They say that there is hope in the world - but what is hope? Well, hope is everything that people are now pinning on Barack Obama. According to the findings of the Pew Global Attitudes Project, which The International Herald Tribune published this week, Obama is the great black hope of most of the world's inhabitants. The despair of the seven bad years is making way for new hope, hallelujah.
Hopes have a despicable nature, and only rarely do they fulfill themselves completely. But in the meantime, they are soaring: There is life after President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
It is not "the situation" that darkens the mood here in Israel; it is the lack of exit from the situation: There is not really any hope for change. Who will rescue us from depression? Who will give us expectations?
The feeling is that we are stuck with the same politicians: Governments come and go, but the same people remain. Soon there will be elections here, and the same bunch will sally forth from the ballot box, in slightly different dress. At most, after the elections, they will reshuffle cabinet seats: One will be upgraded and another will barely find a seat. But the group picture will remain the same, and with it the situation.
And if this is true of the whole government, it is even truer of those at its head. The three candidates - Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (by the skin of his teeth) - are all from the same village, that miserable village. Where is our Obama? Each of the three has his own supporters, but even the disciples are sober and their expectations are low. For after all, with our own flesh we have witnessed, each of us with his own candidate, what our man has to sell, and what it is permissible to buy from him.
It would be superfluous to dwell at length over the similarity between Netanyahu and Olmert. In their royal suite, in dim lighting, we would not be able to find the differences.
Barak, too, is from the same mold, if we administer the test of results, which he himself articulated. Who needs a "head of the peace camp" in order not to evacuate Jewish settlements in the territories but rather to expand them, in order to obtain rotten compromises over the illegal outposts, in order to allow pogroms against Palestinians near Sussya in the West Bank, in order to imprison students in the Gaza Strip lest they leave to study in America at the behest of the Fulbright Foundation, in order to hand over Hebron to Jewish sons of Belial, and in order to legislate the Vilnai law, which slams the door in the faces of refugees fleeing the sword? Who needs Barak the purist, who declares Olmert unqualified for leadership, but flinches at disconnecting him from life support and continues to sit with Olmert's minion and doppelganger, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann? And who needs a social democrat, when the cronies are the same cronies and the feast is the same feast and the social gaps are only growing wider?
Abandon all hope - Lasciate ogni speranza - is the inscription above the gate to Dante's Inferno. But we are slow to abandon hope, because it was not a hell we wanted to establish here, but rather a good land, a land that delights parents and children, and from which the truth shines forth. We still believe in this land - that it is capable of giving rise to some kind of Obama, someone who breathes hope into many, especially young people, who would flock to him and his magic lantern.
"The hope of two thousand years." But at a time of such pettiness, we cannot march to grand visions and national anthems. At the moment, we would make do with just two years of hope.
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