Braverman and Danon 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
With renewed tension in the Labor Party, and a new round of rumors regarding a
coalition shuffle involving Kadima, MKs from the coalition and opposition alike
were eager Wednesday to take a temporary respite from Israel’s political
upheavals and discuss the troubles of US President Barack Obama
MKs’ analyses of Tuesday’s US midterm elections spanned from
positive to negative, with the jury still out on whether the changes in Congress
will be good for Israel.
Obama takes responsibility for Democratic ‘shellacking’
Jewish leaders: Political shift won't affect ME policy
Minorities Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman
(Labor), as he prepares to depart for a visit to the United States on Thursday,
said that “as an economist, and as someone who did his PhD in the US, and lived
there for many years, I am very worried by the situation” that emerged from the
polling booths Tuesday. Braverman pointed to what he describes as a lack of
economic vision on the part of the incoming Republican majority in the House of
“The difference between mice and men, they say, is
memory. The Bush administration accumulated the greatest national debt in US
history as a result of two wars and by offering tax cuts to the wealthiest
sectors of society. And by the end of his term, there was a real risk of the US
dragging the world into a global depression that could have lead to a situation
similar to the 1930’s,” he asserted.
“Obama managed to stop that risk
through monetary reform, through Ben Bernanke’s efforts at the FED, and through
reinvestment efforts. If, instead,” said Braverman, “he had pursued the laissez-faire
policy advocated by the far right, the economy would have gotten worse.
They simply advocate cutting the budget, which will only raise
Ultimately, said Braverman, “it is not important to me
whether Democrats or Republicans are in office, but whether they maintain
America’s status in the world.”
The Labor MK recalled a famous meeting
between David Ben-Gurion and president- elect John F. Kennedy in January 1961,
at the end of which, Kennedy reportedly said to Ben-Gurion “your people helped
me to get elected – how can I help you?” The elderly Ben-Gurion, according to
the story, told the young president “you can be a great president for your
“I hope that Barack Obama will be a great president for America,”
continued Braverman, emphasizing that Israel needs the United States to remain a
strong partner in peace negotiations.
On the other side of the coalition,
Likud MK Danny Danon welcomed the results, saying “the huge influx of newly
elected Representatives and Senators to Washington, DC, includes dozens of
strong friends of Israel who will put the brakes on the consistently dubious,
sometimes dangerous policies of President Obama regarding Israel these past two
“The change of majority in the House, with its responsibility for
shaping America’s budget, gives tremendous influence to our friends as a counter
to the president’s role in foreign policy,” he added.
that he hoped that the elections would serve as a sort of referendum on Obama’s
Middle East policy, and “that the new majority will convince President Obama
that the American people reject unprecedented pressure on Israel, which has
every right to build communities for its men, women and children in the heart of
the country, in Judea, Samaria and everywhere in Jerusalem.”
Nahman Shai, however, rejected the idea that the elections would be beneficial
to Israel regarding Obama’s foreign policy. “I think that Obama will ultimately
maintain his course regarding Middle East policy – after all, it is the
president and not Congress that determines foreign policy.
people in the Prime Minister’s Office who are walking around with little smiles
following the elections should wipe them off their faces, because Obama will
continue his same policy – he has tied himself to a specific
At the same time, Shai said that he believed that for many
American Jews, the elections were a referendum on Obama’s policies toward
Israel. “The Jews are in a difficult situation.
Traditionally, they are
Democrats, but many were very disappointed by Obama’s foreign policy, and some
may also feel that his policies impacted the middle class.
Shai. “There is a crisis of faith for Jews with the Democratic Party and an
administration that they see as pro-Arab.” From his own conversations with
Jewish leaders, Shai quipped that many hoped that “Obama would break one leg in
the elections – not two – because the Republicans are still not their proverbial
cup of tea…party.”