By Michael E. Miller
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Again, forget that Obama has condemned Ahmadinejad and said he will defend Israel from "tiny Iran" at all costs.
When I pointed out that the Bush Administration's lack of diplomacy seems to have led to one disaster after another, Dinerstein scoffed.
"If you want to buy into Neville Chamberlain's policy," he said, "knock yourself out."
Yes, you'll hear that comparison, put forth by Bush (or FDR, under that equation) during his recent visit to Israel, ad infinitum on the Fox News Channel.
It was time for the big question: How would Dinerstein make peace in the world were he president.
"Sadly, you don't want to hear what I have to say," said Dinerstein, who is an able and knowledgeable debater, no matter how wrong I may think he is. "People who are belligerent ultimately have to get beaten so bad that the war part has no hope for them. Sadly, the Israelis have had to fight with their own hand behind their back. And it's very, very sad."
I asked him if he was saying that the Palestinians needed to be beaten into the ground.
"Yes, unfortunately," he answered.
Getting the picture? Dinerstein has his reasons for feeling the way he does, and, as much as I disagree with his opinion, I respect it. The problem is that he and his political allies are now trying to suck the U.S. presidential election into the vortex of Middle East madness. If they can scare enough voters — let's not pretend that the only target here is Jewish Democrats— into running to McCain, they'll retain the White House.
The next big question: Is it going to work?
Dinerstein says he has no doubt that McCain will win Florida, due to a massive Jewish conversion to the GOP. While that is speculation, it's true that Obama isn't exactly the cat's meow among South Florida's condo set. At least not yet.
There was no better example of Obama's "Jewish problem" than last week, when U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, perhaps Obama's most crucial Jewish supporter in Congress, was booed by a crowd of Democrats at Wynmoor Village in Coconut Creek.
"If he wasn't Jewish, people would consider Wexler anti-Israel," says Dinerstein.
Wexler is, in fact, one of the best friends to Israel in Congress and one of the Democratic Party's early supporters of the Iraq invasion. But the crowd wasn't booing Wexler so much for the fact that he backs Obama, but because he failed to support Hillary Clinton.
"I've always been a Hillary girl," says Gertrude Weinberg, an incredibly energetic and sharp 91-year-old.
Weinberg, the head of Wynmoor's Democratic club, is fairly typical among the condo residents: She's a politically active Jewish Democrat who stood squarely behind Hillary.
But she says she's come around to Obama, especially after Wexler's post-boo speech about the candidate. "I'm at peace right now," says Weinberg, a dance instructor who retired from Jersey City 31 years ago. "I was very much a Hillary person, but at this point, as long as it's a Democrat, I'm happy. It has to be a Democrat. If it was McCain, it would be another Bush — and this man is not a very intelligent man."
She says the idea of opening talks with those who disagree with U.S. policy sounds like a good idea, breaking it down this way: "If you're angry with someone, you can't get un-angry with them — if that's a word — if you don't talk."
But she acknowledges there are still holdouts at Wynmoor.
"When they say they are going to vote for McCain, it makes me sick," she says. "And I try to talk to them out of it. They'll come around. They are too intelligent not to."
Not if Sid Dinerstein has anything to do with it.
"I've been wanting to run against Obama since January," he says. "He's gone from being Godlike to being very human... and here in Florida, he is very threatening to the Jewish community. McCain is going to get a lot of Hillary votes. No doubt about it."