BY DICK MORRIS—
If the election were held today, President Obama would get only 56 percent of the Jewish vote against a generic Republican candidate, down from the 78 percent he won in 2008 and less than the 74 percent John Kerry received in 2004.
This is the key finding of a survey of 1,000 Jewish voters I conducted from June 20-27 using telephone and Internet interviews. After asking basic questions of the entire sample, I proceeded to drill down with more detailed questions for the Jews in the sample who identified themselves as Democrats. The overall survey has a 95 percent confidence of a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.
Triggering the increasing Jewish disaffection with Obama is opposition to his proposal that an Israeli return to ’67 borders be the starting point of peace negotiations. By 10-83, Jewish voters opposed the plan. Jewish Democrats opposed it by 10-67. Asked if President Obama is “too biased against Israel,” Jewish voters as a whole agreed with the charge by 39-30, while 32 percent of Jewish Democrats also agreed (and 40 percent of Jewish Democrats disagreed).
Jews who identified themselves as Democrats also said:
• By 37-47, they do not think Obama is “doing a good job of promoting peace in the Middle East.”
• By 43-42, they break evenly on whether Obama “is being too tough on Israel.”
• By 61-30, Jewish Democrats think the president “is naïve in thinking that he can make peace with the Arabs.”
The survey probed the issue of 1967 borders in greater depth, reading Jewish Democrats a statement giving both sides of the issue:
President Obama says that Israel should give up the land it occupied after the 1967 war except for some adjustments. He says that these borders would give the Palestinians a viable nation of their own and would lead to a settlement of their conflict with Israel. Others disagree, saying that these borders are too small, exposing Israel to shelling from the Golan Heights in the north and giving the nation a middle only nine miles wide. They say that returning to the pre-’67 borders would not stop the Arabs from wanting to destroy Israel but would make it easier to do so. Which view comes closest to your own?
In response, Jewish Democrats opposed returning to the ’67 borders by 82-8.
Israel is very important to Jewish Democrats.
• By 86-4, Jewish Democrats agree that “it is very important that Jews have a country of their own, considering their history of persecution.”
• They disagree, by 9-75, with the idea that “Israel has become a bully, pushing its Arab neighbors around.”
• Jewish Democrats agree, by a margin of 85-4, that “Israel is a small country surrounded by countries and peoples that want to destroy it.”
• By an overwhelming 12-71, they reject the idea that “Israel is intolerant of its neighbors and does not do enough to get along with them in peace”.
• By 79-4, Jewish Democrats agree that “Israel wants to live in peace with its neighbors but the Arabs won’t let it” and reject, by 11-73, the statement that “Israel is always trying to grab more land and throw out the Palestinians who live there.”
• Finally, Jewish Democrats agree, 67-13, with the overview that “if the Arabs lay down their weapons, there would be no more war. It is just their desire to destroy Israel that creates the conflict.”
Given the importance of Israel to the Jewish Democratic voters of the United States, it is clear that Obama is playing with fire as he toughens the American foreign policy toward Israel and banks his credibility on the idea that peace is possible simply through Israeli territorial concessions. American Jews — Democrats included — reject the very foundation of Obama’s efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East as “naïve.”
Obama is in the process of breaking the close relationship between his party and the Jewish community, a liaison first formed by Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s. In increasing numbers, American Jews and Jewish Democrats are leaving the president’s side.