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Feiler Faster

The chatter about Obama and the Jews is likely to increase as the nomination fights heads into the final weeks. Josh Marshall reviews a number of the charges here (with more in his piece.) Here’s one:

If things continue on their current trajectory and Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee we should get used to much more of the still largely subterranean effort to scare Jews and broader portions of the electorate into believing that Obama is anti-Israel. The truth is that there’s little apparent difference between Obama’s position and Hillary’s or, for that matter, anyone else in the mainstream of the Democratic party or most of the non-Taliban wing of Republican party. Here’s a relatively mild example of the effort — a story in the New York Sun about how Obama supporter Zbigniew Brzezinski (the article calls him an ‘advisor’ — he’s probably something between a supporter and advisor) is leading a delegation to Syria sponsored by the highly controversial left-wing Rand Corporation.

The Forward explores why Jews split their vote on Super Tuesday.
But more interesting to me has been the backlash in the Jewish community to the anti-Israel fearmongering that often surrounds the Jewish vote. My email box recently filled with two examples. This from a 43-year-old rabbi in Atlanta.

This week, I became aware of a something very disturbing. Senator Barack Obama has been characterized as a closet Muslim parading as a member of a Christian Church opposed to the State of Israel. It is part of a pattern of vicious lies circulated on the Internet. This slanderous attack has been reported in a number of Jewish news publications. In the name of honesty and justice, I am sharing this Open Letter to the Jewish Community so that you will not be fooled or deceived by thses horrific tactics. We Jews, as much as any group, understand how injurious a vicious lie can be.

Another from the head of United Jewish Committee.

As leaders of the Jewish community, none of whose organizations will endorse or oppose any candidate for President, we feel compelled to speak out against certain rhetoric and tactics in the current campaign that we find particularly abhorrent. Of particular concern, over the past several weeks, many in our community have received hateful emails that use falsehood and innuendo to mischaracterize Senator Barack Obama’s religious beliefs and who he is as a person.
These tactics attempt to drive a wedge between our community and a presidential candidate based on despicable and false attacks and innuendo based on religion. We reject these efforts to manipulate members of our community into supporting or opposing candidates.
Attempts of this sort to mislead and inflame voters should not be part of our political discourse and should be rebuffed by all who believe in our democracy. Jewish voters, like all voters, should support whichever candidate they believe would make the best president. We urge everyone to make that decision based on the factual records of these candidates, and nothing less.

These notes may be dismissed as coming from Obama supporters, though neither letter writer identifies himself as such. I’ve certainly heard grumblings about Obama from inside the Jewish community in the last year. But I’m hopeful that this backlash against the Muslim rumors and chatter about Obama’s pastor’s pro-Palestinian stance is another sign that the Jewish community can have a civilized conversation about a candidate’s positions in the Middle East without succumbing to outmoded kneejack reactions.

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