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American Jews support Obama with 78% of vote

November 5, 2008

The verdict is in on the politics of fear when it comes to Israel and the Middle East. It didn’t work.

The overwhelming majority of American Jews chose hope yesterday, giving
Barack Obama 78% of the Jewish vote, well ahead of John Kerry’s 2004
total.  [1]

This is more than an historic electoral victory.  It is our chance to
deal a knock-out blow to the politics of fear when it comes to Israel
and the Middle East.

That’s why we’re collecting signatures on a letter to President-elect
Obama to demonstrate the breadth of his mandate in our community for
far-reaching change.

To amplify our message, we ran a full-page ad in The New York Times stating that this election carries a promise of change in
America and of hope, peace and security for Israel and the Middle East.

With your help, we’ll send a clear and powerful message to
Washington, the media and opinion leaders that the overwhelming
majority of our community says “No!” to the smears, and “Yes!” to hope
and a new direction.

The story could have been different. Any one of these well-funded
attempts to stoke the Jewish community’s worst fears could have
succeeded:

  • 28 million copies of the DVD “Obsession” distributed to stoke anti-Muslim fears.
  • Millions
    of dollars of Republican Jewish Coalition ads tying Barack Obama and
    other pro-diplomacy candidates to terrorists and President Ahmadinejad
    of Iran.
  • Slanderous, anonymous emails attacking everything from Barack Obama’s name to his heritage and lineage.
  • Last
    minute, revolting attempts by the Pennsylvania Republican Party, Joe
    the Plumber and others to link Barack Obama’s election and the
    Holocaust.

There really were no limits to the
coordinated, despicable effort to stoke the Jewish community’s basest
fears and prejudices in this election.

The morning after the election, those who spread the smears and peddled
fear have nothing to show for it.  They must face their own personal
reckoning for what they have done, but we must make it crystal clear to
the broader world that they did not speak for us.

Unfortunately, the abuse of the politics of fear on Israel is nothing
new. The same tactics employed in this campaign are used year-round to
stifle open, honest debate about American policy toward Israel and the
Middle East.

If we are going to tackle serious problems like advancing real peace
and security for Israel and the Middle East, we’ve got to put these
tactics to rest once and for all.

Obama’s decisive victory is a great opportunity to show the strong
support in our community for a clean break from slash and burn politics
on Israel.

It is critical for the United States and its interests around the world
to pursue a rational policy in the Middle East along the lines
President-elect Obama has outlined:

  1. Diplomacy as a first, not a last resort;
  2. Pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peace and comprehensive, regional Arab-Israeli peace;
  3. Direct engagement with Iran; and
  4. Ending the war in Iraq responsibly.

It is also critical for Israel that we have a rational discussion about these issues. As Israel’s own outgoing Prime Minister
has made clear, the country’s very future as a democratic state and
home to the Jewish people is at stake.

President-elect Obama needs our help if he’s to make his mandate for change a reality. I hope you’ll take a moment to tell Barack Obama that you chose
hope over fear and that you’ll support his commitment to bring hope,
peace, and security to Israel and the whole Middle East.

[1] MSNBC Exit Polls, United States
President, “Religion, combined Protestant and other Christian.” 2008
Election results,  Exit polls, November 4, 2008.