It could be related to Israel. It could be related to misinformation. Or it could be related to skin color. It most likely is all three. I think the primary reason why Florida Jews (and all Floridians, really) aren’t warmed up to Obama is because he hasn’t been allowed to campaign there. Everywhere else he hasn’t campaigned yet he starts low and gains momentum. A recent New York Times piece examines why Florida Jews are expressing doubts about Obama.
Race within the Jewish community there does seem to play a factor:
“The people here, liberal people, will not vote for Obama because of his attitude towards Israel,” Ms. Weitz, 83, said, lingering over brunch.
“They’re going to vote for McCain,” she said.
Ms. Grossman, 80, agreed with her friend’s conclusion, but not her reasoning.
“They’ll pick on the minister thing, they’ll pick on the wife, but the major issue is color,” she said, quietly fingering a coffee cup.
The article points out how crazy misinformation about Obama is in the state, particularly South Florida. It will be important for Obama to campaign and for surrogates and other Democrats with sway to correct this.
Sometimes the racism isn’t even under the surface at all:
Some of the resistance to Mr. Obama’s candidacy seems just as rooted in anxiety about race as in anxiety about Israel. At brunch in Boynton Beach, Bob Welstein, who said he was in his 80s, said so bluntly. “Am I semi-racist? Yes,” he said.
Decades earlier, on the west side of Chicago, his mother was mugged and beaten by a black assailant, he said. It was “a beautiful Jewish neighborhood” — until black residents moved in, he said.
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