I love President Obama. I just love the guy. And with every mean thing that he does to Israel I love him even more.
Why? Well, I will give you two reasons why Obama is good for Israel, and one why he is good for America.
Obama is good for the Israeli sense of self. When I go to IDF reserve duty, the guys there always tell me the same thing: “We cannot do anything without America’s say-so; we are a vassal state.” I ask them: “What the heck is wrong with you? Where is your independence? Where is that famous brash bravado of the Israeli – the sense that we don’t need anyone and can go it alone?”
Alas, the Israeli sense of self has melted away in the last few years. We have become less secure about our rights and less sure about our ability to defend ourselves. Conveniently, the U.S. was there to keep us safe, to tuck us in at night, to veto that big bad United Nations, to stop Saddam Hussein and to even pay us a nice allowance for doing our chores. All Israel had to do was to respect daddy and not sit in his chair. Slowly we gave up our independence, just as surely as we gave up our land. We got soft, stopped making our own planes and relied on America to be our superpower backbone – and all the protestations of people like me could do nothing to get the average IDF reserve soldier to think differently.
Enter President Barack Obama! This guy is a superstar, so polished, so eloquent, so learned! But hold on, wait – what’s that coming out of his mouth? He is blaming us for everything; he smiles at the Arabs, but frowns upon us, frowns upon our prime minister, frowns upon Jewish Jerusalem, and according to his staff, Israel is the source of all Middle East instability! And more troubling than his policies is his attitude, which is negative to the point of hostility – the shoes up on the desk, the berating phone calls, the rude snubs of Israel’s highest representatives. Everybody sees it – even pro-Israel American liberals are up in arms.
All this negativity has a profound effect on Israelis. While they would never voluntarily give up their America addiction, Obama is forcing them to rehab. Israelis are suckers for any gestures of love from America, but Obama is not having any of it; he simply does not like Israel, and it shows. Now the average Israeli is being forced to accept that there is a new reality, and like it or not, the America-Israel umbilical cord has been cut. This may be a scary proposition for those who cannot see Israel survive without America, but in truth this is a golden opportunity for Israel to act in its own self-interest (like dealing with Iran!) without the inhibition of American soft-imperialism. In any case, the good news about Obama is that he is causing the average Israeli to think independently.
Another great reason to love Obama is American immigration to Israel (called aliyah). Measurable aliyah interest from the U.S. is up over 200 percent, and if things keep going this way, we can expect boatloads of American Jews to arrive in Israel soon. Well, it’s not fair to give President Obama all the credit, because it’s really the economy that is driving Jewish people to consider the Jewish Dream instead of the American Dream. But Obama is helping the struggling economy struggle even more, and he is making Jews feel less comfortable in the States by socializing doctor paychecks and talking smack about Israel.
All that American Jews really need to change their attitude toward remaining in the Diaspora is just some plain old discomfort, and that discomfort has arrived. Arab anti-Semitism on campus, ultrahigh tuition costs and a high rate of intermarriage are bad enough. But now the president is also taking away the raison d’etre of American Jews: to defend Israel by shaping U.S. policy in Israel’s favor. Obama simply does not want to hear it, and American Jews are stunned. Suddenly, it’s all gone. The money is gone, the comfort is gone and so is the political strength. This translates to a rise in aliyah, and the numbers already show it. Slugger Obama is batting cleanup, and American Jews are coming home. That is good news if you believe in the ingathering of the Jews, and it is yet another reason why I love the president of hope and change.
But I also like Obama for the USA; I think America will benefit from him in the long run. I told this to a bunch of Texan Christians somewhere north of Dallas, and they were about to lynch me. Slow and serious, they said: “You must be joking.” I begged them to hear me out before they called out the posse.
I told them: “America has become totally mired in the consumerism of junk: junk food, junk video games and junk TV filled with images of murder and sordid sexuality. It’s like the whole country was filled with strip malls, gadgets and donuts being consumed by overweight people. There is no talk of values, justice or even the Constitution. It’s all about money and celebrities, and junk, junk, junk. Now comes this man Obama, and he has stirred up qualitative debate. Average people are debating the future of America, and suddenly, even high-school kids actually know the issues. People on both sides of the aisle are intently listening to talk radio, nodding their heads in solemn agreement. This is just what the U.S. needed to get back to being a nation of values and morals and not just a country of Pop-Tarts, college parties and reality shows. So don’t worry – if you want to make America a quality place again, Barack Obama is your best friend.”
The Texans thought that was pretty smart thinking on the part of the bearded Jewboy from the Wild West Bank of the original Lone Star State.
And for us here in Israel, we need not worry either. Obama is helping us become more independent and therefore stronger, and he is waking up the Jews who are known to be “as dreamers” (Psalm 126). I have a dream too: “Four more years!”
Yishai Fleisher is a radio-show host and director of Israel National Radio. He lives with his wife and daughter in the settlement of Beit El (Bethel).