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ISRAEL: The Obama Jewish debate heats up

October 7, 2008 |  7:26 am

Viewers of one of Israel's nightly news programs were treated to an interesting sight Sunday evening.

There was comedian Sarah Silverman, in her full R-rated glory, announcing "If Barack Obama doesn'tSilverman_2 become the next president of the United States, I'm going to blame the Jews."

Silverman's Internet video appeals to leery Jewish voters to rally behind Obama. It also calls for young American Jews to perform "The Great Schlep" to Florida to encourage (with blackmail if necessary)  their grandparents to do the same.

Barack_obama_2 Right-wing Jewish groups quickly fired launched a counter-campaign in the form of venerable comedian Jackie Mason. Within a day, the Republican Jewish Coalition posted a video of Mason pronouncing Silverman "a sick yenta" and encouraging Jewish voters to ignore her and vote their conscience.

This intra-Jewish back and forth has naturally drawn lots of attention in Israel, which in addition to being heavily invested in U.S. foreign policy is also home to an estimated 150,000 American citizens.

Mccain With anxiety over Iranian nuclear ambitions a daily issue here, McCain might expect to appeal to many of those voters with his tougher stance on negotiations with Tehran.

But the Jews for Obama campaign also has a few roots in Israel. Two weeks ago, a group called Israelis for Obama posted their own YouTube video. Now a new video is making the rounds from the pro-Obama Jewish Council for Education and Research -- the same group that's sponsoring The Great Schlep campaign.

According to Haaretz newspaper, the ad will feature comments by several Israeli politicians and former security officials. However, the newspaper also reports that two of those officials have objected that their comments were taken out of context and said they didn't know they were being filmed for a pro-Obama ad. 

— Ashraf Khalil in Jerusalem

Obama and McCain photos courtesy of U.S. Congress

Silverman photo courtesy of Normal Bob Smith via Wikimedia Commons