President Obama and the Jewish vote

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Some Israeli newspapers are expressing concern because of the pending vote in the United Nations on Palestinian statehood in September, which also has reverberations for the U.S. But if that vote goes through, the claim is being made by some conservative organizations that it would be a significant diplomatic loss for the country. And what about the U.S? Newsweek's Michael Tomasky writes this week that if the Obama administration takes anything but a hard line, "conservatives will surely accuse the president of weakness."

As a former Bush White House official put it to me last week: “You have to have a hand-in-glove relationship with the Israelis, and this administration doesn’t have that.”

Political considerations are also at play with this White House. A Wall Street Journal article written on Thursday reports that Jewish donors and fundraisers are warning the Obama re-election campaign that Obama risks losing financial supports because of "concerns about his handling of Israel."

Some Jewish donors say Mr. Obama has pushed Israeli leaders too hard to halt construction of housing settlements in disputed territory, a longstanding element of U.S. policy. Some also worry that Mr. Obama is putting more pressure on the Israelis than the Palestinians to enter peace negotiations, and say they are disappointed Mr. Obama has not visited Israel yet.

One top Democratic fund-raiser, Miami developer Michael Adler, said he urged Obama campaign manager Jim Messina to be "extremely proactive" in countering the perception in the Jewish community that Mr. Obama is too critical of Israel.

He said his conversations with Mr. Messina were aimed at addressing the problems up front. "This was going around finding out what our weaknesses are so we can run the best campaign," said Mr. Adler, who hosted a fund-raiser at his home for Mr. Obama earlier this year.

"Good friends tell you how you can improve. They don't tell you 'everything's great' and then you find out nobody buys the food in your restaurants," he said.

It is difficult to assess how widespread the complaints are. Many Jews support Mr. Obama's approach to the Middle East, and his domestic agenda. But Jewish fund-raisers for Mr. Obama say they regularly hear discontent among some supporters.

Obama and Netanyahu, who according to everyone have a "cold" relationship, will meet up on Friday in Washington. There's a lot at stake for the whole world - and oh yeah, Obama's re-election chances with a key segment of the Democratic party base as well.


There is much anticipation internationally on President Obama's speech on the Mideast, scheduled for 12 noon eastern time Thursday.

But this just in: Since Obama has become President, his speeches are frequently received with reservations, if not downright dismissals from the U.S. media after sometimes substantial build-ups, so don't say I didn't warn you.

Regardless, the Middle East, specifically in relation to the Israei-Palestinian situation, will only build up - what with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's five-day visit to the U.S., a visit that some Israeli media organizations are calling one of the most crucial in Israel's history.

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