Obama in new drive to win Jewish votes

By Ellen Tumposky, July 7, 2011
Obama’s backers are emphasising his concern for Israel’s security

Obama’s backers are emphasising his concern for Israel’s security

With the Jewish vote emerging as a key battleground in the 2012 election, prominent Jewish supporters of President Obama are mounting a campaign to win more Democrat votes from the American Jewish community .

"The Jewish vote is important and meaningful to the President, and his campaign cares about it," says Alan Solow, former head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations and a key Obama supporter.

"The Republicans are making a concerted effort to put the Jewish vote in play. We're going to make sure the facts get out to make clear that President Obama is a very strong supporter of Israel," he said.

The effort, already under way, will include speeches and articles by high-profile Obama backers, he said, citing a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed co-authored by former Congressman Robert Wexler. It praised Obama's May 19 speech in which the President said: "The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps."

Republicans immediately denounced the speech as a call for a return to pre-1967 borders. But the op-ed argued that the Republicans were ignoring the President's reference to land swaps and said: "By insisting that the 1967 lines be modified, Mr Obama showed his paramount concern for Israel's security."

That argument will not wash among Jewish voters, according to Noah Silverman, head of congressional affairs for the Republican Jewish Coalition. He said the "land swaps caveat" is a new and less solid formulation that takes the place of "defensible borders" as a basis for a peace agreement.

Looking ahead to 2012, "There's certainly a basis for Jewish swing voters to think hard about this president," he said. "The Obama campaign considers this a key battleground, and we agree."

Last updated: 1:09pm, July 7 2011