July 2008


Participating in a long-standing tradtion, Obama left a note to God in the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

“Lord—Protect my family and me,” reads the note published in the Maariv daily. “Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.”

I love that.  Not “Dear Lord, please …” or even “Lord, please,” or even “Lord,” Instead of a comma, he uses the efficient, business-like dash.  No please, no thank you, no sign-off – just a list of directives.  To God.

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Hunh.  Apparently Obama doesn’t think Turkey is a democracy.

And then there are those who would lay all of the problems of the Middle East at the doorstep of Israel and its supporters, as if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the root of all trouble in the region. These voices blame the Middle East’s only democracy for the region’s extremism. They offer the false promise that abandoning a stalwart ally is somehow the path to strength. It is not, it never has been, and it never will be.

According to a 2007 survey by the Economist – hardly a bastion of liberalism – Israel was somewhat more democratic than Turkey.  But even Israel wasn’t in the category of “fully functioning” democracy, but a “flawed” democracy.  If you’re going for “as democratic as the U.S.”, or a “fully functioning democracy” – which Obama seems to be using as a yardstick – then neither Israel nor Turkey is a democracy.   If you use this standard, there is no democratic nation in the Middle East. 

But Obama knows what side his bread is buttered on.  Accordingly, Israel is a democracy, and Turkey is not.