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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  • I was just reading that article in the times not but 30 minutes ago at lunch.

    It’s crazy, right?

    But I don’t think it’s that he’s Jewish so much as he’s old.

    Still. that’s no excuse.

    Could you imagine the outrage if someone said: “this was a beautiful neighborhood until the Jews moved in”

  • Joseph, I have neighbors who say that all the time. They told one of my town’s councilwomen that. She’s Jewish too and they told her that to her face about three years ago when I worked to and succeeded in getting a blue law changed because it discriminated against Jews who observe Shabbat (which is Saturday).

    Additionally, my area of Pepper Pike is well-known to have been off-limits to Jews up until about 15-20 years ago.

    You know what my Mayor said re: changing the blue law? The entire city council voted in favor of changing the law, and they did. He voted against it – why? Because he didn’t want to upset some of the older residents – read: some of the residents who are used to their being no Jews in their town.

    On a different note, if you guys want to find the pro-Obama Jews in Ohio, there are many of them, including the incoming head of the Cleveland AJC who is a close friend of mine. I don’t know if he’ll go on the record or not but he is well known to Subodh Chandra and others who are working on behalf of Obama. I would urge you to reach these folks and listen to them before worrying so much about S. Florida.

  • It still seems crazy that people from a group (Jews) that has been discriminated against for so long would so publicly and unapologetically discriminate against another group.

    Like he’s saying: I may be Jewish but at least I’m not Black.

  • Well – plenty of people say I may be black but at least I’m not a woman and so on.

    Look, that’s part of my objection to name-calling and the whole thing, Joseph – putting yourself up by putting others down. It’s what bullying and intimidation are all about.

    Anyway – it’s not new but with any luck, it’s shrinking in frequency. We’re just spotlighting right now because of the angst and desire to find a way to win – whomever one’s candidate is.

  • ?
    your comment floaty thing drives me nuts lol

  • Modern Esquire

    Obama hasn’t been allowed to campaign in Florida? So what are the 57 States he’s been in if not Florida?

    I mean it’s been four months since the primary. Didn’t he know he’s allowed to go to Florida now??

    Yet again because of comments from two members of a certain demographic and that’s suffifent to declare that Obama’s problem with getting support from that group is because of racism.

    Amazing.

  • Like i said before, it probably has more to do with his age than his religion.

    It won’t require “luck” – just time enough for all of the old people to die off.

  • Joseph, I don’t find this funny: “just time enough for all of the old people to die off” in the context of S. Florida Jewish senior citizens but I’m going to assume you didn’t really mean it the way it sounds.

    As for it having anything to do with race (which I don’t believe is the predominant problem for a single minute nor do the Jewish leaders I know in NEOhio who support Obama):

    http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/news/article/2008052020080520obamajews.html

  • @6: Well, obviously I’m talking pre-primary. He is now working to correct all the misinformation that is out there – stuff Hillary and her divisive campaign has only bolstered to this point, as far as I know.

    Up to now he has had to mostly move on to the other states that were voting, so I don’t think he’s been able to have enough time there. He didn’t have a rally there on election night either. 😉

    There you go again Modern. Putting words in my mouth. Show me where in my post I extrapolate the anecdotal evidence of the two racists in Florida to be indicative of the general Jewish population. I’ll be waiting for you to correct your false accusation.

    Amazing.

    @8: I think what Joe is saying is that there needs to be some generational changes before we’ll move fully beyond racist notions. Maybe he should not have said “old people die off”, but instead said “generational attrition”. Would that have been better? The point is that there comes a point when certain ideas are locked in and it takes a change in generation to move past it.

    (didn’t read your link cuz i didn’t feel like creating an account just to read an article)

  • @2: We’re not going back to this “gotta blog about Ohio only” are we? Please.

  • The JTA I believe was something Russell Hughlock told me about a couple of years ago. I don’t know if this link will work better for you – I just went to the front of the JTA page and looked under politics and the article was there.

  • Modern Esquire

    Well given that your post is titled “Is Race Why Jews Are Askew over Obama?” and your article only points to comments by two people as evidence that race is a factor. I think my criticism stands. You can hide by the fact that you’re hiding behind the fact that you aren’t saying it, you’re just asking, but that’s the ol’ Fox News Cavuto trick.

    It’s like asking: Does Tom Blumer f*ck his mother? I’m not saying he does, I’m only asking… (To paraphrase one of my most favorite clips from “The Daily Show”)

  • I stand by my not making that claim. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

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