Forward Thinking

Little Israel Buzz About Romney's Trip

By Nathan Jeffay

  • Print
  • Share Share

I remember the day clearly. The buzz was everywhere. Israelis were certainly suspicious, but they were fixated by Barack Obama’s visit, ahead of his successful Presidential election. Four years on, with Republican presumptive nominee Mitt Romney about to visit Israel on Sunday, the situation could not be more different.

Back in 2008, the daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot likened Obama’s arrival to that of a “rock star.” I wrote in the Forward: “Throughout the day, Israel caught a local strain of Obama fever, with constant news coverage, flags lining his route in the desert town of Sderot and breathless street corner discussions of every word he uttered.”

Whether people liked Obama or feared what he would do if elected, he was viewed as somebody who was most likely to make history. But there is little if any anticipation among the general population for Romney’s visit.

Why? Part of it is timing. Sunday is not the best of days for a high-profile visit. And it is Tisha B’Av, when large sections of the population are preoccupied with fasting and commitments related to the fast. But the timing problem is larger than that — the Israeli news cycle is just so busy at the moment, with last week’s attacks, Likud-Kadima tensions in Knesset, crisis over the issue of a the draft for Haredim, and an upcoming outpost evacuation. With all of this going on, there is little interest in Romney.

If he were a figure whose personality had made a strong impression on Israelis, as Obama’s had, even with all this news interest levels would inevitably be different, and people would take notice. The bottom line, though, is that Israelis don’t dislike Romney or have any axe to grind with him; most simply haven’t taken much notice of him, they are distinctly parev about him. But this could change: If he says things that people like to hear on Sunday, and presents himself as a better friend of Israel than Obama, as he will probably try to, Israelis could start to pay attention.

If he does say the right things, he is likely to have some amiable help getting them publicized and getting into Israelis’ good books. He’s on exceedingly terms with American magnate Sheldon Adelson, who will be meeting him in Jerusalem and who owns the most distributed Israeli daily Israel HaYom.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.