Bintel Blog

In Israel, Change You Can Xerox

By Gabrielle Birkner

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In advance of Tuesday’s election in Israel, candidates of various persuasions have shown no shame in cribbing from the storied presidential campaign of Barack Obama — regardless of their ideological similarities or differences with the American president, The Daily Beast reports.

The Shas Party, whose constituency traditionally has been composed of Orthodox Sephardic Jews, has gone so far as to reappropriate for its own purposes Obama’s “Yes We Can” slogan. Meanwhile, the leader of the centrist Kadima Party, Tzipi Livni, is evoking Obama’s message with the catchphrase, “You have a chance to make history,” and Benjamin Netanyahu, of the center-right Likud Party, last year hired on two Obama strategists.

Echoing a recent Forward story, Ashley Rindsberg, in The Daily Beast, writes:

“Far more than just a source of borrowed slogans and talking points, Obama has become a political weapon. The Kadima and the left-of-center Labor parties have campaigned on the notion that ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu simply won’t be able to get along with Obama. In the Israeli media, the portmanteau ‘Obibi’ is used to describe Netanyahu’s rise to front-runner against the backdrop of a liberal American president who might be less than sympathetic to his positions.

But it’s not completely clear that even the centrist or left contenders would simply line up for Obama once in the government. Livni has tried the hardest to identify with Obama, going so far as to print campaign leaflets for Hebrew-speaking voters that read, in English, ‘Believni.’ Although Kadima led the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza under Ariel Sharon, there’s little indication that Kadima under Livni would follow the same path in the West Bank, no matter how much President Obama might desire such an outcome.”


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