A popular song that we have heard from time to time for at least 20 years says that the Messiah has not come. And he has not even telephoned.
The Messiah didn''t come this week. He may have telephoned, but there was no great impact.
Romney arrived on Sunday, and looked like he could be president of a company or a country. He didn''t offend wholesale like his comments about the Olympics in London, but he did offend the Labor Party by a late and unexplained cancellation of a meeting with its leader and one of her Knesset colleagues. A year ago that slight might have been insignificant, but the present leader is a bright and articulate woman, and polls are showing that Labor may again become an important factor in Israeli politics.
Coverage was predictable. Pictures alongside the Western Wall with the candidate looking pious in black kipa. According to Ha''aretz, "The speech was Romney''s, the words were Bibi''s." There was more in Israel Hayom than elsewhere, with one headline alongside a picture of a near-embrace with the Prime Minister, "Friend in ''Jerusalem, capital of Israel.''" Even in Sheldon Adelson''s newspaper, there was more attention on new taxes and spending cuts, and an administrative scandal in the Mossad.
Israeli Romney supporters wanting a clear message about Iran must work hard to find differences between his statements and Obama''s. One Romney aide promised his support of an Israeli attack, but then another aide clarified the message downward. The closest Romney himself came to supporting an Israeli attack sounded like, Go ahead if you want. Good luck.
It''s no surprise that some of the Chosen People living in the Promised Land imagine that the American election is about us. Commentators note that other issues are likely to be more important. Usually it''s the economy. Issues of employment and government debt should be worrying the incumbent, no matter which of his predecessors ought to be sharing the blame.
One can think of a scenario in which Israel attacks Iran''s nuclear facilities before the election, and Iran responds by attacking Israel, American military bases and warships in the Gulf. Some Israelis who deal with issues of security ridicule an Israeli initiative as foolhardy, while others say that it will occur soon.
Even if it happens, it might work to Obama''s advantage. An incumbent should profit from a patriotic response to an attack on American forces, and maybe even an attack against the brave actions of an ally. Birthers and Americans convinced that Obama is an anti-Semitic Muslim can imagine him responding to an Iranian attack with Allahu Akbar, but that is unlikely.
Some worry about the closeness between the Prime Minister and the Republican candidate. They worked together years ago on a council dealing with economic issues, and are soul mates in admiration of capitalism. Netanyahu often praises his own wisdom as a policymaker (remember the supertanker), and in this case--perhaps reacting to some nasty treatment at the hands of Barack Obama--he might go over the line usually avoided by Israeli leaders by signalling too loudly his preference in an American election. The Netanyahu-Romney problem for Israel increases with every indication that Romney might be a loser.
Even if Sheldon Adelson spends the reputed $100 million in behalf of Romney, with an emphasis on Israel, there may not be enough Jews, or enough attracted to Adelson''s campaign in swing states, to make a difference.
In all the curiosities involved in the American election are the Evangelicals. Their numbers dwarf those of the Jews, they are even more enthusiastic about Israel than many American Jews, but their Republican tendencies along with the Tea Party are among the elements keeping Jews from voting Republican. Yet if there is any cluster of Americans likely to shun Romney on account of his Mormonism, it is the Evangelicals.
Lot''s of issues. More cerebral than the Olympics. Go figure.