Beliefnet
God-O-Meter

obama.jpgIn this week’s Jewish Daily Forward, Senate Majority Whip and Barack Obama booster Dick Durbin writes in to complain about a recent Forward editorial that alleges that Obama worshipped as a Muslim as a child.

… the Forward repeats second-hand reports that Obama was a Muslim as a child growing up in Indonesia. That assertion is untrue. He was raised by his secular mother, and his father left when Obama was two years old.
The Forward does not state that Obama is a Christian, conspicuously allowing room for doubt by writing: “Is Barack Obama a Muslim? Almost certainly not.” Almost?

Apart from combating false Obama-as-Muslim rumors, a potential turnoff for Jewish voters, Durbin’s letter also spotlights Obama’s support for Israel for the sake Jews who might question his commitment to the Jewish state:

While traveling to Israel, he visited victims of Hezbollah rocket attacks in the north, and then, during the Lebanon war, stood up in support of Israel’s right to defend itself. He has led the push in the Senate to enact a law to permit states like Illinois, Florida, New York and California to divest their state and pension funds from energy companies active in Iran.
He has repeatedly called for the protection of Israel as a Jewish state, as part of a two-state solution. And as recently as last week, he pushed the Bush administration to focus its attention on the barrage of Qassam rocket attacks being launched daily from Gaza.

What caught God-o-Meter’s eye in all this was the Forward op-ed that triggered Durbin’s complaint letter. In it, the Forward frames the Obama campaign’s efforts to dispel false rumors about him as an attempt to shore up Jewish support:

…a parade of Jewish politicians and organizational leaders, the elite of what’s called the Jewish lobby, has spoken out aggressively to reject the rumors and defend Obama — but it hasn’t helped much. Early indications are that Jewish voters will spurn Obama in numbers large enough to hurt him. And all the efforts of the vaunted Jewish establishment haven’t convinced them otherwise.
That’s the secret of Jewish lobbying success: It’s not about the professional influence-peddlers and fundraisers. It’s about frightened, angry Jews, thousands of them, determined to stop anyone they suspect is against them. Once they get going, no one can talk them out of it.

It’s true that Hillary Clinton has beat Obama among Jewish voters in many states–New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Arizona, Maryland. But Obama won Jews in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and California. There may be some truth to the Forward’s thesis about Jewish anxiety over Obama’s Israel stance and his religious background costing him some votes, but he’s not exactly losing Jews in droves.
God-o-Meter, for one, thinks the Obama camp’s determination to swat down those Muslim rumors is motivated much more by a fear of losing Christian voters. That’s why Christianity Today and the Christian Broadcasting Network got calls from Obama in the week leading up to the South Carolina caucus, and why the Forward or other Jewish publications did not, at least as far as GOM knows.


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