Suffer through this preface and eventually you'll get to an introduction and diary.

This diary -- two diaries in one, in fact -- is prompted by three things: (1) the demand for cessation of anti-Semitism on DKos posted by Mets102 just before he left for the boycott on Sunday, Sept. 11; (2) the election of a Republican over an orthodox Jew in historically Democratic NY-09, one week ago, based largely on an activated and agitated Jewish electorate; and (3) the impending vote on Palestinian statehood, my diary of last Saturday asking what political repercussions would ensue if Obama had the U.S. abstain in the vote rather than veto it, which led to some frank discussion in comments, which led me to wonder whether the discussion in comments ought itself to be considered anti-Semitic by the standards of the new and emerging Daily Kos.

The timing of this diary is based on two things.  (1) I had to get through the above incredibly long run-on sentence.  (2) before commenting on the  results of the NY-9 election and its impact on fueling the long-lusted-after-by-Republicans meme that "Jews are abandoning the Democratic Party and Obama particularly," I wanted to wait until after the boycott ended.  (Mets102 just returned to the site while I was working on this diary this morning; I'm notifying him of it by KosMail.)

This diary itself is two diaries in one: (1) a commentary on NY-09 and the reaction to it here, by the populace, and in the media, and then the same for the UN vote on Palestinian statehood; (2) a meta-commentary on whether asking the questions I ask her, and giving the answers that I and others have given, are to be considered bigotry -- and how that adjudication process will work come CSMAS season.  My sense is that in had I published this in a week when many Jewish members of this site were not boycotting (based on, among other things, their complaint that anti-Semitism is tolerated here), I would have stood a good chance of being disciplined or banned for it.  Perhaps I still might.  I think that this is a good time to figure that out, if we can.

As I'm now, per Markos's rules, considered to be doing the equivalent of hosting a party in my home, I will take the opportunity to set some standards of engagement:

(1) Challenge me on my assertions, opinions and choices as aggressively as you want, so long as you avoid invective.  This is difficult stuff to talk about; while I truly don't intend for it to be offensive I recognize that it may be upsetting.  I claim the right to talk about it frankly in part because I proudly self-identify as Jewish, I condemn what I consider to be anti-Semitism where I encounter it, I value my culture and most of those with whom I share it, and I have religious beliefs that fall pretty much within the realm of Reform Judaism (though my religious practices do more rarely.)  In raising these matters, I think that I have to have a thick enough skin to face a rational explanation of how my writing this diary is a Very Bad Thing -- something with which, obviously, I disagree, or I wouldn't do so.  Please leave out the invective and accusations and whatnot; where I see it, I'll try not to rise to the bait.

(2) Be nicer to your fellow guests than you are to me.  On all sides, please cut each other slack.  If this somehow devolves into a "Jew-bashing" diary, I expect to be on the side of those saying "stop that bashing."

(3) I'm conducting myself with an eye towards how this sort of discussion might be used as a model for discussing "difficult topics" with respect to other subaltern groups -- not all of which, as is the case with women and the relatively poor, are actually numerical minorities.  I don't expect you to be blind to that; if you want to explain how something is OK in this diary but would not be OK in a diary addressing another group, that general topic is in-bounds.  It seems like it would be very easy to do that badly, but it is not out of bounds.

(4) More rules may evolve; I'll update them up here if and when they do.

Now, I think I said something up there about actually writing a diary.  Note that it is very long, largely from my including many interesting comments from others.  I'm posting on the late-ish side to give people time to read it in the evening.

1. Introduction

I'll say up front: I reject any notion that this diary is anti-Semitic.  (If it were, I would neither write it nor ask you to read it.)  Yet I fully recognize that it probably would fall within the bounds of the definition of anti-Semitism that has been proposed by "anti-anti-Semitism" activists for use on this site.  (There are obvious analogies to be made regarding similar demands made by other demographic groups based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, etc.; I'm most comfortable dealing with this one because I'm a proud member of the group in question and thus a little less vulnerable to the charge of bigotry.)

Let's start with the relevant part of the cry of anguish at anti-Semitism launched by Mets102 in the diary referenced in my preface:

How many times do people get to accuse Jewish posters and politicians of dual loyalty?  How many times do they get to claim that the Jews secretly control the government?  How many antisemitic themes do they get to hit on before they’re finally banned?  Do they have to hit on two deadly memes?  Three deadly memes?  Four?  Enough that they qualify to be a star poster at the white supremacist and antisemitic Stormfront?

Good questions, fairly stated.  I could certainly imagine grand and baroque conspiracy theories regarding "Jewish influence" emerging in comments here -- although I hope that they won't.  And yet, both the explanation for NY-9 and the explanation for "why Obama has to veto Palestinian statehood" come very close to, in my opinion, scaled-down and non-baroque assertions that might be taken to be along these very themes.

The tension between how far one can go in explaining the political world as one honestly sees it, based on good evidence (if not always "extraordinary proof," before it turns into something objectionable is at the root of the debate over anti-Semitism here (and, perhaps, of other similar debates as well.)  In my diary on Obama's veto, several statements were made in comments about the influence of conservative Jewish donors.  In the main, these comments seemed measured and they certainly match by experience in politics -- and, god knows, there are probably many more wonderfully liberal Jewish donors as well, but they tend not to be restricted to single issues, like the security of Israel -- but at the same time, had it not been a boycott week, I could have imagined thunderous denunciation of them.  I think that this is an unhealthy situation -- we should be able to talk about such things.  We should work on separating the distance between the arguably real and the false, inflammatory and offensive.

Where better to start than here and now?

I reject as being overbroad any definition of anti-Semitism that would encompass this diary.  I would, though, very likely lose a "popular vote" on the issue if it went to "community adjudication".  I believe that there is much less of a "constituency" for accepting dicey arguments like mine than there is for arguing that anything that is even arguably anti-Semitic should be banned.  (I'd assert, also that many of those arguments are not made in good faith.)  I have no means to "get out the vote" in an adjudication process, and to the extent that some of those who might "vote my way" actually are anti-Semitic -- as I accept that some likely are -- I have no interest in their support anyway.

The diary below therefore offers (or at least is intended to offer) a good example of the biggest challenge to any content-rating system based on popular vote -- one with which those working out such CSMAS a policy in Kos Central will have to grapple (to, I hope, the great benefit of such a plan.)

The prospect of losing a determinative (rather than advisory, as I'd prefer) vote under the as-yet-unreleased new community moderation protocols, would mean that in deciding whether to write this diary I'd have to choose between (1) facing one in a set of exponentially increasing penalties or (2) just shutting up.  So, once I'm done with the substantive part of this diary, let's use this diary as an object lesson and see whether and how the procedures that Markos and his posse are contemplating would apply here.

That's enough of the meta for now.  Let's get to the meat.  And if you want to stop there and not get into the meta, I'll surely understand.

2. DKos discussion of what happened in NY-09

I had a puzzling exchange with Greg Dworkin (DemFromCT, to you) the day after the conservative Christian Republican, Bob Turner, beat the moderate Jewish Democrat, David Weprin by a margin of 53%-47% in NY-09, with the disproportionate number of votes coming from the Jewish areas of Brooklyn.  To a comment about the Likud (Israeli conservative party) slant of these votes, Dworkin wrote

... the Siena poll clearly showed Israel was not a factor. Hating weiner, disapproval of Obama on the economy and trending conservative with ethic groups in this district was.

by DemFromCT on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 06:13:07 AM PDT

Paleo replied:

That's totally misleading.  If not the main factor, Israel was one of the major factors.  Even if only 7% considered Israel to be their primary issue (which I hightly doubt), that was the difference between victory and defeat in this election.

Weiner and nothing to do with it.  Zilch.  Polls showed before he resigned that he retained majority approval in the district.

Israel, Muslim-hate, opposition to SSM [same-sex marriage], and the economy were the issues.

by Paleo on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 06:23:40 AM PDT

I was less constructive and was summarily dismissed, after which I tried to be more constructive:

Israel was not a factor?

Take the train south and see.  Oh yes it was!

by Seneca Doane on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 08:35:25 AM PDT

your opinion vs polls.  I'll go with the polls.

by DemFromCT on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 09:49:48 AM PDT

Link to the polls, please and a comment on whether you think Ed Koch's speech was entirely ineffectual.

by Seneca Doane on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 05:12:26 PM PDT

I went and looked it up myself.  Here's the link to the report, which precisely nailed the 6-point margin for Turner.  (Warning: 3-page PDF).  Dworkin is apparently citing this finding:

One-third of voters, including nearly half of Turner supporters, say that the candidate’s position on economic recovery was the single most important factor in choosing which candidate to support.  Twenty-eight percent, including nearly half of Weprin’s supporters, said the candidate’s position on federal entitlements, such as Social Security and Medicare, was the most important factor.  The candidate’s party was identified by 18 percent of voters (21 percent of Democrats and 11 percent of Republicans) as the most important factor, followed by endorsement of the candidate by a trusted source at eight percent, and the candidate’s position on
Israel, at only seven percent.

“While a plurality of voters says New York State is on the right track, nearly three-quarters of voters say the country is headed in the wrong direction,” Greenberg said. “The voters’ mood on the direction of the country, coupled with the unfavorable rating of President Obama – particularly among Republicans and independents - makes this a tougher election for Weprin, or for any Democrat running in this district or a district like it.

You can draw your own conclusions from from comparing this section to Dworkin's dismissal of the role of attitudes towards Israel as decisive in the election -- not because they moved the entire electorate, but because they determined the position of an active and cohesive portion of the electorate that swung here from D to R.  It does not even appear that Siena even asked about Israel or same-sex marriage -- the other issue that was used to activate Orthodox Jewish voters in NY-09 -- and in polling the dictum is often "do not seek and ye shall not find."

Why -- besides looking at the disparity between the Queens votes and the Brooklyn votes (where the Jewish voters are concentrated) -- do I think that attitudes towards Israel played a big role in this election?  Well, like jpmassar in his diary, I attended to this report from PPP (which also nailed the 6-point Turner margin):

The issue of Israel does appear to be having a major impact on this race.  A plurality of voters- 37%- said that Israel was 'very important' in determining their votes. Turner is winning those folks by an amazing 71-22 margin. With everyone who doesn't say Israel is a very important issue for them Weprin actually leads 52-36. Turner is in fact winning the Jewish vote by a 56-39 margin, very unusual for a Republican candidate...

There is no enthusiasm gap here.  Obama voters are showing up in the same numbers they did in 2008.  But only 65% of them are voting Democratic.  That's a really big cause for concern.

I derive my belief about the role of Israel -- and Jewish voters -- in determining the election on something else as well: I was paying attention to what was being said in the district.  In endorsing and campaigning heartily for Turner, this is what former NY Mayor Ed Koch had to say:

“If Jewish New Yorkers and others who support Israel were to turn away from the Democratic Party in that congressional election and elect the Republican candidate to Congress in 2011, it might very well cause President Obama to change his hostile position on the state of Israel and to re-establish the special relationship presidents before him had supported.”

As SaoMagnifico noted,

the narrative advanced by some influential Democrats in the district who have turned on Weprin and President Obama, led by Ed Koch and [Orthodox Jewish Democratic Assemblyman from the area] Dov Hikind, is that by defeating Weprin, Israel hawks can send a message to Obama.

I also heard, as skohayes reported in this comment, that

Weprin's vote for same sex marriage and his really poor campaign is what lost this election.

NOM (National Organization for Marriage) spent $75,000 on Weprin's opponent running attack ads on Weprin.

The race had already drawn headlines when former New York Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, recommended voting for the Republican to express displeasure over Barack Obama's policy towards Israel.

Hikind, a staunch supporter of Israel, did not employ this argument when he explained his decision. He emphasized that Weprin had lost his vote by bringing in his religion to back his vote for the gay marriage law that carried the New York legislature in June. The fact that he backed the law at all cost Weprin Orthodox votes.

"I will not support David Weprin," said the Brooklyn state Assemblyman

"Weprin basically used his Jewish orthodoxy to say gay marriage is OK. He used his orthodoxy to say gay marriage is kosher. That crossed the line," Hikind added.

This argument spares us Jews from having to discuss the role of policy towards Israel in NY-09 (call this the "Ed Koch" concern) but instead directs us to focus on homophobia in the orthodox Jewish community -- another unpleasant topic.  And toss this into the mix:

A group of Flatbush rabbonim [rabbis have signed a letter stating that it is forbidden to vote or campaign for Democrat David Weprin] in the race to replace Queens Rep. Anthony Weiner. Weprin is a New York State assemblyman and formerly a member of the New York City Council where he served as chairman of its finance committee.

Weprin, an Orthodox Jew, has sparked the ire of much of the frum [Orthodox] community because of his vote in favor of same-gender marriage. He has defended the vote publicly.

“It has nothing to do with my personal religious beliefs. I am not running for Rosh Yeshiva,” said Weprin, as reported earlier today here on Matzav.com.

“Weprin’s claim that he is Orthodox makes the chillul Hashem even greater,” states the letter signed by the Flatbush rabbonim. The letter states that it is therefore “[forbidden according to Torah law] to vote for, campaign for, fund or otherwise support the campaign of NY State Assemblyman David Weprin.”

The letter contains several non-Flatbush signatories, most notably Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky and Rav Simcha Bunim Cohen.

Many are upset about Mr. Weprin’s vote earlier this year in Albany to legalize same gender marriage in New York state, and particularly that Mr. Weprin cited his Orthodox Jewish faith as a reason to vote for the bill.

To be fair, on the other side, some posters objected to identifying a swing in Jewish voters as the problem while identifying an explanation -- the Weiner scandal -- that also would strip the race of national implications.  For example:

But to imply that the district will go GOP in a special election is somehow linked to Jews in the district without noting that the previous democrat holding that seat left because of a sordid sex scandal and overhyped the media reaction by lying has nothing to do with this shift is simply dishonest and ludicrous

by LaurenMonica on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 07:13:12 AM PDT

Pundits drew a lesson from Turner's win -- that it signaled danger for Obama! -- that completely elided the role of Israel and anti-gay Orthodox Jewish theology in this election.  Take a look at David Nir's pre-election review of the race and look in vain for the words "Israel" or "Jewish" -- or don't, because they aren't there.  Instead, we have mention of "President Obama's unpopularity, cited without assessment of whence it derived, as a factor.  The critical question, for understanding the importance of the election for the rest of the country, was not asked.  It was politely noted, though, by SaoMagnifico in the very first comment:

The question beyond what Turner's margin on Tuesday ends up being (unless Weprin can make a last-minute push to victory, which is unlikely) what President Obama does with the conundrum of the Israel hawks' vote next year.

I think attempting to triangulate would be a misstep. Militant Zionism (to use the term in the I.R. sense, not the anti-Israeli pejorative) is almost a faith unto itself, and just as I don't think Romney can ever ingratiate himself with ardent pro-life conservatives because he was once perceived as a pro-choice moderate, I don't think Obama can win back many of the hawks who have defected to the likes of Turner over this manufactured controversy just by talking tough on the Palestinian statehood bid or revising the administration's policy on the 1967 borders or the West Bank settlements. I think they're gone for good.

Assuming Obama stays the course, and hoping there's not another unexpected showdown between a moderate White House that has decidedly preferred soft power and multilateralism in its foreign policy approach (relative to the previous administration) and a right-wing Knesset that has embraced unilateralism and rejected compromise, it seems likely to assume that the rift between Democrats and the Israel hawks will stay the same or widen.

The question is, and this isn't a rhetorical question, how big a presence are voters whose primary concern is Israel outside of the heavily Jewish Orthodox NY-09?

To his great credit, Nir responded with the single critical piece of information, missing from virtually all other commentary on the election, that one truly needed to gauge the importance of NY-09 for predicting results in 2012:

To answer your question: ... There are no other districts like this one. Yes, there are some districts that may have more Jews, but they are almost all much more Democratic as a whole. According to a study (PDF), this was the 4th-most Jewish district in the nation in 2006. All the other heavily Jewish districts are much bluer, as you can see. You very quickly get into districts where Jews are barely 10% of the population.

by David Nir on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 08:39:41 PM PDT

I want to cite some other comments from later in that thread because they represent what I think of as the sort of useful analysis that should have occurred in the wake of NY-09, as opposed to "Obama is doomed!":

That's what I figured (6+ / 0-)
My next question, though, is what happens to all the money from disproportionately Jewish and wealthy sectors of the economy that traditionally pours into Democratic coffers? I know there are a lot of big Jewish donors lined up behind the Democratic Party at most election times, helping to counterbalance the flood of big money inevitably unleashed by corporate bigwigs and conservative ultramillionaires like the Koch brothers, J. Boone Pickens, and the Chamber of Commerce crowd in favor of the Republicans. How big a deal is it that President Obama is perceived as being less vociferously pro-Israel than he was in 2008, or than Sen. Kerry was in 2004, etc.?

by SaoMagnifico on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 08:55:28 PM PDT

So, far, fundraising has been OK ... at least as it was last reported a few months ago.

This election won't help, since it will be publicized in the Jewish media and reinforce a false message that Obama's anti-israel.  That is going to require a lot of repair work.

by LordMike on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 08:58:45 PM PDT

I'm guessing here ... But I suspect that many major Jewish donors are more moderate/reform Jews and, while Israel may be an issue for them, it's certainly not the only one.

by Tiger in BlueDenver on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 10:31:05 PM PDT

And the Orthodox tend to have less money.  It's the poorest segment of the US Jewish community.

It's also the most socially conservative, which makes them more open to the GOP.  What they make of people like Michelle Bachmann,  I wouldn't even want to guess.  Lay down with dogs...

by mbayrob on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 11:41:43 PM PDT

You mean the Chassidim, don't you?  I think Modern Orthodox Jews tend to be fairly well-to-do. And I don't like confusing the two rather different segments of the Jewish Community with each other.

by MichaelNY on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 02:11:02 AM PDT

Yeah, go to Teaneck, NJ and tell me Orthodox Jews are the poorest...

by sapelcovits on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 06:59:31 AM PDT

True, but they voted Obama in 2008.  They were socially conservative then too.  The question is, what changed?  Is it perceptions over Israel, the economy in general (given Orthodox Jews relative poverty compared to other U.S. Jews), or something else?  

by DB55 on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 08:16:25 AM PDT

Palin. Palin, Palin, Palin.  She scared the vast majority of American Jews of all stripes right into Obama's camp, as her outspoken Christianist (not to be confused with Christian) positions came off with a strong whiff of religious oppression.

by The Caped Composer on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 09:27:24 AM PDT

And finally this:

Orthodox Jews don't vote like most Jews (10+ / 0-)
While I've certainly seen a fair number of Jews who aren't so warm to Obama over what they perceive to be his policy on Israel (which AFAICT, is not actually his policy on Israel), I don't think that this has weakened his support in the Jewish community as a whole that much.  I'm much more likely to hear people who are pissed as hell at him for being a disappointment on economic policy, frankly.

But Orthodox Jews aren't "most Jews".  They've been tilting Republican for a while on social issues, and they are much more likely to support the Israeli right over the Israeli center or left.  But in absolute terms, they are not that numerous.  And it's pretty rare that you'd have enough of them in a single congressional district for them to be a major factor, this one district aside.

I don't think there's much Obama can do to make these people happy.  Mostly, the I/P peace talks have been dead in the water for years, both due to Netanyahu and the composition of his government, the weakness of  Palestinian Authority, and the lack of any constructive contacts between the Hamas government in Gaza and pretty much anyone in Israel, in or out of government.  All the US can do right now is try to keep things from blowing up, and wait for a better set of governments.  I don't see what Obama can do differently here.

The best thing Obama can do about the Jewish vote is to improve the economy,  and show some fight, frankly.  Which is not that different from what Obama needs to do about the rest of the US vote.

by mbayrob on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 11:35:08 PM PDT

The above discussion is, I submit to you, really good.  It is the sort of thing to which we should aspire in our political analysis.  And, as a Jew, I find it --uncomfortable.  It feels like being put under a microscope!  But that's what scientists -- including social scientists, and including the amateur social scientists that we see practiced here -- do.  If it's uncomfortable, it's because it's of a kind with "the male gaze" that feminist scholars note, and with normative heterosexual perspective that GLBT scholars note, and the dominant culture perspective that scholars from minority races and ethnicities generally note.  But it's not wrongful.

(A few side points I picked up while researching this diary.  If the uninitiated want an example of how these debates often proceed, see this exchange between Paleo and greatdarkspot].  The diary in which they appear, by sidnora, is a good example of an analysis that contributes much even without focusing on Israel.)

OK, that was a robust discussion, one where I've tried to represent every side.  In the final section I'll return to Mets102's questions, but to get you thinking, let's raise them again here:

How many times do people get to accuse Jewish posters and politicians of dual loyalty?  How many times do they get to claim that the Jews secretly control the government?

By raising the example of Ed Koch's stance on using the NY-09 election to "send a message" on Israel, am I accusing him of "dual loyalty"?  To the Democratic Party, certainly I am, but to the county?  Maybe I am.  Maybe not.  Maybe I should.  Maybe it's out of bounds.  (But does it matter if it's true?)  Let's consider another example before we get fully into meta.

3. DKos discussion of the prospective veto of Palestinian statehood

We had, I think, a good discussion in my diary from Saturday evening about what the political ramifications would be if President Obama chose not to exercise the U.S.'s veto in the Security Council to prevent the recognition of Palestine as a state.  Some of the comments, though, that sought to explain why Obama couldn't refuse to veto the proposal even if he thought that it was in the best interests of the United States -- or even Israel as well made me pretty nervous about how they (and the diary overall) would be taken.

In that diary, I asked eight questions about what would happen if Obama didn't veto:

(1) Would he -- could he -- be renominated?  If not, how would it be prevented?

(2) If nominated, could he be re-elected?

(3) How much worse would his numbers get overall, or among some demographic groups?

(4) How much better would his numbers get overall, or among some demographic groups?

(5) How would the media react to the substantive decision?  Would it be unanimous or fragmented?

(6) How would pundits react?

(7) Is there any conceivable defense for abstaining that Obama could "get away with"?

(8) Why, so far as I can tell, aren't people asking these questions?

I got some thoughtful and interesting answers.  Here's one from Brainwrap:

As an American Jew, my take is (6+ / 0-)
What would happen, rightly or wrongly:

1. Yes, he'd probably squeak out a re-nomination, but he would lose in the general election to Romney, Perry, or possibly even Bachmann.

2. See #1

3. He'd lose a huge chunk of the Jewish vote.

4. I'm sure his numbers would skyrocket amongst the Arabic population.

5. Media reaction would be about 95% hugely negative, aside from al Jazeera

6. Pundits' heads would explode all over.

7. None come to mind.

8. Because the answers are all pretty obvious, except possibly for #1.

As for my personal opinion, I'm all for a Palestinian state, with two caveats: ... [omitted]

Here's a thoughtful comment from wu ming:

my guess is that he'd take a hit especially among older jewish voters, that might make things harder both for him and for democrats in certain districts with large number of older jewish democrats, but that it needn't be as big of a hit as the media and GOP would try to make it be, if he sold the thing in terms of making peace in the middle east. a lot of jewish democrats are both concerned with perceived threats to the state of israel, but are also very strong supporters of the peace process and a two-state solution. the trick with allowing a palestinian state would be convincing that majority of jewish democrats that a palestinian state would be an important step towards a lasting peace, and thus would help reduce threats to israel in the long run .

he would also get huge bumps among muslim and arab voters, which would have significant influence in those states and districts. i have no idea how that would balance out what he'd lose, though.

the nutjob rightwing christian "obama's a secret muslim" pro-armageddon israel hawks would lose their shit if obama let the palestinians have a state, but i'm not sure that it would make much electoral difference, since they're not voting for him anyways.

it might have a significant positive effect on the support of left independents, who are openly critical of the occupation itself, and who are generally less than thrilled with obama's foreign policy, since making such a move would be seen as seriously politically courageous. that being said, the effect there is unlikely to matter much, though, given how those voters tend to be clustered in states and districts where he's going to win anyways (although it might matter to some degree depending on the state or district).

in terms of diplomacy, i think there's no question that supporting statehood would be a hugely beneficial move across the board, and vetoing a state would be a huge mark against american credibility. in terms of influence in israel, i think it could undermine netanyahu and favor livni, because it would prove that likud irredentism has led to an epic foreign policy fail for the israeli government. it could also trigger a domestic israeli backlash and support of likud, but my hunch is that, combined with the widespread protests against netanyahu on economic grounds, that the net effect would be to undermine the israeli right in favor of the center-right.

my guess is that he vetos it, and takes a political hit from conservative jewish voters anyways.

Here's an exchange between me and The Troubador:

I just posted another diary on the boldness of the Palestinian move, but what I didn't address is the depth of political boldness it would take for Obama to allow for Palestinian statehood (via full U.N. membership at the Security Council).

Honestly, if this were to happen, I don't know what the domestic repercussions would be. I do know that Obama's advisors have gathered that the diplomatic damage the U.S. will incur as a result of this move is going to be trumped by any potential domestic political damage.

In my mind, any damage could have been muted by a much more honest and forceful presentation of the realities by President Obama. At this stage, I image a U.S. abstention or "yes" vote at the UNSC would be politically damaging in the short term.

by The Troubadour on Sat Sep 17, 2011 at 06:55:05 PM PDT

 Damaging in how short a term?  I expect that it would -- but he's being damaged in the short term anyway.  Create a new reality and he can then try to help Israel deal with it.  A year from now, he might actually come out ahead.

I know Obama's advisors see this as impossible, but their track record is spotty.

by Seneca Doane on Sat Sep 17, 2011 at 07:01:16 PM PDT

 I agree with you that in the long term, he could actually come out ahead.

And honestly, I think the Israel question vis-a-vis electoral impacts are vastly overstated. The Jewish, conservative vote in terms of numbers is quite small (our tribe makes up approximately 2% of our population), and those Christian conservatives who would make Israel a single-issue voting element aren't going to be voting for Obama anyway.

This is about the impact from power and money brokers in the Democratic party and beyond who are willing to fund and lobby solely based on Israel policy.

This from Hoodoo Man:

No veto, kiss Florida goodbye and probably the 2012 election.

It's not worth it.  Obama's gotta veto this.

by Hoodoo Man on Sat Sep 17, 2011 at 06:55:26 PM PDT

A view from New York:

The only political consequences of not vetoing Palestinian statehood are:

(i)  Obama loses Florida
(ii) Obama puts New York in play.
(iii) Democrats from heavily Jewish districts need to be seen opposing the President or be subject to serious challenge themselves

by Justanothernyer on Sat Sep 17, 2011 at 07:58:50 PM PDT

This from citizen53:

Do not believe it would inure... (1+ / 0-)
to his benefit.  I think most Americans support this position, and they are not just right wing apologists either.

by citizen53 on Sat Sep 17, 2011 at 09:13:52 PM PDT

This detailed and thoughtful comment from Terra Mystica:

Four US dynamics. Votes, Timing, Money, Risk...

Votes: It's a winner, bigtime.  

A non-veto would lose some Jewish votes, maybe enough to lose FL, but it would gain other votes, maybe too in FL (significan Arab/Muslim population), based on a principled, leadership stance, acted upon.  WRT Jewish votes, I'm not even sure it would lose that many as we are at or near a tipping point on I/P.  I think many Jews are ready for a resolution or just new-think on this issue.  The status quo is just so destructive to everyone connected to the I/P conflict that I do believe even some hardcore Israel supporters would respect a change in our "problem solving method" on this issue - at the voting level.

In short, it's time, and I think most people, Jew and non-Jew would eventually swing behind a different, directed, and above all durable approach.  Kicking and screaming maybe, but moveable.  The eventually part leads to timing.

Timing:  Do it now so that people can come to understand the implications and new avenues that a non-veto would open up in solving one of our/the world's most intractable conflicts.  If Obama is resolute and follows up a non-veto with an effort to guide the process as only the US can toward a positive result, but doesn't, apocalyptic fears can be and may be assuaged by 2012.

Do it now and it drains a significant (how much and for how long, who knows?) and married anti-Israel/anti-US sentiment from the Arab street.  That may give the Arab Spring some breathing room to flower (there's so much more to this but that's the simple version) such that the peace process would have fewer external provocations and/or distractions.  Particularly, it would buy some time in Palestinian politics by sucking the Oxygen from the radicals to some extent.

Risk:  Domestically, can Obama maintain a course the a non-veto would establish?  My inner optimist will go as far as maybe.  My inner realist says unlikely.  That is the deal killer in all this.  Better to let the Palestinians work the global legal aspects of this, than for the US to make yet another show of words supporting a just resolution and backing away from it immediately.  This is more destructive than a veto to US sincerity and credibility around the globe.

Money:  Specifically, campaign money.  Big, big, big, loser.  This is being openly discussed by many Jewish and non-Jewish pundits.  Every President since Truman has felt this pressure.  Sarah Palin wears the Magen David.  No secret why.  

Could Obama make up that loss through small donations or in the votes area, by street organizing to make up for media spending?  Not likely, even based on a change for the better on this one issue over the next year, imo.  There have been so many other missed opportunities, mainly economic, that it would be tough to energize broadly to make up for this single-issue money hit.


Still, anything different is good on this issue.  And to Obama's credit (and I'm no fan), as The Troubador correctly framed it, he has publicly outlined TWO FP objectives, as opposed to just one.  He didn't have to take that risk, but he did.


Bottom line:  Sadly, he has to veto (and I clearly wish he would NOT).  To NOT do so would be a "strike three" reversal on this issue (Cairo speech and the settlements veto of his own stated policy being one and two).  He's already expended so much verbage saying he would, and SO much diplomatic arm-twisting to avoid having to do so, that he (and the US) would look overtly duplicitous and unreliable on anything FP.  As a practical matter, that has to be avoided, come what may.  Lost opportunity or not.

I believe, pragmatically, that has to be avoided at all costs, from the perspective of future US relevance in the world.  A UNGA vote and subsequent bilateral recognitions will open enough legal avenues to the Palestinians that what the US does or doesn't do won't be terminal to their efforts to gain international leverage. ...

by Terra Mystica on Sat Sep 17, 2011 at 09:44:38 PM PDT

Another thoughtful and more extreme opinion:


Without commenting on any of the I/P issues and getting into how this would play domestically, I have to say I think it would be a complete disaster for Obama.

1. First of all, his funding would take a MAJOR hit. I believe many large Jewish donors would either try to find someone to primary him or even fund one of the GOP candidates (probably Mitt Romney). Given how they went after Cynthia McKinney (twice!) this seems clear to me.

2. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz would probably resign from her post as chair of the DNC in protest.

3. The press would eat Obama alive. I would expect something in the neighborhood of 85% of the punditocracy would oppose this in one degree or the other.

4. This would certainly cost him FL, and probably several other states.

Overall, from an electoral standpoint, I can see no upside to this for Obama. And the reason that these questions are not being asked is because I think the answers are fairly obvious.

by Zornorph on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 12:11:34 AM PDT

And I'll end with two final perspectives:

The US will veto any Palestinian statehood initiative at the Security Council. If the US does not veto, the President will be nominated by the Dems but will lose the general election in 2012.  The Dems are already seeing a decline in support from the Jewish community.  The US has tried to be a broker in the I/P conflict and maybe this veto will end the call for the US to play a major role in I/P negotiations. Let some other country try to sort out this problem.

by VClib on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 05:41:32 AM PDT

I think a yes vote could work (1+ / 0-)
The real kicker will be what happens after. If we end up with huge peacekeeping forces because the battle becomes bloody, then it's a loser issue for Obama's reelection.

However, if it leads to renewed talks and even some progress, then he comes off as bold and freedom-loving. Voting America has proven time and again it likes decisiveness and strength, almost no matter how it is applied. Obama looks like an international leader again.

The money issue is huge, but if the outcomes are decent then the votes are there anyway.

by merrily1000 on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 05:53:18 AM PDT

Again, I think that this was a healthy, perspicacious discussion (the sort that we should be having here and that I barely (if at all) have seen in the rest of the media) but I want to return again to Mets102's questions --

How many times do people get to accuse Jewish posters and politicians of dual loyalty?  How many times do they get to claim that the Jews secretly control the government?

-- and then quote a reply I made to Zornorph in the above discussion:

I also have to note again, as with a commenter above, that your argument essentially comes down to "he has to concede to 'Jewish money' and 'the pro-Israel media' (a good part of which may well be Jewish), which is exactly the sort of stuff that is considered prima facie anti-Semitic here.

I don't make that accusation, but I'm surprised to see people who oppose the idea of abstaining invoking these ideas.  I'm not sure what to make of it!

You'll find more discussion in the thread in that diary -- and below.

4. Is this diary (along with the comments it cites) anti-Semitic?

In the discussion of NY-09, accusations are made (note the deft use of passive voice) that Jewish leaders such as Ed Koch make the interests of Israel paramount.  As I've argued elsewhere, I don't think that this is a "dual loyalty" attack because I presume that Ed Koch believes, very deeply, that what is best for Israel is what is best for the U.S.  That being so, he would view this as a matter of "single loyalty."  He might even be (or act) offended that one could think otherwise.

There are two problems with this.

First, the charge of "dual (or divided) loyalty" remains even under the analysis I give of a non-conflicted Ed Koch. This charge is an ancient one, used pervasively against the Jewish people wherever they would travel within the Diaspora.  (Within the Soviet Union, for example, it took on the guise of "cosmopolitanism.")  So, even a recognition that Ed Koch's loyalty is not subjectively divided would still be a charge of objectively divided loyalty -- and would be liable to be classified as anti-Semitic.

Second, the explanation I gave would apply as readily to any other nationality or religion as well.  Al Qaeda may think that the U.S.'s real interests would be best served if we all converted to its brand of Islam.  International communism, back in the day, was intent on helping countries reach their socialist potential.  Many (but not all!) Filipinos and Mexicans I know argue that the interest of the U.S. are best served by allowing more substantial immigration from their nations.  Give the ground that someone's interest in another country is not "dual loyalty" and the concept itself disappears.  But don't give that ground and you end up doing things like accusing Ed Koch of "dual loyalty" -- which Mets102 (and many others) see as prima facie anti-Semitic.

Regarding the "Obama veto of Palestinian statehood" issue, the notion that wealthy Jewish elites (operating against the wishes of many or most Jews, for whatever that's worth) make it impossible, by their willingness to deploy their money to punish opponents of Israel, for Obama to acquiesce to Palestinian statehood even he thinks that it's the right thing to do is, so far as I can tell, squarely within the "Jews control the government" argument that Mets102 would find offensive and anti-Semitic.  (When one commenter mentions that the media would flay Obama for this as well, that also invokes the "Jews control the media" argument that would also be seen as anti-Semitic.)  I don't think that people commenting to this effect -- largely people who think that Obama had better not fail to deploy the veto -- were being consciously anti-Semitic.  In my opinion, they were not being unconsciously anti-Semitic either -- I don't know how broadly that opinion would be shared -- but were simply calling the world as they see it.  (From my involvement in politics, I can say that many pro-Israel activists I've known make no more bones about the ability to punish politicians for straying from support of Israel than the NRA does about its ability to punish politicians for opposing an extremely robust vision of gun rights.)

This leads to a strange contradiction, where saying and believing that Jewish voters (and donors, and powerful actors in commerce) will punish those who stray from unwavering support for Israel (often as defined by Likud) is good, but characterizing it as Jewish control of government or media is bad.  (For what it's worth, I don't believe that there is a Jewish "cabal" or "Jewish control" is absolute; it's influence, it comes from our appreciation of our background, and there's not necessarily anything sinister about it.  Most demographic groups do it -- or at least try to.)  The acceptable formulation is that Jews support Israel because it's objectively right (rather than due to ethnic loyalty), and that Jews are effective in gaining support for this position because others know that it's objectively right (rather than because we donate so much money or we are so willing to punish politicians who stray, etc.)  That could, in fact, all be true -- but it means that those whose positions are opposed to that of Jewish advocates of Israel -- Palestinians, Egypt, Turkey -- must be wrong, and that strikes me as an assumption that demands real questioning.  (It may also itself be racist, etc.)  For insight into U.S. Congressional proposals to punish any organization that promotes a Palestinian state, see here.

So, this diary -- and the comments it mentions -- may or may not be anti-Semitic.  I've made it clear: I don't think that this diary is -- or I would not have written it.  But in specific cases, someone will have to judge.

That someone, under the policies being developed is -- all of us.  And, if an author is found to be in the wrong more than a few times, the promised exponential growth of their punishment means that they won't get to be wrong too often before being gone.

5. How will we decide, next year, whether this diary is anti-Semitic?

Markos has made six tentative decisions that I think will create trouble for us.

First: as part of the Community Self-Moderation (CSMAS) process, people will vote not only on the question of whether comments should be hidden, but on the question of whether commenters should be punished.

Second: the votes on whether commenters should be punished will be determinative rather than advisory information given to management.

Third: there will be a "volunteer jury," members of which appoint themselves to be involved in conflicts in which they is interested.

Fourth: someone will be judged right and someone will be judged wrong; there is no "safe haven" good-faith verdict such as "not proven" and no "the offense was either not malicious or not so grave as to require punishment" outcome like a suspended sentence.

Fifth: the party found to be in the wrong will be punished.

Sixth: those who coordinate their votes to promote certain outcomes -- even if they do so in good faith and act out of legitimate belief -- may be punished.  

I invite you to take this diary -- assume for the moment that I stand by the legitimacy of all of the comments that I've cited -- as an example and try to work through how the process will work.

I think that it probably won't work well, for one big reason: the argument in favor of allowing people to publish what they will -- which, as much as people seem to resist the term, is an argument for free-speech and against censorship (although it is not an argument for unrestricted free speech or against all censhorship) -- is itself one that involves protection of minority rights: that of people with unpopular viewpoints.  Markos has reiterated that "Hide Ratings are not for disagreement," but putting the acceptability of a given post up to a plebiscite is essentially asking people to express disagreement.  I simply don't believe that Markos is going to ban as many people who will vote against some of the responses I've seen above; the site would start hemorrhaging its most devoted users.

Rather than either suckering people to vote to ban people for infractions that warrant protection, or allowing people who (as most people do) undervalue the benefits of allowing even offensive speech to drive out those who offend them, the right approach in this matter is to take some things off of the table.  Don't put them to popular vote.  Instead, train administrators to do the job you want done.  Or, at least, if people do vote, keep the vote advisory and require administrative intercession to act on it.

How do I say the things I have to say above without being anti-Semitic?  I don't know -- but I've certainly tried.  But given the sort of community moderation system under construction, as it has been described to us so far, that's not the question.  The question is: "How do I say the things I have to say above without seeming anti-Semitic?"  That is, how do we have the good and useful conversations I present above without the writers facing being dragged into tribunals?  I find that one even harder to answer.

One answer is: err on the side of not giving offense.  So I ask you: what of the above discussion do you want to see forbidden from Daily Kos?

(It sounds worse that way, doesn't it?  And yet -- there we are.)

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