Rabbi Kurt Stone, an Obama surrogate in South Florida, accused the Republicans of creating a false impression that "the Jewish community is moving in droves away from the Democratic Party."
"Everybody's having these thoughts pounded into their consciousness over and over again," said Stone, spiritual leader of the North Broward Havurah, or worship community, in Coral Springs.
Overseas, many Jewish communities are, in fact, becoming more politically conservative. In Canada, Australia and Britain, Jews have shifted to the right in the face of liberal party stands against Israeli policy in the Palestinian territories. By contrast, in the United States, major-party candidates compete for the mantle of better friend to Israel.
"If you have two candidates for a political office that has an impact upon national security and both appear to be supportive of strengthening Israeli security and the American-Israeli relationship, the American Jewish community quickly addresses other issues that are of deep concern in the field of social issues and human rights," said Gordon Zacks, a founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition, who advised Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
In a survey conducted last month for the American Jewish Committee, an advocacy and humanitarian organization, Jewish voters listed the economy, health care and national security as their top concerns. Nancy Kaufman, chief executive of the liberal National Council of Jewish Women, said her group was organizing in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and elsewhere on issues such as supporting gay marriage, protecting abortion rights and opposing voter identification laws.
"Jewish voters' preferences depend on their views on economic justice and social diversity, things like fairness in taxes, health care and reproductive rights," Cohen said. "Once those views are taken into account, then their views on Israel — be they passionately for or not, dovish or hawkish — have little if any effect upon their vote."
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