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November 7, 2012 5:08 pm
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Israel, Adjusting to the New America

avatar by Arik Elman

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President Obama delivers a victory speech after winning reelection. Photo: Screenshot.

Call it a sign of the new times. A few minutes after the Likud MK Danny Danon reacted to the re-election of President Obama by calling him “naïve” and suggesting that the choice made by the American people means that Israel is left to take care of her interests on her own, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Likud spokesperson sent down a gag order – no minister or Knesset member may speak on the subject of American elections without Netanyahu’s say-so. The incumbent president shall not be disturbed or provoked by any criticism from Israel – at least not until Netanyahu’s own elections are over next January 22nd.

While Netanyahu’s involvement in the presidential contest in the US was never as intrusive as claimed by local and American liberals, his preference for a Mitt Romney win was indisputable. Besides personal acquaintance and ideological proximity, it is quite understandable – after all, it was Obama who, during the first two years of his presidency (until the midterms) picked useless fights with Netanyahu and made them very public. Apparently unmoved by considerations of propriety, Obama’s aides discussed with eager Israeli journalists their preference for the reshuffle of Netanyahu’s coalition for the benefit of Kadima. After the midterms, the personal became political – Obama kept trying to foist on Israel his own extreme ideas of final settlement with Palestinians, his White House discounted Netanyahu’s warnings on the development of the “Arab Spring” into an Islamist triumph (which were spot-on) and, as a cherry on top, the Obama administration did all it could, short of drone attack to stop Israel from acting against the Iranian nuclear program. Is it really that strange if Netanyahu chose to believe his American friends and pollsters who were convinced that Obama was history?

Without doubt, among Israeli politicians, Netanyahu is the most knowledgeable about America. But this time, his experience failed him. From Israel, Obama’s victory looks like a vindication for an America that is content with its diminishing stature in the world and especially in the Middle East and ready to grasp the President’s promise that its wars “are coming to an end” – regardless of the intent of America’s enemies who started them and have no intention to quit. While there’s not much fear that Obama will try “to solve” the Palestinian problem, Israelis are coming to understand that the chance of American military intervention against Iranian nukes is almost nil. With such “leverage”, nothing good is expected to come out of the bilateral negotiations with Iran that Obama is going to launch – in the end, Iran will get American approval for a “bomb in the basement” and Israel will either have to agree to live on with a credible threat of annihilation or to act alone and face the wrath of a world addicted to “peaceful solutions”.

Beyond the accusations from former Prime Minister Olmert that Netanyahu took Romney’s side to appease “a certain American billionaire”, the redistributionist forces in Israel are hoping that Obama’s reelection will hurt Netanyahu in the battle of economic ideology as well. It was quite ironic that the most heartfelt congratulations for the most liberal American President came from SHAS – the ultraorthodox Sephardic faction, backward, xenophobic and quite unfriendly to women and gays. Being inveterate moochers of the public veal, SHAS leaders happily declared that Obama’s victory means that “the weak demand that the government must not abandon them”. In the worsening economic climate, those expectations of largesse can prove even more destructive for Israel than any other consequences of Obama’s return to the White House.

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  • Salomon Mizrahi

    “…SHAS – the ultraorthodox Sephardic faction, backward, xenophobic and quite unfriendly to women and gays”

    I believe the author does not understand Judaism and his tenths of factions…SHAS is not essentially Sepharadic, most of its members and followers are Jews from the Middle East and not Sepharadic that came from France, Italy, Greece, Bulgary…. SHAS is rooted in traditional orthodox Middle Eastern Judaism and are not more “backward, xenophobic and quite unfriendly to women and gays” than Hassidic European orthodox Judaism with its tenths of factions (Bobovs, Satmar, Belz, Chabad, Lubavitch, etc…)…
    SHAS exists as a political faction group to oppose the secular-atheistic European Jews (the founding fathers of Zionism, and nowadays quite antizionists). The Mizrahi Jews suffered discrimination in Israel, and nothing more natural to group around ideals of religion and tradition as they inheritated from their ancestors. The secular left Ashkenazim owe a clear acknowledgment to the “backward Jews” …. Begin and the Likud understood the soul of the Jews of the Middle east, he knew how to speak to them…That´s why the Likud was their preferred party….

  • Salomon Mizrahi

    I believe the author does not understand Judaism and his tenths of factions…SHAS is not essentially Sepharadic, most of its members and followers are Jews from the Middle East and not Sepharadic that came from France, Italy, Greece, Bulgary…. SHAS is rooted in traditional orthodox Middle Eastern Judaism and are not more “backward, xenophobic and quite unfriendly to women and gays” than Hassidic European orthodox Judaism with its tenths of factions (Bobovs, Satmar, Belz, Chabad, Lubavitch, etc…)…
    SHAS exists as a political faction group to oppose the secular-atheistic European Jews (the founding fathers of Zionism, and nowadays quite antizionists). The Mizrahi Jews suffered discrimination in Israel, and nothing more natural to group around ideals of religion and tradition as they inheritated from their ancestors. The secular left Ashkenazim owe a clear acknowledgment to the “backward Jews” …. Begin and the Likud understood the soul of the Jews of the Middle east, he knew how to speak to them…That´s why the Likud was their preferred party….

  • Hershel Barg

    One correction to make on this article. When Bibi appeared at the United Nations and declared that Iran’s red line would not be reached until next Spring, Charles Krauthammer remarked on Fox News that Bibi mentioned that date because he presumed that Obama was going to be re-elected.

    In other words Bibi was trying to purchase as much time as possible and didn’t want to chance rocking the American political boat in October. Too bad.

  • Sonia

    I agree with you, Arik; with David Efune too, with Danny Dannon and stand with Netanyahu. Israel cannot wimper; it must STAND wisely yet boldly. We know from fulfilled prophecy that “HaShem rules in the affairs of men.” Dan 4:17

  • Those of us who oppose Obama’s policies will continue to oppose them actively and vociferously. In this effort, we will have members of the House of Representatives and, to some extent, the Senate, all of whom, as opposed to Obama, will have to face re-election and, thus, cannot afford to dismiss us.

    Hibernation? Not when the existence of the security of the United States and Israel is at stake.

  • ronnie

    No matter what the reason,Israelis talk too much to the media.All should shut their mouths

    • Mildred Bilt

      Telling Israelis to hold their tongues is like a pronouncement of death on them. Tact, diplomacy, courtesy, sensitivity for others-not in the Israeli lexicon. Tasteless comments, discourtesy, gross insults-telling everybody how to live, what to think-what a mess of verbiage. And of course, they haven’t got a clue of what’s happening in the US and have no idea of the political and economic undercurrents that riddle US security. And if the US rumbles, what happens to Israel? How could they be so shortsighted? And the mouths keep blabbing and blabbing. Where did all tose dumb people come from anyway?

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