Babylon & Beyond

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ISRAEL: The fall of the 'first Jewish president'

March 13, 2008 | 11:31 am

In a nation still consumed by last week's bloody shooting spree that killed eight young students in a Jerusalem yeshiva, the fate of one more scandal-plagued U.S. politician normally wouldn't even register.

Eliot Spitzer governor of New York forced to resign March 2008 for alleged involvement in a prostitution ringBut New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who resigned this week, isn't just any politician. The former crime-busting attorney general was also well known in Israel as the fastest-rising Jewish politician in America. As far back as 2003, Spitzer was courting Israeli decision makers with an eye on the statehouse and perhaps more. In his run for governor, Spitzer relied on close ties with New York City's Orthodox Jewish community to rally support.

Widely tabbed here as a solid contender to be America's first Jewish president, Spitzer hasn't evoked much sympathy. The nature of his transgressions — infidelity, public hypocrisy — have most Israeli commentators concluding that he had it coming. The tone has been one of disappointment in a wayward son gone wrong.

Ashraf Khalil in Jerusalem

Photo: New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer during a news conference where he announced his resignation. Credit: Alejandra Villa / Newsday