Unless we see a dramatic and unexpected development, in about two weeks we shall have a new president in the United States: Barak Obama. Did I say “we”? Yes, we. The identity of the man who will be entering the White House and staying there in the coming years is more important for us and for our lives here than one could imagine.
Seven million Israeli citizens go about their daily lives while having no clue as to how much their lives and wellbeing depend on the US, and first and foremost on the person who sits in the Oval Office.
As not to argue with the faithful amongst us, certainly not right after Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, we shall only say that some of the prayers we recently uttered would do well to make it to Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington. Our life hinges on the desire, or heaven forbid lack of desire, declarations, and deeds of the president – and apparently it will be Barack Obama.
To be honest, Obama doesn’t make us sleep well at night. We are about to see a president who has nothing to do with Judaism, Jews, and the State of Israel. He doesn’t know Malcolm Hoenlein (executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents), he is not scared of Abe Foxman (head of the Anti-Defamation League,) he has not delivered speeches on behalf of the Israel Bonds, and he has not traveled as the guest of the Jewish National Fund.
His familiarity with the Middle East is minimal, and on top of that, right now he has a global economic crisis to resolve before he can drink tea with Tzipi Livni and coffee with Mahmoud Abbas.
Will AIPAC come through?The way things look now, with an emphasis on “for the time being,” the State of Israel won’t be overjoyed as a result of this development. Obama is not Bush Sr. (who was so-so in his attitude to Israel,) he is not Bill Clinton (who was like a member of the Jewish Federation,) and he is not Bush Jr. (who was like a former fighter in Ariel Sharon’s unit.)
Meanwhile, we have several minor problems that require a solution, such as the Iranian nuke threat, Islamic terrorism, Hamas, Syria, and the economy.
For generations, we heard legends around here about the power of the Jewish “lobby” in Washington: AIPAC – now, its members are facing a test. However, here too we have a problem: American Jewry is not what it used to be when it comes to its attachment to Israel, and the generation of the children and grandchildren no longer blindly follows Israel’s leadership, its speeches and demands.
Therefore, prepare for the arrival of the Obama. Apparently, although let’s hope this won’t happen, soon we shall go back to the biblical verse we love so much: “A people dwelling alone."