Israel elects a president
By Zvi Bar'el
Israel convinced that it is the one electing the American president - that the decision on who will lead the United States, and the world, rests in its hands.
American Presidential Candidate Syndrome is a disease that has afflicted every Israeli government, as well as Israeli society as a whole. The symptoms of this syndrome are well known, and like a chronic ulcer, they recur every four years.
The most prominent symptom is that for a moment, Israel becomes convinced that it is the one electing the American president - that the decision on who will lead the United States, and the world, rests in its hands. But since it is impossible to confine an entire country to a facility for the mentally impaired, there's nothing to do but recognize this syndrome as if it were true as true can be. That's what happens when a nation is Napoleonic, in the clinical sense of the word.
After all, eight million Israelis can't be wrong. Thus, Israel is dreaming of electing the American president, and Mitt Romney is its preferred candidate. Some things don't need to be said explicitly to be understood. Love is like that.
Romney also knows that Israel's enthusiasm carries a price: It comes with a checklist dictating a list of conditions that the presidential candidate must satisfy if he wishes to earn the Israeli public's support. So far, Romney has met them all.
A trip to Israel? Check. Contempt for the Palestinians? Check. A pledge to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem? Check. Admiration for Jewish genes? Check. Nary a word about the occupation? Check. Support for an attack on Iran? Absolutely.
This, therefore, is the man who ought to replace the Muslim president now sitting in the White House. Barack Hussein Obama - who prevented recognition of a Palestinian state, who caved in when faced with the Wild West outposts in the territories (after a pathetic attempt to freeze construction in the settlements ), who is bestowing all the most advanced equipment on Israel, who has mobilized the world against Iran, and above all, who has understood that you can't spank the rebellious Israeli child, but can only mutter "I don't approve" - is no longer suitable for Israel.
In effect, he was unsuitable from the very first moment, when he told leaders of the American Jewish community that Israel must engage in some soul-searching with regard to its peace policy. Just imagine: An American president who received nearly 80 percent of the Jewish vote telling Israel to do some soul-searching.
This is the root of the loathing and anger that the current government and the man who heads it feel toward Obama. One could overlook an American president embarking on a campaign of reconciliation with the Muslim world. One could turn a blind eye to "misunderstandings" and uncomfortable rhetoric, to chilly receptions and angry phone calls - like the one Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in March 2010, after Israel announced the construction of 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden.
Messianic Israel knows that not everyone has yet adopted the true faith. But it is convinced that in the end, everyone will find enlightenment. Therefore, it doesn't get insulted when an American president criticizes its policy, and especially not when the president in question is a "Muslim" like Obama or a "leftist" like Bill Clinton. Like the Israeli left, they, too, have forgotten what it means to be Jewish.
But it is unforgivable for an American president to tell Israel to engage in soul-searching.
Soul-searching is something that Israel, and only Israel, is entitled to demand of others. Someone who urges Israel to engage in soul-searching is challenging absolute justice, even divinity itself. Such a demand casts doubt on Israel's raison d'etre - not as a state of refuge for Jews, but as the realization of a divine promise.
For there is more than enough room between Gedera and Hadera to serve as a refuge for Jews, and even a bit more north of the Kishon River. A refuge doesn't have to be located in the stony hillsides of Samaria. The Promised Land, in contrast, is a matter between the government and its Creator. No president, whether American or Malaysian, has the right to thrust himself between them.
Romney understands this idea: He has adopted it and is marketing it to all and sundry. He won't demand any soul-searching of Israel, or any "reconsideration" of its policies. Romney is well-suited to us, and we to him.
In the best-case scenario, he knows that this is a crazy country, so one can't tell the truth to its face. In the more realistic scenario, he is afflicted with that same syndrome, which drove him to come to Israel to touch holiness.