The president probably won't demand much of the Israeli prime minister at their White House meeting today
President Barack Obama will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today, for the fifth time. At the White House meeting, photographers will take pictures of the two of them next to each other. This will be at around noon. That is basically the point of the meeting, to prove that these two like each other and are working together.
Working together to do what, exactly? That is unclear. Supposedly Obama will not press Bibi on the tough stuff, like extending the West Bank settlement freeze. Instead they will just both decide that direct peace talks would be a good thing, and Bibi will say that he’s always been willing to sit down with Mahmoud Abbas but those damned Palestinians won’t meet with him.
Some Israeli analysts speculate that Obama and Bibi will negotiate a secret deal to limit construction in the West Bank once the freeze is lifted. That would be very, very stupid, because this Israeli government does not seem to have much respect for this White House and it would presumably just ignore whatever secret arrangement was negotiated. And it would be, strategically, completely right to do so, because it would make them seem more powerful at home and whatever political blowback there would be in the States would hit Obama the hardest — especially if he had the audacity to not fully support Israel’s betraying him.
Netanyahu has no reason to believe that Israel will suffer any significant loss of support from the U.S. if he ignores the wishes of the White House. After all, to celebrate his arrival in Washington, the New York Times has published a story about the many charities that fund and support Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The nonprofits are funded by tax-deductible donations. This means, according to the Times, that “the American Treasury helps sustain the settlements through tax breaks on donations to support them.”
The Times identified more than 40 groups that have raised more than $200 million to fund settlements that are technically illegal under Israeli law. One group was run by Jack Abramoff — it financed “a paramilitary operation in the Beitar Illit settlement.” Other groups are supported by American evangelical Christians, like John Hagee.
Of course, as in its coverage of the extracurricular activities of young white people in Brooklyn, the Times is a bit late to the party. Other journalists have been investigating these charities for more than a year. And, obviously, the State Department and the IRS have known about them for years, but haven’t yet done anything about all this tax-deductible money going to violent extremist rabbis and settler militias.
Even when prominent American officials offer justified criticisms of Israeli policy and actions, they cover their asses by undercutting their message. Remember when then-CentCom commander David Petraeus submitted testimony to the Senate Armed Forces Committee last March that pointed out the obvious truth that unconditional U.S. support for Israel endangered American forces and made us enemies in the Muslim world?
Instead of working to bring these necessary truths into the political mainstream, Petraeus apparently coordinated with neocon writer Max Boot to undermine his own testimony. Petraeus’ openness with reporters (and even citizens who find his e-mail address) is admirable, and it’s in part responsible for his amazing reputation in D.C., but this was straight-up political activism.
And the continued inability of any grown-up member of the American political elite to offer any critical opinion on our “special relationship” with this Israeli government is just another reason to be very pessimistic about this White House meeting, and the peace process as a whole.
(Oh, Netanyahu’s government has released its new list of things that you are allowed to bring into Gaza. It’s enough to keep Gaza residents fed, but with enough still banned to prevent Gaza from reestablishing any sort of industry. Nice work.)
More Related Stories
- Slave descendants seek equal rights from Cherokee Nation
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
- Is abortion about to doom Republicans again?
- Anti-voter-fraud Tea Party group sues the IRS
- The Bachmann-inspired romance novel
- Nate Silver: Why the scandals aren't hurting Obama
- How to oust Michele Bachmann from Congress
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- Who is Toronto Mayor Rob Ford?
- Colorado judge rules Abercrombie parent company violates Disabilities Act
- When America became a third-world country
- Inhofe and Coburn: Red state hypocrites
- It's Whitewater all over again
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
- Anyone regret slashing National Weather Service budget now?
- Oklahoma senator: Tornado aid "totally different" from Sandy aid
- Aloof, shifty Obama: Nixon times ten thousand!
- Obama: Moore "needs to get everything it needs right away"
- California Tea Party group files first IRS lawsuit
- Still no polling backlash for Obama
- Oklahoma senator wants to offset tornado aid with other cuts
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11