Senator Joe Lieberman may be trying to pump up support for John McCain among American Jews and even those in Israel, but a national poll out yesterday showed Hillary Clinton drawing roughly 60% support among Israelis — and Obama just about 20%. Preference for Democrats over Republicans was huge in the poll — and John McCain was third in preference behind Clinton and Obama.
What is interesting is that in my meetings in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem this week, the center right personalities with whom I am meeting all strongly prefer Hillary Clinton.
Every single one of the center left politicians and thought leaders I have speak to prefers Obama.
But the one fear that the center left has about Obama is that given the constant pounding on him about Muslim identity issues, he won’t “be himself” when it comes to helping to broker different outcomes than today’s status quo in the Middle East. They fear that he’ll be constantly “having to declare himself more Jewish than the Jews, more of an Israeli than Israelis” and thus prove everyone wrong that he is the one to get beyond the “false choice politics” in the region.
Even today, Obama is out telling Jewish leaders that he has never been a Muslim.
Obama is stumbling here and not presenting himself as the transcendent candidate many feel him to be. He may not have been a Muslim — but it should not matter. He hasn’t been a Jew either — and that shouldn’t matter. He is playing into the game of identity politics — and that is what the center left in Israeli politics fears he may continue to do in the White House.
— Steve Clemons