Obama’s 2 guests on Air Force One to Israel/Palestine both undermine his policy

Israel/Palestine
on 52 Comments

Last week John Kerry made headlines saying that the two-state solution is expiring, and governments must act: 

So there’s an urgency to this, in my mind, and I intend, on behalf of the president’s instructions, to honour that urgency and see what we can do to move forward.

But wait; if it’s so urgent to move forward, why did Obama make a point of bringing Eliot Engel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz with him on Air Force One last month to Israel and Palestine? Both these powerful congresspeople — Wasserman Schultz being the chair of the Democratic National Committee — have undermined the Obama administration on the issue.

At that same House Foreign Affairs hearing at which Kerry spoke, Engel made a statement blaming Palestinians for the breakdown in negotiations. Most of his statement was about Iran, then we got this:

I also want to congratulate President Obama on his tremendously successfu l trip to Israel and for fully funding aid to Israel in the budget request. I had the pleasure of traveling with the President to Israel, where he worked to strengthen the eternal bond between Israel and the United States, and was received enthusiastically by the Israeli people. Mr. Secretary, Israel has repeatedly emphasized that it seeks unconditional, direct negotiations with the Palestinians, and I applaud the Administration for urging the Palestinians to accept that offer. Regrettably, the Palestinians keep raising one condition after another, casting doubt on their commitment to ending the conflict with Israel.

Not a word about settlements.

For her part, Wasserman Schultz has called the settlements “so-called settlements” and “suburbs” of Jerusalem. From October 2011, to Haaretz, a piece called “Obama’s Other First Lady”:

“President Obama’s position is not any different from any other administration, settlement policy hasn’t changed in the United States from when President Clinton or Bush was in office,” [Wasserman Schultz] explains. “The policy is not different about so-called settlements. If you go to them it would be difficult to look at any of these suburbs and call them settlements because it’s a very dramatic difference in perception of what people think settlements look like, versus what these neighborhoods really look like.”

And last summer Wasserman Schultz held the line at the Democratic convention when the platform almost left out language calling Jerusalem Israel’s capital. Obama himself was said to be “absolutely livid” when that language was not included in the platform. 

When Wasserman Schultz actually visited Jerusalem last month following her highfalutin plane ride, she and Engel tweeted their excellent adventures in the Old City, which they consider to be Israel. They also embraced Naftali Bennett, the rightwing Israeli leader who has declared there will never be a Palestinian state.

I have no idea what the Obama administration’s policy is here.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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52 Responses

  1. Stateless American
    April 23, 2013, 1:48 pm

    I believe it’s called pandering.

  2. Blownaway
    April 23, 2013, 2:26 pm

    Its whatever these people tell him it is.. Battered wife syndrome..I’ll say or do anything just please let the beating stop

  3. Rusty Pipes
    April 23, 2013, 2:31 pm

    The Obama Administration’s policy is big-time payback to all of the major donors and congresscritters who supported him in the Fall election and in voting for his cabinet appointees, by taking along two of the lobby’s top go-to congresscritters on his trip to Israel right after the initiation of his second term, but before the AIPAC conference. He has to reassure skittish congresscritters that none of his moves for peace in Israel/Palestine will scare away their major Zionist donors (they wouldn’t want electoral side effects like Democrats got after Jimmy Carter’s peace deal). The majority of the trip was all about show — maybe he slipped in a few hours of substance on the side.

  4. Citizen
    April 23, 2013, 2:49 pm

    That Debbie Wasserman Schultz has so much power concerning American foreign policy says everything. She’s not very bright, has no awesome academic credentials, and is transparent when she lies, which she does all the time regarding the issues most important to America’s future. This is especially true regarding anything touching on Israel, where she’s at her most strident and intentionally deceptive. OTOH, if you are a Zionist, she’s worthy of undying loyalty. If you’re a patriotic American, or a major humanist, she’s a traitor, and not nearly as slick as Bill Kristol or Charles Krauthammer, for example, in that agency. But, what the hey, ask Fox News about this and they will summon John Bolton to give you the scoop.

  5. Kathleen
    April 23, 2013, 2:56 pm

    When Wasserman Schultz was chosen/directed to be the Chair of the DNC the message was clear the walls would stay up, nothing would change in the Dem party and the support for the illegal, destructive and apartheid policies of Israel would stay in place. Wasserman Schultz is the new old Aipac guard. Illegal settlements are “suburbs” to Schultz…..An apartheid guard

    • James Canning
      April 23, 2013, 7:19 pm

      Shultz is indeed an agressive proponent for more illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

  6. Pedestrian
    April 23, 2013, 3:18 pm

    Completely irrelevant, but I think the people at Mondoweiss would be really interested to see Episode 2 of the HBO comedy “Veep”. You’ll know why when you see it. A central plot of the episode is the VP’s daughter’s blog post about the movie “5 broken cameras”.

    • Annie Robbins
      April 23, 2013, 3:21 pm

      thanks pedestrian.

    • Citizen
      April 23, 2013, 6:40 pm

      @ Pedestrian
      Not irrelevant at all to this blog, although perhaps to this thread. The TV series Veep tackled the Hagel vetting by the Israel First US congress, if memory serves, and now it has tackled the Palestinian POV in 5 Broken Cameras. I have not seen this episode, but I’ve read that the key protagonist’s daughter wrote a blog praising the film. Netflix has been gaining market by leaps and bounds with this series. HBO’s now got competition. Seems there’s a real thirst for a regular comedy series dealing directly with the absurdity of real US politics. Something more than just Stewart and Colbert.

    • Daniel Rich
      April 23, 2013, 8:24 pm

      @ Pedestrian,

      To prevent any confusion: that’s Veep, season 2, episode 2. Veep Season 2 Trailer #2

      [although Julia Elizabeth Scarlett Louis-Dreyfus is a married woman, I'm deeply in love with her. Ouch! Sorry, honey. Just deleting spam from my inbo- Ouch!]

  7. Annie Robbins
    April 23, 2013, 3:20 pm

    i think obama is attempting to operate under the lobby radar. wrt “Obama’s 2 guests on Air Force One” keep your friends close and your …

    • American
      April 23, 2013, 4:20 pm

      Obama doesn’t appear to be operating anything –except 14 fund raisers for the Dem party in the past 2 months.
      It’s always the Israel luv related money honey…..if you want to stay in the party’s/club’s good graces and not get banned like Carter.

      • Shingo
        April 23, 2013, 4:57 pm

        Yes I agree American.

        I know Phil and co want to believe Obama has something up his sleeve, but I am pretty sure he’s given up any hope of solving this issue. As with Iran, he’s resorted to containment.

    • Kathleen
      April 23, 2013, 4:39 pm

      Was so blown away when Obama picked Dennis Ross to be on his team during the first administration..guess your comment must apply to that pick

      • James Canning
        April 23, 2013, 7:18 pm

        Kathleen – - I was disappointed that Obama put Dennis Ross on his team when it was obvious Ross would be an aggessive lobbyist for the Israeli gov’t, within the administration. But I was not surprised.

        • Shingo
          April 24, 2013, 9:54 am

          Kathleen,

          I am not sure Obama willingly put Dennis Ross on his team. I think he was forced in from the outside, and once he got in, he went about his job of undermining Mitchell.

        • American
          April 24, 2013, 10:23 am

          I think it was the Hill that published a list of who Obama was considering for appointments—-I saw it the night before voting day and that was what made me decide to not vote for him and write in a name. It was loaded down with well known I-Firsters. He was actually considering Jane Harman of all people for Homeland Security or some similar post.
          Obama appointed people his major Zonist donors would be happy with…….all the way down to Ambassadors.
          Obama’s most major accomplishment imo is proving for once and all that there is absolutely no difference in race or background—and it’s a mistake to think everyone learns anything from their heritage —-self interest and corruption know no difference in race, color or anything else.

        • Kathleen
          April 24, 2013, 3:48 pm

          Interesting point

        • James Canning
          April 24, 2013, 8:04 pm

          Shingo – - Why would Obama continue to rely on Ross for advice, after Ross left the White House? If Obama did not want Ross in the WH.

        • Annie Robbins
          April 25, 2013, 1:50 am

          what advice james? anything specific?

        • Shingo
          April 25, 2013, 2:18 am

          Why would Obama continue to rely on Ross for advice, after Ross left the White House?

          What makes you think Obama ever relied on Ross for advice? Ross is and has always been AIPAC’s point man, which makes him untouchable. So while Obama and Mitchell couldn’t stand the sight of him, they had to tolerate him to keep the lobby happy.

        • Citizen
          April 25, 2013, 5:37 am

          @ Shingo

          Apparently Ross conducted direct negotiations with Israeli leaders through his own private channel, as, yes, AIPAC’s point man, and while he lost his post as a special ME adviser to Obama, he kept his top secret credentials and visited the WH almost daily, and sat in on top secret briefings with Obama after getting a job with “pro-Israel” think tanks. He and Mitchell were not on speaking terms. Gee, I wonder why….

          link to haaretz.com

        • Shingo
          April 25, 2013, 6:00 am

          Apparently Ross conducted direct negotiations with Israeli leaders through his own private channel, as, yes, AIPAC’s point man, and while he lost his post as a special ME adviser to Obama, he kept his top secret credentials and visited the WH almost daily..

          That wasn’t because Obama wanted it that way. He lost his post as a special ME adviser to Obama because Obama didn’t want him around, but sacred cows like Ross are immovable, and those top secret credentials would have been protected in spite of Obama’s wishes, not because of them.

        • Citizen
          April 25, 2013, 9:43 am

          @ Shingo

          Well, we can only deduce what Obama really wants from his actions we know about since we can’t read his mind, of course. Ross sat in on the most secret meetings with Obama regarding US and Israel relations–while he was a star in the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute. Would any Arab American be able to do that while being a star in CAIR? Never mind.

        • James Canning
          April 25, 2013, 1:58 pm

          Citizen – - Dennis Ross is quite pleased to have a direcct line to Obama. No need to go through channels others less favored enounter.

        • James Canning
          April 25, 2013, 2:19 pm

          Shingo – - Was it a bit awkward to have Dennis Ross working from the White House, when Ross clearly wanted to block Obama’s wish to reach out to Iran?

        • James Canning
          April 25, 2013, 2:21 pm

          Bravo, Citizen. How many Americans are even aware Dennis Ross wrecked George Mitchell’s effort to resolve Israel/Palestine problem? Or, helped to wreck it, intentionally.

        • Shingo
          April 26, 2013, 12:50 am

          Well, we can only deduce what Obama really wants from his actions we know about since we can’t read his mind, of course.

          Obama appointed Mitchell, not Ross. Ross then set about sabotaging and undermining Mitchell, who resigned in disgust.

          Are you seriously suggesting Obama either didn’t notice what Ross was up to or was colluding with Ross?

        • Citizen
          April 26, 2013, 1:57 pm

          @ Shingo
          Perhaps Obama initially thought he could get the Irish peace-maker to engine a peace he Obama would get credit for, while at the same time, placating the Lobby? Obama likely has a very high opinion of his talents, yes? Both men were assigned their competitive jobs as Obama’s special agents.

        • Shingo
          April 27, 2013, 8:31 am

          Perhaps Obama initially thought he could get the Irish peace-maker to engine a peace he Obama would get credit for, while at the same time, placating the Lobby?

          More than likely.

          Obama likely has a very high opinion of his talents, yes? Both men were assigned their competitive jobs as Obama’s special agents.

          That ascribes far too much cleverness to Obama. I doubt as US president he has that much free time to dream up such pointless schemes.

        • James Canning
          April 27, 2013, 1:53 pm

          Citizen – - George Mitchell is part Irish-American and part Lebanese. It does appear clear Obama had a high opinion of his talents, but Dennis Ross had more powerful and agressive supporters.

      • Daniel Rich
        April 23, 2013, 8:32 pm

        @ Kathleen,

        “Have your friends kill your enemies.” – Slogan on HCCC [Hasbara Central Command Center]‘s main gorilla, elephant, whale, wailing wall.

  8. Justpassingby
    April 23, 2013, 3:54 pm

    One tip, judge people from what they DO, not on what they SAY.

    US would push for a palestinian state when Israel says so.

  9. American
    April 23, 2013, 4:14 pm

    Rice: Defending Israel takes much of her U.N. time
    April 23, 2013

    WASHINGTON (JTA) — Susan Rice said a major part of her work as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is defending Israel’s legitimacy.

    “It’s a huge part of my work to the United Nations,” Rice said Sunday evening, launching this year’s Consultation on Conscience, an event in Washington for Reform movement social activists organized by the Religious Action Center.

    She likened the volume of work to her efforts to coordinate Syria’s isolation and contain violence and abuses in Sudan.

    Rice said she often works in “lockstep” with the Israeli delegation.

    “We will not rest in the crucial work of defending Israel’s security and legitimacy every day at the United Nations,” she said”>>>>>

    Too bad not .ooooooo1% of what the Jewish press reports on US Government working night and day for Israel is reported in the public msm.

    • Daniel Rich
      April 23, 2013, 8:34 pm

      @ American,

      John Bolton was Israel’s 6th team member at the UN. It seems the reserve pool is endless…

    • Sumud
      April 24, 2013, 5:56 pm

      WASHINGTON (JTA) — Susan Rice said a major part of her work as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is defending Israel’s legitimacy.

      Hold on – I thought Israel was supposed to be Americs’s most important ally?

      Sounds like Israel is America’s most self-important strategic liability.

  10. Shingo
    April 23, 2013, 4:56 pm

    I have no idea what the Obama administration’s policy is here.

    I think it’s called kicking the can down the road and making it the next US president’s problem.

  11. James Canning
    April 23, 2013, 7:16 pm

    I think Obama would like Israel to stop growing the illegal colonies in the West Bank but the Israel lobby is obstructing this intent.

  12. DICKERSON3870
    April 23, 2013, 7:54 pm

    RE: “[W]hy did Obama make a point of bringing Eliot Engel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz with him on Air Force One last month to Israel and Palestine? Both these powerful congresspeople — Wasserman Schultz being the chair of the Democratic National Committee — have undermined he Obama administration on the issue.” ~ Weiss

    POSSIBLE ANSWER: Because Obama’s a yo-yo?*
    [Or is he more of a Dodo?]

    FIRST, RECALL THIS:

    [EXCERPT] . . . When Netanyahu spoke to the Congress in 2011 and said that Jerusalem is not a settlement, and defied US policy in other ways too, the Congress gave him 29 standing ovations and, according to [Peter] Beinart, Wasserman Schultz led the cheers. She stood up and clapped her hands over her head to indicate when others were supposed to stand too. . .

    SOURCE – link to mondoweiss.net

    * THEN SEE ONE OF URI AVNEY’S BEST COMMENTARIES:
    “Bibi and the Yo-Yos”, by Uri Avnery, Antiwar.com, 05/26/11

    [EXCERPT] It was all rather disgusting.
    There they were, the members of the highest legislative bodies of the world’s only superpower, flying up and down like so many yo-yos, applauding wildly, every few minutes or seconds, the most outrageous lies and distortions of Binyamin Netanyahu.

    It was worse than the Syrian parliament during a speech by Bashar Assad, where anyone not applauding could find himself in prison. Or Stalin’s Supreme Soviet, when showing less than sufficient respect could have meant death.
    What the American Senators and Congressmen feared was a fate worse than death. Anyone remaining seated or not applauding wildly enough could have been caught on camera – and that amounts to political suicide. It was enough for one single congressman to rise and applaud, and all the others had to follow suit. Who would dare not to?
    The sight of these hundreds of parliamentarians jumping up and clapping their hands, again and again and again and again, with the Leader graciously acknowledging with a movement of his hand, was reminiscent of other regimes. Only this time it was not the local dictator who compelled this adulation, but a foreign one.
    The most depressing part of it was that there was not a single lawmaker – Republican or Democrat – who dared to resist. When I was a 9 year old boy in Germany, I dared to leave my right arm hanging by my side when all my schoolmates raised theirs in the Nazi salute and sang Hitler’s anthem. Is there no one in Washington DC who has that simple courage? Is it really Washington IOT – Israel Occupied Territory – as the anti-Semites assert? . . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – link to original.antiwar.com

  13. a blah chick
    April 23, 2013, 8:34 pm

    “It’s a huge part of my work to the United Nations,” Rice said Sunday evening, launching this year’s Consultation on Conscience…

    Sometimes the jokes just right themselves.

  14. chris o
    April 23, 2013, 9:06 pm

    Well if Kerry says we have one and a half or 2 years, or the window will close, we might as well just shut it now. Look at the Israeli elections that just happened and the new government there! Look at our politics with Engel and Wasserman Schultz! Barring some miracle, and I guess these kinds do happen every great while, there’s no way in the world anything is happening in the next 2 years other than continuing Israeli encroachment.

    P.S. I really despise Eliot Engel. I’m sorry I can’t help it but I’ll try to change that.

  15. just
    April 24, 2013, 3:30 am

    I wish Jimmy Carter would be listened to by this administration.

    He has wisdom and experience.

    • Shingo
      April 24, 2013, 9:56 am

      While Carter makes all the right noises, he blew it when he had the chance IMO. It’s all well and good to come out and speak the truth once you are out of office, but as US president, he played the role of enabler just like all the presidents that followed.

      Even Clinton has made some bold remarks after he left the White House.

      • James Canning
        April 24, 2013, 8:02 pm

        Shingo – - Are you arguing Carter should not have brought about the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, because it did not deal with Israeli occupation of Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza?

        • Shingo
          April 25, 2013, 3:57 am

          No James,

          I am arguing that he shouldn’t have allowed Begin to threaten and intimidate him into accepting that the Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza were not part of the agreement.

          Carter, like Obama, seems to forget that as US president, they had the power to get what they wanted.

        • James Canning
          April 25, 2013, 2:37 pm

          Shingo – - Yes, Carter had the power to get what he wanted, and Carter’s use of that power was blocked by threats from the Israel lobby.

        • Shingo
          April 26, 2013, 12:54 am

          Shingo – – Yes, Carter had the power to get what he wanted, and Carter’s use of that power was blocked by threats from the Israel lobby.

          That argument doesn’t wash. Just like Obama, Carter had already lost support of the lobby by dragging Begin to Camp David. This argument that he stopped short of going all the way because of the lobby doesn’t hold water.

          They both have in to the lobby in return for nothing. Carter blew it, and so did Obama.

  16. Egbert
    April 24, 2013, 3:39 am

    There’s a typo in the title. It says

    “Obama’s 2 guests on Air Force One to Israel/Palestine both undermine his policy”

    It should say

    “Obama’s 2 guests on Air Force One to Israel/Palestine both underline his policy”

  17. Kathleen
    April 24, 2013, 3:42 pm

    Soledad O’Brien cleans Dem Chair Wasserman Schultz’s ziobot clock.
    DNC Chair Torn Apart Over Removal Of Jerusalem From Platform
    link to youtube.com

    Wasserman Schultz ignores Soledad’s specific questions about the vote on the floor
    Schultz “small amount of objection” Total hooey spin

  18. Kathleen
    April 24, 2013, 3:46 pm

    I have always wondered if Wasserman Schultz and her supporters had anything to do with Soledad O’Briens demotion at CNN after Soledad took Wasserman Schultz and her spin down during the Dem Convention

    Wonder if Schultz made a few phone calls
    Soledad O’Brien blast CNN after demotion
    Entertainment- | jobsjusticedreams | February 23, 2013 10:00 am

    link to jobsjusticedreams.com

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