Obama’s inauguration enraptures Israelis
With the Gaza ceasefire apparently taking hold, Israelis have been happy to have something new upon which to fixate our attentions in the news. Something hopeful. US President Barack Obama’s inauguration yesterday and the festivities surrounding it this whole week have kept Israelis enraptured.
The one exception to this trend might be American immigrants to Israel, who tend to be a Republican-leaning crowd, often because of the popular perception that the American Right is more friendly to Israel than the Left. This perception might or might not be true, but Americans living in Israel are certainly wary of Obama’s alleged lack of Zionism.
So despite citing nightlife-themed parties surrounding the inauguration which took place in Tel Aviv as well as Jerusalem, a Haaretz piece from earlier this week points out that mainstream American organizations were shying away from the event:
Neither the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel nor the American Israeli Action Coalition – two non-partisan groups – have planned any special activities to mark the swearing-in of the new president. A spokesman for Israelis for Obama, a small group that was formed before the elections and operated mainly online, told Haaretz the group had dissolved after completing it’s only goal of seeing Obama elected.
But even though George Bush is considered by the people here to have been a great friend to the country, most Israelis are optimistic about new blood inhabiting the White House. The Associated Press even hints at some more literal connections between the Israeli appetite for inauguration news coverage and the Gaza ceasefire:
Obama’s inauguration became the lead story in Israeli media, which had been dominated by coverage of the Gaza offensive that began with a massive air bombardment on Dec. 27.
The front page of Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s biggest daily newspaper, featured the smiling Obama and his wife over an English headline: “Good luck.”
Seemingly timing its withdrawal to Tuesday’s inauguration, Israel had already pulled most of its troops out of the ravaged Gaza Strip after a deadly three-week offensive aimed at halting years of militant rocket fire. But the crisis is not over, with reports of shooting along the Israel-Gaza border, and with Israeli soldiers poised to resume the assault if Gaza militants break a fragile cease-fire.
Maybe it’s simply a matter of the incoming president’s rock star-like status, but Obama buzz is not relegated to Democrats – even when it comes to Americans living here. Summing up the feelings at last night’s parties, today Haaretz quotes a young reveler named Guy Simen:
“Even people who did not support Obama are excited, because they know the whole world is watching this event – and they feel close to home. They know that now we’ve elected a man who is supposed to change the world and many people are proud to be Americans.”
Image courtesy lostintransitzine from Flickr under a Creative Commons license.