With the US election days away, I’d like to fill you in on the situation over here regarding commentary and emotions surrounding the election (simultaneously enabling me to field my parents’ incessant questioning and what seems to be burning curiosity about the Israeli discourse on this topic).
I certainly don’t need to tell you that it is quite an exciting time to be an American. Through conversations with friends and family back home, I gather that the upcoming election is an all-consuming, incessant, in-your-face, around-the-clock, hot topic. From the required debates to the (not so required) SNL spoofs, spin-offs, parodies and commentary, this election seems to have everyone talking (/yelling/laughing/crying/losing sleep).
What I can tell you, dear compatriots, is that it is definitely not exciting to be an American residing overseas during this time. Don’t get me wrong — there is definitely discussion here in Israel surrounding the elections; the news shows stay up-to-date with the latest debates, newspapers publish columns on the candidates and their views, and people have definitely been asking me who I’m voting for and what I feel about this whole, very charged, situation.
The American election buzz over here in Tel Aviv is nowhere near what you are all experiencing back home. I miss out on the jokes and spoofs (thankfully, there’s YouTube); I have yet to see a single poster, banner or sign claiming affiliation with one side or the other; lunchtime talk focuses on Israel’s upcoming elections, rather than those in the States; and I don’t feel that crazy energy that so many of my friends in America are currently experiencing.
In terms of the Israeli perspective on the whole election, I actually seem to hear a lot of everything.
I’ve met McCain lovers and haters, Obama lovers and haters, people who seem torn and people who don’t really care either way.
And to be honest with you, I think the biggest difference between life in Israel right now and life in America in terms of the election is that Israelis seem (get ready for this) apathetic. But I don’t mean apathy in the standard, negative sense; I actually think this lack of passion is a positive statement on Israel’s faith in America.
Ultimately, and through years of tested experience and gathered evidence, Israelis know that America is a strong partner, a reliable partner and a partner who has been there for them through ups-and-downs — changed administrations (Republican and Democrat), political instability, international crises and multiple wars. In my opinion, Israelis have reached a point in which they feel comfortable with America’s friendship, and secure in the fact that the US will be there for her, through thick and thin.
The question now, is whether or not Americans themselves can demonstrate the same faith in their own government, and in that institution — which, in my opinion, represents great hope and possibility — likewise find a partner who is there for them, through the good times and the bad.