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How The Democrats Play In Israel

As much as politically-minded Israelis are fixed on how the actions of George Bush will affect their destinies, they are also psychologically enmeshed with the American presidential race. Israelis are savvy folk. Retired Jewish Miamians may think that Rudolph Guiliani is the likely Republican candidate. But Jerusalemites and Tel Avivians do not. In any case, like most American Jews, the first real contest for them in the presidential elections is the Democratic contest for the nomination.

And the fact is that most Israelis knew Bill Clinton as a lover -- but as an unfaithful lover. They go back in memory to the fall of 2000 when Clinton steamrolled Ehud Barak into concessions that were unwise and perilous but nonetheless did not entice Arafat into a deal but into starting the Second Intifada. Since I've been here I've spoken with three top security veterans who actually were terrified that, if Hillary were president, she'd send her husband as a mediator in the Israel-Palestinian conflict where, at best, he'd do well-intentioned damage.

One of the disturbing Israeli character types is the one with prophetic zeal. Thank God, Hillary does not have prophetic zeal for Israel, at least not yet.

But she does have prophetic zeal for America. Alas. She seems to think that the future of our country really depends on her.

Here, for example, is what she said in Portsmouth, New Hampshire yesterday:

"I have so many ideas for this country, I just don't want to see us fall behind backwards..." Her campaign, she insisted, is "about our country. It's about our kids' futures." I have so many better ideas for this country. But, don't worry, I'm not running.

Anyway, Barack Obama has a better feel for this country than she does.