On values , PR and priorities-the Netanyahu-Obama duel

America is busy these days with ISIS , the Ebola scare , the mid-term elections and the very realistic likelihood that the Republicans will gain control of the Senate, thus making President Obama a VERY lame duck leader. America was NOT busy with Israel, not with the war in Gaza, not even with settlements, but then came our PM Netanyahu and
somehow decided that something is wrong about that, so America , at least the White House and the body politic are busy with us.

Why? well, here is a typical self-inflicted wound, the kind of which we could and should do without.

Netanyahu had this year the misfortune of having to talk in the UN General Assembly After all the big guns, a time table necessity
dictated by the Rosh Hashana. Not really a big deal, as sometimes it is not so bad for Israel if we are NOT in the forefront of international attention.

And luckily enough we were NOT in the limelight this year, not a mean feat considering Gaza and the summer of anti-Israel free ride in Europe.
Not bad, though the Palestinian leader Abbas gave his anti semitic speech, one which caused him damage, for example a strong condemnation from the White House. The big story was ISIS, not Israel, and this was not at all against our interests.But then there is BB Netanyahu. Make no mistake, the man is a P.R. genius, how do I know? I worked with him, that is how. I simply know first hand the brilliant talent to come with the right sound bite, the short line which creates the agenda,the few words which are left in the memory of the listener/viewer.

This is huge, and when expressed in impeccable English it is a winner. I write all this not to lead the reader to the inevitable ”but”, rather
to express my frustration. Why on earth, do we need the silly, damaging, unhelpful exchange with the White House over ”values”?

Why, on earth, do we need to look like the spoiled , rotten kid looking for attention, who kicks the toys box when not getting this attention?
Well, Tishbi Yetarez Kushiyot vesheelot[ Tishbi is Eliyahu the prophet].

Here is a reminder; Netanyahu goes to see his ”great” friend President Obama, and the build up is that it is going to be one more meeting, not really an event, surely not a media event. The real media and political and strategic event was Netanyahu meeting of two hours with the new Indian P.M , a meeting of far reaching consequences , that is for those who REALLY interest themselves in the geopolitical situation of Israel.
President Obama made an irritating but intentional comment about Gaza , making a clear distinction between his objection to firing missiles at Israel and the killing of children in Gaza. People, what a surprise , feel sorry for dead children. The line taken by the President is not a slip of the tongue, rather a calculated statement designed to criticize Israel. Double standards at their worst, but when said few days ago, was simply a wasted ammo on the part of the President, as everybody was really interested in ISIS, American boots on the ground or not, beheadings and all that comes with it.

Then came the inevitable , yet moronic announcement from Jerusalem about more building plans in our capital, our undisputed right to do, but in fairness, are we not all somewhat tired with this stupid ritual, whereby somebody announces building plans in Jerusalem, exactly when Netanyahu is in DC, or VP Biden is in Jerusalem? Is this gimmick of some Right Wingers has not exhausted itself? Are we serious? this building project, if ever comes to being, will start in few years, but the damage is immediate. Yes, we do have the right to build in Jerusalem, everywhere in Jerusalem and whenever we want, but having the right also means that we can also decide as to WHEN to exercise it. Trust me that P.M Netanyahu knows it, but he also knows one or two things about Naftali Bennett , Dani Dannon and the rest of the ”true” nationalists, so he chose to start the war of words about values. He is right, and if Jews have a right to live in Beth Lehem Pennsylvania, they have the right to live in Beth Lehem Judea, all over Jerusalem, everywhere in our historic homeland, but… and with total frankness, why do we need this verbal fracas when we have so much going for us as far as the real situation in the ME is concerned?

Did we mention ISIS?…well, we did, and what they do IS the real, important game, not the settlements, and especially a future building project in OUR capital, so why should we get ourselves willingly into this mouse trap ?…The US condemned swedish recognition of the Palestinian state, they strongly criticized Abbas and yes, they did not refrain from the ritualistic criticism of the settlements.

I leave my readers to decide about importance and priorities in this case.

About the Author
Dr Josef Olmert, a Middle East expert, is currently an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina