Sun-Sentinel uncritically reported Florida GOP official's comment that "I wish Obama would not pretend to care about the Jewish community"

››› ››› MARK BOCHKIS

A South Florida Sun-Sentinel article quoted Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the Palm Beach County Republican Party, saying, "This is a terrible thing," and adding, "I wish Obama would not pretend to care about the Jewish community." At no point did the article quote the Obama campaign or anyone besides Dinerstein on the issue of Obama's commitment to the Jewish community.

In a May 17 article, South Florida Sun-Sentinel Washington bureau chief William E. Gibson reported that Republicans "are preparing to attack [Sen. Barack] Obama as a tax-and-spend liberal who poses a threat to Israel's security." He also wrote: "Republicans hope to win the state by reducing the Democratic advantage in South Florida, particularly among Jewish voters. They point to Obama's willingness to meet with leaders of Iran and other nations hostile to Israel." But after laying out the Republicans' purported strategy against Obama in Florida, rather than providing a response from the Obama campaign or a Democratic Party representative to the reported attacks, Gibson quoted Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the Palm Beach County Republican Party, saying, "This is a terrible thing," and adding, "I wish Obama would not pretend to care about the Jewish community." Indeed, aside from reporting that among the "special messages tailored to Floridians" that Obama will offer is a "promise" to Jewish leaders to "help safeguard Israel," Gibson did not quote or reference anyone defending Obama's commitment to Israel and the Jewish community. Moreover, despite noting Republicans' criticism of "Obama's willingness to meet with leaders of Iran," at no point did Gibson mention that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has also reportedly stated that the United States needs to be willing to "sit down and talk" with Iran.

Obama recently detailed his relationship with the Jewish community and his commitment to Israel in a May 12 interview with The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg.

From the May 17 Sun-Sentinel article:

After watching his meteoric rise on television, South Florida voters next week will get a first-hand glimpse of Barack Obama for the first time in 14 months when he comes to court Democrats who have been seething on the sidelines of a suspenseful primary campaign.

His trip has unleashed the pent-up enthusiasm of Democrats hungry for victory. But he has much to overcome to win the state's 27 electoral votes.

Supporters say he will sound the unifying themes that have brought him to the brink of the Democratic nomination for president, plus offer special messages tailored to Floridians.

To senior citizens, he will promise to protect Social Security. To Jewish leaders, he will promise to help safeguard Israel. To Cuban-Americans, he is expected to call for a new policy to allow them to visit their families in Cuba and send as much money as they want.

[...]

Obama's three-day swing through Florida -- starting in Tampa and Maitland on Wednesday and leading to a fundraiser and possible public rally in South Florida on Thursday and Friday -- indicates he will campaign aggressively for a state that has played a pivotal role in the past two elections.

Republicans, who once assumed they would face Clinton in the fall campaign, are preparing to attack Obama as a tax-and-spend liberal who poses a threat to Israel's security.

"I'm just glad Barack Obama has found Florida on the map and is going to speak to issues of importance to Florida voters," said Jim Greer, chairman of the Florida Republican Party.

Florida Republicans, who established John McCain as the party front-runner in their January primary, have a head start on the general-election campaign. McCain plans his own swing through South Florida next week, including a speech in Miami on Tuesday about Cuba and Latin American policy.

Republicans hope to win the state by reducing the Democratic advantage in South Florida, particularly among Jewish voters. They point to Obama's willingness to meet with leaders of Iran and other nations hostile to Israel.

"This is a terrible thing," said Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the Palm Beach County Republican Party. "I wish Obama would not pretend to care about the Jewish community."

The Democratic presidential candidates steered clear of Florida after pledging in September not to campaign in states that held an early primary against national party rules.

The last time Obama faced voters at a campaign rally in South Florida was in March 2007, when he appeared before about 800 supporters in a half-filled room at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Religion
Network/Outlet
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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