Vice President Joe Biden just finished his whirlwind Israeli road show with a speech at Tel Aviv University. President Obama’s Number Two laid bare the Administration’s upcoming theme songs for the Mideast.
Biden started off with a short prelude, emphasizing the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security and then singing a favorite Israeli love song, "the United States has no better friend than Israel."
The old crooner wanted his fans to know he could keep up with the Israeli New Wave’s Delegitimacy Emo’s, introducing a new ballad "We lead the fight against the campaign to question Israel’s legitimacy," which segued into "[the U.S. stands with Israel against the] insidious campaign to challenge Israel’s right to exist."
And just to make sure everyone understood where the United States stands, between sets Biden stressed the obvious, that Israel-U.S. ties are "impervious to shifts in partisan politics."
The Vice President then shouted to the crowd it was time to rock, breaking into his biggest hit, "the U.S. is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Period."
Turning the tempo down a notch, he proceeded with some old neo-Con favorites,
"Iranians are suffering under a leadership that supports terrorism."
"Iran has refused to cooperate."
and that oldie but goodie the
"U.S. is determined to keep up pressure on Iran to change its course."
Having provided the crowd a steady plate of pleasers, Biden took the liberty of getting serious for a moment. In about as close as any Democratic leader is ever going to get to a Sister Souljah moment with Israel, Biden informed the gathering "that the status quo in Israel is not sustainable."
"The demographic realities make it difficult for Israel to be a Jewish homeland and a democratic country.
"To end this historic conflict, both sides must be historically bold."
It is hard to see how the Israelis could be more bold than they were this week. That message was probably directed to the Palestinians.
By the way, don’t take the Sister Souljah analogy too literally. I don’t ever remember Presidents Clinton or Obama telling African-Americans how much they are loved before scolding them for their rap music or for not turning off the kid’s video games at night.
By now the crowd was getting restless waiting for the music to return, so Biden finished up with a plug for his boss’ favorite cause,
The peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians must continue, despite Israel’s recent announcement that it plans to expand building in East Jerusalem.
"The most important thing is for these talks to go forward and go forward promptly and go forward in good faith. We can’t delay because when progress is postponed, extremists exploit our differences."
What the Vice President didn’t say is that while the Obama Administration desperately needs the negotiations to continue and continue and continue, it has no strategy for getting the talks to conclude with a deal.
At his concert in Ramallah yesterday, Biden heard backstage from the Palestinian troubadour Mahmoud Abbas that he was not even going to participate in the so-called "Proximity Talks" Concerts until Israel cancelled the plans for 1600 new housing units in East Jerusalem announced on Tuesday.
Aware that this news would be leaking out today, Biden remarked that the
Palestinians had misunderstood Israel’s announcement of the settlement plan, thinking that building would begin immediately. With no construction scheduled for now negotiators would have time to "resolve this and other outstanding issues."
See, from the Israeli side the settlement brouhaha was all a "technical matter," and from the American side it was all a misunderstanding.
If 1600 units is a misunderstanding, what are 50,000 units? Never missing an opportunity to upstage a United States road show, planners at Israel’s Interior Ministry managed to inform Ha’aretz today that "Some 50,000 new housing units in Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Green Line are in various stages of planning and approval."
Most of the housing units will be built in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods beyond the Green Line, while a smaller number of them will be built in Arab neighborhoods. The plans for some 20,000 of the apartments are already in advanced stages of approval and implementation, while plans for the remainder have yet to be submitted to the planning committees.
Ministry officials said that the announcement was not intended to coincide with Biden’s visit.
Sources on the tour plane, Air Force 2, telll us that VP Joe is eager to get back home after this exhausting week. Will Obama meet him at the airport and welcome him back?