Israelis Try To Start Their Own Tea Party

This time around, in addition to internal parliamentary pressure, Kleiner hopes to draw on grassroots sentiment for his crusade -- taking a page from the U.S. Tea Party playbook:

I've been following U.S. politics and I think that the Tea Party phenomenon is something refreshing, with the wide participation of people, and not just politicians, and its spontaneity.

Though the "Say No to Obama" message was the primary focus on Sunday, the movement also includes those who sympathize with the U.S. Tea Party's economic message.

Boaz Arab of the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies (JIMS) told Reuters that he joined the movement in order to send the message that:

Israel needs a capitalistic movement to free the economy from its burden of high taxes, high government spending, and a bloated administration.

Most of the Israeli media ignored the event. Those who chose to comment scoffed at the small number it drew, and dismissed the Israeli Tea Party as a stunt that would not necessarily gain momentum. There were also chuckles at the cultural incongruity of attempting to relocate an event so strongly based in American history and culture to the Middle East. From the Jerusalem Post:

...[T]he rally hardly resembled its counterparts in the States. No country music was heard, there were no Moshes in U.S. Revolutionary War-era garb, and no Ya’acovs in powdered wigs with faux muskets hollering, “No taxation without representation."

The event also lacked the Barack Obama as the Joker/Karl Marx/witchdoctor posters commonly seen at such events in the United States. In fact, while there were many signs reading “Say no to Obama!” in Hebrew, English, and Russian (no Arabic), nary a one had “Hussein” on it, , and there were no depictions of the former Illinois senator wearing Islamic garb.

So Israel's Tea Party hardly enjoyed an auspicious beginning. But its organizers can take heart when they consider the way in which the U.S. Tea Party movement was ridiculed and dismissed at its inception. After the significant role it played in this year's midterm election campaign, no one is laughing anymore.