Barack Obama must do a better job of reaching out to the Jewish community, say several New York congressmen.
The lawmakers also believe Obama should strongly consider U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) for the vice-presidential slot.
“We need to convince Jewish voters that he will stand by Israel,” U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said during a speech Sunday night at an event sponsored by the New York chapter of the National Jewish Democratic Council.
The NJDC billed the event as a night to honor Engel and four other Jewish members of Congress from New York – Gary Ackerman, Steve Israel, Jerrold Nadler and Anthony Weiner – for working to bolster the U.S.-Israel relationship.
After his remarks, Nadler told JTA that he shared Engel’s view that Obama faced some challenges in the Jewish community.
“Barack Obama is not well known in the Jewish community,” Nadler said. “There is a lot of nervousness.”
Nadler and Engel both made clear that they were comfortable with Obama, despite their strong preference for Clinton and any policy differences they have with the Democratic front-runner, most notably his stated willingness to meet with the president of Iran.
Weiner, Nadler and Engel all said that if Clinton ultimately loses the nomination, Obama would be wise to put her on the ticket, which would send a reassuring message to Jewish voters who view her as a proven supporter of Israel.
Ackerman did not attend because he was in Israel as part of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s delegation.