One of the most prescient events of the Obama administration just occurred recently. It was not his vitriolic debt ceiling debate with the Tea Party leaning congress nor was it his recent jobs proposal and his impending standoff with the same house body. It was the loss of the New York 9th district congressional seat vacated by Anthon Weiner. Many consider this a referendum for the democrats and more importantly the Obama’s administration policy and views on Israel.
Obama is losing support among Jewish voters due to perception of his insufficient support of Israel. Namely his pressure on Israel to halt further development of its West Bank settlements, something that Zionist and Jewish extremist are vehemently opposed to. They specifically reject the idea that the United States should ever pressure Israel over anything. Just because Obama did so was more than enough to confirm their belief he's anti-Israel. It all started when Obama called for a re-instatement of the 1967 borders and support for a future Palestinian state.
Although this is an underserved criticism, truth be told, there will never be a negotiated settlement as long as the current leadership exist in Israel and among US Jewish advocates, not to mention American has never been a neutral party to these negotiations. The US Jewish lobby will never allow the US government to champion freedom for the Palestinian people. Especially from supporters from New York, which has more Jewish residents than anywhere on earth next to Israel?
One thing is obvious, the response to the assertions that Obama’s lack of attention toward Israel by the American Zionist lobby, inclusive of fellow democrats like Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, obtained greater value and attention from the president than similar assertions made within the African American community. The American Jewish lobby is greeted with open arms when such idealism is fostered. But when African Americans even suggest the need for similar attention, it is down played based on the premise that ethnic, cultural and racial specific remedies are not needed as much as in time past.
How so one may query? After the New York loss, the White House appointed an "outreach" director to improve relations with the Jewish community. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and other Jewish organizations have been getting all of Obama’s attention as of late, including the President giving a speech a few months ago at AIPAC’s annual policy conference. I cannot recall of such an effort and openness extended to the African American community addressing our concerns. He even spoke asking for the freedom of hikers held in Iran but no open word for Troy Davis.
Obama distances himself from affirmative action or programs designed to assist selected racial or minority groups yet seems to jump when certain aspects of his electorates’ cries foul. This even when he avoids any direct confrontation with issues of race that impact African Americans. Yes he uses his political capital openly to confront the needs and fears of Jews regarding Israel. Both, the concern for Israel and the disparate economic hardship of African Americans are long standing issues, but if an African American points out this lack of attention, he is considered selfish and less American but the American Jewish person doing the same is not.
We can speak of disproportionate levels of poverty and unemployment, and the impact that disparities in incarceration promulgate havoc, pain and suffering in our community, yet Obama policy tends to compartmentalize minority unemployment with solving the unemployment issues of all while forgetting that similar approaches in the past only make the rich richer, tend to make our economic conditions worse and supports merely the trickle down economic approach that Bush, Clinton and Reagan implemented and collectively African Americans argued against.
Especially with respect to mass incarceration, where I suspect the president will do little or ever mention this in the overarching discussion of what is best for America, let alone us African Americans who are the only ones stigmatized and gathering more and more decreased opportunity as a consequence of this injustice, socially and economically.
The position of the Obama administration implicates social and racial inequality as issues of an old world while conveniently ignoring that ethnic and cultural and gender specific remedies are necessary at times. He did such with regards to “don’t ask don’t tell” although he changed his belief while he was a senator that gays should be able to get married just as heterosexuals. He did this when he signed his equal pay for women executive order without a flip flop. Now he attends to the concerns specifically for Jewish Americans, while ignoring the specific concerns of African Americans.
Obama ignores racial politics and many of us give him a pass because he looks like us, when democratic progressives of the past attacked them head on. Seems they were more aware of the black and white reality – whites crated the black codes and enslaved us, not the other way around.
Politically, Obama is a throwback. He knows what he needs to win and serve those needs first. After all, many of his positions suggest that he understands he will get our vote regardless if he promotes our issues politically or not, because he knows we will vote for him because he is black (a reflection of our shallow preference for symbolism over substance). This is similar to the beliefs that produced the concept of separate but equal. Unfortunately such reflects a dysfunctional democracy, one that suppresses and disenfranchises some groups at the expense of others.
I know many in the Jewish lobby will call me an anti-Semite (I am not) and that many African Americans will call me a hatter. I call it objective. As Aldous Huxley once wrote, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” I know we give Israel tons of money and have for decades, I just wonder what could be done here in the US with that money, especially in deserving African American communities disproportionately immolated by poverty, incessant high unemployment and unbelievable rates of incarceration.