‘Persian’ piggy bank

Ex-diplomat’s ObamaBank polls opinion on the US president’s Iran policy.

Aaron Braunstein 521 (photo credit: Gil Zohar)
Aaron Braunstein 521
(photo credit: Gil Zohar)
‘Change,” “no change” and “small change.” Those are the stark choices Americans voters face after four years of economic stagnation and controversial foreign policy under President Barack Obama.
To help US voters in Israel express their views, Aaron Braunstein is distributing thousands of Barak Obama matrushka dolls/piggy banks across Israel in advance of November’s elections. His ObamaBank election novelty is bipartisan: users can affix stickers to signal either support, dismay or apathy over Obama’s policies – and change their vote as often as they wish.
Braunstein, a spry 73-year-old retired US Foreign Service officer, appreciates the levity of launching his ObamaBank project during Purim. But grinning gleefully, he insists the message of his dolls is earnest.
“By showing the ObamaBank to family, friends and associates you get to express your interim vote now on President Obama’s efforts so far to stop the fanatical Iranian regime from further developing nuclear weapons – a threat to America’s and the world’s security!” “A genocidal leader in Persia then. A genocidal leader in Iran now. It’s the same deadly thing,” he says, continuing his Purim analogy.
The story of Braunstein’s 4,500 12-cm.-high dolls reflects globalization with a Jewish twist. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, the multilingual ex-diplomat studied at Paris’s Institute for Political Affairs and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was posted as a foreign aid adviser to American projects in Egypt, Tunisia, Mali, Niger and Senegal, and retired to Jerusalem, where he lives in French Hill. The dolls themselves were manufactured in China, and their ultimate audience is back in America. And Braunstein and his Dutch-born wife are handling marketing.
Even after last week’s White House parley between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Obama, Braunstein remains unconvinced with regard to Obama’s Iranian policy.
“It’s an open question if President Obama is really serious about this threat. It’s an open question if President Obama really understands the threat to humanity represented by attacks on the Jews,” he says.
Braunstein is providing his ObamaBank free to all 120 MKs and 470 members of the US Congress. Everyone else can buy it on eBay or at www.CovenantAlliance.org for NIS 34 including shipping and handling.
Jewish Covenant Alliance, an amuta (non-profit organization) Braunstein founded, aims to “fight anti-Semitism through understanding the universal morality of Judaism.”
“Maybe Obama will do something serious about Iran,” Braunstein concludes optimistically. “I’d be happy to lose $10,000 if that happens.”
What should one do with the coins collected in the piggy bank? It can be a future contribution to one or another of the candidates in the 2012 presidential election, he says. “Or give it to your favorite charity.”
And what if a Republican gets elected? Braunstein is already planning a new doll.