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Family first

For all the talk about how Israeli political campaigns are becoming more like American ones, the brouhaha surrounding McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as VP demonstrates the vast gulf that still separates Israeli and American campaigns, The Jerusalem Post’s Calev Ben-David reminds us.

The families of Israeli politicians are generally viewed as relevant by the mainstream press and public only when they are perceived as having an influence on their relative’s politics – as is the case with Judy Nir-Moses Shalom, Sarah Netanyahu or Omri Sharon.

While a supportive family can certainly be an asset for a public figure here – and a family member deemed problematic a drawback – in Israel there is nowhere near the emphasis given this aspect of a politician’s background as one finds in the US…

When did Yitzhak Rabin ever speak to audiences about the huge impact his Labor Zionist-activist mother had on his life, or Netanyahu about the ideological influence of his renowned academic father, unless directly asked about it? While it’s a natural human tendency to draw conclusions about a person by seeing how their children turned out, the world is a complicated place, and parental influence is just one factor in it…

Bristol Palin’s pregnancy should be a private matter – but it certainly becomes harder to keep it so when her mother brings her up on stage while being introduced as the new Republican vice presidential candidate and then talks to the entire US about the importance of family in her life.

It is inconceivable, in contrast, to imagine Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni doing anything remotely similar in own her campaign to attain the Kadima leadership. In fact, most Israelis would be hard pressed to even be able to identify Livni’s children.

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