Israelis for Obama – Now, the Movie

Gershom Gorenberg

I met Avraham Yakin 30 years ago. We were on a tour group together in the Sinai. Everyone in the group but Avraham and his wife Hannah were students. Avraham was much older, an established artist. He’d been in the British army in World War II, and afterward in the Haganah.One night we climbed Jebel Mussa, the supposed Mt. Sinai, to reach the top at dawn. When the students arrived gasping for breath, Avraham was up there with his artist’s pad, sketching mountains and sunrise, serene, quiet, looking with sharp eyes across distances. Later I visited his home, in the Mahaneh Yehudah neighborhood of Jerusalem, next to the open market. He lived in a rambling stone house that had belonged to his family for several generations, the house in which he’d grown up, in which he and Hannah were raising eight kids in a kind of non-stop festival of creativity that made me look forward to being a father. (You want family values? Here are family values for you.)

What a pleasure meeting old friends in the right place. Avraham is in this video of Israelis – prominent and less known – who hope that Barack Obama will be elected president of the United States. To say that Obama would be better for Israel does not require revelation at Sinai, merely the ability to take a clear look back across the last eight years, and a clear look forward. Once again Avraham has that ability. So does ex-Knesset Member Naomi Chazan, one of Israeli’s leading political scientists and feminists. So does Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, former military chief of staff.

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Synagogue and State debate: Still happening online

The New Israel Fund has let me know that its webcast – "Religion and State: Fundamentalism or Freedom?" can still be viewed, at your covenience, here . I participated in the panel discussion, along with Naomi Chazan, Uri Regev, and Jafar Farah. It’s a good introduction to the issues of religion and state in Israel.