Monday, May 18, 2009

Obama and Netanyahu: unfortunately, Bibi seems to have misplaced his address book

Today, Obama met with Binyamin Netanyahu, and then had a press conference. Obama said Bibi “has both youth and wisdom,” which in terms of misperception is right up there with Bush looking into Putin’s soul.

While they may have disagreed about a two-state solution, there was no disagreement about Israel’s proper identity as an ethno-sectarian state. Obama: “It is in U.S. national security interests to assure that Israel’s security as an independent Jewish state is maintained.” Netanyahu: “I think that the Palestinians will have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state”. For what other state does the US recognize a principle of racial/ethnic/religious dominance as legitimate?

Bibi said “we don’t want to govern the Palestinians.” Not that he wants anybody else to do it either; anarchic chaos is just fine with him. “We want them to govern themselves, absent a handful of powers that could endanger the state of Israel.” You know, just a handful of powers.

Obama gently twitted Netanyahu on settlements (the Bib-stir authorized a new West Bank settlement just before leaving for Washington, an entirely new one as opposed to “expansion” of an existing settlement), saying that settlements are “a difficult issue. I recognize that, but it’s an important one and it has to be addressed.” Which, as Eli points out, is not a demand that settlement-building stop immediately. What else needs to be “addressed”? “I think the humanitarian situation in Gaza has to be addressed.” I believe the linguists call that the future nebulous tense.

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