b>1) How Jews vote and why
David Bernstein writes about a recently released analysis by the Solomon Project on trends in the American Jewish vote:
If one digs a bit deeper into the report, one learns that current trends suggest that the American Jewish electorate will grow less Democratic in the future. First, unlike the rest of the electorate young Jews have been less likely to vote for Democratic presidential candidates over the least three elections. Indeed, about 75% Jews under 30 voted for the Democrat (compared to about 85% of the over-60 crowd)* [by the way, this renders the premise behind Sarah Silverman's "Great Schlep" rather ridiculous, no? Maybe the alter kockers in Boca should be going up to Pennsylvania and Ohio to persuade their grandchildren to vote Democrat, rather than vice versa],(the study tabulates the last three elections together for age]. Second, more religiously observant Jews are significantly more likely to vote Republican and not identify themselves as liberals. A rapidly increasing proportion of the American Jewish population is religiously observant thanks to high birth rates among the Orthodox, low birth rates and intermarriage among the non-Orthodox, and the fact that the generation of at least nominally Orthodox Eastern European immigrants whose children were not Orthodox has almost entirely died out, so for likely the first time in American history Orthodoxy is concentrated among the young.
One other interesting data point I can draw from the study is that Orthodox Jews (and possibly other observant or “religious” Jews) are substantially underrepresented in exit polls, or at least recent exit polls, relative to the rest of the Jewish population. The 2004 results are based on interviews with over 1,500 Jews, and the 2008 results on interviews with over 1,000 Jews. Yet, the report notes that under 50 respondents each year said that they attend synagogue at least weekly.
(Ira Forman of the NJDC previously was director of research for the Solomon Project. In fact the NJDC and the Solomon Project have the same post office box and phone number listed in their contact information. Though it doesn't say so the Solomon Project is apparently not non-partisan. This doesn't mean that the study is flawed, but the possible partisan nature of the Solomon Project should be kept in mind when analyzing the study.)
Obama made the remarks during a two-day campaign tour in Florida, where he and Republican rival Mitt Romney remain in a tight race for the presidency.
“This is a moment of great uncertainty in the Middle East, given what’s happening in Syria and given what’s happening in other places. Now is the time to make sure that we do everything we can to protect Israel’s security,” Mr. Obama told the retirement community in West Palm Beach.
Mr. Obama’s trip to Florida comes as polls show the Democratic president polling even with Mr. Romney. The New York Times/CBS News poll released Thursday shows Mr. Romney with a 45-43 percent lead. The poll results are well within the poll’s margin of error but marks the first time Mr. Romney has held any lead in the survey since becoming the presumptive Republican nominee.
This is straight reporting a far cry from the disgraceful and condescending New York Times article As Obama heads to Florida many of it Jews have doubts from four years ago.
Yesterday Mitt Romney spoke at the VFW. Mark Levin had some sound bites from the speech on his show last night. This one, in particular, was effective.
The President’s policies have made it harder to recover from the deepest recession in seventy years … exposed the military to cuts that no one can justify … compromised our national-security secrets … and in dealings with other nations, given trust where it is not earned, insult where it is not deserved, and apology where it is not due.
Romney also addressed the administration's treatment of Israel:
I will leave Reno this evening on a trip abroad that will take me to England, Poland, and Israel. And since I wouldn’t venture into another country to question American foreign policy, I will tell you right here – before I leave – what I think of this administration’s shabby treatment of one of our finest friends.
President Obama is fond of lecturing Israel’s leaders. He was even caught by a microphone deriding them. He has undermined their position, which was tough enough as it was. And even at the United Nations, to the enthusiastic applause of Israel’s enemies, he spoke as if our closest ally in the Middle East was the problem.
The people of Israel deserve better than what they have received from the leader of the free world. And the chorus of accusations, threats, and insults at the United Nations should never again include the voice of the President of the United States.
The speech was less about specifics of what he would do than drawing a contrast between his own philosophy and the President's.
2) It was the bomb in the headquarters planted by …
When a bomb exploded last week in Damascus killing a number of high ranking Syrian officials, it was assumed that rebels had been responsible.
"The video of the attack is absolutely replete with Islamist messages,” said Kedar. By contrast, the Free Syrian Army, he noted, has always gone out of its way to avoid any sort of Islamist affiliation, trying to rally all of Syria’s sects and religions against the regime.
Speaking of the icon in the top left-hand corner of the video clip, Kedar noted that it features green flags with white writing, the colors of Islam, and the verses quoted on them are from the Shahada, the Muslim prayer and profession of faith. The writing on the icon in red says “al-Haq,” which means, literally, “the truth” but is one of the 99 descriptive names for Allah, and the entire icon is cradled by a green crescent. The music accompanying the blast, is an Islamic chant, and the sermon, delivered toward the end of the clip, is directed at Satan. In Syria today, Kedar said, that means Assad.
Nor was the footage randomly captured by an Islamist group. Kedar, a former military intelligence officer, said the camera was intentionally positioned one kilometer away from the site of the explosion, in the national security agency building.
Lynette Nusbacher suggests that it was Assad himself who was getting rid of some inconvenient allies:
This bomb was amazing: it managed to kill four senior Syrian officials and wound one, without touching any Assads, clerks, typists, lavatory attendants, bodyguards or security guards.
Who was not touched by the explosion? Bashar’s brother Maher is safe. Bashar and Maher are Makhloufs on their mother’s side, and the Makhloufs are safe including his cousins Rami Makhlouf and Hafez Mahlouf. Military Intelligence chief Ali Mamluk wasn’t hurt, nor his deputy Zuhair Hamad. Also safe were the head of the powerful Air Intelligence Jamil Hassan, head of political security Mohammed dib Zaitoun, Damascus military intelligence chief Rustum Ghazali and Bashar’s cousin and chief of security Dhu al-Himmah Shalish. None of the Assad cousins who run the Shabiha militia were hurt. That is, nobody really close to Assad died apart from Shawkat.
How much damage was done to the Syrian regime by culling some dead wood from the top? Arguably, not much.
Nusbacher believes that reports of Assad's losing control of Syria are exaggerated.
3) When reality and satire meet
Iman Mubarak: Mahmoud, this is a candid camera show. We are all Egyptians. Long live Egypt! I’m an Egyptian – Iman Mubarak. This is Amr ‘Alaa, and this is Amr Sallah.
Mahmoud Abd Al-Ghaffar: You brought me someone who looks like a Jew…
Al-Ghaffar hugs Amr ‘Alaah
[to Iman Mubarak]: If you weren’t a girl, the moment you told me you were Jewish… I hate the Jews to death.
Iman Mubarak: I’d like to tell you that I enjoyed today’s episode with Mahmoud. I didn’t know that there could be such patriotism, but it exists in every Egyptian who breathes the air of this country.
Funny, but it doesn't sound that different from Barry Rubin's Our foreign correspondent covers the revolution:
A man stands in a square, somewhere in the Middle East, screaming slogans: “Jihad is the only way! Down with America! Death to Israel!” An American reporter approaches.
“Excuse me, sir, but I’m an American journalist and wonder if I might ask you some questions.”
“Sharia is the only…Oh, sure, just a moment.” The man clears his throat, “Long live democracy! Up with human rights!” He turns to the reporter, “Hi, my American friend. Have a nice day! What do you think of the Red Sox’s chances? Of course, they could use more depth in the bull pen!”
And note Rubin's disclaimer:
Note the following is satire, even though it is just about precisely what actually happens:
Hard to tell the difference between reality TV and satire sometimes.