Reflections on reelections
Hebrew media review

Reflections on reelections

The Israeli press finally announces Obama's win, and throws in its two shekels, to boot

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

President Barack Obama and his family take the stage ahead of Obama's victory speech in Chicago on Wednesday, Nov. 7 (screen capture: Channel 2)
President Barack Obama and his family take the stage ahead of Obama's victory speech in Chicago on Wednesday, Nov. 7 (screen capture: Channel 2)

The common factor on all the Israeli newspapers’ front pages this morning are the satisfied faces of Mr. and Mrs. Obama, with headlines reflecting his victory over Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

Maariv, back from a one-day strike, leads with an article claiming that the Prime Minister’s Office is worried that “Obama will interfere in Israeli elections” and embrace former prime minister Ehud Olmert, should he run in the upcoming elections. “[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s worried, very worried,” the paper writes. “It was no secret that Netanyahu preferred Romney to have been elected.”

“If [Obama] takes vengeance on Netanyahu or merely governs with cold reason, our situation will be very difficult,” an official close to Netanyahu told the paper. Another concern is that the president will not prevent the Palestinians from going ahead with their bid to gain UN nonmember state status later this month.

At the root of it, Maariv writes, citing the impressions of senior American and Israeli officials, is Obama’s lack of Israel-loving character — “the basic warmth towards Israel” — in his DNA such as was exhibited by former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, or even Ronald Reagan. “Obama, in his second term in the White House, will be free from the need to be reelected and therefore will have less dependence on Jewish money,” it writes.

Yedioth Ahronoth‘s Nahum Barnea attempts to capture the joy of the crowds in Washington who celebrated Obama’s victory with pizzazz as shown in the photo accompanying the piece: a blizzard of confetti and American flags. For the victor, the spoils, but for the losers in the Republican party it was a bitter defeat, he writes.

“The results of the elections will require deep soul searching in the Republican party. It was not a failure… it was a missed opportunity under especially favorable circumstances,” he says.

As for Netanyahu, Barnea writes that he “bet on the wrong horse” and, while Obama will not take vengeance on him (“Obama is not built for acts of vengeance against a prime minister on the other side of the globe”), he may give Netanyahu the cold shoulder. The prime minister may have to speak to US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro from now on.

The paper dedicates 20 of its 30 pages to the US election results.

Amos Harel writes in Haaretz that while other US presidents in recent memory have a better track record in terms of supporting Israel, “Obama has a sober take on what’s happening in the Middle East and on US strategic interests in the region.”

While the author concedes that “Obama failed in his attempt to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace talks” in his first term, and was “slow to understand the significance of the upheaval” known as the Arab Spring, “he never ‘threw Israel under the bus'” as Romney charged. That in mind, he predicts that Iran will take center stage in Obama’s second presidential term.

Israel Hayom, whose financial backer, American tycoon Sheldon Adelson, was the largest financier of the Mitt Romney campaign, especially highlights the part of Romney’s speech conceding defeat saying he was “concerned for the fate of America.” It reports that members of the Republican Party are concerned that the GOP no longer represents the interests of the American people — those who voted for Obama were overwhelming African-American, Hispanic, and young, it notes.

Boaz Bismuth adds a little barb at the end of his coverage of Obama’s victory. “If the coming term will be like the first, then his greatest accomplishment will be his reelection. America has too many problems to look forward to that,” he snipes.

In Israeli news, Haaretz reports that the state prosecutor submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court regarding Ehud Olmert’s acquittals and sentencing in three corruption cases by the Jerusalem District Court in July.

The 103-page appeal, writes Nir Hasson, “accuses Olmert of ‘active fraud’ and ‘clearly corrupt conduct’ during his years as mayor of Jerusalem and industry and trade minister.”

Yedioth Ahronoth quotes the prosecutor’s appeal saying that the “likelihood that fraudulent acts” — in the Rishon Tours case, allegedly accepting money from various organizations to pay for his travel — were done without Olmert knowing “is illogical.”

Further, the prosecutor is quoted requesting that the Supreme Court rule that the District Court’s decision was erroneous and that all of the circumstances point to “clearly corrupt management by one who was publicly elected.”

Israel Hayom reports that President Shimon Peres dismissed rumors that he would run in the upcoming elections. Visiting Moscow, the elder statesman said that he was serving as the country’s president and would not deal with other things. He added jokingly that he would not “go over to theater or ballet” either.

Maariv also provides a page-long article explaining why it went on strike on Wednesday, neither publishing a paper nor updating its website. The authors explain that the staff suspected their new boss of trying to get writers to sign contracts outside the collective agreement. Maariv employees decided to strike and demanded to know how many would stay on, and what the structure of the “New Maariv” would be.

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