Jewish Donors Not Leaving Obama Over Israel After All

As soon as President Obama made his Middle East speech nearly two weeks ago, a single line stating that borders of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal “should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” drew the condemnation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. While the “1967 lines” notion reflected the policies of the Bush and Clinton administrations (not to mention Israeli and Palestinian public opinion), the line brought harsh denunciations from Republicans trying to make Israel a partisan wedge issue. Mitt Romney accused Obama of “throwing Israel under the bus.” Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said Obama “betrayed” Israel. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said of the “1967 lines” comment: “That’s what we’re gonna be singing from the mountaintops for the next 17 months.”

The partisan press — particularly neoconservatives who have long sought to peel away Jewish support from Democrats — attempted to turn the GOP talking point into a larger story by writing that Obama was losing a key bloc of Jewish financial support for his 2012 re-election campaign. As ThinkProgress reported, Alana Goodman at Commentary sought to make hay of Democratic donor Haim Saban’s “break” with the president — conveniently omitting the fact that Saban had never given to Obama in the first place. Nonetheless, the Republican Jewish Coalition, as Priebus promised, launched a campaign of robocalls to 20,000 American Jews, replete with leading questions misrepresenting Obama’s positions.

But has the ploy worked to peel away Obama’s Jewish supporters into the Republicans’ corner?

“I doubt it. Maybe a few people, but will it be substantial? Will it be a factor in the race? I doubt it,” one Jewish Republican operative — that’s right: a Republican — told the Washington Jewish Week’s Adam Kredo. The operative described a “fantasy of Republicans for decades that eventually the Jews will come around to them.”


Indeed, though the stories started to pile up, not a single major Jewish Obama supporter has gone on record saying he or she was backing away because of Israel. However, many of Obama’s Jewish fundraisers are going on record with their plans for continued support:

[Texas Obama donor Marc] Stanley, who serves as chair of the National Jewish Democratic Council, will mobilize the troops to counter the belief that the president has it in for Israel.

“[…T]his perception that Jews aren’t going to Obama is a falsehood,” said Stanley, who plans to hold the first of several large fundraisers for team Obama on June 20 in D.C. “He’s already raising a lot of money, and a lot of money from Jews.”

The New York Observer also gave a write up to the Jewish donors that aren’t leaving Obama:

[C]onversations with nearly a dozen of the top Jewish fund-raisers in New York reveal a much different reality, as rainmakers say they continue to back the president they overwhelmingly supported three years ago.

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent added that “it’s important to recall that the claim that Jews are on the verge of breaking with Obama has been a frequent refrain for literally years now,” citing the whisper campaign during the 2008 race. “In the end, according to exit polls, Obama won around 78 percent of the Jewish vote,” Sargent wrote.


So, as Sargent asked, what exactly are those partisans doing pushing their “comically transparent effort to drive Jewish support away from the President?” It seems they’re trying to create a sort of snowball effect, albeit one with a hollow core. Kredo reports:

Negative media attention… could push nervous voters and donors over the edge. “They write about it long enough, and yeah, people believe it,” said Ira Forman, a veteran Democratic political operative and former head of the NJDC.

Neocons playing fast and loose with the facts in order establish false narratives that suit their political agenda? Whodathunkit?