Netanyahu on his way to Washington, Obama cancels Jewish Federations speech

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

After all the pre-convention hoopla, the Jewish Federations of North America (“No acronyms, please,” said a press spokesman for the group formerly known as UJC), President Barack Obama won’t be addressing the group on Tuesday, after all.

Instead, Obama will be traveling to the memorial service for the Fort Hood army base massacre victims, and sending White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel to the Jewish philanthropy’s meeting in his place.

Meanwhile, speculation rages over whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, scheduled to appear before the UJC/ Jewish Federations meeting on Monday, has succeeded in his effort to win a meeting with Obama.

The assumption from the outset was that Netanyahu wouldn’t show up if Obama shunned him – a diplomatic slap the prime minister would prefer to avoid. But the Jerusalem Post reported this morning that Netanyahu is on his way without an official meeting on the schedule.  According to Bloomberg,  Netanyahu “did not respond when asked by reporters aboard his plane whether he would meet with Obama during the trip. “

My guess: they’ve worked out a quiet agreement that will get Netanyahu in the White House door for some kind of face saving meeting.

But maybe not; it’s hard to figure out what the two leaders would talk about, with U.S. hopes for a rapid resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian talks in shreds and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announcing he won’t run again.

I’m also wondering how long it will be before analysts on the far left and far right read some deeper meaning into Obama’s non-appearance at Jewish Federations of North America.  No, guys, this isn’t about us.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.