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February 04, 2010

Has Obama Earned Your Distrust?

Obama “In the Orthodox community Obama is paying the price for the Crown Heights pogrom and his father’s religion as much as he is for his policies toward Israel, and that’s a shame.”

Has Obama earned Orthodox Jews’ distrust?
No love lost

By Michael Orbach • The Jewish Star


Pundits may wonder whether buyer’s remorse has set in among the 78 percent of Jews who voted for President Obama in the 2008 election, but one segment of the Jewish population never made the purchase in the first place.

And one year into the president’s term, it doesn’t seem like they’ll be buying anytime soon.

Prior to the election in 2008 a poll conducted by the American Jewish Committee revealed that only 13 percent of Orthodox Jews said they would support Obama. After the election, the Orthodox Union compiled a short-list of precincts with “High concentration of Orthodox voters.”

Lakewood, NJ voters favored the McCain-Palin ticket by a margin of 69 percent to 31 percent for Obama-Biden. The Lawrence Middle School polling station in Lawrence, NY recorded 81 percent of people voting for McCain, the highest percentage on Long Island. While the numbers are not too shocking given the tendency of Orthodox voters to support Republican platforms, anecdotally it seems as if the president is faring even worse in the Orthodox community than might otherwise be expected.

“Where the past administration acknowledged that the Orthodox community is thriving and deserving of a seat at the table, today’s administration has not placed that same emphasis or importance on the positions of the Orthodox community,” said Chaskel Bennett, a Brooklyn community activist.

He lamented the attention the current administration gives to organizations like J Street and Americans for Peace Now.

“Ignoring mainstream Orthodox organizations bolsters the perception that the Obama administration has a different world view than ours,” said Bennet.

A modern Pharaoh?
One local Jewish weekly recently compared President Obama’s relationship to the Jewish community to the Egyptian Pharaoh’s relationship with the Jews of his time.

“Not unlike Pharaoh, the goal was to deal with them wisely and expeditiously, that is before anyone had a chance to really understand what was going on,” the paper wrote.

The main issue of contention between Orthodox Jews and Mr. Obama, unsurprisingly, is Israel.

“Because so many Orthodox Jews have relatives and friends in Israel and so on, that is not surprising that they go together,” explained Jonathan Sarna, the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University, who is currently on sabbatical in Israel.

“Israeli polls were something on the order of 80 percent distrust for Obama and have been from the start. I think that for many Orthodox Jews the central issue on which they support or oppose the president is really Israel.”

Nathan Diament, director of the Institute for Public Affairs of the Orthodox Union, said that he had felt strong sentiment against the administration in the communities he’s visited.

“In the context of the Orthodox where the majority in the community identify with the settlement movement in Israel, there’s a great deal of tension, let alone opposition, to the president’s efforts last year to push Israel to undertake a settlement freeze,” he explained by phone.

Diament stressed that while the issue of settlements was tense, relationships between Israel and America are strong as they had been.

“As Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the US, has said publicly, and I would agree with, there are many other aspects of the Israel-US relationships that are as good, if not better, than they have been for many years. It’s a multifaceted relationship that includes military cooperation, economic trade, partnerships, intelligence sharing and many other things, and all of that is going full speed ahead the way it was during the last administration,” Diament explained. “The number one issue of the Israel government is the nuclear threat of Iran, so far, and I underscore so far, the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government have been working closely together and are very much on the same page. Looking back on 2009, Obama and Netanyahu were working together in a way that the community ought to appreciate…”

“Orthodox see the glass as half-empty, they shouldn’t ignore the glass half-full.”

Half-full or half-empty?
David Singer, director of research for the American Jewish Committee, disagreed with the notion of specific sentiment inside the Orthodox population against President Obama. Any sentiment was simply part of the political give-and-take, he said.

“There are not particularly strong feelings one way or the other,” Singer explained. “Because Orthodox Jews tend to be more to the right of the political spectrum there’s a certain measure of distance, but you don’t sense a sharp differentiation. There’s some disapproval but these are normal political difficulties.”

Some of those who see a conflict wonder if there are racial undertones to dislike of the administration.

“I think there are strong anti-Obama feelings in the Orthodox community, in part because his father was a Muslim and in part because Obama is viewed as being far less pro-Israel as George W. Bush. And then there is the race issue, which is especially strong among Charedim, perhaps because of years of living in urban areas that border on or are part of large concentrations of poor blacks,” said Shmarya Rosenberg, the blogger behind Failed Messiah.

“In some ways, in the Orthodox community Obama is paying the price for the Crown Heights pogrom and his father’s religion as much as he is for his policies toward Israel, and that’s a shame.”

‘Listen to Rush Limbaugh’
“Most religious people I know barely gave him a chance,” said Heshy Fried, of frumsatire.net. “He was a black Democrat who supported things religious Jews are against. If you want to know how most frum Jews think, listen to Rush Limbaugh one day and you will see how they think.”

For the Charedi population, the adage coined in the 1950s by essayist Milton Himmelfarb, that Jews earned like Episcopalians (then a largely wealthy minority) — and voted like Puerto Ricans (then a largely poor minority) has been reversed, according to one political consultant. Ezra Friedlander, CEO of the Friedlander Group a public and government relations group based in DC and New York, and who campaigned for Obama, said that he’s seen communities voting against their own interests.

“I tell my Charedi friends that if the big health insurance companies are against the plan, then you should be for it, since you know the vast majority of our community cannot afford a health plan that costs $15,000 a family,” he said.

Friedlander offered an introspective take on the matter of race and Orthodox Jews feelings about Mr. Obama.

“The Chareidi community feels more comfortable with an African American as opposed to a secular Jew, even an Orthodox Jew,” asserted Friedlander.

“Someone who has zero connection to the community, they have much greater chances of shaping that person’s perspective of them and their community and the issues of the greatest importance to them, as opposed to someone who shares a religious background or cultural background.”

As for whether this is ‘good for the Jews,’ the jury is still out.

“I think that it’s probably to the benefit of the Jewish community that we have two parties vying for the Jewish vote and they can’t take it for granted,” said Sarna. “When we had a Republican president who was advised to ‘Eff the Jews, they don’t vote for us,’ that was clearly a bad thing from the point of view of the Jews. “

“Most know that the two presidents in recent decades who were most disliked by the Jews, Carter and HW Bush, were one-term presidents. Mr. Obama, if he wants to be a two-term president, he will remember that.”


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The fact that as Heshy Fried said "BHO is a "black" Democrat" is irrelevant. What is relevant is he is a "far left-wing" Democrat. Besides it is the Democrats that see color. For example, BHO's comment about the Cambridge policeman even though he admitted before the comment that he didn't know the facts. The only fact relevant to BHO was that the cop was white and the "victim" was black. That was yet another glimpse into BHO's character. Also, wasn't it nice that during the hour of BHO's State o' the Union, Chris Matthews forgot that our President was black. What an asinine comment. Chris Matthews and BHO see color, I don't. I don't like BHO and it has nothing to do with what color his skin is.

Proving that the observant amongst us are far brighter than the non religious amongst us.

Proving that the observant amongst us are far brighter than the non religious amongst us.

horse manure

the frum community is blatantly racist

bush's policies did not make israel safer, or make its borders more secure...in fact, the opposite could be argued

the man was pro israel for the same reason the vast majority of wingnut christians are...because they believe in armageddon...which means the destruction of the jewish people

the idea that conservatives dont see color is absurd

how many republican senators of color are there? how many congressmen?

that from yidden think like rush limbaugh, sickesn me...the man is a menuval

i find it humorous that many in the frum community dont like dem policies, but have no problem accepting public assistance, or making their money through government programs like medicare

In this case I as a right wing pro NRA and anti gay Orthodox Jew agree with Shmarya. It is a question of race. Not that race in itself is the issue but because of the inner city violence that exists on a higher proportion among blacks is why most chareidi jews distrust them. Take an example of Boro park Brooklyn the largest chareidi community outside of Israel which today is sorrounded by over a quarter of a million chinese people. You never hear of tensions between jews and chinese and yet in crown heights which is sorrounded by 150 thousand blacks there always is some kind of street crime happening that leads to mistrust. Facts are facts and all the Jewish liberals who preach tolerance would never live in an area like crown heights with black neighbors. They live in lllly white areas like the head of bnei brith Abe Foxman etc. but they preach to others tolerance hipocrites is what they are. Shmarya got this one right.

I think you have to judge a leader on how he leads his own people. Not how he meddles in other countries affairs.
If you judge them on their colour or what you think his views are regarding religion, then you don't have a clear opinion on the matter.
But so far, what has Obama done for the US compared with what he promised?
At the end of the day he's a politician and politicians are trained to lie well.

I have always wanted to see a Black prez, but I distrust BHO personally and oppose his policies. I can't speak for anyone but myself, but his race is not an issue for me.

When I see BHO, I do not see the Crown Heights pogrom or his father’s religion nor do I see a black man. I see a president who it caught up in a messy situation and is trying to do his best to fix it - of course all that I said is with the full understanding that all this has to be done while wallowing in the cesspool known as politics and overseen by the scum known as the media.

To answer Shmarya's question about trusting or distrusting President Obama...Yes,I started distrusting him when he backed down from his settlement freeze demand.

Thanks, Harold. It was refreshing to see someone here who actually gets it. At last- we finally see the day that Jews and neo-nazis stand united in a common cause: stupidity. What happened to the old idea that Jews are smart? I can't believe what some people will believe. Wake up!!!

When secular Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans they are not technically voting against their interests. They have plenty of money, and higher tax rates and expanded welfare programs will have almost no impact on their lives.
On the other hand, Orthodox Jews who earn like Puerto Ricans and vote like Episcopalians are voting against their own interests in a way that may tangibly impact them. Take away food stamps, Earned Income Credits, subsidized housing, and Medicaid just to name a few, and see how Williamsburg or Crown Heights implode.

I don't think the Orthodox opposition to Obama is rooted in racism or his stance on Israel. Instead, I believe the opposition is based on their newfound, blind identification to the Republican party which they view as the antidote to the Democratic/secular Jewish alliance which American Jews have maintained for decades. By aligning themselves with fundamentalist Christians they have divorced themselves and declared their independence from the largely secular American Jewish community which they not so secretly loath.
It is no doubt an odd dichotomy watching an Orthodox Jew collect Medicaid for himself and his six children while simultaneously opposing "government-run health care", but than again, what isn't odd about these people.

"Obama is viewed as being far less pro-Israel as [sic] George W. Bush."

If you define "pro-Israel" as "supporting the policies of the Israeli government no matter what" then George W. Bush is more pro-Israel than Barack Obama. But that's a bad definition of "pro-Israel." A better definition of "pro-Israel" is "supporting Israel's current and long-term interests, even when the Israeli government is going in the wrong direction." The Israeli government is promoting expansion of settlements in the West Bank. The Israeli government cannot account for how much the Israeli government is spending to prop up the West Bank settlements, and intentionally makes it very difficult to figure this out, but it is a lot. Ordinary Israeli citizens living within the pre-1967 borders are paying taxes to support a minority who live in suburban houses in the West Bank. It costs Israel money and lives of its soldiers to defend the settlements, and it makes lasting peace harder to achieve. If a Palestinian state is not set up, within a generation, a majority of the population of Israel (including the territories) will be non-Jewish, and the dream of a Jewish Democratic state will be dead.

Barack Obama should have been much firmer with the Israeli government, but his gentle opposition to expanded settlements was a good start, at least.

P.S. You know what? Ever since 1967, many of the West Bank settlements have been set up against Israeli law. This is not some Hamas propaganda about the Geneva Convention and International Law and all that stuff. This is just plain Israeli law. And Israel has consistently failed to uphold its own laws on settlements. Illegal outposts are set up, and most of the time, instead of shutting them down, eventually, Israel retroactively authorizes them. The settler minority is the tail wagging the dog of Israeli politics. Give Obama credit for making at least tentative steps in criticizing Israel's disastrous settlement policies.

Within a generation or so it wont be an arab majority but a chareidi majority. While arabs have 4 kids on the average the chareidim have 8 plus kids per family. Every arab taxi driver I spoke to recently in Israel admitted its only a matter of about 10 years for Jerusalem to become chareidi and 15 years for most of the rest of Israel. Many kids from secular as well as mizrachi type homes are leaving the country. Chareidim usually vote as a block and thats why politicians listen to them. Creating another arab state will only bring more problems and wars at the borders.22 arab countries is enough.

'Orthodox Union compiled a short-list of precincts with “High concentration of Orthodox voters.”'

Does anybody know where this list can be found? (It's not at ou.org.)

Moonbat, self-hating, left-wing, irreligious and secular Jews voted for Yobama. Since he is half-black, they could fulfill their only mitzvah of tikkun olam. They didn't care that he would try to bring Israel to its knees.

Yes: Obama Blocking Apache Sales To Israel, "Dismayed" At Use During Cast Lead

Chayim is bringing a raaya from Arab taxi drivers....Did I read that correctly. Anyway, Chayim, who will be around to pay the taxis for the welfare which supports the Chareidim if the other Jews move or leave? Whom, Chayim? Perhaps the Arabs? Who really is the moonbat now? Whom?

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