October 24, 2012

Presidential debate or an itinerary from Birthright Israel? Let Florida decide

I'm not the slightest bit interested in these presidential debates but Deborah Maccoby just sent this link to a Forward blog to the Just Peace UK list and the line I lifted for my headline made me laugh:

This late in the campaign, everything is about swing states – and the foreign policy debate was largely about Florida, where moderate Jews could well decide who gets the state’s 29 electoral votes.
On those grounds, on the basis of issues important to Florida Jews, President Obama won this debate, but in a bizarre, looking-glass sort of way in which the candidates seemingly exchanged personalities. Mitt Romney sounded like Obama: reasonable, measured, and knowledgeable about foreign policy. Barack Obama sounded like Romney: making strong rhetorical points with little attention to detail.
On Israel, for example, it was Obama who struck first, citing his support of the Iron Dome defense system, and using the phrase “stand with Israel” numerous times. Romney, meanwhile, sounded like a Democrat: arguing for peace talks with the Palestinians, and a measured approach to Iran.
So too on the emotional issues likely to resonate with the bubbes and zaydes of Palm Beach County. Could anyone have predicted that President Obama would invoke the holocaust in his discussion of the State of Israel? And yet that’s what he did, noting that on his trip to Israel, he visited Yad Vashem (the holocaust memorial, he explained to the non-Jewish voters who happened to be watching the debate too), whereas Romney went to fundraisers.
But that’s not all – this debate was often a lesson in Israeli geography. Obama visited Sderot. Romney visited Hertzliya. What’s next: Obama prefers Sima’s meorav Yerushalmi, but Romney likes Sami’s. At times it was hard to tell whether this was a presidential debate or an itinerary from Birthright Israel.
 Here we go.

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