Ilham Hameedduddin, in a loose robe and head scarf, is often mistaken for a foreigner. Although her mother is Indian and her father Arab Indian, Hameedduddin was raised in the United States, attended public schools, and is working toward a BA at Middlesex College in New Jersey. Nevertheless, she says, "Neighbors are surprised I can speak English without an accent. They assume I'm fresh off the boat and I just haven't assimilated yet."
It might seem odd that a foreign leader charged with conducting complicated statecraft in his own country should involve himself in state-level politics in America. Or that anyone should take notice when the mayor of a foreign town of 700,000 lavishes political favors on the mayor of a U.S. city of almost seven million people. But when the state in question is New York and the foreign country is Israel, the usual laws of political gravity no longer apply. Ehud Barak is the left-leaning prime minister of Israel. Ehud Olmert is the Likudnik mayor of the Jerusalem municipality. And the two Ehuds--never the best of friends--have clashed over a Senate race taking place half a world away.
By his own definition, Malcolm Gladwell is a "translator," one of a special class of people who "take ideas and information from a highly specialized world and translate them into a language the rest of us can understand." In his articles for The New Yorker, Gladwell has been a bloodhound for speci-ficity, sniffing around obscure corners in the realms of fashion, e-commerce, crime, and medicine, and turning up astounding results.