I find it hard to believe that anyone really cares about the fact that Obama’s coming to Israel. Surely no one has any expectations that this carefully stage managed piece of theatre is going to herald any real changes. Maybe there’ll be a few cosmetic changes but even those are likely to be Netanyahu once again calling on Abbas to come sit at the table with him and start negotiations now as though none ever happened in the past.
This event has been carefully crafted to allow maximum exposure to a second term US President who failed miserably during his first term to demonstrate that he has a feel for the issues involved. Since then the only thing that’s changed is his choice for Secretary of State, John Kerry, who will apparently be at his boss’s side for the entire trip.
So with all of the fanfare and photo ops, with all of the nice sounding speeches that Obama and Bibi will make while standing next to each other and smiling, “we the people” have nothing to look forward to aside from a week of traffic jams and propaganda.
Our new government is one that (for now) doesn’t include the ultra-orthodox from the decision making process, but when it comes to settlements and settlement building we should expect to see a lot more over the coming 4 years (assuming these parties and personalities can hold it together for that long). And this is the only Israeli issue that occupies foreign leaders.
Any words of Obama’s in public or in private expressing displeasure at the thought of an increase in settlements will simply fall on deaf ears. The leaders of the Likud and Jewish Home owe their positions to their party faithful who put them in place with almost the singular reason of consolidating and expanding settlements in mind.
And so Bibi and Barack will do their dance cheek to cheek, exchanging pleasantries in public and something else in private while “we the people” watch from the outside, no doubt captivated by the wonderful oratory of a Democratic President who speaks sweet words of reconciliation and optimism for a future he is impotent to bring into existence.
Welcome to Israel Obama, take the tour and praise the Iron Dome while seeing in person the limits of the powers bestowed upon an American President to impose his own brand of change on a Middle East in a flux all of its own and an Israel government that is already set to ignore you completely.