Obama’s visit to Israel was annoying – especially with all the excessive yukking over nothing in particular – but there were a few things about it that are worth highlighting.
I was a little surprised at the level of frothy excitement projected by liberal Zionists into the public realm. Their virtual palpitations on Twitter seemed a little over the top – and I was honestly baffled by the reception. But after a while it became clear that the public enthusiasm was an outward manifestation of the insecurity those people feel. Being a Zionist is all about waiting for the next anti-Semitic catastrophe, and a visit by Obama may have allayed some of the tittering nervousness that people like Abraham Foxman express on a regular basis. Attachment theory offers more insight into the relationship Zionists have with American leaders; it may also help explain Israeli aggression and anti-social behaviors. A related and more superficial explanation may be that Obama made Zionists feel cool (like they used to, before celebrities began to distance themselves). That’s not something to be understated.
The second point goes to Obama’s speech to Jewish-Israelis in Jerusalem. Apparently, the guy who wrote it is a young American with a Jewish parent. He imbued the address with more truth than I would have expected (and a whole lot of the usual origin-myth mendacity):
It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day. It is not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished. It is not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; to restrict a student’s ability to move around the West Bank; or to displace Palestinian families from their home. Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer.
That could be an indication of generational differences in what powerful people in Washington are willing to recognize as legitimate Palestinian grievances. But there’s really no way to know right now.
Finally, it’s hard to overstate how dumb people sound when they use the mommy-talkish “Bibi” all the time. That’s true for Obama and everyone else.