie and Oprah Winfrey-to Israel for 5-day visits. Birthright Hollywood will sponsor these educational trips for celebrities in order to strengthen the sense of solidarity between the entertainment industry and Israel,” says Mark Hardie, founder of Birthright Hollywood and its parent organization, The Hollywood Israel Foundation.
This raises a few questions, including:
- Is there a copyright on “Birthright”?
- How exactly is a trip to Israel a “birthright” for Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp, and the other non-Jewish celebs?
- Birthright Israel is premised on free trips to Israel for first-timers. Is the cost keeping Oprah from visiting?
- I would like to take Angelina Jolie to Cabo san Lucas for a five-day visit. Would you tell my wife?
- Tom Hanks visited Israel 25 years ago when he filmed “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” Can I have his ticket?