A Special Place in Hell
- In which State should Netanyahu run for Senate? Citizenship? No
In what state should Bibi run for the U.S. Senate?
By Bradley Burston
He's obviously cut out for the job. He speaks well. He is telegenic.
He has high levels of face and name recognition. He is second to
none at the sound bite. He knows how to raise money. He knows how to
Most importantly, American Jews love him.
It's time for Benjamin Netanyahu to do what he was made to do. Run
for the U.S. Senate.
Why should he continue to waste his talents and what's left of his
relative youth on the Israeli electorate? His comrades in the Likud
scheme to undermine him. His former comrades in Kadima miss no
chance to demonize him. His potential coalition partners in Labor
want nothing to do with him.
Already 10 years ago, elected prime minister at age 46, he had gone
as far in Israeli politics as anyone can.
It's time for a change.
And the man knows America. At age 14, he moved to the States with
his family, settling in historic Cheltenham Township, a colonial
Quaker-founded suburb of Philadelphia. He won undergraduate and
masters degrees from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of
He could be the very model of the modern Schwarzenegger Republican,
moderate on abortion, stem cell research, and health care reform,
hawkish on terrorism and tax cuts.
Most remarkably, he is an Israeli leader who thinks he speaks
English, and actually does.
Of course, there would be technical obstacles to a Netanyahu race
for the Senate. Citizenship, for one thing. But assuming the hurdles
could be smoothed by his many admirers of influence, there would be
a more difficult problem: Where to run.
Does he go for the Jews - knowing that many American Jews vote
liberal, blue and to his left? Or does he stand a better chance
courting the Christian Right?
Does he go for New York - home to an enormous reservoir of
expatriate Israelis - knowing that he lacks liberal credentials?
Does he go for California, knowing that he lacks acting credits?
[All figures approximate]
CLASS I STATES Populous states with Jewish communities of
appreciable size and clout. Examples:
NEW YORK 1.7 million Jews, or 9% of 19 million total population
CALIFORNIA 1.2 million Jews, 3% of 39 million
NEW JERSEY 540,000 Jews, or 6% of 9 million
FLORIDA 650,000 Jews, or 4% of 16 million
PENNSYLVANIA 275,000, or 2.3% of 12 million
ILLINOIS 265,000, or 2.2% of 12 million
MASSACHUSETTS 260,000, or 4.3% of 6 million
CLASS II STATES Populous Bible Belt states with relatively small
TEXAS 126,000, or 0.6 % of 21 million
GEORGIA 88,000, or 1.1% of 8 million
NORTH CAROLINA 24,000, or 0.3% of 8 million
CLASS III STATES Smaller Bible Belt states with negligible Jewish
WEST VIRGINIA 1,800, or 0.1% of 1.8 million
ARKANSAS 2,600, or 0.1% of 2.7 million
OKLAHOMA 3,400, or 0.1% of 3.4 million
FOR REFERENCE: Present Jewish senators, by state:
California: Barbara Levy Boxer (D) Dianne Feinstein (D)
Connecticut: Joe Lieberman (I)
Maryland: Ben Cardin (D)
Michigan: Carl Levin (D)
Minnesota: Norm Coleman (R)
New Jersey: Frank Lautenberg (D)
New York: Charles Shumer (D)
Oregon: Ron Wyden (D)
Pennsylvania: Arlen Specter (R)
Vermont: Bernie Sanders (I)
Wisconsin: Russ Feingold (D) Herb Kohl (D)
Once this matter is settled, an issue which has remained unresolved
for decades may yield to solution: Which European nation should
crown Shimon Peres its ceremonial head of state.
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