I’ve been following the news about Obama and his plans for the Middle East for months. With every passing week, I get more and more discouraged.
I was a good Massachusetts voter for years (read: loyal Democrat), and before that, a true Oregonian (also usually a Democrat). I preferred the tax-and-spend mentality to the spend-and-let-the-next-guy-worry-about-how-to-pay-for-it plan. I preferred the Democrats’ concern for the poor, the working class, the environment, women, racial minorities, education, health care, and pretty much everything else.
I did not vote in the last election. As an Israeli, I no longer feel like I have the right to vote in American elections since I don’t live there anymore; that’s for US residents to do. (I feel the same way about Israelis abroad not being allowed to vote absentee in Israeli elections.)
I am also not a one-issue voter. Some American Jews care so passionately about Israel (despite choosing not to live here) that they cast their votes based on who they think will be better for Israel. When I lived in America, I would weigh all of the issues in my decision-making process. Who can create a stronger America? Who has a sound economic policy? Who has a better plan for weaning the US off of its oil dependency? Who can balance good relations with the rest of the world’s nations while maintaining a strong identity as an American? The question of who is a greater supporter of Israel’s right to its own sovereignty and defense is only one of many questions I would consider.
I hoped Obama would be as practical as he was reported to be brainy. I hoped he would continue the support of Israel in the world-wide war on terror that his predecessors generally (though not exclusively) pursued. I hoped he would cast a cold, clear eye on the state of the world, stack the priorities, and pursue a foreign policy based on how the world actually is rather than on how he would like to believe the world is. Instead, he’s shown himself to be a poor judge of national character, a bad student of history, and a leader who would rather dream than face reality. His belief that making peace (or forcing it, it would seem) between Israel and the Arabs will put Hamas and Hizbullah out of business is entirely unfounded. His view that once he has successfully made peace between Israel and the Arabs, he will have greater traction in his attempt to arrest Iran’s nuclear ambitions is similarly absurd. The man who ran such a brilliant campaign can’t seem to grasp the simplest economic reality: that by halting Iran’s nuclear plans and crippling it financially, he can cut off the monetary flow to world-wide terror cells and organizations like Hamas and Hizbullah, and once those have been crippled, peace becomes just a little bit more possible. His administration’s desperation to find even the faintest glimmer of progress toward peace in the Arab Palestinian world is also sad: PM Salaam Fayyad’s aim to improve the Arab economy is notable, but his refusal to discuss making peace with Israel should be cause for concern. PA President Mahmoud Abbass’s intransigence in the last few years, despite being offered nearly everything he asked for, should also raise red flags. And the PA’s recent naming of a square in memory of a woman terrorist who killed 37 civilians (falsely identified by Hillary Clinton as the work of Hamas) should indicate about how inclined toward peace with Israel the Arabs really are.
My being Israeli was the main reason I didn’t vote in the last election. The other one was that I just couldn’t bring myself to back either candidate. I hoped that Obama would prove promising; I couldn’t deceive even myself that a ticket with a Republican veteran with an appalling voting record in the Senate and heart disease, paired with an ignorant, fundamentalist Christian Barbie doll would be successful.
I have considered myself to be party-less in American politics for some time. The last election did nothing to change that. And with the mid-term election coming up in November in which the Republicans seem poised to retake the House, I can’t say I’m disappointed. A plague on both their houses, I say, but especially on the party I thought represented human rights, fairness, and the struggle to do what’s right.