Between analyzing the electoral prospects of Republican presidential candidates and ridiculing the "level of mental illness among liberal Jews," members of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) gathered in Skokie last week to discuss how they could help defeat President Obama in 2012.
The standing-room only crowd came from throughout Illinois to fill a conference room at Holiday Inn, where they listened to political analysts and Republican scholars offer political red meat against Obama, whom one speaker accused of being "more pro-Palestinian than the Palestinians."
Michael Menis, president of RJC's Chicago chapter, told Skokie Patch that his group was alarmed at Obama's policies toward Israel.
"There's concern in the Jewish community as far as President Obama's allegiance to the United States' long-time ally Israel," he said. "Through his rhetoric and his actions, he seems to have departed from the policy that we've seen coming from other presidential administrations since the creation of Israel in 1949."
Menis said the meeting's heavy turnout on June 23 was a good indication that RJC members could be invaluable in helping efforts to elect a GOP president in 2012.
About 200 people signed up for the conference, but turnout exceeded that, prompting organizers to add more seats. But even with that, some participants were left standing in the back.
In an interview, Richard Baehr, chief political correspondent for the American Thinker, told Skokie Patch that while he expected Obama to receive a majority of the Jewish votes, it would be fewer than in 2008 when he defeated his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
Baehr noted that in 2008, Obama received about 78 percent of the Jewish vote. Next year, he said, Obama might see a number closer to what former President Jimmy Carter received in 1980 against Ronald Reagan, the former California governor and GOP candidate. Carter, a Democrat, got less than 50 percent of the Jewish vote in his losing bid for re-election.
"There are people who are beginning to see shades of Carter in the way Obama is behaving towards Israel," Baehr said, adding that Carter has been "hostile" toward Israel during and after his presidency.
Because the Jewish vote only comprises 2 percent of all voters, it would have less impact on the electoral outcome than Christian groups that are strong supporters of Israel, the columnist said during his speech. He said those critical groups could tilt the election in favor of a Republican.
At one point in his speech, Baehr told the animated crowd about how states with large percentages of Jewish voters, such New York and Illinois, could be swayed and then quipped about the "level of mental illness among liberal Jews."
Baehr also said that except for Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, all Republican presidential candidates were more friendly to Israel than the current president.
Professor Eugene Kontorovich of Northwestern University told the crowd that Obama's Israeli policy was "egregious in so many ways."
He said that by pushing Israel to negotiate with Palestine's unified Hamas and Fatah leadership, Obama was telling Israel to "chop off your head."
Matthew RJ Brodsky, director of policy for the Jewish Policy Center in Washington, said that Obama was "making an excellent job" in representing the Palestinians and was more "pro-Palestinian" than the people from Palestine."
This contention, however, has been widely debunked by many respected scholars and journalists.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has been among those to challenge the accusation. He told Charlie Rose during an interview last week that criticism that Obama was anti-Israel "is pure crap."
"It's all nonsense," Friedman said, adding that Obama has been as pro-Israel as past U.S. presidents
"Israel today has the most in-bred, unimaginative government I think it has ever had," the journalist said in laying the blame on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the failure to advance the peace process with the Palestinians.
"What is Bibi Netanyahu's plan?" Friedman asked.
As for the crowd gathered in Skokie, they were one in saying Obama should go. When asked by Menis if "Israel can survive another Obama term?" The audience hollered its response, "No!"