US President Barak Obama visited Israel for fifty hours in March, 2013. What did he do? What did he say? What did it mean?
Like most people, I have no idea. But I am certain it’s safe to say that during the president’s short, profoundly expensive and ambiguous visit, Jerusalem’s routine–perhaps most of Israel’s–was radically transformed. Israeli President Peres’s residence at HaNassi and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s home on Balfour Street are both in Rechavia where Marcia and I live. The King David Hotel, where Obama stayed, is about a fifteen minute walk away. So, lacking an insightful analysis of what happened during Obama’s two-day charm offensive, I can at least offer, along with links and several personal opinions, lots of photos showing how things looked on the street.
First, American flags sprouted everywhere, like Hope and Change at springtime…
At the same time, hundreds of welcoming, Unbreakable Alliance signs appeared, even in some odd places…
Other, unofficial signs appeared as well.
Barricades, traffic rerouting and security appeared…
Media people and equipment surrounded the entrance to the Prime Minister’s residence.
So Obama landed in Tel Aviv; he waved, he smiled, spoke, shook hands, offered toasts, pledged his undying love and, in the course of all that rushed by motorcade from place to place in Jerusalem via Rechavia, sirens wailing.
Not long before one of these dramatic passages as I approached the entry to Bibi’s residence, I ran into a neighbor sitting with a cup of coffee and a pastry at a local bakery. On her way there, she told me, she had been stopped on the street in her neighborhood at least a quarter-mile from the action by two well-dressed American’s who identified themselves as Secret Service. They told her that not only could she not cross the street, they wanted her to immediately return home.
We’ll go with you.”
She refused their offer, insisting she would cross the street as she pleased and of course they let her pass. Because, really, what else could they do?
This suggests that even the US Secret Service, like their president, had gotten caught up in the powerful moment, saying things they didn’t mean or could not back up. That’s my opinion, of course, and my liberal friends would ask…
Who are you to suggest that Obama is not sincere about his expressed love for Israel?”
But I am far from the only one who agrees that Hope is not a Plan and that kind words, when accompanied by actions to the contrary, aren’t worth much.
Doesn’t the president’s claim of affection for Israel ring a little hollowly after his sending F-16s and modern tanks to Egypt; to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi who has very recently and enthusiastically called Jews “descendants of apes and pigs?” (Aid to terrorists?)
According to former UN Ambassador John Bolton…
The other purpose [of Obama’s visit] was to have substantive, private discussions with the Israeli leadership to tell them not to even think about using military force to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons, and pressure them to make more concessions to the Palestinians.”
This is a friend? Who would these planes and tanks most likely be employed against? The Saudis, Sudan, Libya or Israel?
So far, Washington has delivered 224 F-16 aircraft to the Egyptian Air Force. (Link)
It appears that the US is backing everyone and no one. Why then all this enthusiasm in The Land over a handful of public promises when the words themselves fly in the face of evidence to the contrary? I have a theory. I hope to post an entry explaining it soon.