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O​bama Continues Outreach to Jews

October 16, 2008 By:
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Barack Obama's campaign is continuing its heavy outreach to Jewish voters in the Philadelphia area.

On Oct. 13, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) spoke in front of a packed auditorium at the JCC Klein Branch in Northeast Philadelphia.

Three days earlier, in the same place, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and a host of other local Jewish elected officials spoke to senior citizens about Obama's pro-Israel bona fides.

"When Barack talks about talking with our enemies, that should not be interpreted in any way as a sign of weakness," said Schakowsky in a phone interview. "This is not about backing down; this is about engaging."

The Chicago-area lawmaker -- who planned to have a Shabbat dinner at the Abramson Center for Jewish Life -- said that Jewish Americans should feel assured that Obama is getting advice on Middle-East policy from the likes of Daniel Kurtzer, Susan Rice and Anthony Lake.

Schakowsky also criticized U.S. policy in Iraq and argued that the Iraqi government is nearly as hostile to Israel as its larger neighbor, Iran.

"When [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad travels to Iraq, the red carpet is laid out for him," said Schakowsky. "Here is a country that we invaded, that we are spending $10 billion a month on, that won't recognize Israel."

On the other side of the political divide, U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) stumped for McCain for the second time in two weeks. On Oct. 10, Lieberman spoke at Temple Beth Hillel/Beth El in Wynnewood and the Congregations of Shaare Shamayim in northeast Philadelphia. There was also a "Bagels-with-Joe" event at the B'rith Shalom House in Philadelphia.

Lieberman said that there are "a lot of differences" between McCain and President George W. Bush, citing in particular McCain's support for efforts to reduce global warming and his criticism of how the Iraq war has been conducted.

The Republican Jewish Coalition -- which by law cannot coordinate events with the McCain campaign -- is planning an Oct. 19 program in Bucks County featuring former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. But that speech is open only to RJC members.

JTA contributed material to this report.


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