Jewish politicians in Maryland speak out for Obama

A slate of Maryland Jewish Democratic lawmakers endorsed Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for president.

State Attorney General Douglas Gansler, five state lawmakers, two officials of suburban Montgomery County and a host of Jewish leaders signed on to an e-mail letter backing Obama as part of a campaign for the Jewish vote ahead of Tuesday’s state primary.

“The time for change, the time for a leader who will heal, unify and make the world a better, kinder and safer place for our children, grandchildren is NOW,” said the letter sent to Maryland Jews. “We believe that Barack Obama is such a leader.”

In his Jewish campaign, Obama is pushing hard against false Internet rumors depicting him as a secret Muslim and hostile to Israel. The Maryland letter addressed those rumors.

“Barack Obama’s friendship with Israel is clear and unwavering despite the vicious and fallacious emails circulating the internet,” it said. “In his own words, he is committed to Israel as a Jewish state.”

Obama proxies were also reaching out in person to Jews in the region. U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), who is Jewish, met with young Jewish D.C. professionals on Saturday evening at a Havdalah service at the historic Sixth and I synagogue in downtown Washington. Schakowsky said Obama stood “shoulder to shoulder” with Israel but understood peace negotiations were the key to ensuring Israel’s security.

U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), the unofficial top Jewish proxy in the Obama campaign, was meeting with top Jewish opinion leaders at a home in the wealthy Washington suburb of Potomac on Sunday afternoon.

Last week, according to the Forward newspaper, U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who is close to Jewish leaders in the state, met with a slate of Baltimore Jewish lay officials on behalf of Clinton.

Here is the full text of the pro-Obama e-mail:

WHY WE SUPPORT BARACK OBAMA

As Jewish Americans, we are asking you to join us in an effort to make for ourselves, our children and grandchildren a better America and a safer world for years to come. We strongly believe that Barack Obama is the Democrat who will lead us to victory in November and heal our great, yet divided, Nation. We are voting for a candidate, not against one.

Rabbi Hillel, the great Jewish scholar, asked “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?” In making the decision as to who will be the 44th President of the United States of America in 2008, we believe his questions are as relevant today as they were when first asked many centuries ago. Barack Obama’s rich and varied life experiences have helped enable him to understand the needs of all Americans, young and old, black, brown and white, men and women, alike. He has inspired millions of people to think deeply about what they, too, can do to help repair the damage done during the past eight years—damage that has eroded America’s respect we American Jews fought so hard to earn. In eight short years, we have spent billions of dollars and lost thousands of lives on a war we never should have started. Our economy has declined to the point that we are the brink of a recession. Our country has grown so polarized that our core values of character, spiritual virtue and kinship are threatened. The time for change, the time for a leader who will heal, unify and make the world a better, kinder and safer place for our children, grandchildren is NOW. We believe that Barack Obama is such a leader. He is the only candidate who truly represents and embodies real and positive change. He is the only one who has the moral fiber that we need in order to bring back respectability, trust and inspiration to the nation’s highest office.

Barack Obama’s friendship with Israel is clear and unwavering despite the vicious and fallacious emails circulating the internet. In his own words, he is committed to Israel as a Jewish state, “I start with the premise that Israel is a stalwart ally of ours and their security cannot be compromised… the Palestinians would have to reinterpret the notion of right of return in a way that would preserve Israel as a Jewish state.” When questioned about Iran’s Ahmadinejad’s sick claim that the Holocaust is a myth, Obama responded eloquently and firmly, “…we know the Holocaust was as real as the 6 million who died in mass graves at Buchenwald, or the cattle cars to Dachau or whose ashes clouded the sky at Auschwitz. After 60 years, it is time to deny the deniers.” And, he has strongly expressed his commitment to Israel, including, “our total commitment to [America's] unique defense relationship with Israel by fully funding military assistance and continuing work on the Arrow and related missile defense programs. This would help Israel maintain its military edge and deter and repel attacks from as far as Tehran and as close as Gaza. Lester Crown, a foremost Jewish leader in Chicago, who for many years has known Barack Obama and his close relationship with the Jewish community, is confident that Barack Obama will continue his loyal friendship with Israel in the White House. A recent New York Sun editorial emphasizes that “anyone who questions Barack Obama on Israel policy has not checked their facts” (Jan. 9, 2008).

These are just a few of the many reasons we strongly support Barack Obama to be our Democratic Presidential nominee. We encourage you to join us in voting for him in our Maryland primary election on Tuesday, February 12, 2008, and visit his website at HYPERLINK “http://www.barackobama.com” www.barackobama.com, to learn about his policies, and financially support his candidacy to be our 44th President. Our future depends upon it.

Sincerely,

The Honorable Doug Gansler
Attorney General, State of Maryland

The Honorable Brian Frosh
Maryland State Senator (D-16)

The Honorable Jamie Raskin
Maryland State Senator (D-20)

The Honorable Brian Feldman
Maryland State Delegate (D-15)

The Honorable Kirill Reznik
Maryland State Delegate (D-39)

The Honorable William Bronrott
Maryland State Delegate (D-16)

The Honorable Roger Berliner
Montgomery County Council

The Honorable Marc Elrich
Montgomery County Council

Cathy Bernard

Gary Bortnick

Debby Bortnick

Fran Brenneman

Robin Coleman

T. Michael Coleman

Barbara Goldberg Goldman

Michael F. Goldman

Rosalyn Levy Jonas

Gary F. Jonas

NEXT STORY