For Jewish voters listening to Obama's opening remarks today to the United Nations, there was something missing: the decades-old promise of a united bond between the United States and Israel.
"One year ago, I stood at this podium and called for an independent Palestine," said Obama. "I believed then—and I believe now—that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that genuine peace can only be realized between Israelis and Palestinians themselves." [Read Ken Walsh: NY Special a Rebuke to Obama.]
It's that fuzzy support that lead former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to say it's costing Democrats votes and could spell trouble for Obama in 2012. Huckabee, a former GOP presidential candidate, said Obama's mixed message about Israel is leading Jewish voters who've traditionally been supportive of Democrats to lean Republican. Huckabee also said that Obama's support of gay marriage is irking orthodox Jews.
Huckabee points to the New York special election, which culminated in a victory for Bob Turner, the first Republican to win the 3 to1 Democratic district since 1923. [See photos of the Obamas abroad.]
Turner's ninth district has always had a large Jewish constituency. According to a study by the North American Jewish Data Bank in 2006, it had 273,185 Jewish voters— the fourth largest of any district in the country. [Read: President Obama Counters Criticism on Middle East.]
Anne Bayefsky, the director of the Touro College Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, said that being in New York so close to the U.N. and watching the Obama administration re-shape their Israel strategy has rubbed Jewish voters in the city the wrong way, especially when anti-Semitic remarks from Arab nations to go unrepudiated.
Bayefsky said, "Voters who care about Israel and who strongly believe that the unshakable bond between the U.S. and Israel is in the best interest of the U.S. will be upset enough that it will factor into their voting decisions."