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Bennet Wins Senate Seat in Close Contest

Does this make him the 12th Jewish senator?

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Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado).(Matt McClain/Getty Images)

The Denver Post has called the Colorado Senate race for incumbent Michael Bennet (D), and moreover seems to imply that a recount will not be in the offing: One would be required were the margin less than one-half of one percent, or 3900 votes; but, as of writing, Bennet leads by 7000 with 30,000 votes remaining in Boulder County, which covers the state university and was won 72-26 by President Obama. So Bennet is the 52nd Democratic senator and the 12th Jewish one in the 112th Congress.

… Or does he?

In writing about Bennet, I have always striven to carefully parse his Jewishness (or lack thereof): He had a Jewish mother, indeed one who survived the Warsaw Ghetto; a non-Jewish father; according to Wikipedia, “Though neither of his parents were religiously observant, Bennet has stated that he was ‘raised with two different heritages, one [that] was Jewish and one [that] was Christian,’ and that he believes in God.” So is he Jewish? Halachically: Yes. In a practicing way: No. In a way that Jews can take pride in: That is up to individual Jews. This is definitely one issue where I am happy to report and let you decide.

What I am not happy to do is to let the Republican Jewish Coalition Tweet, as they do nearly every time I write about Bennet in this way, something along the lines of, “@tabletmag continues to characterize #COSen’s Michael Bennet as ‘Jewish’ using criteria that would make BHO ‘Muslim.’” It’s offensive and mischaracterizing, for four reasons: One, just as a matter of fact, unlike Bennet, who acknowledges that his household growing up was partly Jewish, President Obama, whose father was indeed a Muslim, grew up in an entirely Christian household; two, unlike Bennet, who has seemed to deliberately leave his religious characterization pretty wide open, President Obama is demonstrably a believing Christian; third, “Jewish” may be said to be an ethnicity in a way “Muslim” is not, so that the analogy is not that Bennet is “Jewish” in the same way that Obama is “Muslim” but that Bennet is “of Jewish descent” in the same way that Obama is “of African descent”; fourth, context matters, and the lie that Obama is a secret Muslim is used by certain paranoid enemies of his in an attempt to discredit and delegitimize his presidency, whereas no one, at least to my knowledge, has done that to Bennet with regards to his Jewish descent.

In other words, feel free to disagree with me in considering Bennet Jewish to at least some degree, but please at least note that I say it in good faith, and believe me when I testify that I would treat Bennet the exact same way were he a Republican. Please have none of the RJC’s cynical analogies.

Speaking of which! The Republican Jewish House caucus doubled its membership last night, and the party retook the House after a four-year absence. Mazel tov.

Bennet Wins in Senate Race [Denver Post]

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Dennis says:

Whatever he is, he already is. Bennet was appointed to a vacant seat and is already serving in the Senate.
He’s not “becoming” anything. He already is that.

Dennis says:

Note that by taking the “becomes” out of the first paragraph, the second paragraph no longer makes sense. I guess you need to change that “does” to “is.”

“So Bennet is the 52nd Democratic senator and the 12th Jewish one in the 112th Congress.
… Or does he?”

Peter W. says:

Obama also grew up in Indonesia, where his step-father was a practicing Muslim who regularly took the boy Barack to mosque. (Obama’s mother was an atheist.) So it’s just flat out untrue that Obama “grew up in an entirely Christian household.”

12th Jewish senator? Isn’t it thirteenth?

There were 14, including Bennet. Arlen Specter and Russ Feingold lost at various points in the year, but Richard Blumenthal won. So that makes a total of 13 Jewish senators (including Bennet).

There’s also John Kerry, the one other senator of partial Jewish descent (and Ted Kaufman, same story, who will be replaced by Chris Coons).

Gracias por el artículo. Me encanta tu sitio, sigue así!

jacobo says:

Will these pro-Israel senators serve the interests of their constituents or will they be compromised by having dual loyalties to Israel and America? Israel’s supporters, of course, will insist that what’s good for Israel is good for the U.S., but this doesn’t square with recent statements by General David Petreaus, Vice President Joe Biden (among others) that Israel’s intransigence in regards to the Mideast conflict endangers U.S. troops in Afghanistan as well as posing a risk to national security. Support Israel by sending someone else’s loved ones to die in Afghanistan*, is that what Zionism is all about?

*with a war against Iran on tap, if Israel and its supporters have their way.

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Bennet Wins Senate Seat in Close Contest

Does this make him the 12th Jewish senator?

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