Beliefnet
God-O-Meter

obama4.jpgHow threatening is Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind’s warning that Jewish voters would make “a mass movement toward Sen. McCain” if Barack Obama is seen to clinch the nomination in tomorrow’s big primaries? Hikind, whom today’s New York Post describes as “an Orthodox Jew whose Borough Park district includes the largest Hasidic bloc in the United States,” lends a clear voice to what have till now been more quietly murmured misgivings about Obama in the religious–as opposed to the cultural–Jewish community.
And God-o-Meter has certainly been taken by the force that Hillary Clinton has applied in trying to exploit those misgivings. Last week, it was Clinton calling for Obama to reject Louis Farrakhan’s near-endorsement. Yesterday, it was Clinton releasing this I’m-more-pro-Israel-than-Bush statement on the recent volley of attacks between Israel and Gaza:

I deplore and condemn the Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel, including the city of Ashkelon. Israel has the right to defend its citizens….
I call on Hamas to stop this irresponsible aggression immediately, which would enable Israeli and Palestinian civilians to return to normal life.
The rockets fired from Gaza by Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists are aimed not only at the people of southern Israel; they are aimed at the heart of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. I regret the Palestinian Authority’s decision to suspend the talks.
The Bush Administration should have been taking a much more active role in bringing international pressure on Hamas to stop its attacks.

Brooklyn’s Hikind, a Democrat who backed Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984, says Jews are put off by Obama’s Israel stance and his longtime pastor:

Hikind… blasted Obama for what he called his half-hearted support of Israel and his ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., who has repeatedly praised anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has endorsed Obama.
Hikind… said Obama had not satisfactorily distanced himself from Wright, his Chicago-based personal pastor, noting, “This is a man who thinks Farrakhan is a great guy and God’s gift to the world.”
Hikind went on, “Obama has said that you can be a supporter of Israel even if you’re for giving up land to the Arabs, which is true – but for a guy running for president to take a position like this in advance of getting into office, combined with everything else going on in the Middle East, that scares the hell out of me.”
“There are a hell of a lot of Jews who are concerned about these issues, and they go way beyond Hasidic and Orthodox Jews…”

Since The New York Post doesn’t, God-o-Meter must note that Obama has made strenuous efforts to assuage Jewish concerns, including meeting with Jewish activists and enlisting surrogates to make his case in the Jewish press. Plus, Obama won the Jewish vote in primaries in California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, undercutting the case for a “mass movement toward Sen. McCain.” Still, Hikind’s beef with Obama is certain proof that, should the Illinois senator effectively seal up the nomination tomorrow, he’ll have to work hard to get what has been traditionally lopsided support from bedrock Democratic constituency.


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