Rev. Jesse Jackson is now exulting that the impending Obama presidency would mean an end to “decades of putting Israel’s interests first,” according to reports from the World Economic Forum in France. (Link via Hot Air. Gateway Pundit has more.)
Jackson, last heard from in July when a live mike caught him voicing fantasies about performing genital mutilation on Barack Obama, has always been tough to pin down with regard to whether he actually wants Obama elected; he consistently says he does, though his actions result in — ahem! — mixed signals. When Obama says that as president he’d be Israel’s best friend, it doesn’t help his case when Jackson proclaims to an audience of international VIPs at a global conference that “Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades” would in fact see their influence in the White House diminish.
The Obama campaign scrambled away from these radioactive comments:
“Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. is not an adviser to the Obama campaign and is therefore in no position to interpret or share Barack Obama’s views on Israel and foreign policy,” Obama national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi said in a statement. “As he has made clear throughout his career and throughout this campaign, Barack Obama has a fundamental commitment to a strong U.S.-Israel relationship … As president, he will ensure that Israel can defend itself from every threat it faces, stand with Israel in its quest for a secure peace with its neighbors, and use all elements of American power to end Iran’s illicit nuclear program.”
The outcome in more than one swing state depends very much on which candidate comes off as more appealing and more comfortable for Jewish and pro-Israel voters. Major retirement havens like Florida and Nevada have above-average concentrations of Jewish voters; many of those are senior citizens, who turn out to vote in greater numbers than any other age group. Even Pennsylvania has a greater-than-average concentration of Jewish voters, and considerable business and industrial ties to Israel.
Obama’s courting of the Jewish and pro-Israel vote has been a bit clumsy. In a June speech to AIPAC he declared flatly that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided,” only to backtrack the very next day. He has a history of associations with such anti-Israel figures as the late professor Edward Said, former PLO operative Rashid Khalidi, and of course Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Combine that with his stated willingness to sit down face to face with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without preconditions (his running mate, Joe Biden, has also been criticized as weak on Iran), and the historical tendency of American Jewish voters to vote with liberal Democrats will meet with a serious test.