I’ve seen a lot of things in my time, looking from close up and far above the fray. I’ve learned my share of political lessons the hard way even trying once to inject truth into a Presidential campaign at the local level. And in my case the growing divergence between my intimate knowledge of the inner workings of computer models, polling projections, proprietary campaign software and ad buys means that on many levels I have been left behind by the advance and application of the technology being utilized in the virtual political backroom. Sitting here in my little office in suburban Philadelphia I am somewhat removed from the campaign season that is well underway in Israel today. And yet, as I sift through dozens of websites gleaning political tidbits from erstwhile pundits from Haaretz to Ynet, to TOI to JPost to Al Jazeera and enough social media to light up Broadway in a snowstorm I get an interesting outside/in vision of the strange game going on throughout the state of Israel and of a few minor and not so minor American influences.
So far you may think this piece has all the importance of a Facebook selfie, but I’m warming up:
You see a lot of junk comes across my transom as I sift through the political maelstrom of ideas being foisted on all us poor Internet users who are trying to make sense of the campaign for Prime Minister even if in my case I don’t have a vote. But, I do have a viewpoint and more than a good deal of concern as a Diaspora Jew over the future of the State of Israel. I see ISIS, and Hezbollah and Hamas and al Qaeda and Boko Haram and all the threats to democracy and freedom which on this side of the Atlantic have been held in stasis by a reference to 9/11 that is decidedly different than the ongoing terror and threats affecting Israelis every day. What does it mean when a drone flown by a drunken government employee lands on the lawn of the White House at 3AM? What does it mean when Stav Shaffir defines Zionism on the floor of the Knesset and it goes viral? What does it mean when a US Speaker of the House invites the Prime Minister of Israel to speak on Iran to a joint session of Congress two weeks before an election? And what does it mean when Jeremy Bird and Co. show up to lend a little expertise to those on the left end of the political spectrum? Who’s watching which performance? Can Herzog be morphed into Hope and can that message of Hope be re-embedded into the hearts of enough cynical Israelis to alter the outcome on March 17th?
I don’t have to worry about the price of an apartment in Tel Aviv, but the economy is important, (‘stupid’), and I know firsthand all that I can’t afford here. In a 120 seat Knesset when two or three or even one seat may make the difference in who sits down with Reuven Rivlin and gets the golden ticket to form the next government, the politics is overwhelming and the ability of anyone, be they a stray billionaire or an NGO or an angry American President to put their hand on the political tiller enough to influence the outcome presents a unique and irresistible obsession. Maybe we should ask Yair Shamir to provide a history lesson…