Who are you kidding? There could only be one possible main story in the Wednesday papers in Israel — that being the US elections, and most importantly the presidential vote.
Unfortunately, the reportage was completed long before the final tallies were calculated in most American states, so the results are wholly speculative and do not include President Barack Obama’s victory.
Israel Hayom correspondent Boaz Bismuth leads his daily’s coverage with Election Day news of long lines at polls and presidential candidates making their last-minute rallies for support. He reports on Tuesday afternoon’s crossing of paths of the Republican and Democratic candidates at the airport in Cleveland as both parties made last-ditch campaign efforts in the biggest swing state.
“Elections like these, in which all scenarios are possible, America doesn’t remember,” Bismuth writes, echoing the American press from the day before.
The paper also features an American presidential elections primer for the uninitiated, including a brief explanation and history of the Electoral College. It amusingly and erroneously refers to the two southern states of West Virginia and East Virginia on its map of the US.
Professor Avraham Ben Zvi writes that “even though Republican candidate Mitt Romney turned toward the center of the political spectrum in an effort to enlist those disappointed with Obama to his camp,” he doubts whether Romney will succeed in eking out a victory.
Being that Israel Hayom had already printed its paper by 3 a.m. Israel time (or 8 p.m. East Coast Standard Time, when some polls were only just closing along the Atlantic seaboard), the election results are not featured in the paper’s publication.
Haaretz’s front page reports that “millions of Americans vote for a president” on Tuesday, and a large banner directs its readers to its website for the full coverage, including results. Its correspondents in Boston and Chicago report on the final efforts by the two presidential candidates in the lead-up to the closing of the polls. Their reporting largely mimics that found on the wire the day before: long lines at polling stations, Obama playing basketball in Chicago having already cast an early ballot, testimonials from voters.
For anyone who had been on the Internet or spoken to someone who had in the past 24 hours, little in the election coverage constituted news.
Their New York correspondent, Chemi Shalev, reports that regardless of who wins the election, “there is no time for celebration” because of the approaching “fiscal cliff” that threatens to plunge America back into recession. The paper gloomily regards the situation for the future president as “an empire on the brink of the abyss.” Between the automatic tax hike for every American and budget cuts for most federal agencies that are set to take effect on January 1, foreign policy hurdles, and domestic issues, the forecast doesn’t look good, Shalev says.
“The partisan split in Congress… will obligate the next president to try to surmount the parties’ gaping ideological divisions and deep mutual suspicions in order to craft a sensible plan to prevent the ‘fiscal cliff’ from becoming a reality, or at least postpone it,” he says.
Yedioth Ahronoth, cognizant of its inability to report the outcome of the election, publishes a reversible front page that offers both candidates as “Mr. President.” The paper features personal statements from a handful of American voters and a brief article similar to Chemi Shalev’s in Haaretz pointing out the challenges facing the future president. In six bite-sized blurbs, Yedioth lays them out: unemployment, Iran, Israel and the Palestinians, Afghanistan, the environment, and bipartisan cooperation in Congress.
The paper also includes an Israeli angle on the US elections. Shimon Shiffer writes that the bottom line is that if Obama is reelected he will not take revenge on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for supporting Romney, and if Romney is elected he won’t move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
“After the elections, America will stick to the principles that governed its foreign policy in the past decade in regards to the Middle East,” he says.
However, he goes so far as to posit that “if Obama is elected for four more years… public channels will open to normalize relations between [the US and Iran],” citing assessments of “participants in the secret of the silent dialogue that began in the past year” between Washington and Tehran.
All three of the papers that published on Wednesday (Maariv did not because its employees were on strike) report that a smaller, but no less thrilling, election took place in Israel on Tuesday as the Jewish Home party held primary elections for the party leadership. Naftali Bennett, a 40-year-old former Netanyahu chief of staff, defeated incumbent Zevulun Orlev.
Haaretz reports that the two candidates “continued to sling mud at one another” on election day, as they had for several months. Yedioth Ahronoth writes that Bennett’s victory will likely hurt Netanyahu because it will draw votes from the Likud party in the coming elections. Israel Hayom quotes an optimistic Bennett saying that he hopes the support he saw in the primaries translates into success at the polls in the January Knesset elections.