Are Israeli Jews much more bigoted than their American co-religionists? An astounding 77% of American Jews voted for Barack Obama. But according to Ethan Bronner [with a little "help" from Chris Matthews], anti-black "racism" and anti-Arab "prejudice" are significant factors accounting for PBO's unpopularity in Israel.
Bronner, Jersusalem Bureau Chief of the New York Times, floated his theory to Matthews [in Israel this week] on this afternoon's Hardball. Asked by Matthews to rate American politicians from most to least popular in Israel, Bronner ranked them: Bill Clinton, Hillary clinton, Joe Biden, with PBO bringing up the rear. There's no disputing that the president is wildly unpopular in Israel: recent polls there have him down in single digits.
But Israeli "prejudice" and "racism" as significant explanatory factors? Here was the exchange:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let's talk about politics. Who's more popular: Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden? Put them in order. Who's the most popular figure?Note how Bronner, after agreeing with Matthews' suggestion that anti-Muslim "prejudice" was partly to blame for PBO's unpopularity first went on to assert that it was Obama's distancing of the US from Israel that was more significant. But then the man from the NY Times circled back, without further bidding from Matthews, to accuse Israelis of "racism."
ETHAN BRONNER: I would say Bill Clinton is the most popular of the four. And I would say Hillary is probably next.
MATTHEWS: The Secretary of State.
BRONNER: That's correct. And then I would say Joe Biden, and then President Obama.
MATTHEWS: OK, that tells you a lot. So tell me why the President of the United States is so far [inaudible]. Is it his middle name? Hussein?
BRONNER: I would say that there is some level of prejudice about the fact that he had some Islamic background through his stepfather. But I think it has more to do with the fact that when he came into office a year ago he wanted to recalibrate the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world. And the easiest and clearest way of doing that was to put some distance between the United States and Israel. And he did that, and that made people nervous. I think there's also some sense here, some degree of racism to be perfectly honest.
MATTHEWS: Yeah, because they see him as a black man.