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From Hussein to Herschel: How Obama Can Court the One-Issue Jews

05/25/2011 12:25 pm ET

The Jewish old ladies in Boca Raton are just one niche community in an uproar over thirty seconds of Jeremiah Wright. The shock-and-awe political chatter at Mahjong tables across South Florida does not augur well for Obama in a re-vote or in the general election: "that Obama is no good for Israel and his schwartzer guru is no good for the Jews." Hold on to your teeth; if Obama wins, history is going to repeat itself.

Reason (I know, how un-American) would dictate that Jeremiah-mania would finally put the calumny of Osamabama-mania (a.k.a. Islam-a-Obama-mania) to rest. But when the golden girls of gated-communities gaze in horror at the ignominious Reverend Jeremiah, logical distinctions collapse into one giant muddle of turned-off tribalism and culturally entrenched trepidation. Crucial differences are shunted to the margins if not entirely ignored: between a candidate and his supporters; between church membership and personal belief; between Muslim malfeasance and evangelist idiocy; between Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton; Black Muslims and Christian Blacks; madrassas and ministries; Black nationalism and Arab nationalism; Jesus and Muhammad; this Diaspora and that one; this antisemite and that one.

When the hyper-paranoia and the hypnotic-hysteria of existential survival kick into geriatric overdrive, we can forget factual accuracy, let alone nuance or critical discussion.

How can Obama cut through all the bubbe meise and reclaim these otherwise loyal Democrats? How can he develop trust, and thus remain competitive, with pro-Israel hardliners?

Obama's sincere apologies and unqualified renunciations of Jeremiah Wright (who resigned from the Obama campaign religious advisory committee) were important steps.

Here are three other things he can do:

First, Obama's greatest defense is a good offense (and what could be more pro-Israel or pro-American than using offense as a defense?). One pro-active measure Obama should take is to call for a US boycott of the forthcoming Durban II conference, which Canada has already done. Leadership has not been forthcoming on this issue and Obama could pre-empt his opposition, displaying his active commitment to fighting antisemitism and anti-Zionism. This gesture would resonate widely.

Second, Obama should create a special Israel and Jewish-relations advisory committee as a subset or addendum to his foreign policy advisory group. The committee should be led by strong supporters of an Israeli-Palestinian peace who are also committed to a two-state solution and to fighting global antisemitism.

Third, Obama needs a famous Joe Lieberman-caliber Jewish political figure (either American or Israeli) to start campaigning with in swing states like Florida. Obama should follow McCain's lead here. Some Barack-on-Barack or Barack-on-Tzipi or even Barack-on-Bibi action would help.

Of course voters who prioritize Israel over everything else represent a very small fraction of Jewish voters (who are few in number to begin with), but they may play a deciding role in a close re-vote or general election in swing-state Florida. Given that Israel has such few friends in the international community, is it any wonder that Israel-over-all-else-voters would pay extra-close attention to Obama's friends?

Stir Obama's so-called guilt by association in a pot brimming with biographical defamatory lies and long-standing black-Jewish animosity and Obama's Floridian fate will fast come to a boil. With McLame's footstool/sidekick Joe Lieberman canvassing the Sunshine state, Obama is in trouble and, judging by the intensity of Obama's responses these past few days, he knows it.

Ironically, Obama's trust issues with one-issue Jewish voters are encapsulated in his very name; in Hebrew, Barack O-bama translates as the question: "lightening or stage?" Or to put it more pithily: Barack Obama: fierce or farce? Strong or specious? Is Obama Israel's determined ally or of dubious loyalty? (We all know how Hussein translates). Barack Obama: nomen est omen?

Other excellent recommendations for Obama on this matter are made by Aaron Hamburger here.