Wednesday, May 28, 2008

McClellan: Bush Misled U.S. on War

Scott McClellan, Bush's former White House Press Secretary confirms what critics of the Bush administration have been saying since 2002.

"What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary," he wrote in the preface.


Bush's real motivation for war

In Iraq, McClellan added, Bush saw "his opportunity to create a legacy of greatness," something McClellan said Bush has said he believes is only available to wartime presidents.

The president's real motivation for the war, he said, was to transform the Middle East to ensure an enduring peace in the region. But the White House effort to sell the war as necessary due to the stated threat posed by Saddam Hussein was needed because "Bush and his advisers knew that the American people would almost certainly not support a war launched primarily for the ambitions purpose of transforming the Middle East," McClellan wrote.

"Rather than open this Pandora's Box, the administration chose a different path — not employing out-and-out deception, but shading the truth," he wrote of the effort to convince the world that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, an effort he said used "innuendo and implication" and "intentional ignoring of intelligence to the contrary."

"President Bush managed the crisis in a way that almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option," McClellan concluded, noting, "The lack of candor underlying the campaign for war would severely undermine the president's entire second term in office."

Via Andrew Sullivan.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Repost: Ancient Judaism was Polytheistic

Today, I received a comment from my 2006 post originally titled Ancient Judaism and Canaanite Religions. Since I haven't recently blogged about this subject, I thought it would be a good time for a repost:

There are many names of God or Gods used in tanakh. Orthodox Jews maintain that every name refers to the same God, except those names which are clearly used to refer to idols of other religions. Some of the names, however, are strikingly similar to the names of gods from the polytheistic religions surrounding ancient Israel.

Ugarit was an ancient city in what is now northern Syria, which existed from before 6000 B.C.E. (or approximately 2000 years before the creation of the Universe, if you're a young-Earth creationist) to around 1200 B.C.E. It was rediscovered in 1928:

The excavations uncovered a royal palace of 90 rooms laid out around eight enclosed courtyards, many ambitious private dwellings, including two private libraries (one belonging to a diplomat named Rapanu) that contained diplomatic, legal, economic, administrative, scholastic, literary and religious texts. Crowning the hill where the city was built were two main temples: one to Baal the "king", son of El, and one to Dagon, the chthonic god of fertility and wheat.

On excavation of the site, several deposits of cuneiform clay tablets were found, constituting a palace library, a temple library and -- apparently unique in the world at the time -- two private libraries; all dating from the last phase of Ugarit, around 1200 BC


The discovery of the Ugaritic archives has been of great significance to biblical scholarship, as these archives for the first time provided a detailed description of Canaanite religious beliefs during the period directly preceding the Israelite settlement. These texts show significant parallels to Biblical Hebrew literature, particularly in the areas of divine imagery and poetic form. Ugaritic poetry has many elements later found in Hebrew poetry: parallelisms, meters, and rhythms. The discoveries at Ugarit have led to a new appraisal of the Old Testament as literature


Ugaritic religion centered on the chief god, Ilu or El, the "father of mankind", "the creator of the creation". The Court of El or Ilu was referred to as the 'lhm. The most important of the great gods was Hadad, the king of Heaven, Athirat or Asherah (familiar to readers of the Bible), Yam (Sea, the god of the primordial chaos, tempests, and mass-destruction) and Mot (Death). Other gods worshipped at Ugarit were Dagon (Grain), Tirosch, Horon, Resheph (Healing), the craftsman Kothar-and-Khasis (Skilled and Clever), Shahar (Dawn), and Shalim (Dusk). Ugaritic texts have provided biblical scholars with a wealth of material on the religion of the Canaanites and its connections with that of the Israelites.

There are some obvious parallels here. The God of tanakh is often referred to as El, recalling the chief God of Canaanite religion. Furthermore, the term Elohim, which is now thought of as merely another name of God, was in Canaanite religion a term for the whole court of El. (Hebrew not having vowels, Elohim in Hebrew is basically the same as 'lhm.) Some of the other Gods mentioned in the Ugaritic texts are also mentioned in the Bible, not as synonymous with the Jewish God, but rather as "other gods," which are now (by Orthodox Jews) thought to mean "idols" or false gods. Asherah is mentioned in 2 Kings 18.8:

He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the grove, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.

Where's Asherah in that verse, you ask? Well, the hebrew word that's translated as "grove" is... Asherah. Which frankly makes a lot more sense when you notice that its parallel to "the high places," "the images," and "the brasen serpent," all sources of idolatry. Some English translations retain "Asherah," such as the New Living Translation. The New King James Version translates it as "sacred pillars."

Asherah is interesting because of her status in Canaanite religion. She is the "consort" of El, and the mother of his 70 sons.

Scholars believe that Asherah was worshipped by many in ancient Israel and Judah, referred to by Jeremiah as "the Queen of Heaven."

Jeremiah 7.18:

The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead [their] dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.

Another interesting Canaanite God is Ba'al, who is mentioned in tanakh. Orthodox Jews understand Ba'al to be a false god -- or several false gods -- quite popular in Jeremiah's time.

Now in tanakh, YWHW is the same God as El. But YHWH may have started out in Canaanite religion as one of the 70 sons of El. The Dead Sea Scrolls fragment of Deutoronomy 32.8-9, which agrees with the Septuagint, reads as follows:

When the Most High ('Elyon) allotted peoples for inheritance,
When He divided up the sons of man,
He fixed the boundaries for peoples,
According to the number of the sons of El
But Yahweh’s portion is his people,
Jacob His own inheritance.

Now the Jewish version reads "sons of Israel" in place of "sons of El," but the first time we see that version is from a manuscript dating 700 years later than the above. "The older reading implicates an original polytheist context at the birth of Judaism. Within this framework, humanity was divided into seventy peoples, each with its own patron god. Yahweh takes Jacob as his, shedding additional light on the textual meaning of the chosen people."

The argument for the original polytheistic context at Judaism's birth is bolstered by the name "Elohim."

"Elohim" has the shape of a plural noun, and indeed is often used that way in tanakh when it's used to refer to "other gods." However, it's often used as a singular noun, as in Genesis 1.1. Many scholars argue that the plural form of "Elohim"

reflects early Judaic polytheism. They argue it originally meant 'the gods', or the 'sons of El,' the supreme being. They claim the word may have been singularized by later monotheist priests who sought to replace worship of the many gods of the Judean pantheon with their own singular patron god YHWH alone.


The alternative polytheist theory would seem to explain why there are three words built on the same stem: El, Elohim, and eloah. El, the father god, has many divine sons, who are known by the plural of his name, Elohim, or Els. Eloah, might then be used to differentiate each of the lesser gods from El himself.

This theory makes the Elohim saying "Let US make Man in OUR image, in OUR likeness" make more sense, as well as YHWH's commandment to Israel, "worship no other gods [Hebrew:Elohim] before me."

Dan Brown may have been wrong about Jesus and Mary Magdalene, but a pretty strong case can be made not only for El/YHWH and Asherah, but for an even bigger cover-up than the one in The Da Vinci Code -- that the earliest Jews were polytheistic!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Quote of the Day: Archaeology and the Bible

In an article about the difference between Indiana Jones and real archaeologists:
In my own work in Israel, I've traced the early archaeologists' attempts to discover relics that would provide proof of the historical reliability of the Scriptures -- not too different from Indy's search for the biblical Ark of the Covenant. But in the last generation, archaeological teams at sites throughout the Middle East -- working to analyze everything from ancient plant remains to distributions of animal bones to ancient metallurgy and environmental data gathered from satellite imagery -- have begun to understand the social and cultural background to the rise of the biblical tradition. In the process, they've revealed that many of the taken-for-granteds of biblical history, such as the exodus from Egypt, the conquest of the Promised Land by Joshua and even the vast kingdom of David and Solomon, were mostly literary tall tales and exaggerations of the historical reality.

The article was written by Neil Asher Silberman, author of The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts.

Memorial Day 2008

Just one of thousands of American deaths from this war. There have been hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths as a result of this war. We still mourn the 60,000 Americans dead in Vietnam and we should mourn the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese dead as well.

This war is, like Vietnam was, a tragedy of proportions humans cannot understand. We can't comprehend hundreds of thousands of deaths. How many widows and widowers and fatherless or motherless children left behind, how many brothers and sisters one sibling short. How many loves not found and late-night conversations not had, how many meals not eaten and beers not drunk, how many afternoon walks not taken and laughs not shared. How many men in wheelchairs, how many homeless vets, how many damaged psyches.

I feel grief for the dead and anger towards those who started this war and hopelessness at our inability to stop this one or prevent the next one.

May we remember our dead by finding a way to prevent future deaths.

Friday, May 23, 2008

McCain vs. Ellen on Gay Marriage

There's nothing he can say to her face to justify his position. I bet his children and grandchildren are going to be ashamed of this in the future, if they aren't already.

And yeah, Obama isn't a whole lot better on this issue, although he at least has the good sense to be humble when he's wrong.

Related: How Orthodoxy Causes Good Men to do Evil

Monday, May 19, 2008

Israel is an Anti-Israeli Appeaser least if you go by the American right's logic, which often uses two ridiculous assertions:

1) That positions held by a majority or plurality of Israelis themselves or even by the Israeli government can be "anti-Israel."
2) That talking to terrorist organizations is "appeasement."

It turns out that Israel is talking to Hamas (without preconditions) in what the head of Shin Bet calls "negotiations."

Obama, has of course, been pilloried by the American right and the minority Jewish right who claim to speak for the Jews and Israel for saying he would talk to various nations and/or terrorist organizations without preconditions.

Via Andrew Sullivan.

On a related note, you can watch Chris Matthews call out right-wing blowhard Kevin James for not having a clue what he's talking about regarding "appeasement."

Friday, May 16, 2008

Repost: Who Wrote the Bible?

This post was one of my favorites. The idea that Ezra the Scribe was likely the Redactor just blew my mind.

Reprinted in full:

You know how sometimes at the end of a movie there is a twist that suddenly changes your understanding of everything that happened before? Events which you previously thought you understood take on a whole new meaning. Think about the climax of The Sixth Sense, for example.

I had that experience when I realized who Ezra HaSofer ("the scribe") probably was. We were taught that he was called "the scribe" because, you know, he was a scribe. He copied Torahs; he even made a couple of small corrections, according to some of the sages.

What an understatement! He wasn't Ezra HaSofer; he was Ezra HaSOFER! He didn't correct a few errors; he basically compiled/wrote (redacted) what we now call the Torah!

In hindsight, everything makes sense. There were so many clues.

The Clues

First of all, a plain reading of Nechemiya (Nehemia) 8 implies that Ezra revealed a Torah which was at least partially new to the people:

1 all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the broad place that was before the water gate; and they spoke unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the Law of Moses, which HaShem had commanded to Israel.
2 And Ezra the priest brought the Law before the congregation, both men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month.
3 And he read therein before the broad place that was before the water gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women, and of those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the Law...
5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people--for he was above all the people--and when he opened it, all the people stood up.
6 And Ezra blessed HaShem, the great G-d. And all the people answered: 'Amen, Amen', with the lifting up of their hands; and they bowed their heads, and fell down before HaShem with their faces to the ground...
8 And they read in the book, in the Law of G-d, distinctly; and they gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
9 And Nehemiah, who was the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people: 'This day is holy unto HaShem your G-d; mourn not, nor weep.' For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law...
12 And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.
13 And on the second day were gathered together the heads of fathers' houses of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to give attention to the words of the Law.
14 And they found written in the Law, how that HaShem had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month;
15 and that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying: 'Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and branches of wild olive, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.'
16 So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of G-d, and in the broad place of the water gate, and in the broad place of the gate of Ephraim.
17 And all the congregation of them that were come back out of the captivity made booths, and dwelt in the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.
18 Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the Law of G-d. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according unto the ordinance. (JPS)

They had never celebrated Sukkot (The Feast of Booths) in that country! ("Since the days of Joshua.") Apologists will tell you that the people had simply forgotten the Torah and Ezra was bringing it back to them. However, Richard Friedman points out that in Leviticus 23, the laws for Sukkot seem to be added on to the list of holidays. The list goes from verses 4-37 and ends, "These are the holidays of Hashem." Then, two verses later, it suddenly starts listing the laws of Sukkot. This makes sense in hindsight. Combined with evidence (Neh 8:17, above) that Sukkot wasn't celebrated until Ezra showed up with the Torah, it seems reasonable that Ezra added those verses to an earlier text when he redacted the Torah.

(Friedman brings many more arguments in support of Ezra being the redactor. For example, he points out that this is the first time in all of Tanakh that a finished copy of the Five Books appears. See Who Wrote the Bible for more.)

Second, there is evidence within the Torah that (at least) parts of it were written long after Moses' time:

So Moses the servant of HaShem died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of HaShem. And he was buried in the valley in the land of Moab over against Beth-peor; and no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. (Deuteronomy 6:34)

And there hath not arisen a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom HaShem knew face to face. (Deuteronomy 34:10)

These were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before there was any king reigning over the descendants of Yisrael. (Gen. 36:1)

And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued as far as Dan. (Genesis 14:14)

As this article points out, "no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day" doesn't make sense if it was written during Moses' time; "And there hath not arisen a prophet since" has the same problem; "before there was any king reigning over the descendants of Yisrael" makes no sense before King Saul's reign; and "Dan" wasn't named "Dan" until long after Moses' death (Judges 18:29.)

The Jewish Tradition

Although obviously the Jewish tradition has Ezra making some minor edits at the most, there are some remnants of Ezra's real importance to the Torah. The Talmud, for example, compares him favorably with Moses himself.

In the Talmud, it says:

It has been taught: R. Jose said: Had Moses not preceded him, Ezra would have been worthy of receiving the Torah for Israel. Of Moses it is written, And Moses went up unto God, and of Ezra it is written, He, Ezra, went up from Babylon. As the going up of the former refers to the [receiving of the] Law, so does the going up of the latter. Concerning Moses, it is stated: And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments; and concerning Ezra, it is stated: For Ezra had prepared his heart to expound the law of the Lord [his God] to do it and to teach Israel statutes and judgments. And even though the Torah was not given through him, its writing was changed through him, as it is written: And the writing of the letter was written in the Aramaic character and interpreted into the Aramaic [tongue]. And again it is written, And they could not read the writing nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof. Further, it is written: And he shall write the copy [mishneh] of this law, — in writing which was destined to be changed. --Sanhedrin (21b - 22a)

Other Sources of Evidence

There is also evidence from outside of the mainstream Jewish tradition that people believed Ezra wrote or redacted the Torah as early as the 1st century CE. Ezra 4 (otherwise known as 2 Esdras, which is "Ezra" in Latin) was written in the 1st or 2nd century. (Ezra 1 & 2 are Ezra and Nehemia.) Although it's not in the Jewish Tanakh or accepted by most Christians as scriptural, "the Ethiopian Orthodox and Russian Orthodox consider it canonical." (Wikipedia.)

Ezra 4 is a truly fascinating book. According to it, the original Torah was burned up in the fire that destroyed the first Temple. God appears in a bush and re-teaches the Torah to Ezra:

1: And it came to pass upon the third day, I sat under an oak, and, behold, there came a voice out of a bush over against me, and said, Esdras, Esdras.
2: And I said, Here am I, Lord And I stood up upon my feet.
3: Then said he unto me, In the bush I did manifestly reveal myself unto Moses, and talked with him, when my people served in Egypt...
19: Then answered I before thee, and said,
20: Behold, Lord, I will go, as thou hast commanded me, and reprove the people which are present: but they that shall be born afterward, who shall admonish them? thus the world is set in darkness, and they that dwell therein are without light.
21: For thy law is burnt, therefore no man knoweth the things that are done of thee, or the work that shall begin.
22: But if I have found grace before thee, send the Holy Ghost into me, and I shall write all that hath been done in the world since the beginning, which were written in thy law, that men may find thy path, and that they which will live in the latter days may live.
23: And he answered me, saying, Go thy way, gather the people together, and say unto them, that they seek thee not for forty days.
24: But look thou prepare thee many box trees, and take with thee Sarea, Dabria, Selemia, Ecanus, and Asiel, these five which are ready to write swiftly;
25: And come hither, and I shall light a candle of understanding in thine heart, which shall not be put out, till the things be performed which thou shalt begin to write.
26: And when thou hast done, some things shalt thou publish, and some things shalt thou shew secretly to the wise: to morrow this hour shalt thou begin to write.
27: Then went I forth, as he commanded, and gathered all the people together, and said,
28: Hear these words, O Israel.
29: Our fathers at the beginning were strangers in Egypt, from whence they were delivered:
30: And received the law of life, which they kept not, which ye also have transgressed after them.
31: Then was the land, even the land of Sion, parted among you by lot: but your fathers, and ye yourselves, have done unrighteousness, and have not kept the ways which the Highest commanded you.
32: And forasmuch as he is a righteous judge, he took from you in time the thing that he had given you.
33: And now are ye here, and your brethren among you.
34: Therefore if so be that ye will subdue your own understanding, and reform your hearts, ye shall be kept alive and after death ye shall obtain mercy.
35: For after death shall the judgment come, when we shall live again: and then shall the names of the righteous be manifest, and the works of the ungodly shall be declared.
36: Let no man therefore come unto me now, nor seek after me these forty days.
37: So I took the five men, as he commanded me, and we went into the field, and remained there.
38: And the next day, behold, a voice called me, saying, Esdras, open thy mouth, and drink that I give thee to drink.
39: Then opened I my mouth, and, behold, he reached me a full cup, which was full as it were with water, but the colour of it was like fire.
40: And I took it, and drank: and when I had drunk of it, my heart uttered understanding, and wisdom grew in my breast, for my spirit strengthened my memory:
41: And my mouth was opened, and shut no more.
42: The Highest gave understanding unto the five men, and they wrote the wonderful visions of the night that were told, which they knew not: and they sat forty days, and they wrote in the day, and at night they ate bread.
43: As for me. I spake in the day, and I held not my tongue by night.
44: In forty days they wrote two hundred and four books.

45: And it came to pass, when the forty days were filled, that the Highest spake, saying, The first that thou hast written publish openly, that the worthy and unworthy may read it:
46: But keep the seventy last, that thou mayest deliver them only to such as be wise among the people:
47: For in them is the spring of understanding, the fountain of wisdom, and the stream of knowledge.
48: And I did so.

Now obviously I don't expect my Orthodox Jewish or fundamentalist Christian readers to just take Ezra 4's word for it. But it is an indication of an ancient tradition that Ezra (re-)wrote of the Torah.


None of this evidence is conclusive. It's impossible to say for sure whether Ezra was indeed the redactor, or whether there even was a single redactor. The Documentary Hypothesis argues that there were at least four distinct authors of the Five Books (J, E, P, and D) and that there was a fifth person who was the redactor.

To summarize, we know (1)that parts of the Torah seem to have been written long after Moses' death (2) that Ezra at least re-introduced the people to the Torah, including teaching them about Sukkot for apparently the first time; (3) that Ezra is known as "the scribe" and is compared favorably to Moses (!) by the Talmud; (4) that even in the mainstream Jewish tradition there is acceptance that Ezra at least made minor edits to the Torah; and (5) that there is an entire book from 2,000 years ago (albeit a few hundred years after Ezra's time) that claims Ezra wrote the current version of the Torah. It's enough for me to conclude that it is probable that Ezra was the redactor.

Nehemia 8
Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Friedman
4 Ezra or 2 Edras
Straight Dope Staff Report: Who wrote the Bible? (Part 2)
Torah Redactor, wikipedia.
The Multiple Authorship of the Books Attributed to Moses, William Harwood, Ph. D.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Common Causes of Deconversion

Kieran Bennett analyzed 117 Deconversion Stories at Positive Atheism and classified the reasons people claim they left Christianity. Note that these are not disproofs of religion or even necessarily good reasons, just individuals' reasons for leaving. The following words are mine but the numbers are his:
14.89% Stupid or incoherent answers by religious leaders to simple questions.
14.89% Science contradicted their religious dogma.
12.76% Contradictory dogma.
?% Exposure to atheism. [Kieran seems to have omitted the number here.]
10.63% Reading the Bible.
8.51% Hypocrisy of the Church.
8.51% Prayers went unanswered or person came to believe he was talking to self.
8.5% The existence of other religions.

My deconversion was a process and not an event, but I would probably point to stupid answers by religious leaders and to the conflict between science and the Torah as the primary causes of my leaving Orthodoxy.

The first major pang of doubt that I remember is when I asked the smartest rabbi I knew -- and one with substantial secular education at that -- what the firmament is. His answer? The stratosphere. But well before that, I had learned that rabbis could say things far stupider than that, and sometimes things that were racist or just plain offensive.

Then I started to notice a pattern. The "more Orthodox" the Rabbi, the less likely he was to, for example, believe in evolution or an ancient universe and the more likely he was to say things that are clueless and/or downright offensive. Clearly, "less Orthodox" was the right direction. But for all their efforts, the "less Orthodox" rabbis I knew and knew of coudn't come up with a coherent world view, just an uncomfortable compromise between Orthodoxy and reality, with a little fudging here and a little looking-the-other-way there. Every time I could tell they wanted to be factually correct or morally progressive but couldn't quite do it, it was because they were trying to stay within the bounds of Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy itself was the barrier.

(Via Friendly Atheist.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Albert Einstein: Bible a Collection of Childish Stories

Maybe this will clear some things up for those confused by Einstein's unfortunate use of religious metaphor.
Albert Einstein, writing in 1954, dismissed Judaism and other religions as "an incarnation of the most childish superstitions," though he said he gladly belonged to the Jewish people and felt a deep affinity for the Jews' "mentality," excerpts published on Tuesday showed.

Einstein also said he saw nothing "chosen" about the Jews, and that they were no better than other peoples "although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power."

The renowned physicist, who died a little more than a year after writing the letter, also had tough words for God and the Bible, according to the text published by the British The Guardian daily.

"The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish," the letter was quoted as saying. "No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."

The letter, written in German in January, 1954 to philosopher Eric Gutkind, is to be auctioned in London on Thursday, the paper said. Written in Einstein's hand, the letter, which has been in private hands for more than half a century, reportedly could sell for as much as 8,000 pounds sterling.

Turning to Judaism, Einstein wrote that "For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people.

"As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them."

Tip o' the hat to JP Perry.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Obama Does Not Have a Jewish Problem

The idea that Jews won't vote for Obama is one of those lies told over and over again by the media. Here is Gallup:
PRINCETON, NJ -- Barack Obama is faring better than might be expected [By who?? --JA] among Jewish voters, beating John McCain in Gallup Poll Daily general-election matchups and trailing Hillary Clinton only slightly in Jewish Democrats' preferences for the Democratic nomination.

This is according to an aggregate of Gallup Poll Daily tracking from April 1-30, including interviews with close to 800 Jewish voters, and nearly 600 Jewish Democratic voters.

Furthermore, Gallup Poll Daily tracking finds no recent decline in the percentage of Jewish Democrats favoring Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination. Jewish Democrats continue to favor Clinton, but by only a slim margin over Obama -- 50% to 43% in April, compared with 51% to 41% in March.

In terms of the general election, Jewish voters nationwide are nearly as likely to say they would vote for Obama if he were the Democratic nominee running against the Republican McCain (61%), as to say they would vote for Clinton (66%).

Both the 61% and the 66% numbers seem low to me, considering the percentage of Jews who voted for Gore (79%) and Kerry (74%).