New York Post – by Frederic U. Dicker
March 3, 2008 — BROOKLYN Assemblyman Dov Hikind yesterday predicted that Jewish voters would make “a mass movement toward Sen. McCain” if Barack Obama knocks Hillary Rodham Clinton out of the race in tomorrow’s critical Democratic primaries.
Hikind, an Orthodox Jew whose Borough Park district includes the largest Hasidic bloc in the United States, blasted Obama for what he called his half-hearted support of Israel and his ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., who has repeatedly praised anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has endorsed Obama.
Hikind, a Democrat who has yet to endorse a candidate for president, said Obama had not satisfactorily distanced himself from Wright, his Chicago-based personal pastor, noting, “This is a man who thinks Farrakhan is a great guy and God’s gift to the world.”
Hikind went on, “Obama has said that you can be a supporter of Israel even if you’re for giving up land to the Arabs, which is true – but for a guy running for president to take a position like this in advance of getting into office, combined with everything else going on in the Middle East, that scares the hell out of me.
“There are a hell of a lot of Jews who are concerned about these issues, and they go way beyond Hasidic and Orthodox Jews, people I describe as conservative Reagan/Giuliani Democrats,” said Hikind, who backed Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaigns in 1980 and 1984.
Hikind’s warning about Jewish concerns over Obama are being widely but privately voiced among top New York Democrats.
“There is anxiety, there is concern, on the part of a lot of important Jewish Democrats in New York,” one of the state’s most influential Democratic activists told The Post.
Hikind, meanwhile, said he believed last week’s controversy over Obama appearing in Somali garb during a visit to his father’s native Kenya would have no impact on Jewish voters.
“Something like that by itself doesn’t mean anything,” he said.
Obama, who has repeatedly condemned Farrakhan for making anti-Semitic remarks, rejected his endorsement under pressure from rival Hillary Rodham Clinton during a debate last week.
But while Obama has pushed Wright into the background of his campaign, Obama remains a member of his church.