Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Great American Day

Great Day For America

The Israeli media is in favor of Barak Obama as U.S. President. Politicians on both the left and right issued statements in support of the new president.

Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni said she expects the strong friendship between Israel and the US to continue under President Obama. Analysts predict that Obama won’t abandon Israel.

Other Israeli pundits looked at the campaign and thought this was an example of democracy at its best. “A model worth of emulation.” In Israel new elections are scheduled for February. So far Mrs. Livni has not been able to form a coalition, and has had to call new elections.

The give-and-take of Israeli politics was too much for Livni, according to analysts. While she claimed she wouldn’t give in to the demands of the ultra-orthodox Sephardi Shas party, other potential partners also proved nettlesome.

Following her failure to form a new coalition, or continue the one set up by her predecessor Ehud Olmert, former Chief-of-Staff Shaul Mofaz hinted that he would take over the party chairmanship if offered. In a counter response Mrs. Livni announced she’d appoint Mofaz deputy Prime Minister if she were elected.

But Kadima success in the next elections are not a sure thing. On Israel Television yesterday, Benjamin Begin, son of the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin, announced his return to Israeli politics. In a press conference seated beside Likud chairman Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu, Begin said that he felt it the right time to return, even if he would be on the right-wing of the Likud party.

Begin quit politics, and the Likud, ten years ago, after a disagreement with Netanyahu over the return of parts of Hebron to Palestinian rule. “If being a radical means I don’t believe that the Palestinians or the Arabs want to make peace with Israel, then I’m a radical.”

Netanyahu has also accepted former Chief-of-Staff ‘Boogy’ Yaalon into the ranks of the Likud. According to political commentators, faced with this array of powerhouses, Mrs. Livni looks as electable as John McCain running against Barak Obama.

Benny Begin, like Tzip Livni, has a reputation as a straight honest guy. But an item in today’s Haaretz newspaper, however, might work against the Likud. It involved corruption and hints of corruption in very high places. Former President Moshe Katzav, long a Likud prince, was reportedly in a business relationship with the notorious Gavrieli crime family.

During an income tax investigation into one of the Gavrieli’s dealings, evidence surfaced that former President Katzav, still appealing his conviction for rape of a woman in his Presidential bureau, was the owner of acres of land near Beer Sheva, in partnership not only with a Gavrieli, but also with another Likud powerhouse. The Gavrilis, it was pointed out, also used the Likud to place one of their own high enough on the candidates list to be elected to the Knesset.

Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu has long been rumored to be above the law when it comes to influence peddling, and accepting gifts, offered or not. The press has even reported on Netanyahu’s walking out of restaurants without paying the bill, expecting the restaurant owner to absorb the cost as the price of having Mr. Netanyahu in the establishment.

The current Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, is under investigation for double billing airplane tickets, and other fiduciary games. One reporter commented that this was the way Israelis behave in politics. Both Olmert and Netanyahu are simply behaving according to the rules of the game in Israel.

One can’t imagine this behavior taking place unpunished in the United States. Nor could one imagine Barak Obama, or John McCain sinking to such transparent fiddling. Obama, clearly a smart, urbane, well-spoken man, has carefully watched every step he has taken since he decided to enter the national political arena a decade ago.

Obama has the gift of rhetorical flight that was matched only by Bill Clinton at his best. Or John Kennedy when he was reading scripts written by the likes of Pierre Salinger or Bill Moyers.

An Obama presidency, the media tell us, speaks of great hope and promise. On a recent Panorama TV magazine program, the issue of a politician represented on TV or in the movies came into focus. A woman playing President on TV prepares the audience for just such an occurrence in real life. In the TV series ‘24’ an African-American president ran the White House. According to this documentary, these types of personifications laid the groundwork for Barak Obama as President.

During one segment of the show Martin Sheen, as US President in the hit TV show “The West Wing,” told his priest, an old friend, played by Karl Malden, that “In this room you have to refer to me as ‘Mr. President.’ It’s just that I have decisions to make here that are national, not personal.” The priest understood. One of the series producers then said that the writers imbued the president with all the great qualities they wished a president to have. Fiction aiming at reality.

However, reality isn’t always fiction. Can Barak Obama, who can give a perfect acceptance speech, getting even strong men like Jesse Jackson to shed a tear, actually become the President of the reality facing America in difficult times. Can he face the question of Obama vs. Qassam rockets.

Sky news, while reporting on Obama’s moving acceptance speech in Chicago’s Grant Park, questioned if the new president wasn’t going to meet severe tests from many quarters. The announcer informed the viewers that a Qassam rocket barrage was falling on the South of Israel as the acceptance speech was going on.

The barrage came after an Israeli commando raid into Gaza to destroy a 250-meter long tunnel that crossed under the border fence. The Israelis claim this tunnel was “A ticking bomb” ready to be used as part of a new kidnapping plot.

Nearly sixty rockets fell on Southern Israel, causing little damage and no injuries. Kadima leader Tzipi Livni ccalled the attack a flagrant violation of the cease-fire. Hamas said the rocket barrage was in response to the Israeli raid and that they were honoring the ceasefire.

The Israeli raid resulted in the destruction of the tunnel, but the killing of five Hamas gunmen, and the wounding of one Israeli soldier. Sometime later another Hamas gunman was killed along the Gaza border by Israeli troops.

This is only one example of the tests that Obama may face in office. While the right wing in Israel bemoans the election, crying that Israel can kiss the West Bank and Jerusalem goodbye, others moderate analysts are saying that Israel will almost certainly
face another Arab-Israeli war in the next four years.

Will President Obama be up to the challenge? Will the oval office shape him, or will he shape the oval office?

No matter which, the common feeling in Israel is that the Obama victory is good for America, while it may not exactly be good for Israel. The disenfranchised poor of America see one of their own rise from the dust to the heights of success, and do it clean and neat.

The election of Barak Obama has truly shown that America is a great country, even though the old sections where bigotry and racism still flourish predictably voted against him.

Israel just celebrated the anniversary of the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin, who tried to make peace with the enemy. Neo-Nazis have been caught with a plot to kill Obama, and he wasn’t even President.

Obama has chosen one of the toughest jobs in the world, and for him one of the most dangerous. But while it lasts, he is a model for many that indeed “Yes, we can.”

If nothing else that makes the 2008 Presidential elections a great day for America.