36 Jews who have shaped the 2008 U.S.
By Bradley Burston and J.J. Goldberg
Published in the Israeli paper Ha' aretz, Online Edition, 18 October 2008
NEW YORK - The John
McCain-Barack Obama contest has been one in which the issues of Wall
Street and fitness for the presidency have far overshadowed the
subject of Israel. But the Jewish vote remains a key element in
battleground states, and, playing a wide variety of roles, Jews have
helped to shape the campaigns.
Thirty-six of them are mentioned below.
This list is by no means all-inclusive, and, for considerations of space, many Jews who have played active parts in the campaigns do not a appear - among them Obama surrogate US Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, and Obama advisor and ex-California congressman Mel Levine.
Also missing are a number of Jews who have played minor roles, but merit mention for the interest they have attracted - in particular, Sandra Froman, the first Jewish president of the National Rifle Association (2005-7), and a steering committee member of Sportsmen for McCain; and Linda Lingle, the first Jewish governor of Hawaii and an early defender of Sarah Palin.
It should be noted that perhaps the most significant name that appears on the list belongs to a man, Henry Lehman, who has been dead for 153 years, and has thus remained uncounted among the living. Following is the list, in alphabetical order:
Sheldon Adelson: He is Republican, neo-conservative and a mega-donor. However, a combination of financial reverses and internal disputes has muted his contribution to the McCain effort.
David Axelrod: Chief strategist and media advisor for the Obama campaign, he has harnessed grassroots support through "viral" media, new technology and emphasis on the theme of change.
Steven Bob and Sam Gordon: The two Reform rabbis from the Chicago area founded Rabbis for Obama, which has persuaded hundreds of rabbinical colleagues to go on record by name supporting the candidate. The group's influence on the Jewish electorate has been difficult to gauge.
Matt Brooks: The executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition is a frequent media "first responder" on Jewish issues..
Mark Broxmeyer: A businessman and chair of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs conservative think tank, Broxmeyer serves as national chairman of the McCain campaign's Jewish Advisory Coalition and as a member of the candidate's national finance committee.
Eric Cantor: This Virginia congressman, the sole Jewish Republican in the House, has emerged as a primary McCain surrogate in a bid to sway Florida and his home state.
Laurie David: The global-warming activist and producer of "An Inconvenient Truth," starring Al Gore, she is ex-wife of "Seinfeld" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" creator Larry David and one of Jewish Hollywood's most prodigious fundraisers.
Ira Forman: The executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, he is Matt Brooks' counterpart.
Barney Frank: The Massachusetts Democratic congressman is one of the most visible, outspoken liberals in the House. He is openly gay and a frequent target of pro-McCain commentators, particularly on Fox News, where, because of his role as chair of the House Financial services Committee, he has been said to bear crucial responsibility for the sub-prime lending crisis. He played a key role in negotiating the Wall Street bailout package.
Malcolm Hoenlein: Formally nonpartisan as professional chief of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, he invited Sarah Palin to speak at an anti-Ahmadinejad rally at the UN, then bowed to pressure to rescind the invitation. He is seen to have aided the McCain campaign in terms of some Jewish undecideds.
Cheryl Jacobs: A McCain campaign co-chair in Broward County, Florida, the Conservative rabbi, a longtime Democrat, supported Hillary Clinton's primary race for president, but then switched to McCain.
Henry Kissinger: The New York Times calls the former secretary of state a "close outside adviser" to McCain's campaign. He is regularly called upon by the candidate for advice on foreign affairs, and held a high-profile briefing session with Palin prior to the vice-presidential debate.
Ed Koch: The former New York City mayor is still a gold standard for Jews of a certain age. He backed Bush in 2004 and Hillary Clinton during the primaries. Now he's for Obama.
William Kristol: As editor of Rupert Murdoch's Weekly Standard magazine, a New York Times columnist and a Fox News commentator, he is an extremely influential neoconservative voice.
Sherry Lansing: The first woman to head a major Hollywood studio (Paramount), she is a major Democratic donor and fundraiser.
Ed Lasky: Through the American Thinker Web site, his articles helped spawn the widespread Internet campaign alleging that Obama is anti-Israel.
Henry Lehman: A Bavarian immigrant who settled in Alabama in 1844 at age 23, and founded H. Lehman, a general store that, by accepting raw cotton in lieu of cash, would later lead to commodity trading in cotton. In 1850, he and his brothers Emanuel and Mayer formed Lehman Brothers, which became one of the first and most powerful investment houses on Wall Street. Lehman Brothers' spectacular collapse in mid-September, the largest bankruptcy in American history, triggered a worldwide financial panic that, more than any single factor, may determine the outcome of the 2008 presidential election.
Joe Lieberman: The Connecticut senator was Al Gore's 2000 Democratic running mate. He is now McCain's point man for undecided Jewish voters.
Mik Moore and Ari Wallach: Launched Jewsvote.org, utilizing high-tech methods to counteract Web-borne attacks on Obama.
The group also sponsors "The Great Schlep" - a campaign to get grandchildren to visit grandparents in Florida, to persuade them to vote for Obama.
Eli Pariser: He heads MoveOn.org, a liberal on-line advocacy group that has raised large sums for Democratic candidates.
Martin Peretz: The editor of The New Republic, he wrote an influential article entitled "Can friends of Israel - and Jews - trust Obama? In a word, Yes."
Dennis Prager: He is an influential, outspoken and often strident nationally syndicated radio talk-show host. Despite reservations over McCain's campaign reform bill, he has thrown his weight behind the GOP ticket.
Penny Pritzker: She is the national finance chair of the Obama campaign. A billionaire executive, pioneer Obama supporter and scion of a well-known Jewish mega-donor family, she has taken flak over the degree of her involvement in a the failure of a bank driven by sub-prime mortgages.
Ed Rendell: The governor of the key swing state of Pennsylvania, he is former head of the Democratic National Committee and a top Democratic campaign spokesman.
Denise Rich: The socialite and ex-wife of disgraced billionaire Marc Rich is a Democratic megafundraiser.
Dennis Ross and Dan Kurtzer: They are the center-right and center-left anchors of Obama's Middle East advisory staff.
Robert Rubin: The top Obama economics advisor has unsurpassed knowledge of the workings of Wall Street and was treasury secretary in the Clinton administration.
Dan Shapiro: A former Clinton administration National Security Council official, he is a senior Mideast policy advisor and Jewish outreach coordinator for the Obama campaign. He is said to have co-written Obama's speech before AIPAC (the pro-Israel lobby), in which the candidate declared "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided" - a statement Obama later partially recanted.
Sarah Silverman: A "shock comedian," she served as video spokeswoman for The Great Schlep (see Mik Moore, above). Her monologue spawned a counter-clip from veteran comic Jackie Mason.
Alan Solow: The Chicago lawyer is active in the Jewish community and in the Conference of Presidents. He has been an Obama supporter for a dozen years.
Jon Stewart: As host of the satirical TV news program "The Daily Show," he has become perhaps the most listened-to liberal voice in the nation. The New York Times called Stewart's program "a genuine cultural and political force."
Barbra Streisand: The superstar singer is a Jewish-liberal icon and mega-fundraiser. She endorsed Hillary Clinton in the primary race and has backed Obama since the Democratic convention.
She also headlined a Hollywood fundraiser in September, which included a $25,800-a-plate dinner.
Robert Wexler: A key Obama surrogate, the Florida congressman has campaigned extensively in the effort to shift the electoral vote-rich Sunshine State from the McCain column to the Democrats.
Fred Zeidman: McCain's lead Jewish strategist, he is chairman of the US Holocaust Memorial Council, and a heavyweight among Jewish Republicans.