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Gaza and Obama's Castigation of Israel: A Sign of the Growing Insignificance of the 'Jewish Vote' in American Politics

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For the moment, the prolific images on CNN of bleeding and maimed Gazan children being used as human shields by Hamas in hospitals have ceased. So has the castigation by the White House of Israel's use of harsh military force to stop the rockets from being shot from these humanitarian facilities.

While the on-again, off-again cease-fire talks continue and CNN switched to being preoccupied with the police killing in Missouri of Michael Brown, there's already a lasting political significance being attached to those harsh, untempered condemnations by President Obama and officials in his administration of Israel's rightful actions in destroying Hamas and its military infrastructure in Gaza.

Some observers say it's because Obama and Democrats have lost important Jewish support, but it's really about whether such Jewish support really matters anymore in national and state politics.

Throughout this latest Gaza campaign, the White House has continually condemned the use of military force against civilian targets despite the fact they were being used by Hamas to launch rockets into Israel. For example, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psake said the United States was "appalled" by the shelling of a United Nations school in Rafah after the Israelis determined that there was military activity in the vicinity.

"The suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians," her written statement read.

Sure, there's been some talk (again) of both Obama and the Democratic Party being in danger of losing that trusted Jewish support that has been taken for granted so long. Some significance is being given to a recent Gallup Poll that said Obama's Jewish support has eroded to 55 percent of this bloc's voters.

"It's not a 'Reagan moment,' but it's getting closer," writes columnist Michael Goodwin of the New York Post.

But that movement in the polls is probably temporary. President Obama and the Democratic Party, since the election of FDR, have had fanatical "Jewish" support. In 2008, 78 percent of Jewish voters voted for Obama. While that figure dropped to around 70 percent in 2012, there has still been continued heavy Jewish support for the president until this latest war in Gaza.

The real question to ask is whether a "Jewish vote" loyal to Israel can be truly defined as such anymore and, if so, whether Jewish voters still have the impact in the four states with the largest Jewish populations, which according to Reuters account for 127 of the 240 Electoral College votes needed to secure the White House.

In those states like Florida, California, and New York, a burgeoning Hispanic population has gained great relevance and has translated into higher importance for those voters, both in terms of presidential politics and statewide elections as well.

A graying Jewish population in South Florida with diehard loyalty to Democrats, no matter what, now has less impact on both Democrats and Republicans alike than a growing population in the I-4 corridor of transplanted Puerto Ricans from the Northeast and the island itself. It really doesn't matter anymore if Democrats lose 10-20 percent of the Jewish vote in 2016.

Further, when President Obama is not hesitant to show his true disdain of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or his sincere empathy for Palestinians in Gaza, it's because there's no longer a significant voice in Washington, in the Democratic Party or in the Jewish community to contradict such an attitude.

Also, unlike their grandparents, many liberal Jews care more for the continued push of Obama's failed internationalist foreign policies than the right of a Jewish state to exist.

Despite the fact that 98 percent of Jewish voters go to the polls, Israel is not a primary concern to American Jews -- and the White House and powerful liberal lobbies know it.

So the lack of significant repercussions from Jewish supporters and what was once a strong Jewish "AIPAC lobby" for his policies -- and more significantly his recent caustic rhetoric toward the Israeli government -- truly illustrate that a need for the "Jewish vote" has ceased to exist in significant terms for both Obama and the Democrats.

Published in Context Florida on August 18, 2014

Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly's Kommentary (stevenkurlander.com) and writes for Context Florida and The Huffington Post and can be found on Twitter @Kurlykomments. He lives in Monticello, N.Y. Column courtesy of Context Florida.