Apparently Carl Paladino, the Republican/Tea Party candidate for governor of New York, has a Jewish strategy: find the fringiest elements of the Jewish community, take positions that a majority of Jews will find offensive, and then sit back and wait for the Jewish votes to come your way.
What a concept.
As the Jewish Week's Adam Dickter reported, Paladino “vowed to 'oppose the homosexual agenda' in two public speeches with representatives of the Orthodox community, most of them Chasidim, in Brooklyn on Sunday.”
And in a scoop, Adam reported that Paladino's remarks in Borough Park “were written by Rabbi Yehuda Levin, an ardent opponent of gay rights and abortion and occasional New York political candidate.”
Levin, you may recall, was a strong Pat Buchanan supporter in 1996. That really helped drive a lot of Jewish votes to Pitchfork Pat, didn't it?
Is Paladino so ignorant of the political demographics of the Jewish community that he thinks an alliance will a narrow segment of ultra-Orthodox Jews who applaud an extreme anti-gay rights agenda will help and not hurt him with New York's huge Jewish electorate?
And is this an example of the much-ballyhooed Jewish outreach we've been led to believe Tea Party leaders want to begin? If so, lotsa luck.
In fact, the Jewish community reflects a wide range of opinion on the issue of the morality of homosexuality and issues such as gay marriage. A Jewish Week poll on our home page – admittedly, not anything close to a scientific survey – shows an almost even split on the question of whether Jewish newspapers should publish notices of same-sex unions, an issue that cause a New Jersey Jewish paper a boatload of tsuris.
And a significant Orthodox minority shares some views on the subject with conservative Christians.
But Jews across the spectrum – with some conspicuous exceptions – pretty resoundingly reject anything smacking of gay bashing. And that's sure what Paladino's comments sounded like. Not the way to win Jewish hearts and minds.
Yesterday Ben Smith over at Politico had an update on Paladino's efforts to clarify his remarks – and put the blame on the Jewish leaders who prepared his text.
That's some Jewish strategy in the state with the largest number of Jewish voters.
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