One bonus of being Vice Chair of Democrats Abroad-Israel, is that they seek me out for interviews in the Israeli electronic media. Yesterday I was interviewed on Galei Tzahal (the army radio station) by Tali Lipkin-Shahak, (wife of former IDF Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak) and it went like this:
After she greeted me, I wished her a chag sameach, and latching on to the fact that they introduced the segment by playing Don McClean’s “American Pie,” I told her that when I was a youth in New York, I remembered distinctly “the day the music died,” when Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash — a very sad, traumatic event for all American music lovers. I’m not sure she knew what I was talking about. She then asked me how I celebrated the 4th of July.
Well, I said, first I read a book about Sandy Koufax, the legendary Jewish baseball player (Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy) [Hillel Schenker departed his native Brooklyn for Israel in 1963.— ed.], and I just finished watching Venus Williams defeat her sister Serena in the Wimbledon final, which was a symbolic victory in the bastion of the British conqueror.
Wow she said, you people really keep a grudge. And, I added, my friends in Democrats Abroad- Israel set up a registration stand for the November elections in the party run by AACI (the Association of American and Canadian Immigrants in Israel, in the Biblical Zoo, replete with kosher hotdogs). After all, there are about 100,000 American citizens and potential voters living in Israel.
It’s quite an achievement that a black man is the presidential candidate, she said. Yes, I added, and the fact the two leading Democratic candidates were a woman and a black demonstrates how much American society has advanced. Interestingly, she said that they were forced to forgo the usual “holy balance” (of having both a Democratic and a Republic spokesperson), because all the Republicans they approached were religious and couldn’t appear on her program because it was broadcast live before the end of Shabbat.
That didn’t surprise me, since the prominent Republican spokespeople I’ve met in TV studios are all religious settlers. You know, she said, that there is a lot of concern about Obama in Israel.
I know, and that’s mainly because he’s an unknown quantity. However, friends who have known him since his early Chicago days vouch that he will is totally committed to defending Israel’s security. And what is equally important, unlike McCain, he is also committed to being involved in promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace, which is both an American and an Israeli interest.
Did you have a barbecue to celebrate the holiday? Nope, I had sushi (which she thought was sacrilegious – she used the word mzuaza’at, with a twinkle in her voice). She signed off wishing me a chag sameach. — Hillel Schenker