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Obama Is "hatikvah" Which Means The Hope

This is a blog, On the Face," from Lisa Goldman in Tel Aviv.  The blog itself is insightful and, moreover, true.  The photos are notable for what they reveal.

It is also exhilarating:

election night speech

Raviv Druker and Ofer Shelach put together a 12-minute piece on Obama’s victory for their Friday night news magazine show. It’s called “the dream that became reality,” and you can watch it here in streaming video. Druker introduces the piece by announcing in mock-amazement that he nearly had a car accident upon hearing that Shelach, supposedly a tough, seasoned reporter, had leaked a few tears while watching Obama’s election-night speech.
Meanwhile, 65 percent of Israelis who visited a site called If the World Could Vote (for the president of the United States) chose Obama; and on a similar site called The World For, 82 percent of Israelis clicked on Obama.

Amongst Jewish Americans 78 percent, including New York Times columnist Frank Rich, voted for Obama.

And yet, the international media come to the conclusion that, as the IHT put it, “if Israel were on a US map, it would be bright red.” How odd!

Look, here’s the Associated Press reporting that Israelis were totally into McCain, by a margin of three-to-one. The LA Times’s correspondent in Israel, Ashraf Khalil, reports the same story on his blog for the newspaper’s website: apparently 76 percent of absentee American voters polled in Israel said they would vote for McCain, and most Israelis were barely controlling their panic at the prospect of an Obama presidency.

So, let me get this straight: 78 percent of American Jews voted for Obama; somewhere between 65 and 82 percent of Israelis who participated in two online polls indicated their preference for Obama; and the Israeli media was practically holding a party for the Democratic candidate on election day. And yet, a sizeable proportion of the international media is reporting that Israelis prefer McCain to Obama by a margin of three-to-one. Doesn’t anyone think this is a bit odd?

Actually, I happen to know one person who did think it very odd. The JPost’s news editor, Amir Mizroch, actually took the trouble to call up Mitchell Barak, the guy who conducted the polls of American voters in Israel, and ask where he got the numbers. Barak had reported his findings to the international media at a press conference he convened in Jerusalem. Here’s an excerpt from the JPost’s report:

Mitchell Barak, of Keevoon Research, Strategy and Communications, immediately acknowledged to The Jerusalem Post that the 76-24 percent McCain-Obama poll had “over sampled” voters from the Orthodox community to a certain extent.

Barak confirmed that 60 percent of the people he polled described themselves as Orthodox. And while the belief that Orthodox Jews must, by definition, hold hawkish political opinions is as misguided as any other generalization, statistics show that Orthodox Jews who immigrate from the United States to Jerusalem tend to lean heavily toward the the Greater Israel / nationalist-Zionist movement, which receives strong support from the fundamentalist Christian Right of the Republican party.

Let’s say that 60 percent of American-born Israelis are hawkish, right-wing Republicans. This could well be true. But there are only 85,000 American-born Israelis out of a total population of 7 million. Even if all 51,000 who define themselves as Orthodox really are McCain supporters, and assuming not only that they  are all old enough to vote, but that they all took the trouble to cast an absentee ballot, they still form only 0.72 percent of the population of Israel.
Based on that tiny, non-representative sampling, a significant number of credible media outlets reported as fact that Israel was overwhelmingly pro-McCain - even though all the real evidence shows the exact opposite.

What I can’t quite figure out is, why were so many people willing - perhaps even eager - to accept as fact a story that was so easy to discredit?