Obama and the Jews

He loves them, he hates them … the story keeps changing.

Published October 2, 2008 5:49PM (EDT)

If you haven't visited Sarah Silverman's the Great Schlep Web site, it's must-see Web TV. (NSFW warning: The video includes the sort of raunchy language for which the brilliant Silverman is famous.)

Jokes aside, Silverman appears serious about making sure that older Jews in Florida don't vote against Barack Obama because of misinformation about the Democratic candidate. The whisper campaigns about Obama within the Jewish community are well documented. I remember doing a presentation for a mostly elderly audience at a Jewish community center in Baltimore and there were several questions, clearly based on rumor or misinformation, about Obama's religion and position on Israel.

So I just had to laugh this week while rereading Ryan Lizza's superb New Yorker profile when I ran across these lines:

A South Side operator named Al Kindle, a large man with a booming voice, was a field operator for Obama's race against [Congressman Bobby] Rush. He had helped elect Harold Washington, and he saw Obama's congressional campaign from the street level. We met one evening at Calypso Café, a Caribbean restaurant that Obama has said is his favorite place to eat in Hyde Park, and Kindle described some of the worst moments in the campaign. "The accusations were that Obama was sent here and owned by the Jews," Kindle said. "That he was here to steal the black vote and steal black land and that he was represented by the -- as they were called -- 'the white man.' And that Obama wasn't black enough and didn't know the black experience, the black community. It was quite deafening in terms of how they went after Alderman Preckwinkle and myself. People would say, 'Oh, Kindle, man, we trust you, you being fooled. Obama's got you fooled.' And some people called me a traitor."

Amazing, really, and sad. First Obama is an insufficiently black interloper in the South Side doing the Jews' bidding, and then he is an anti-Semitic Muslim with evil plans to undermine Israel. Ridiculous.

By Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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