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Obama, the Jewish Vote, and AIPAC


We all know by now how Obama catapulted to the influences of the Israeli lobby, in at least stating a message that pretty much neutralized any hope of a real and just change in American foreign policy in the Middle East (what actually happens is not necessarily what politicians state before elections– “read my lips”). His speech at the AIPAC conference , along with Clinton and McCain, on the heels of Obama’s victory in the primaries was evidence, if any was needed, that the Israeli lobby is the most influential, disproportionally powerful, and the most dangerous lobby in America (dangerous because of the destructive foreign policies it pushes politicians to accept). During this AIPAC conference, both presidential candidates (plus Hilary) had to perform a dog and pony show, each describing how he/she will turn a blind eye towards Israel’s terrorism and disregard for all UN resolutions decrying Israel’s occupation.

Jon Stewart, himself a Jew, can take on Obama’s pandering without being labeled antisemitic (“self-hating Jew” anyone??). The following statement by Jon Stewart says so much in so little (see rest of video below):

“Oh, I forgot, you can’t say anything remotely critical about Israel and still get elected President. Which is funny, because you know where you can criticize Israel? Uh, Israel”

How despicable the state of politics and media in America, that you can be more critical of Israel in Israel and not in America! A progressive Jewish blogger wrote:

I support Senator Obama for many different reasons and I will continue to do so until he is inaugurated, but if his campaign does not issue a public correction of this statement [Jerusalem being the undivided capital of Israel], this will profoundly dampen the enthusiasm with which I do so.

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And yet, the Lobby’s foot-soldiers and captains refuse to yield (see how Lieberman back-stabs Obama), because to the Lobby, McCrazy is considered a proven commodity in his biased approach to foreign policies favoring Israel, than an untested Obama.

Now, lets get to the question of the Jewish vote. As we know, Israel can’t really vote a candidate in, only Americans can (though there may be a policy change coming soon whereby all Israelis will have a right to vote in American elections– after all, one is allowed to give tax-deductible donations to the state of Israel, the only country in the world with such a privilege).

Notice also how I separated the Jewish vote from AIPAC. While the Lobby likes you to believe that all Jews love AIPAC, that is completely untrue. Many, many progressive Jews find the Lobby to be to hawkish and too right-wing, and do not believe that AIPAC is working in the best interest of United States or even Israel. Many Jews are becoming too weary of AIPAC’s power on the hill, and also its stance that is decidedly anti-liberal in many ways:

What all this adds up to is that for liberal or moderate American Jews who don’t support Bush’s war in Iraq or his “war on terror” and who are willing to look at Israel warts and all, the fact that AIPAC has anointed itself as the de facto spokesmen for American Jews is becoming more and more unacceptable. And increasing numbers of them are beginning to speak out. [Salon]

So how powerful is the Jewish vote really? In fact, if you look at numbers, the number of Jews are about the same number as Muslims. So, while there may be marginal effects caused by both Jews and Muslims voters, IF they vote as a bloc, it does not add up to the picture of this huge Jewish bloc that decides who become president.

Furthermore, both Jewish and Muslim voters are not monolithic in their choices of candidates. Most Jewish voters are liberal and will vote Democratic, regardless of how Israel-loving the Republican candidate is. Nevertheless, there will be a small proportion of Jews within this Democratic bloc that may be swayed by the candidates view of Israel. But, then you are talking about a small percent of a small percent. Even if one were to assume that 25% of Jews care about Israel so much that it determines their vote (which is very generous), then 25% of 3% (Jews account for about 2% of the population, but show up to vote on average more than non-Jews), that is still only 0.75%!

There are, for instance, approximately 145,000 Jews in Ohio. If 80 percent were eligible to vote and 80 percent of those eligible actually did go to the polls (both high estimates) that would mean that that roughly 93,000 votes were up for grabs in that state. If Obama won 74 percent of that vote — the same percentage that John Kerry carried nationally in 2004 — he would have approximately 68,000 Ohio Jewish votes. If he only received 61 percent of the vote — which he is receiving in the most recent Gallup Poll — that number drops to 56,700, a difference of 11,300 votes. In Ohio, such a loss could make a difference. But the state was decided by more than ten times that margin in 2004.

Jews do make up larger shares of the population in both Pennsylvania and Florida. However, in some of the “new” swing states — Colorado, New Mexico, and Iowa, for example — the Jewish population is only (roughly) 80,000, 11,000 and 6,000 respectively. [Huffington Post]

Historical data provides evidence for the presence of only a sliver of Jewish voters that will sway with the candidate’s Israel views. So Bush, with all his Israeli pandering, hardly made a dent in 2004 Presidential elections, receiving an extra 6% of Jewish votes over 2000 elections! That would amount to an extra 0.2% of total votes, spread out over all of America.

As for “swing states”, PA is already quite democratic, so it needs far more than a 25% swing in Jewish vote to take that away from Obama. And Kerry lost Florida by enough of a margin that no Jewish or Muslim bloc or combination of the two would change that. At best, Jews make about 5% of electorate vote in Florida, but the power of the Lobby to exaggerate influences has made Obama pander to this community, while ignoring other communities.

In closing, I would only ask Obama and his team this: If you want to address one community’s concerns, why not address the others too?? Probably the most important “swing” constituent is the Hispanic population. They have the numbers, even if they don’t yet have the influence. If their lobby was commensurate with their numbers, it would be the real and justified 300 pound gorilla in DC, a position firmly and squarely occupied by the far less representative (in terms of pure numbers) Israeli lobby. So Obama, my friend: don’t let the Lobby deceive you. They may have influences over the media, but there are far more information channels now than ever before. Stick to your principles, and let justice be your guide, that is the only sure road to victory!

[youtube nVLXqHgLSTM]

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Abu Reem is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Abu Reem is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").



  1. Amad

    June 23, 2008 at 9:31 AM

    Its amazing what Jon Stewart gets away with… he is awesome!

  2. Amy

    June 23, 2008 at 10:00 AM

    I would like to make a few points if you don’t mind:

    First, pandering to the Israel lobby (which is more extensive than just AIPAC) is not pandering for the Jewish vote. It isn’t pandering for votes, but pandering for MONEY. This is how the lobby is so effective–with money. Congressmen who support Israel in legislation get help in their campaigns. If they don’t support Israel, then the lobby supports their opponents. So Muslims could outnumber Jews 3 to 1 or more, but without being able to sway (in fact bribe, which isn’t all good Islamically) Congress financially, the numbers of potential voters don’t really matters.

    Secondly, Democratic candidates early in the Cold War did have to rely on Jewish votes, and not just Jewish money. If you think about Truman–the Jewish vote in New York in particular was crucial to his re-elction in 1948. He needed those votes to win New York. Johnson was also a strongly pro-Israel Democratic president. But since Johnson, and the development of a “special relationship” with Israel, politicians on both sides (Democrats and Republicans) are pandering to the Jewish lobby. Not to Jews, not exactly to Israelis, but to wealthy and influential pro-Israel lobbyists who have pockets deep enough to fund this country’s campaigns.

    So when I see Obama trying to win favor from the lobby, I really don’t think it is to win votes. I think it is to get financial contributions and support from the networks of the Israel lobby–which, if it went to McCain, would throw a major kink into his political machine.

  3. Hassan

    June 23, 2008 at 10:27 AM

    Charlie Wilson (congressman that helped America indirectly get involved in Afghan-Soviet war) said (atleast in movie), when he was suggested he should help Afghanistan, using Pakistan, Saudia and Egypt. He said he is elected by jews, how would it play with them, that he is working with muslim countries. Then he is asked how many jews are there in his district, he says 3 (three), but they help me from New York to California, elections are won by money and campaigning not by votes.

    While jews are actively participating legally in the political system of America by voting and fund raising and what not, we muslims are still debating whether voting is halaal or not. We aint going anywhere here.

    By the way is donating to a candidate halaal?

  4. Amad

    June 23, 2008 at 11:31 AM

    Amy, I don’t disagree with you. But the point of money influence is never really made in the mainstream media. It is all about the votes, which is an easier selling point, and less “controversial”. Try saying that “its the money, stupid” in MSM and you’ll be raked over the coals.

    Also, Obama’s strength in fund-raising has been the small donations, and he overcame Hillary’s institutional fund-raising abilities with this strength. So, why should that be any different? To be honest, regardless of how much he panders to AIPAC, you can bet that they will be encouraging the big-wigs to help McCain. Lieberman provides the perfect example of where that is going to go.

  5. Siraaj Muhammad

    June 23, 2008 at 11:58 AM

    I would have thought by now it was obvious that it’s not the Jewish vote, but their money and media influence that was sought? I mean, if votes were really needed, then the Muslim vote would be more important as there’s more of us =)


  6. Amy

    June 23, 2008 at 12:02 PM

    Of course the MSM won’t say that it’s just the money… people don’t want to think that their personal issues are pretty much irrelevant to presidential candidates. Remember that MSM isn’t out to inform the world, or expose the truth–their only objective is to sell themselves.

    I don’t think Obama will have much trouble raising the money he needs… he’s shown that he’ll do whatever he needs to do.

  7. MR

    June 23, 2008 at 12:10 PM

    I think Muslims should focus on supporting the “Shoot Back” campaign to help Palestinians show their oppression to the world. We should raise money and send 1,000s of video cameras so they can record the injustice and put it on the internet and let it spread like wild fire. BBC News has featured one of them with 2 elderly Palestinians being beaten up by some young Jewish terrorist thugs. As a result of that, 2 people were arrested, alhamdulillah. This is also bad PR for Israel.

    Forget about the American government or it’s policies helping Palestine. Let’s help the Palestinians “air Israel’s dirty laundry” to the world. The useres of,, and will gladly support this cause as I have seen them do in the past.

    The power of viral online videos is much more dramatic then some President talking and ONLY talking.

  8. BostonMuslim

    June 23, 2008 at 12:40 PM

    Hassan put it right. Some of us are still debating whether voting in halal so what about donating money to candidates?

    It is an unfortunate fact that money is all that matters in politics in this country, no matter who and what the candidates say. I wholeheartedly support Obama but i am under no illusions about any changes that he is going to bring about in terms of America’s Israel policy. This is something even himself has no power against no matter what we want to believe or what he even might say.

    How can muslims or those concerned about a different direction in Israel-Palestine change things, it’s to get involved but also to become as powerful as AIPAC or the Israel-lobby. That is the only way politicians are going to talk to you and that is the only way you will become influential. I have no clue about Judaism except pieces here and there but no matter what part of the spectrum they belong to, whether reform jew to orthodox jew most of them more often than not stick together on major issues and contribute money together and that is why it is a very powerful lobby group as Amy mentioned above, not just AIPAC. As you said donating to israel is tax deductible, that says it all right there.

    We can complain about the Israel lobby and that is one way of raising issues that is perfect but one way of actually making real change is to stop arguing all the time about halal this halal that to the point that we get divided up and no united when it comes to standing together on issues that we actually all have a common perception and understanding. Anyway i am rambling and let me stop. But until anybody can match the deep pockets that are AIPAC And the Israel lobby, nothing will ever change.

  9. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    June 23, 2008 at 4:17 PM

    Hassan and BostonMuslim,

    I appreciate your perspective, but here’s what I hear in my mind when I read your posts:

    The Jews are already down in that lizard hole and we silly Muslims are sitting here debating whether we should follow or not! There’s no time for that, just follow what they’ve done, we’re behind already!

    Wa Allaahu’l-Musta’an.

  10. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    June 23, 2008 at 4:24 PM

    I think MR has an interesting point.

    People are right to say that it is not mainly about Jewish votes. Yes, it is somewhat about financial contributions and media influence.

    It is also important to note that the vast majority of Zionists in this country are Christians, not Jews. And they support and demand U.S. backing of Israel even more fanatically than do most Jews.

    The most effective thing to do, if it is possible, would be to educate and inform the wider public to be more sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians. Most Americans are apathetic about the situation, but those that care are generally more sympathetic to and identify more strongly with the Israelis. This is of course and unfortunately only getting worse and worse since 9/11, since Palestinian and terrorist are linked closely in the public’s mind.

    Even if more of the public was sympathetic to the Palestinians the sympthathies and identification of the politically powerful and influential in the United States will be with Israel over the Palestinians for the foreseeable future. This is why most activists who want to engage the system spend their time trying to argue that a “peace agreement” is better for Israel, not demanding the rights of the Palestinians. There is absolutely no concern or care for the legitimate rights of Palestinians among the power structure in the U.S.

    Allaah knows best.

  11. Hassan

    June 23, 2008 at 5:05 PM

    Abu Noor Al-Irlandee said:

    Hassan and BostonMuslim,

    I appreciate your perspective, but here’s what I hear in my mind when I read your posts:

    The Jews are already down in that lizard hole and we silly Muslims are sitting here debating whether we should follow or not! There’s no time for that, just follow what they’ve done, we’re behind already!

    Wa Allaahu’l-Musta’an.

    Abu Noor Al-Irlandee, I am not sure how we can determine/say that participating in political process is lizard hole. Kindly shed some light on it, and if it is indeed lizard hole (meaning things that we should not follow jews and christians in it, even if we are living here in west), then I guess we should not complain about US policies domestic or foreign.

  12. Khalid

    June 23, 2008 at 5:48 PM

    salaam aleikum,

    Just by voting it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. We supposedly have a “Muslim” congressmen, Keith Ellison,
    who also goes on trips sponsored by AIPAC as he did here:

    his website, also featured this quote (found via the wayback machine):

    “Hamas represents the greatest obstacle to this path, and until Hamas denounces terrorism, recognizes the absolute right of Israel to exist peacefully and honors past agreements, it cannot be considered legitimate partners in this process. Sensible and moderate elements in Palestinian society could possibly provide credible negotiating partners. The United States should encourage dialogue with peaceful Palestinian leaders that recognize Israel, condemn terrorism, and honor past accords.
    Terrorism is the greatest impediment to peace. At this point the Palestinian Authority (PA) has yet to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza and the West Bank. The United States cannot support any government that condones or embraces terrorism. However, the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people cannot be neglected, and the United States should respect these needs through the use of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).”


    It has since been taken down, though from talking to others he still maintains this view.

    So just by “getting Muslims involved” in the process, how is any Muslim who does any different than any non-Muslim who does?


  13. Amad

    June 23, 2008 at 7:05 PM

    salam… first of all putting quotation marks around Br. Keith being a Muslim is something we should be really careful about. Questioning a person’s faith is something we should be not put ourselves in a position of. Secondly, we cannot pigeon-hole ourselves into one or two issues and judge Keith Ellison against that backdrop. Overall, having Br. Keith has been much more positive than negative for Muslims, and we’ll gladly accept many more like him. Here was one balanced speech by him: Keith Ellison Speaks Against Terror in the Name of Islam

  14. H. Ahmed

    June 23, 2008 at 7:37 PM

    as salaam alaikum

    Khalid W.: I would like to remind you about the following hadith (and for the record Keith Ellison is a proud Muslim, so if i were you I would re-claim the shahadah)

    It is reported on the authority of Ibn `Umar that the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) said: Any person who calls his brother: O Unbeliever! (then the truth of this label) would return to one of them. If it is true, (then it is) as he asserted, (but if it is not true), then it returns to him (and thus the person who made the accusation is an Unbeliever). [Muslim]

    Keith Ellison is a great man, mashallah. Knowing that he is a United States Congressman makes me proud as both an American, and as a Muslim. If you have any issues with him I suggest you contact him/his office directly (he is a congressman, his contact information is publicly available).

    I attended a NYU sponsored event with Keith Ellison a couple of months ago – and this very issue that you brought forth was raised. He mentioned that Muslims cant get involved with reactionary anger-filled dialogue and debate because that will not solve anything. What he mentioned was that along the lines of what MR wrote earlier. What we (Muslims) need to do – is tell the stories of the plight of the Palestinians and their suffering. Much of what the Extreme Zionists have unfortunately been able to do successfully is dehumanize the Palestinian people.

    And for the record, Keith Ellison has done a great deal as a congressman, and for you to question what impact or change a Muslim can have in congress simply shows your own ignorance. Ellison has been an advocate for many Muslim causes, is fighting out against the Iraq war, opposed the “surge”, has been a staunch opponent of the Bush Administration, and has even called for Vice President Cheyney’s impeachment, among many other issues….

  15. Siraaj Muhammad

    June 23, 2008 at 9:06 PM

    Salaam alaykum,

    LOL, here comes a classical debate – is voting kufr or not? Or, how can we show that we’re being treated unfairly? Answer – you don’t.

    Whether or not Muslims realize this, they are a political liability, and that is a reality that has to be accepted. Obama doesn’t want to be in photos with Muslim women in the background – there’s a reason for that. Republican candidates can openly mock Muslims and Islam in a Fox News debate – there’s a reason for that. Ann Coulter can openly use racist and derogatory terms to describe Arabs without repercussion – there’s a reason for that.

    Because no one cares about Muslims. And if we do stand up for ourselves, the counterattack comes immediately – your bias comes from your religion (a personal choice) rather than an inherent characteristic (a race, for example).

    If you want to put AIPAC where it belongs (squarely and negatively in the public’s eye), then you need to show Americans how AIPAC’s influence is affecting them, taking their money, how it’s affecting their economy, how’s it’s compromising America’s standard of living. I wouldn’t go the national security route, however.

    Appeal to the fiscal conservative in terms of money. Appeal to the far left progressive with the story of Rachel Corrie. People with more knowledge need to get together with other people who can package the message in quick soundbytes, catchy commercials, and put it out there for what it is. Ron Paul was opposed to Israel, and he had huge following despite this.


  16. abc

    June 23, 2008 at 9:21 PM

    NYT coverage on Obama and muslims, good timing with the blog post!

    and yes, Jon Stewart is pretty awesome. possibly one of the only “responsible” people on TV, shows you just how ridiculous the politics and media in this country really is.

  17. Amad

    June 23, 2008 at 9:46 PM

    abc, thx for the link. I have added it to the post. That is a very important article. NYT does a great job of following up on this question “Has Obama ignored/side-stepped Muslims”… I have had a difficulty answering this question with all the “evidence”. This article sums it up well, and it is quite glaring that Obama hasn’t stepped into a mosque yet or met a single Muslim organization!

  18. H. Ahmed

    June 23, 2008 at 10:00 PM

    Ouch… cancelling Rep. Ellison’s trip to speak at a masjid on behalf of Obama (who himself wont even speak to Muslim audiences)… :(. That hurts.

    Also from that article:

    Any visible show of allegiance could be used by his opponents to incite fear, further the false rumors about his faith and “bin-Laden him,” Mr. Bray said.

    “The joke within the national Muslim organizations,” Ms. Ghori said, “is that we should endorse the person we don’t want to win.”

  19. Hassan

    June 23, 2008 at 10:50 PM

    H Ahmed, I hope you start to see Obama true colors. We muslims wont be respected and considered important if we oursleves have so low self esteem, and taken for granted. we are “supporting” Obama because he treats us like crap but does not call us crap (how nice of him), while McCain and republicans treat us like crap and call us crap.

    Its time for us to snub Obama (it would hurt him in vital states), then we would see who can take us for granted.

  20. ExEx Blogger

    June 23, 2008 at 10:51 PM

    i see beef…

  21. Amad

    June 23, 2008 at 11:10 PM

    So, both candidates treat Muslims like crap. But we know that one candidate will continue to give us that “crap” honor post-victory, while with Obama we have the chance that our crap flavor was a “means to the end”. Both stink, but McCrazy is like Frankenstein crazy (he looks kind of plastered up too)… Interesting dilemma!

    Obama should changed his middle name too while he is at it!

  22. abc

    June 23, 2008 at 11:32 PM

    Br. Hassan,
    Thats a dangerous proposition. You really don’t want McCain, just because Obama didn’t pay enough attention to a constituency no one else has paid much attention to either. Face it, we’ve failed to make ourselves a voice to be listened to (though maybe this may be a tipping point)

    Let’s see how the Obama campaign reacts to this- maybe with this article, we can start some sort of a discussion and see some importance being given to the muslim vote, maybe some outreach, some attempt to fix it, or maybe not, it gets lost in the noise.
    But still, If not for the ‘state of the muslims’, and ‘foreign policy’, how bout for the sake of health care, energy and economy, that affects the entire country, muslims included? The 2 party system doesn’t leave us much choice, and the snub for the sake of a hurt ego and self esteem may lead to much higher costs, for muslims included- Not every muslim in this country is a doctor/engineer with comfortable salaries and homes in the burbs, the economy and the failure of the healthcare system and the ridiculous energy situation effects a lot of muslims, and 4 more years of a republican president is not something that can bear good tidings.

    My brother, who lives in Chicago, met Obama during his senate campaign in 2003-2004, at a mosque event, where he talked about his background and muslim links. This was before anyone knew of him, before the speech at the 2004 convention that threw him into the spotlight and he was comfortable with being there and talking about his links with islam. Apparently he spoke with utmost respect, but was away from the spotlight so he was probably able to be the person he really is and express his views, as opposed to the manufactured image of campaign staff and political strategists. Politics is all about the snapshot and the sound bite, and you don’t want to risk your image for people who don’t have the attention span/intelligence/motivation to challenge what they are fed. Sad, but true.

  23. awake

    June 23, 2008 at 11:53 PM

    This is an odd discussion. I can say with certainty that I will NOT vote for Obama, but maybe not for the reasons the community here would suspect me of. I have many reasons while I will NOT vote for him, his middle name, not even in play in my estimation.

    That being said, McCain is a full-blown pseudo-conservative (and did I mention, quite old) clown. If any Muslim in America votes for McCain, you should have your voting privilagers stripped. McCain will continue the “occupation” of Iraq and is certainly “pro-Israel”.

    What are you people thinking?

  24. Hassan

    June 24, 2008 at 12:05 AM

    abc, what makes you think I am liberal/progressive not conservative?

  25. abc

    June 24, 2008 at 1:13 AM

    You could very well be conservative. I wouldn’t make that assumption. But you don’t have very flattering things to say about McCain either:
    “McCain and republicans treat us like crap and call us crap.”, so to think that you were conservative would also be flawed.

    I also certainly don’t think you’re a liberal/progressive, though maybe you are, again I won’t assume. And thats okay, since the political dichotomy (as reflected in the 2 party system) is horribly flawed, and leaves many under/mis-represented.

    If it weren’t for the nasty post 9/11 anti-muslim sentiment, the conservative movement, which has moral/family values which are much closer to the islamic value system would probably be in great favor with muslims. Its odd, when you stop to think about it, that the issues that mark liberalism for many people for whom religion is not an issue in this society are gay marriage and abortion, and yet the neo-cons have cast a shadow over those societal issues for muslims and led us to ‘tolerate’ support for those issues by compromising with our own moral values and aligning with ‘liberals’ against our own teachings because we’re scared. The rise of the conservative christian right, with its core of family values could have been potentially be good for muslims, had it not become inextricably linked with politicized islamophobia. (though one has to wonder if the christian right would’ve risen without the obvious ‘enemy’ in islam- i think it would have because of the social liberal phenomena related to gay marriage, abortion rights, abstinence education, creation vs evolution..but I could be wrong.)

  26. Asim

    June 24, 2008 at 1:59 AM

    For those of you still wanting to read the NY Times article titled “Muslim Voters Detect a Snub From Obama” I managed to copy it entirely here:

  27. abc

    June 24, 2008 at 9:01 AM

    And, and op-ed from the Boston Globe today.

    Let American Muslims share the stage
    By Zainab Al-Suwaij
    June 24, 2008

    LAST WEEK, two Muslim women in headscarves were moved from their seats behind Senator Barack Obama’s stage where they would have been visible on video monitors. The campaign has apologized to the women, and explained that the request by campaign volunteers was “counter to Obama’s commitment to bring Americans together.”

    It is hard not to sympathize with the campaign’s predicament. Polls reveal that a significant percentage of Americans are not ready to vote for a Muslim presidential candidate. With wild rumors circulating that Obama is a “secret Muslim,” the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has struggled to engage the Muslim community openly. Still, even many Muslims who enthusiastically support Obama are hurt by the headscarf incident, which seems to embody his campaign’s mixed signals.

    Rest: Boston Globe

  28. BostonMuslim

    June 24, 2008 at 9:34 AM

    Look, why do you guys think Obama refused to attend Tavis Smiley’s “The state of Black in America” or throughout the primary never really had people like Jesse Jackson actively campaigning for him even if they endorsed him publicly or at many of his events they made sure there were a lot of white faces behind him? That’s coz he was scared of being labeled as the black candidate, or even the typical black candidate.

    Unfortunately at the moment we are a political liability for a country in which 45% say that they would never vote for a Muslim president. We are a political liability for somebody called Barack Hussein Obama whom 10% of the people believe he is a muslim, plus he is black plus they don’t even know him blah blah blah..

    One positive thing about this is that we are waking up to all this, websites like this one are bring these issues up and thanks Amad for posting this whole debate. We can do either of two things, continue whining or learn from the experience of all the other immigrant groups that came before us and were treated like crap. Do you guys think being Jewish was always cool in this country, go back to the 1920s and 1930s to know exactly what politicians who were running for office used to say about Jews, but you know what they did, they took it on the chin and voted for those who would treat them marginally better at least not oppress them but they even went ahead and organized and that’s why you have organizations like AIPAC that have such a lock on the country’s political system. That is the only way Muslims will be able to have a say and an influence on the political system here, some call it a lizzard’s hole or whatever but if that’s the attitude you want to have then don’t complain about the outcomes of it.
    We need to go ahead and organize and support all the civic organizations out there that are committed to getting us our fair share from the political system.
    Frankly I will support Obama, I am an immigrant and I can’t even vote but I will tell you that if I could I would vote for him because he is so much better than McCain, maybe he is snubbing us right now but he also snubbed black people when he was trying to win Iowa (I am black too by the way). But they saw the bigger picture, not that I am equating McCain to Hillary but they knew an Obama candidacy and presidency would mean so much to a lot black people and no matter how he snubbed them in Iowa they did not sit out the election.

    Remember the stuff McCain’s advisor said: that he is out to destroy Islam. Rudy Giuliani last week became McCain’s chief surrogate on foreign policy. One of Rudy Giuliani’s advisors was Mr Daniel Pipes himself. Read this article if you want your eyes opened:
    Let it be said that these are people who are going to have an influence on john McCain’s policy.

    Obama will be a better president than McCain for muslims there is no doubt to me about that. He will not be the ideal candidate, and nobody has ever found their ideal candidate. But we will not get our ideal candidates until we organize and support those organizations that are trying to give us the influence.

    Allah knows best.

  29. BostonMuslim

    June 24, 2008 at 10:11 AM

    Here is what Imam zaid Shakir had to say. He is highly critical of Obama, maybe highly is harsh but he is very critical of him.

  30. Rhonda

    June 24, 2008 at 11:24 AM

    I am an African American. Many AA’s understand why Obama has to do what he is doing however, many are now beginning to become weary. Obama speaks of unity but there is none. There is a lot of religious and racial intolerance in this country. This has put Obama in a position to have to seperate himself from certain groups. When you have to do that, you cannot preach unity because it is essentially sending the message only some people are allowed even if you don’t mean it.

    I came across this article this morning and I posted it up on an Open Thread at a black blog. Of course, they dismissed it saying that “Obama has to do that” yet they know that it stings when he does it to us. I have a Syrian greatgrandmother and an uncle from Jordan. I am very sympathetic to Muslim americans and their daily plight. I am also sympathetic to the Palestinians as many AA’s are in this country.

    I will surely add this website to my blogroll. Feel free to contact those in the black blogosphere in regards to getting your voices out about the atrocities being done to the Palestinians and other matters in regards to Muslims here and aboard. We understand this and will support you in doing this.

  31. Ruth Nasrullah

    June 24, 2008 at 11:55 AM

    I linked to the Boston Globe piece on my Chronicle blog – – I’m curious if MM readers agree with my gut feeling that the author is taking a less than firm stance on the issue of the candidates’ support of Muslims.

  32. Hassan

    June 24, 2008 at 3:29 PM

    Surfing blogosphere, I found out that many muslims (and also non-muslims) are feeling quite uncomfortable with Obama’s attitude towards muslims. Many are comparing muslim supporting Obama to muslims supporting Bush in 2000. Anyway, its good to see that muslims individually and collectively are thinking something, and I hope that Muslims do not vote for Obama just hoping that he is our guy and just playing politics to get elected.

    Muslims can be crucial in swing states, specially Michigan.

  33. BostonMuslim

    June 24, 2008 at 4:17 PM

    Hassan, i disagree with you on that. A lot of people voted for Nader and got us Bush, be careful what you wish for. If you want McCain as president for ther reasons no problem that’s a different argument but you know deep in your heart that Obama will be a better president for Muslims than a McCain presidency.

  34. Hassan

    June 24, 2008 at 4:50 PM

    BostonMuslim, you are right, and hence that is why Obama is very comfortable on ignoring muslims, he knows we would eventually vote for him, so he can screw us without any repercussions. And there I disagree with you and rest of people, we need to make him and every candidate scare of repercussions otherwise even 20 years we would be same situation as no one would care.

  35. isa

    June 24, 2008 at 5:04 PM

    Asalamu alaikum

    It amazes me that muslims think that a president of this country is going to respectus the same way he is going to respect other religious groups in this country. It is a bit bothersome to see young and middle age muslims ramble on how Obama has “BETRAYED us!

    I am not saying that we do not pay attention to political issues but we as Muslims want things easy and we do not want to work or struggle for anything. We only show our faces at community meetings,/political gatherings when it is for our own benefit. Do we go out and try to make a difference for Allah’s sake? or is it complain complain complain?!

    African americans, hispanics hek irish and italians did not sit around and witch about what they didn t have, they went out and worked for theirs.Other than the Irish the other groups are still struggling to get respect in this country. Imagine that …still working to get respect…and here we are talking about how Obama is talking about change and he doesn’t include us bla bla bla.

    WE have the tools to make a positive impact in our country…do we want to work for it or complain like children?

  36. Amad

    June 24, 2008 at 5:05 PM

    Here’s what I am thinking– action beyond talk. What if we start a campaign (which could backfire too :) ) where Muslims basically say we will not vote (at all) unless Obama visits a mosque or meets some of our Islamic organization leaders (not some progressive wackos, but bonafide leaders of ISNA, ICNA, etc.)? We could send a message this way and demand a tangible action by Obama, not just hypothetical “care for us O Obama”.

  37. Hassan

    June 24, 2008 at 5:13 PM

    Amad bhai that is good idea, and first step for us being recognized as political force.

  38. BostonMuslim

    June 24, 2008 at 5:15 PM

    Amad, a campaign like that would be great. I don’t think you should use the threat of not voting because that would show that the only thing muslims care about is if Obama speaks to them. However some of us care about a host of other issues, i care about access to healthcare for everyone, for children, i care about helping poor people and it would just be so critical for me to sit out an election when we have a John McCain who promises to privatize social security. I can’t vote in this country but i wouldn’t sit out an election either because i know you can never get the perfect candidate no matter which country you are in. Ask people who supported Hillary Clinton and now they are turning to Obama. Or those who voted Romney and they are turning to McCain. Having said that i think it is perfectly fine to hold Obama true to his message of inclusion and change, we have a right to do that. Now i think beyond mere petitions, Muslims have to be willing to back all these political action and talk with money. We all know that’s the only thing that speaks to all these candidates no matter what and yes we do have some rich rich muslims but do they support their civic organizations. No they don’t.

  39. H. Ahmed

    June 24, 2008 at 5:22 PM

    Amad, that will probably backfire.

    All of us who know anything about Barack Obama know that – once elected, inshaAllah – will be great to Muslims. Aside from his recent politics (sucking up to AIPAC, denouncing muslim smears, etc.) – he has a long history of respect to Islam. he in fact has Muslims in his family, and grew up in a Muslim country for part of his life. Moreover nobody can argue that McCain will be better for Muslims than Obama. So we may very well have to deal with all this for now, for the overall good later on.

    And comparing Muslim support for Bush back in 2000 to that of Muslims for Obama now is completely baseless. Obama will definitely not go to war with any Muslim country, and will not discriminate against Muslims, or serve the interest of oil companies, or profit off unjust wars, etc.

    Poltics is a dirty game. Right wing extremists and islamophobes our there do a great job at making issues out of nothing (look at the keffayah controversy) – and its understandable (however still not justified) – that Obama’s campaign is acting the way they are towards Muslims.

  40. Hassan

    June 24, 2008 at 6:07 PM

    H Ahmed, lets see next 4 years (if he gets elected).

  41. aH

    June 24, 2008 at 6:11 PM

    I’m still in the Obama Camp but as someone mentioned its really a matter of lesser of two evils in my opinion.

    “Obama will definitely not go to war with any Muslim country, and will not discriminate against Muslims, or serve the interest of oil companies, or profit off unjust wars, etc.”

    H.Ahmed, I applaud your unwavering support of the guy but do you really think Obama won’t attack a Muslim country? Wasn’t Obama the guy who wants to go into Pakistan to hunt for bin Laden and said that he would use force even if the Pakistani government didn’t co-operate?

    Its one thing to prefer a candidate; its quite another to think he’s the savior for all Muslims

  42. abc

    June 24, 2008 at 6:42 PM

    Goes back to a question I asked on a previous thread: what do we need the next president to care about in particular, about muslims?
    Visit a mosque and shake a few hands?

    Or are there real tangible issues that affect us muslims that aren’t addressed in the wider policy realm of healthcare/economy. I don’t know- I live in a very privileged, left wing environment where islamophobia has never been an issue, but if someone’s adherence to islam is a disadvantage to them in a way where the executive branch of govt can be of influence, I’m really interested in learning about them, genuinely.

    He’s been vocal about Gitmo. The patriot act is iffy. but if we’re gonna want him to care, we should demand answer to real questions. And its got to go beyond symbolism..We get removed because we ‘symbolize’ something negative, and by running a campaign like that, you risk trivializing the muslim community- an appearance at a mosque it all it takes to keep the muslims happy, again, living in the trivialities of a symbol, with no substance.

    Does that further the cause of any issues that may be part of communities? The Israel lobby gets heard because of their economic clout. much like big oil, big coal, or the auto industry, or even pharmaceuticals that can lobby for legislation protecting them. All because they’ve got the money. As a community, muslims here unfortunately don’t have unity amongst their ranks, how can we get clout? Why do we need them to pander to us, apart from making us feel good about ourselves? Its too bad how reactionary we are, where we need to feel slighted to rise up together to form a political voice, not do it because we actually felt the need to be part of the political system.

    The ‘listen to us or else’ tactic is a nice idea in theory. I just don’t know what purpose it would serve apart from photo ops or PR opportunities to fix bad blood. Its how washington works. Its funny, Obama talks about wanting to stop having Washington run by lobbyists, and while he has ‘no option’ but to pander to the existing lobbies to get elected, we want to go ahead and create a new lobby and listen to us! Its all shades of grey at this point, if we’re not cared about, part of it is our own doing; we never did what it takes (unite, organize, build numbers, have a real agenda) soon enough to matter. Maybe a lesson learnt for future elections, anything thrown together hastily would be reduced to being symbolic and superficial.

    As for H.Ahmed, I love your optimism, you embody the hope he’s instilled (i bet you’re in your 20s, actively/recently been part of a liberal college community).
    not pointing fingers, I belong to that demographic, and you sound like the people in the very crowd he’s gotten excited about politics thats brought him this far- thats the best part about obama- he’s gotten possibly the most apathetic bunch of people this generation, college students (who in the 60s cared a great deal, but that spirit died), to care a great deal, and if he doesnt get elected, there’s gonna be a lot disillusionment within those ranks, and you risk alienating an entire generation of young adults, who are more open minded and aware of the world than the previous generations from the political process, which means that the status quo remains for years to come.. I’m optimistic abt what obama can ‘inspire’, but a little wary, for fear of being majorly disappointed.

    Also, those who talk about Obama’s character, I’d urge you to read “Dreams of My Father”, his memoir, written waaay before he had presidential aspirations. You’ll see a smart man with a lot of experiences with diversity, working with communities, and the struggles of identity. His ‘life experience’ is what sets him apart, and what ensures his supporters that he will bring a different perspective. That’s what made me a fan, long before he was running for president.

  43. H. Ahmed

    June 24, 2008 at 7:17 PM

    Great points abc, i wish more Muslims shared your understanding and knowledge about these issues. Everything you have mentioned is dead on.

    that was a rhetorical question taken way out of context by most Muslims. Why not look past that one statement (which he had to say to prove that the wasnt “soft on terror”) and look at everything he has stood since entering politics. But to answer your question: no i dont think he would attack Pakistan.

    And for the record, by no means do i think obama will be a savior. In fact, in terms of potential/past candidates I would choose Nader, Kucinich, or even Jesse Ventura over Obama if they were in the race.

  44. Amad

    June 24, 2008 at 7:27 PM

    Photo ops don’t solve world hunger, but they provide great symbolic value. Why do you see many groups clamoring for that? Why do churches and organizations insist on leaders showing up in their “crib”. There is a point why Obama hasn’t done so thus far. And there is a point why we should insist he does.

  45. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    June 24, 2008 at 8:01 PM


    Nader is in the race.

  46. Amad

    June 24, 2008 at 8:57 PM

    Voting for Nader is as good as voting for Musa. In fact, voting for Musa is even better.

  47. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    June 24, 2008 at 10:24 PM

    I got no problem voting for Musa.

    In fact, if one’s going to vote, you might as well vote for someone you believe in.

    Let’s face it, if you really thought about it, your vote doesn’t matter. It’s just one vote out of millions and very few states are so close that even all the Muslim votes if they were all for the same person would change the result. For example, I live in Illinois. Regardless of what I or any of the Muslims in Illinois will do, the electoral votes will go to Obama. Now, one can think this is good, great, bad, or indifferent, but the point is that it won’t change because of what I do.

    Of course, we’re supposed to ignore this reality and spend the next five months just like we’ve spent the last five, talking about the importance of the election with baited breath, weighing the pros and cons, proving what great political strategists and movers and shakers we all are. This will prove that we are sophisticated and mature citizens who understand how to wield the great and tremendous power we have. Now, if this sounds more like second grade Disney civics which is meant to benefit and perpetuate the status quo, then obviously you do not understand the complexities of this great and magnificent country.

    Allaah knows best.

    Here are some quotes from an interesting piece that can be found here from Emma Goldman and Henry David Thoreau, two radical observers of the American scene from the past. (

    “Emma didn’t believe in voting. “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal,” she observed.

    In her famous essay, “Anarchism: what it really stands for,” Emma quotes Thoreau, who said, “All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers, or backgammon, a playing with right and wrong; its obligation never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right thing is doing nothing for it. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.”

    Elections, Goldman knew, consist primarily of “wire-pulling, intriguing, flattering, lying, cheating; in fact, chicanery of every description, whereby the political aspirant can achieve success. Added to that is a complete demoralization of character and conviction, until nothing is left that would make one hope for anything from such a human derelict. Time and time again the people were foolish enough to trust, believe, and support with their last farthing aspiring politicians, only to find themselves betrayed and cheated.” “

  48. inexplicabletimelessness

    June 24, 2008 at 10:56 PM

    As salaamu alaikum

    Please check out the American Muslim Taskforce (AMT)’s Election Plan 2008:

    AMT is an umbrella organization that represents AMA, CAIR, ISNA, ICNA, MAS, MANA, MSA-N, UMA, PIH

    It’s a bit general at the moment but I’m sure with more critique, analysis, discussion and dialogue, American Muslims can create a POWERFUL agenda to present to the candidates. We have a lot of resources and ideas but now we need to ACT insha ‘ Allah.

  49. TaroRoot

    June 24, 2008 at 11:30 PM


    That’s a funny freudian slip.

  50. BostonMuslim

    June 25, 2008 at 6:40 AM

    I am with abc on this one, i couldn’t have put it better anyway. Very smart post.

    The other thing is for you guys to put your money where your mouth is, this looks like a good way to start in my opinion. don’t you think.

  51. H. Ahmed

    June 25, 2008 at 4:46 PM

    Yesterday on Dan Abrams, the following statistics were given about Muslim voters:

    86% of Virginia Muslim voters turned out in 2006 Senate Election

    92% (or 47,700) Muslims voted for Jim Webb

    Senator Webb beat Fmr. Sen. Allen by 9,000 Votes.

    (Source: Washington Times, Nov. 14, 2006)

    This is the perfect example on why the Muslim population cannot be ignored and we should not distance ourselves from Obama.

  52. foodi

    July 12, 2008 at 8:42 PM

    im amazed how few people even know that nader is running..
    hes been completely shut out by the media

    further, im amazed at why he doesnt have the muslim vote..

    people that excoriate him for costing al gore the presidency are really pathetic, since gore himself admits that he won fair and square, but had the vote stolen from under him through vote count shenanigans

    obama has gone back on every contentious issue there is, which is even more pathetic.

    nader was at 6% in the cnn polls a coupla weeks back. we need to get behind his campaign and get him in office once and for all for gods sake

  53. lahorimasala

    July 27, 2008 at 3:40 PM

    In the end, muslims in the United State should support Obama. I agree that he should be embracing muslims more than he has, however, he is caught in a tough situation. The Republicans REALLY want Obama to openly embrace muslims and have pictures taken at a mosque because they will use it against him. Over 10% of the population believes he is a muslim anyway, and it will only increase if he is openly courting the muslim vote. Obama needs to walk a tightrope on this issue and meet with muslim leaders and hear their concerns. I don’t think photo ops are necessary, but he does need contact with muslim leaders and perhaps even a muslim presence at some of his campaigns in states like VA and Michigan (hijabi sisters sitting in the background).

    Keep in mind, that the Republicans have treated muslims and muslim countries like crap for the past 8 years. This will keep up for 4 more years if McCain is elected and we will see a war in Iran as well, which will hurt Turkey and Pakistan in the process. That is a substantial portion of muslims that will be affected then. Muslims just shouldn’t trust Republicans, and I’m saying this as someone who voted for George W Bush in 2000 because I grew up being taught that Republicans were good for muslims and Pakistan. But, that’s a fallacy and not really true.

    Regarding Obama’s stance on attacking Pakistan, he NEVER said that he would invade Pakistan. Rather, Obama said that he would attack in FATA (tribal areas) if “actionable” intelligence was present and Pakistan could not attack. This is the same policy that the Pentagon and the Bush administration is using now. This is the same policy that the McCain campaign would continue. So, its unfair to target Obama for continuing this as well. He was saying this to not sound like a dove on terrorism (democrats are thought to be weak). Obama is not the war candidate, that is McCain.

    Obama will be much better for muslims than McCain. He won’t give muslims “miracles” (like peace in Palestine, etc…), but the situation of muslims in this country will be improved and that’s significant.

    This election is really between McCain and Obama voting for a third party candidate (Nader, Barr) is tantamount to throwing your vote away.

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