America will vote November 6th, electing a President as well senators and congressmen. Israel has decided to do likewise, and not three months after the American elections, January 22 to be exact, Israelis will vote to elect a new Knesset, and with it a new (or old) Prime Minister and a new Government. On the face of it, it seems as if there is no connection whatsoever between the two elections. After all, in the American democracy, elections for a new president are always held every four years, at a set date, and the president-elect has four year to take care of business. In Israel, though, with the old British Parliamentary election system in place, more or less, a Prime Minster and a government are almost never able to survive the full four years in power. They either fall, and are forced to declare new elections, or chose to do so on their own volition, as Mr. Netanyahu has done this time. And so, it seems, there is no connection.
And yet there is. To begin with, here in America, there was much talk about the relationship between the two countries, each candidate claiming to be a better, stronger supporter of Israel. Mitt Romney even went a step further earlier on in the campaign, declaring that should he be elected president, he would move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Such declarations, so often being made by various American candidates prior to elections, would soon be forgotten should—and this blog, with certain reservations, does endorse the reelection of Mr. Obama—he would be elected president. Even in the last debate, both candidates fought mightily to prove who visited Israel more often; who will defend Israel more vigorously should it be attacked, and so on. One late night TV show host even mocked especially this obsession with Israel. On the radio, on the other hand, I heard representatives of bigger, important countries, complain mightily about the fact that their countries, and their relations with the USA, were not even mentioned once. So there you have it.
It should be noted here, also, that these claims and pandering are mistakenly believed to be directed towards the Jewish vote. This is hardly the case. Not only Jewish voters represent hardly 2% of the total voting population, but also in spite of all the rhetoric and false assertions about Jewish voters deserting Obama, this is not the case. The majority of Jewish voters are still strong supporters of the Democratic Party and its candidates. But the American public at large, who understands so little of the intricate complexities of the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian issue, traditionally supports Israel without reservation. And of course, the Evangelical and religious right does so automatically. It is to this large group of voters that those proclamations and vows of support are mostly directed.
Earlier in the campaign, it did seem quite obvious that Israel PM Mr. Netanyahu was trying to muddle in the American politics, and trying to influence its voters to give their support to Mr. Romney. He did so almost unabashedly, receiving criticizing mostly in Israel though, and causing a rift with his right hand and supporter on all things Iran, Defense Minister Ehud Barak. So fierce was the criticism leveled at him that it might have been a contributing factor in his decision to call for new, early elections. Mr. Netanyahu, who looks invincible at this moment, do believe he would be reelected Prime Minister, but with broader, stronger coalition. And then, together with what he is hoping would be a new American president, i.e. his old buddy Mitt from MIT—Netanyahu’s disdain and sour relationship with Obama never a secret—it would be much easier for him to manipulate America into launching an immediate attack on Iran.
In Israel, where people are following the American election very closely, it is now being reveled that some 90% of money contributed to the main parties and candidates’ campaigns, is coming from the USA. In other words, money from America is influencing the outcome of the election in Israel. And here, of course, we have to mention another character in this political drama. I.e., our old friend Mr. Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who is pouring the millions of dollars he has made in Las Vegas and elsewhere where people are gambling their money away first into Mr. Gingrich’s campaign in the Primaries, and now into Romany’s campaign. As noted earlier in a blogpost here—August, on “Israel Today”—he is the owner of the now most poplar Israeli newspaper, the aforementioned Israel Today, which he gives free to the public weekdays. This paper, nicknamed “Bibi’s Paper” by Israelis, supports every word and every action Mr. Netanyahu takes. It is therefore no exaggeration to say that his influence on the outcome of the Israeli election would be tremendous.
The coming Israeli elections deserve and probably will get a separate article here. But as for this one, it does seem sometimes that the two nations, so far apart on the map, are so tied to each other politically, and culturally I might add, that the old joke in Israel—about Israel being the fifty-first star on the American flag—might as well be the reality. Declaring Israel an American state, or a self-governing commonwealth in union with the U.S., the way Puerto Rico is, might help all sides. Who knows, it may even hasten a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Indeed, in the last debate the moderator asked the candidates: If Israel would be attacked, would you go to war to defend it as if it were an attack on America? Both candidates, in different word usage, answered unconditionally in the affirmative. The Israeli people would welcome, and expect these answers very much. And likewise, it seems, the American public at large. So let’s declare Israel an American state, and be done with it.