A longing for Messiah is endemic to Jews. Powerless for centuries, they turned their eyes to supernatural salvation. The rabbis sought to establish themselves as community leaders and channeled Jewish hopes into the otherworldly realm where the rabbis ostensibly reign. Atheist Israelis look for messiah politicians. Recently, Israelis were crazy about Rabin (Oslo), Netanyahu (Wye River), Sharon (Gaza), and now again about Netanyahu. With hopes for a decent politician at home running slim, Israelis search for salvation abroad: Bush was declared a great friend of Israel (also, of Saudi Arabia). The latest addition to the pantheon is Sarkozy who, in reality, is at least as friendly to Lebanon as to Israel.

Alexander the Great was the last major military leader who had actually led his army. After him, the armies became too complex to perform on the battlefield on their own. The commanders had to stay behind the lines to watch and direct the troops. Since then, armies relied on military bureaucracies. All the more, political and administrative bureaucracies govern the states. Heads of states have little say in their countries’ policies; they are team players, responsible to the web of supporters, associates, and sponsors. Even independents like Ross Perot, in the unlikely event they come to power, would have to abide by the vested interests of bureaucracies – or face sabotage.

France cannot expect gaining much influence with the American vassal Israel. Lebanon is much more amenable; Lebanese citizens who reside in Lebanon overwhelmingly voted for Sarkozy. France needs to rebuild ties with Syria, which is desperate to break the international isolation, and with Iranian “moderate” opposition. Israel has nothing to offer France; weak Israel which suffers from Palestinian gangsters has a slim chance of befriending a major player such as France. The hope of rapprochement with France will work against Israel: just like Israel shrinks from attacking Gaza now to avoid upsetting the US Administration bent on the peace process, so would Israel hesitate to attack Hezbollah out of fear of alienating friendly Sarkozy whose stakes in Lebanon are high.

At most, Sarkozy won’t be pushing Israel into the suicidal peace process with unrelenting enemies. Given the friendly American pressure for the political suicide, Sarkozy’s good intentions are inconsequential for Israel. Sarkozy’s election opened for Israel a short window of opportunity to attack Syria and Iran to the world’s applause.

Lebanon's Hariri with Chirac and Sarkozy