IN THREE days, it seems at the moment, the incredible will happen: the most important "white" country in the world will elect a black president.
143 years after the assassination of Abe Lincoln, the man who freed the slaves, and 40 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, the dreamer of the Dream, a black family will occupy the White House.
This will have huge implications in many directions. One of them is an electrifying message to a world-wide order to which I belong: the Order of the Optimists.
HOW DOES an optimist differ from a realist? My definition is: a realist sees reality as it is. An optimist sees reality as it could be.
Antonio Gramsci, the Italian communist thinker, believed in "the pessimism of the intellect and the optimism of the will." I disagree. True, for anyone versed in world history it is easy to be a pessimist, but for each pessimistic lesson there is an optimistic one (and vice versa, unfortunately).
A year before the ascent to power of Adolf Hitler, few believed it to be possible. But it did happen, and a dark chapter began on the pages of world history. On the other hand, a year before the fall of the Berlin Wall, practically nobody believed that it would happen in their lifetime.
At the beginning of 1947, hardly anyone believed that within a year the State of Israel would come into being. At the same time, also at the beginning of 1947, practically nobody imagined that a Naqba (disaster) would befall the Palestinians. But it happened.
David Ben-Gurion used to say that all experts
are experts on what has happened, not what is going to happen. That is not
entirely true. Science fiction writers have predicted many things. And in this
country, too, there have been some prophets of doom who warned about what would
In a world in which a person like Barack Hussein Obama can appear from nowhere and advance within a few years to the highest levels of world politics - nothing is predictable, and therefore everything is possible. As the ancient Jewish maxim goes: "Everything is possible and permission is granted."
For all the optimists of the world, the message of these elections is: Yes, we can! Good and evil are in our hands. And if we want it, as Herzl said, it is no fairy tale.
THAT REMINDS me of the German, the Frenchman,
the Englishman and the Jew who decided to write about elephants. The German
During the last few weeks, the Jews in
One contribution to the answer was provided by
the American citizens in
Obama, on his part, has gone out of his way to show that he would support the Israeli government exactly as his predecessors have. He groveled in the dust before AIPAC. He surrounded himself with Bill Clinton's Jewish aides and hinted that they would enjoy the same status in his future administration. But go and believe a candidate's election promises. They are worth as much as a garlic's skin, as we say in Hebrew.
Some people do believe in promises. I have
received an e-mail message from a British person: "So instead of the
Jewish neo-cons who have ruled
SO, IS HE "Good For
George W. Bush, our devoted friend, betrayed
his "vision" and gave Ariel Sharon an all-encompassing permit to
enlarge the settlement blocs, each of which is a deadly landmine on the road to
peace. He hindered
Bush's predecessor, Bill Clinton, another
great friend of Israel, helped Ehud Barak after Camp David to spread the lie that "I have
turned every stone, offered them everything they wanted, Arafat has rejected
all my generous offers, we have no partner for peace." This mantra dealt a
tremendous blow to the Israeli peace camp, from which it has not recovered to
this day. At the same time the settlements were being enlarged at a frantic
pace, with the knowledge and tacit approval of the
There are those who reassure the Obama-fearers in
THIS IS all true, but still I dare to hope
that Obama will be revealed as a friend of the Other
He promises change. I believe that for him this is not an empty phrase, but something more profound that is rooted in his character.
The thing that is going to happen this week is not just another transition from one party to another party, when the difference between the two is minimal. The new arrival is a person who has the ability, and seemingly also the will, to get things out of the rut and look at everything with new eyes.
That happens from time to time in the
As far as the national interests of the
When Obama and his
people - and I hope that they will be new people, not the wrecks from the
This conclusion leads to another one: that it is in the American interest to turn over a new page in our region and to really work for an Israeli-Palestinian, Israeli-Syrian, Israeli-all-Arab and perhaps even Israeli-Iranian peace. This conclusion was apparent already on the morrow of 9/11. I wrote at the time that this was going to happen, any minute now, as the inevitable lesson from the disaster. I was wrong. Bush and the Bushites went in the opposite direction, and made the situation ten times worse. I hope that it will happen now.
In other words: I hope with all my heart that Obama will continue to support Israel, but not the Israel
of the bullies, the impostors and the hypocrites, who pretend to be negotiating
for peace while enlarging the settlements, tightening the oppression in the
occupied territories and blabbering about bombing Iran. It is not this
OBAMA'S ADVISORS may answer with a question: OK, but where is the Israeli leadership that will respond to such an initiative?
Where is the Israeli Obama?
We can respond to that only with embarrassed silence. We cannot point to anyone in the Israeli political arena who is ready to take on this task.
But an optimist will give another answer: only
yesterday you did not have an Obama either. He
appeared, because something happened deep down in the "national
psyche" of the
That can happen here, too. Our Obama can appear suddenly when there is a demand for him. When people get finally fed up with all those politicians, devoid of vision and courage, who pack our stage today. When the demand for change is so strong that it passes from the phase of griping at Sabbath-eve parties to the phase of mobilization and deeds. Then it will become clear that we, too, have a young generation and that our indifferent public can change radically.
The victory of the American Obama may well give a big push to the emergence of an
Israeli Obama, hopefully as charming as the original.
The victory in