Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu set up another illegal Jewish settlement, this time on the White House lawn. And, it appears, President Obama has agreed to serve as its armed guard.
So complete was Obama’s identification with Israel yesterday that he actually referred to Israel as “us” before correcting himself:
“We strongly believe that, given its size, its history, the region that it’s in, and the threats that are leveled against us—against it, that Israel has unique security requirements.”
By “its size,” did Obama mean Israel’s overwhelming military superiority? By “its history,” did he mean Israel’s usurpation of Arab lands and forty-three-year-long occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem? By “the region that it’s in,” did he mean the Arab and Muslim world, the region with which Obama wants to rebuild US relations? No: Obama was echoing Israeli talking points: that Israel is a tiny, besieged nation that made democracy flourish and the deserts bloom post-Holocaust, surrounded by scimitar-waving crazies.
Dana Milbank, writing in the Washington Post, characterized the Obama-Netanyahu meeting aptly:
"To capture the real significance of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit with President Obama, White House officials might have instead flown the white flag of surrender…
"On Tuesday, Obama, routed and humiliated by his Israeli counterpart, invited Netanyahu back to the White House for what might be called the Oil of Olay Summit: It was all about saving face."
But really, it was more about saving the fall elections, or at least that’s how it seemed. Not that American Jewish voters are going to flock to the Republicans, since they vote reliably Democratic, and more and more American Jews seem to care less and less about Israel. But, of course, crazed evangelical, right-wing Christian Republicans do care about Israel, if only because they hope it will be destroyed during the battle of Armageddon. And they vote.
As the Times pointed out:
With Democrats facing a tough time in the mid-term elections in November, Mr. Obama has reasons for softening his public stance on Israel. Republican candidates have been courting Jewish voters, who ordinarily back Democrats, by trying to portray the president as anti-Israel.
The Times account doesn’t mention that it’s not Jews but Christians who are being courted by the GOP, as usual.
Meanwhile, Obama has all but abandoned the promising start that he got by naming George Mitchell as Middle East mediator on his first day in office, by salting the White House national security staff with Jewish peaceniks, by naming General Jones as national security adviser and by confronting Israel over its settlements policy. He’s backed all the way down now. It’s not too late to recover, but where is the sign that Obama intends to do anything but facilitate talks between the Netanyahu’s extremist government and the weak Palestinians?
As Obama himself said, yesterday:
“If you look at every public statement that I’ve made over the last year and a half, it has been a constant reaffirmation of the special relationship between the United States and Israel, that our commitment to Israel’s security has been unwavering. And in fact, there aren’t any concrete policies that you could point to that would contradict that.”
Sadly, he’s right.