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'I Look at It From an Israeli Perspective'

November 9, 2006 By:
Rachel Silverman, JE Staff
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With the situation in the Middle East clearly on their minds, Lower Merion residents flocked to the polls early Tuesday morning.

Forty-year-old Jeff Dittus, for example, is a registered Democrat who cited Bob Casey Jr.'s support for Israel among his primary reasons for picking the challenger over incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum.

"Sometimes, you get more with honey than you do with shaking a big stick," said Dittus. "We need more diplomats in there."

Standing right outside Penn Valley Elementary School, where the lines moved briskly all morning, the township resident called Santorum "a hawk."

Election Day volunteers there cited generally good turnout and friendly neighborhood chitchat.

Carrying coffee cups and briefcases, voters walked past political leaflets and tables of baked goods as they entered the building. Outside, State Rep. Mike Gerber offered a hearty handshake to any taker.

Rena Burnstein, 80, another eager voter, agreed with Dittus that Democrats would better serve the Jewish state.

"I think the Jewish population is misguided in thinking that voting Republican is good for Israel," said the Penn Valley resident.

For her, Republican support for Israel is based solely on the party's allegiance to evangelical Christians.

Mark Simon, a 57-year-old Narberth resident, offered another explanation: The Republican position is simply an economic maneuver.

"They just need a foothold in the Middle East to keep the oil flow going," he said.

A registered Republican, Simon noted that he voted the straight Democratic ticket for the first time in his life.

"I'm tired of what's going on with the federal government," he said. "I'm just sick of it!"

He also said that he was turned off by the Republican Party's "more vicious ads."

Still, 65-year-old Fred Blume described the Casey-Santorum vote as a toss-up.

Blume said he ultimately picked Santorum for his seniority, and because he felt the senator would do more for Israel.

He clearly stated his take on the situation: "I always look at it from an Israeli perspective."

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