Obama Walks a Difficult Path as He Courts Jewish Voters

As he battles for the Democratic nomination, Senator Barack Obama is trying to strengthen his support among Jewish voters and in doing so, is navigating one of the more treacherous paths of Democratic politics.

The challenge of meeting the concerns of the Jewish electorate, a cornerstone of the Democratic base, was evident Tuesday when Mr. Obama was asked at the Democratic debate in Cleveland about Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader who has endorsed him.

Mr. Obama called Mr. Farrakhan an anti-Semite and denounced his support, but was pressed to go further by his rival, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, an experienced hand at Democratic politics who herself has been on the defensive with Jewish voters after an encounter in 2000 with Suha Arafat, the wife of the Palestinian leader.

Mr. Obama has also faced criticism over remarks he made about the suffering of Palestinians ”” remarks he says were incorrectly reported ”” and about who is advising him on foreign affairs. And he has had to beat back false tales, spread in viral e-mail messages, that he is a Muslim who attended a madrassa in Indonesia as a boy and was sworn into office on the Koran. In fact, he is a Christian who was sworn in on a Bible.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

9 comments on “Obama Walks a Difficult Path as He Courts Jewish Voters

  1. azusa says:

    ‘Barack atah Adonai -‘
    Hello? he? noooo!!!

  2. physician without health says:

    He and Clinton essentially split the Jewish vote. This sounds like a non-story to me, slow news day?

  3. Irenaeus says:

    “’Barack atah Adonai -’
    Hello? he? noooo!!!”

    Put a sock in it.

  4. Wilfred says:

    They need to circulate a picture of Mr Obama wearing a yarmulke.

  5. Ouroboros says:

    No. 3, that’s a bit harsh considering that it was Senator Obama himself who compared his first name to the Hebrew word “baruch,” meaning “blessed,” and which is traditionally applied to God in Jewish prayers. See Kampeas, Ron. “Obama, Democrats’ Rising Star, Known for Harmony with Jews”, Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, August 6, 2004.

  6. Irenaeus says:

    Ouroboros [#4]: I trust you don’t really mean to imply that Obama likened himself to God. Obama was making a point about the etymology of his first name.

    In Hebrew “Baruch” means “blessed” and (as I understand it) “Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu” means “Blessed are you Lord God.” Plenty of Jews are named Baruch without evincing any delusions of divinity.

  7. Ouroboros says:

    That’s exactly what I’m implying. There is no reason to believe “Barack” has anything to do with “Baruch.” Indeed, in literal Hebrew, “barak” means “lightning,” not blessed.

    Plenty of Jews also don’t run a campaign heavily themed with messianism (i.e., constant references to “change” and a pledge to save everyone from everything).

  8. Dr. William Tighe says:

    What all-round ignorance here! The Arabic word “barak” (of which I suppose “Barack” is a variant, pr perhaps an ignorant misspelling) is from precisely the same Semitic root as “baruch” (meaning “blessed”), although in some dialects of Arabic it means something more like “fortunate” or “lucky.”

  9. azusa says:

    #7: Actually I knew that … Obama’s first and middle names (Hussein = ‘handsome’) are Arabic. A pity my polyglot pun brought out the Ire in Irenaeus rather than the eirenic…