Israelis for Obama?

An American-Israeli filmmaker is trying to counter prejudices against Barack Obama that would put the Republicans in a more favourable light with the Jewish electorate. According to her short video, many Israelis don't believe the tattle, and support Obama.

The clip was created by music-video director Alma Har'el and Hollywood producer Boaz Yakin. It's geared towards Jewish Americans and aims to counteract the "covert Muslim" hearsay and rumours about Obama's programme for the Middle East. The film presents both prominent and ordinary Israelis who explain why Israel would benefit from having Obama as American president. The film also pokes fun at those troubled by Obama's middle name, "Hussein", pointing out that not only is Obama not a Muslim, but that "some of his best friends and advisors are Jewish".

 

"Israelis For Obama" posted on YouTube 22 September 08.

"The picture American media show is of an Israel filled only with McCain supporters"

Alma Har'el is the Israeli filmmaker who produced the video. She's based in Los Angeles.

The reason I made this video is that as an Israeli living in the US, I felt the media here rarely show the Israel that I know. It seems like the picture American media show is of an Israel filled only with McCain supporters who are afraid of Obama's middle name. This video is meant to show the diversity that actually exists in Israel. There are many young, old, left-wing and yes... even a number of right-wing Israelis who support Obama. I had a few very important political figures from the right who admitted to me that they strongly support Barack Obama - but were understandably hesitant to put themselves on camera. There were also a number of people from the left who didn't want to go on camera before the election.

The video is meant to show that there are a lot of people in Israel who believe that both intelligent diplomacy and a strong responsibility towards Israel's security are things that Obama will bring to the table. We need a lot of hope over there and a big change in the general mindset. We wanted these Israeli voices to be heard."

"There, there. It'll be all right, I promise"

Blogger "Neo Neocon" is a Republican convert from New England.

The ad is pure opinion, devoid of a single fact or quote from Obama himself on the subject. Nor is there any mention of his opponent John McCain, a strong supporter of Israel. The tone of the entire enterprise resembles the sort of reassurance a parent might give a child afraid of monsters under the bed, "There, there. It'll be all right, I promise". As a peacenik and former Knesset member Naomi Chazan says in the ad, "It's chutzpah to question Obama's commitment to Israel." Sure, Naomi. If you say so."

"Israelis, generally speaking, DID like President Bush"

Shmuel Rosner is a columnist based in Tel Aviv. He writes for rosnersdomain.com.

'Israelis for Obama' is making two good points: Obama is a friend, not a foe of Israel, and there's no reason to suspect that an Obama administration will be hostile to Israel in any way. It's also correct to point out that Israelis supporting Obama can be found in some quarters. Those Israelis want him to be the next president of the United States, and believe he will be better both for the US and for Israel.

However, this short segment is also somewhat misleading: finding five or six or even 20 Israelis supporting Obama is easy, but the truth of the matter is quite simple - those are mostly left-wing Israelis, representing a small minority of the Jewish population. As far as we know, a majority of Israelis, to the extent that they follow the race, support McCain and not Obama - and I suspect this will be a significant majority. Note this: Israelis, generally speaking, DID like President Bush. Having 'four more years of Bush' is not necessarily a threat to most of them. Even more so - the Israeli establishment is overwhelmingly pro-McCain. The policies he supports, and his general political tendencies resonate with Israel's way of thinking about the world much more than Obama's supposedly more naive beliefs."

"Americans ... consistently oversimplify what Israelis are supposed to want from the US"

Joel Schalit is an Israeli editor and writer living in San Francisco.

I can't recall a time when Israelis have been more willing to rethink their country's special relationship with the United States. Over the past seven years, Israelis have become increasingly concerned about the Bush administration's Mideast policies, and how they've adversely impacted Israel. Whether this anxiety has been expressed in demands for unequivocal American support for an Israeli strike against Iran, or, conversely, calls for the country to align itself more closely with the European Union, there is a genuine sense that something has to fundamentally change in Washington.

I can't think of a better airing of this concern than watching videos like this Obama advert. Aimed at American jews, who, throughout the presidential election season, have been repeatedly told by Republican campaign operatives that the Democratic presidential candidate is 'bad for Israel', as partisan as this video clearly it is, it does accurately represent the increasingly broad support that the Illinois Senator has amongst Israelis. Given how hard conservative forces in the US have worked to foster the illusion that Israel is the world's largest Republican voting bloc, when viewed in context, this video's significance becomes that much clearer.

Irrespective of their purpose, documents like these provide a rare glimpse of the ideological diversity that characterizes Israeli politics. Because Israel occupies such a significant place in US politics, the tendency amongst Americans is to consistently oversimplify what Israelis are supposed to want from the US: more security guarantees, more weaponry, more assurances that Jerusalem will remain Israel's undivided capital, etc. Watching this video makes me wonder if perhaps that tendency says more about what Washington wants from Israel than vice versa. Here's to seeing more complex portraits of Israeli politics in America."

Do you know why your [Jewish] grandparents don't like Obama?

Comedian Sarah Silverman takes on the topic of Jews voting, or not, as the case may be, for Obama.  

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