Forward Thinking

Can't Avoid Obama? Here's Why.

By Nathan Guttman

  • Print
  • Share Share

If Jewish voters have the feeling they cannot avoid the Democratic message this election cycle, it may have to do with a new group formed this summer that has been specifically targeting the media on Jewish voters issues.

The Jewish media hub, as founders, Washington public relations consultants Steve Rabinowitz and Matt Dorf refer to their initiative, is both an attempt to reach out to Jewish voters as it is an acknowledgement that existing Democratic institutions have, for most, ignored the Jewish constituency, seen largely as being a safe demography.

“We couldn’t be sure what the campaign and the NJDC will do, so we decided to do it on our own,” said Rabinowitz, referring to the Obama campaign and to the National Jewish Democratic Council. “Over the years,” he added, “Democrats have done very little to court the Jewish vote.”

During this elections cycle, the burden fell on the shoulders of Ira Forman, the Obama campaign’s Jewish outreach director and on the NJDC, but both worked with very limited staff and funds.

The hub, as it is referred to by founders, is an attempt to fill in this gap. It is being run by Aaron Keyak, a former NJDC staffer who recently worked on Capitol Hill, and it is staffed by four full-time employees and another four on a part time basis. The hub was set up as a 501(C)(4) tax exempt organization and has independently raised $400,000 from Jewish donors to fund its operations during this elections cycle.

“The President’s re-election requires a full-time, wholly dedicated, deeply staffed rapid response and message amplification operation,” Rabinowitz wrote in a letter to potential donors in June, warning that even if a small number of Jewish voters shift to the Republican side, “it could have a tragic impact on the election.”

In its four months of operation, the hub, located on the attic floor of Rabonowitz and Dorf’s PR firm offices in DC, produced an impressive crop of ads, opinion articles and interview opportunities spreading all across the Jewish and general media. Examples from the past few weeks include the Barbara Streisand video, an interactive Jewish voter test and an ad produced in Israel starring Sderot residents praising Obama. They also take credit for a series of op-ed articles and statements endorsing Obama, from key Jewish figures including former New York mayor Ed Koch, former Middle East peace negotiator Dennis Ross and law professor Alan Dershowitz.

“We have the ability to respond faster than any big establishment organization,” said Keyak, who noted that the hub has done extensive research on all issues relevant to Jewish voters, in order to be ready with responses and to initiate campaigns tailored to the Jewish community.

Still, the hub’s abilities dwarf in comparison to the massive funds at the dispose of the two key anti-Obama Jewish organizations – the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Emergency Committee on Israel, which according to reports have anywhere between $10 million to $30 million in their coffers.

“We make due with substantially less, and still, Jews are going to vote overwhelmingly for Obama,” promised Rabinowitz.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: barack obama, National Jewish Democratic Council, jewish vote 2012

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.