Obama keeps support of major Jewish funders

By Nathalie Rothschild, December 22, 2011

Contrary to claims from some on the American political right, a new report shows that President Barack Obama has retained the backing of his biggest Jewish fundraisers.

The report, published in Forward magazine, showed that prominent Jews who raised over $500,000 each for Mr Obama in 2008 - so-called "elite bundlers" - are supporting him again ahead of the 2012 election. In addition, a number of new elite, Jewish money-raisers have joined their ranks.

Elite bundlers do not necessarily contribute their own money but can tap networks of friends and associates to raise donations.

Some prominent Jewish fundraisers for Mr Obama's 2012 campaign include DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, former National Jewish Democratic Council chairman Michael Adler, and film producer Harvey Weinstein.

At a recent forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, six of the Republican presidential candidates took turns attacking the president on his policies towards Israel and Iran.

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts senator Mitt Romney both accused Mr Obama of pursuing an "appeasement strategy" towards enemies of America.

In response, Bill Burton, a former Obama spokesman who now leads independent fundraising efforts for his re-election, said: "President Obama has consistently fought for a secure Israel and peace in the Middle East."

At last week's Union for Reform Judaism's biennial event near Washington, Mr Obama drew rapturous applause for his speech. He said: "America's commitment and my commitment to Israel's security is unshakable." Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak told the crowd that Israel-US ties have strengthened during Mr Obama's presidency.

Mr Obama won 78 per cent of the Jewish vote in 2008. A September Gallup poll showed that his support among US Jews was down, but that this reflected shifts in his overall approval rates. Mr Obama was, in fact, doing better among Jews than among all Americans.

    Last updated: 12:46pm, December 22 2011