Neoconservative bloggers have yet to come up with a single name of a major Jewish Democratic donor who says that he or she intends to abandon President Obama — or even other Democrats — because of the (mis)perception that Obama’s forceful push for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is either anti-Israel or a major policy shift.
As Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent points out, the right-wing meme started to ramp up after a CNBC interview with Democratic donor Haim Saban, who supported Hillary Clinton in the last election primaries and then didn’t give to Obama after he emerged as the party’s candidate. This fact, however, didn’t stop Alana Goodman at the neoconservative flagship Commentary from claiming that Saban “decided to break with the president” — implying that Saban once financially supported Obama.
As ThinkProgress has extensively reported, this sounded an awful lot like an attempt by neoconservatives to gin up a controversy about Obama and Jewish donors in order to use a false premise to set off a chain reaction. Goodman responded to ThinkProgress’s reporting by basically admitting that’s what was happening (and using the term “breaking” again):
[T]he fact that he’s breaking with his party’s candidate over Israel is something that will be widely noted in the Jewish community.
Today, Sargent interviewed the major Democratic donor in question — billionaire Haim Saban — and confirmed that Saban would still be willing to give money to Obama if the campaign asks despite minor criticisms of the administration:
“If solicited, I will absolutely write a check to the level allowed by law,” Saban said. “I don’t agree that he’s anti-Israel.”
The first part of this statement echoes almost exactly Saban’s comments toward the bottom of his interview with CNBC, raising again the question of whether Commentary was simply seeing whatever it wanted in Saban’s interview. “Will I donate if I am solicited? I will donate,” Saban told CNBC.
Saban does predict that Jewish donations to Obama will fall off. But if, as Commentary claimed, the billionaire is a “bellwether for Jewish voters and donors,” then the status quo of Jewish support for Obama — like Saban’s positions — are likely to hold steady.
What’s more, Sargent reports that Saban himself sees right through the right wing’s ploy of distorting Obama’s positions — as revealed by Emergency Committee For Israel executive director Noah Pollak‘s support for Obama’s big Middle East speech just weeks before his organization came out and blasted it. Sargent writes:
Saban said Obama’s right wing critics were painting Obama as anti-Israel and misrepresenting his positions for political reasons.
“They are twisting his words,” Saban said. “They want to move Jewish votes from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party.”
That’s exactly why Democratic organizers and fund-raisers are already defending Obama against the smears — oh, and, according to Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, that includes a fundraiser hosted by two former AIPAC heads in the next two weeks that is expected to raise $1 million in a single night. This is in addition to other major Jewish donors that have already pledged fealty to Obama in the coming election cycle.
So, which way exactly are the Jewish donors breaking again?