White House lawn, Wednesday (photo by White House fotog Chuck Kennedy
Shocking headline in the New York Times’ story by Helene Cooper on Obama’s speech to the Reform Jews yesterday: “In Obama Speech on Israel, No Mention of Palestinians”
In a speech Friday to the convention of the Union for Reform Judaism, Mr. Obama sought to counter Republican criticism that he had been more supportive of the Palestinian cause than Israel by outlining how he had fought for Israeli interests over the last three years, providing unprecedented military and security aid and defending Israel on the world stage. …
What Mr. Obama did not get into much was any real discussion of the Palestinian issue, which has been stuck in neutral since his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in September, when he said he would not back Palestinian statehood in the Security Council.
Actually there were three mentions in the speech, here, but all pro forma:
And that’s why, as President, I have never wavered in pursuit of a just and lasting peace — two states for two peoples; an independent Palestine alongside a secure Jewish State of Israel. (Applause.) I have not wavered and will not waver. That is our shared vision. (Applause.)
Now, I know that many of you share my frustration sometimes, in terms of the state of the peace process. There’s so much work to do. But here’s what I know –- there’s no question about how lasting peace will be achieved. Peace can’t be imposed from the outside. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them. (Applause.)
And the fact that peace is hard can’t deter us from trying. Because now more than ever, it’s clear that a just and lasting peace is in the long-term interests of Israel. It is in the long-term interests of the Palestinian people.
Meanwhile Politico’s Joel Brinkley says that Israel has become a wedge issue in the campaign between Democrats and Republicans, with Israel lobbyists afraid it is about to be politicized, no longer bipartisan. And though Obama is saying nothing to alienate Jews, his aides are enraged by Israel’s refractory behavior. He’s saying nothing because even Martin Indyk says Congress is in Israel’s back pocket.
administration officials are seething over Israel’s refusal to negotiate with its neighbors — even as the tumult of the Arab Spring imposes increasing and unprecedented isolation on Israel. Meantime, Israeli legislators are proposing and enacting repressive laws that even Israel’s attorney general is calling improper and unconstitutional….
“Deep frustration and anger is welling up in the minds of some administration officials,” observed Aaron David Miller, who was an adviser on Middle East policy for six secretaries of state.
But not in Congress. In fact, said Martin Indyk, who twice served as ambassador to Israel, among some administration officials “there’s a sense that Israel is not acting in its own best interests.” Still, Israel’s right-wing government can do more or less what it wants “because they know they have Congress in their back pocket.”
Why is Congress in Israel’s back pocket? Is this about campaign contributions?