South Jerusalem header image 2

Black and Blue: Obama and Golda

November 4th, 2008by Haim Watzman · 8 Comments · Politics and Policy

Haim Watzman

There wasn’t much to read in this morning’s Ha’aretz. Nearly every one of the paper’s senior writers has written a piece about how amazing it is that the United States is on the verge of electing a black president.

It is amazing, of course, especially for anyone my age and above, those who can still remember segregation and Jim Crow. But there’s something patronizing about all this going ga-ga over Obama’s race–as if voters are choosing him because he’s black. In fact, it’s his policies and his personality that are attracting Americans; if he wins it will be despite, not because, he’s black.

Ha’aretz‘s swoon over Obama reminds me of how American Jews tend to melt inside when they talk about Golda Meir. Seeing Israel through the lenses of American liberalism, many American MOTs view Meir as a paragon of liberalism and feminism. After all, she was a woman elected to Israel’s highest political office at a time when American feminism was just taking off. So her choice must demonstrate the maturity and lack of sexism of Israeli voters.

Actually, she was no feminist, hardly liberal, and she wasn’t elected–she was chosen in a back room by her party’s leaders. She was chosen despite her gender, and during her tenure the Israeli leadership remained very much closed to those on the margins–not just women, but also Mizrachim and Palestinians.

The significance of Obama’s victory will be that he has convinced a majority of the American people that the selfish, aggressive, and patronizing America of the Bush administration, and that administration’s self-deluding economic, domestic, and foreign policy, has been a disaster. He’ll win because he’ll have restored to the United States an understanding that military force can only be a last resort. He’ll win because he’ll have reminded Americans that a free market cannot operate properly without regulation. He’ll win because he’ll have taught people something they have forgotten–that government can do much to alleviate the ills of American society, and that it is not an undue burden to render taxes to the government so that it can do so.

So the amazing thing we seem to be about to witness is not that America is electing a black president. Like Golda Meir, Obama is no symbol, no token. She held Israel back when it needed to change; Obama promises to push America forward into some long-delayed change. What’s amazing is that, after some long, dark years, America is electing a good president.

Tags: ····

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 aliyah06 // Nov 4, 2008 at 10:57 am

    I disagree. I know a lot of voters in Marin County and New York City and they are not voting for Obama for any of these idealistic reasons. They are voting for him because they are die-hard Democrats and this is THE Dem candidate; they want the Republicans out of power; they loathe Bush and anyone associated with him; and because Obama IS Black and they are kvelling over how this proves that racism is no longer an issue in the United States.

    Add to that a number of supposedly well-educated women I know who have confided that they’re voting for him because “he’s just sooooo good looking,” and I think that your analysis perhaps reflects YOUR reasons for voting for Obama (and they are good reasons even if I personally don’t believe them) but not the reasons of the majority of the folks voting for him.

    I don’t even want to get into the Entitlement queens and the unions……

  • 2 Y. Ben-David // Nov 4, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Haim, all those wealthy businessmen who are contributing huge amounts of money to Obama (and that is where most of his money is coming from, along with the Arabs, not $10 contributions from poor black farmers in Mississippi) are just waiting for him to “redistribute the wealth” and raise their taxes considerably, right?

    Golda Meir was Prime Minister at one of the most difficult periods in Israeli history. The USSR and US were playing out the Cold War in the Arab-Israeli conflict and she had to grapple with the War of Attrition and the rise of the Palestinian terror organizations. The claim that Sadat wanted an agreement with her is baloney, although all the “progressives” keep repeating it. He would have been considered a traitor had he made such an agreement, particularly in the first couple of years after he succeeded Nasser to power. He only felt strong enough to reach agreements when he could claim he “won” the Yom Kippur War. Israel’s rock-solid demand then was “no withdrawals without a peace agreement”, which was the lesson learned from the failed withdrawal from Sinai in 1957, which led to a bigger war 10 years later. Today, since the Left now wants unilateral withdrawals without peace and without security, they criticize Golda for not being the defeatists they are. Golda cared more about the security of the state and the future of the Jewish people more than any of these guys today do.

  • 3 Rebecca // Nov 5, 2008 at 8:07 am

    Oh come on! People have elected Obama because he has a positive message (instead of McCain’s negative one). He’s an intelligent man – unlike our current president – who will do his best to get us out of the deep hole we’ve dug for ourselves in our economy, the Iraq War, etc. Don’t impugn the motives of those (like me) who voted for him.

  • 4 Gangadude // Nov 5, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Of course Meir was elected. Multiple times (in general elections). Dude – Israel was a democracy even before you came to live there…
    As for Obama – I voted for him. Still, the conclusion that America voted for a “good president” is vastly premature. Certainly – we h0pe.
    And Mr. Ben-David: you would do well to bring yourself up to date on US election finance laws. Spewing garbage says little about Obama and quite a bit about yourself…

  • 5 Don’t Finkelstein On Me // Nov 5, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    [...] RSS ← Black and Blue: Obama and Golda [...]

  • 6 Clif // Nov 5, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    There’s something in what everyone has said here (that’s why this blog is such a pleasure to read).

    I voted for Obama because he seems to be the kind of person willing to listen to opposing views and consider them and McCain’s campaign was simply daft…Palin being the acme of daftness. Incidentally, unlike the un-photogenic Harriet Meirs, she will be back soon in connection with the media or show business – she is just too hot for TV/media to pass up, and they don’t care about political savvy.

    Obama’s color is a very important factor, though he is no more a black man than a white man. Washington DC went for him 92% and all the polls showed blacks going for him 98% or so. There is also his general appeal and the joy of hearing someone speak who knows how to use the English language. Finally, he appeals to the huge urban areas where there is no one way to live properly and everyone knows the world is made up of others not like themselves.

    There was also a strong element of scrubbing down the White House with Lysol after the past 8 years of arrogant incompetence. But alongside praise of the electorate for putting in Obama we must remember the same folks kept the nincompoop, the paragon of mediocrity, in for 8 years!

    My primary worry about Obama is that he will not be able to refuse the continued flood of federal spending. The only thing crazier than tax and spend is borrow and spend and right now we have a Fed chief who will not stop spending. When spending is disconnected from income, ruin is just around the corner – ask thousands of homeowners and credit card users. The world rush to the safety of US Treasury securities can just as swiftly be reversed.

    So, Barack, if you are reading this blog as I would hope you do, JUST SAY NO!

  • 7 Ra'anan // Nov 8, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Over & over on Israel Radio I’ve heard Israelis being AMAZED that Americans could vote for a black man. Then I heard some Israeli talk show hosts say that if the most talented & educated Ethiopian JEW would run for Israeli Prime Minister, he could/would NEVER be elected. Wow, did that irk me! But the host did NOT explain why NOT! If anyone can enlighten me regarding such Israeli enlightenment, please do so!

  • 8 Jeremiah // Nov 12, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    FTR – McCain’s message was significantly “positive” too.

Leave a Comment