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Israel Crops Up in Chicago Suburb Race

But issue’s real resonance may appear in ’12

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Joel Pollak and Rep. Jan Schakowsky.(Andrew A. Nelles/Chicago News Cooperative/NYT)

Both the Emergency Committee for Israel and J Street appeared to make the Pennsylvania Senate race between Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Sestak their prime proxy war when it came to translating President Obama’s Mideast policy into the electoral language of the midterms. But that race (which Nate Silver projects Toomey to win narrowly) has largely turned on other issues, and instead the midterm race in which Israel looks to play the biggest role is that between Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois), who has represented Chicago’s northern suburbs (including a significant Jewish population) for over a decade, and Republican Joel Pollak, an Orthodox Jew who first popped on our radar when he became the first Republican ever to be endorsed by influential Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz.

The New York Times’s Chicago News Cooperative reports that the main reason America’s Israel policy has become a leading issue in the race—or, more precisely, the main reason that Pollak was successfully able to make it a leading issue—is that the debate really concerns the president, who hails from the city to the south; received much of his early support from the Jewish community in the city’s north and north of the city; whose adviser, Alan Solow, a Chicagoan, is now arguably the most powerful man in American-Jewish institutional life; and whose ex-chief-of-staff, also an Orthodox Jew, is about to run for mayor of that city. Put it all together, and it makes sense that Pollak has been able to gain some traction by constantly bringing up the Jewish state and questioning Schakowsky’s support for it, among other ways by tying her to J Street; nevermind that Schakowsky has long been a staunch supporter of Israel by nearly anyone’s metric (AIPAC is a fan of hers).

Or has Pollak been able to gain traction? Attention might be the better word. Despite the heavily pro-Republican trends, Schakowsky will win re-election. Which is yet further evidence that when we’re talking about Israel in the 2010 elections, what we are really talking about is Israel in the 2012 elections.

Israel Becomes a Big Issue in Ninth District Race [NYT]
Related: The Go-Between [Tablet Magazine]
Earlier: Israel Unmentioned in Sestak Profile
Emergency Committee v. J Street
Dershowitz Endorses First Ever Republican

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Two things:

Jan may win, but it’s anything but a lock. Joel is less than 10% behind her, and there’s still 20% undecided.

Rahm is absolutely not an Orthodox Jew. Not remotely.

Ruth Gutmann says:

Many of us know the threats of orthodoxy — and I must assume that so does Rahm Emanuel. It would be beyond belief if he were truly orthodox. As for Derschowitz, he needs to be reminded that this election is about the here and now. Unfortunately he has enough of a streak of perversity to make him unpredictable

Illinois 9 voter says:

As a Skokie resident I find the NYT prediction that Pollak will get 33% very hard to believe. This is only 11 percentage points better than the 2008 republican candidate who did not even campaign and had no support that I was able to see. As I recall, the 2008 candidate had only one very large yard sign on Dempster. This is in contrast to Pollak signs that I see everywhere throughout the district. Pollak may lose but I bet it will be much closer than predicted by the NYT – maybe 53 to 47. In no way do I believe Schakowsky has a 99.9% chance of winning as per the NYT. The endorsement by Protect Our Heritage

has given Pollak an in across a wide spectrum of religious affiliations. In fact, a local conservative rabbi put out a YouTube questioning Schakowsky and a Democratic candidate for the Illinois House was so concerned by the POH endorsement of Pollak that he sent out his own letter to the Jewish community distancing himself from Schakowsky.

I live in Skokie says:

Please take the time to read this beautiful little essay on what is happening in IL9 and why many of us are hoping for change in IL9.

By the way, Evanston is Jan’s home turf.

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Israel Crops Up in Chicago Suburb Race

But issue’s real resonance may appear in ’12

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