Last night Barack Obama made an appearance at the Israeli embassy in Washington on Holocaust remembrance day in an event meant to show the unity of Israel and the United States. A few months ago, Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer lobbied against the Iran deal on Capitol Hill. No worries, mate. It was the first time a president has spoken at the Israeli embassy:
To Ambassador and Mrs. Dermer, to Nina Totenberg, our friends from the Israeli Embassy and Yad Vashem — thank you so much for hosting us today.
So you can lobby against the President’s signature foreign policy initiative, thumb your nose at his policy on two states, and he will still kiss your behind. “[W]e stand up forcefully and proudly in defense of our ally, in defense of our friend, in defense of the Jewish State of Israel,” Obama said.
Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio was there, as was Steven Spielberg. They represent the Israel lobby’s strength: the belief on the part of an empowered generation of American Jews that Israel is a liberation story. That’s who Obama is kissing up to, a domestic constituency among the blue-state elites.
Even the New York Times coverage of the Obama appearance noted his obeisance to people who had worked against him:
Mr. Obama was welcomed warmly by Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, who, with Mr. Netanyahu, spent much of last year working to defeat the president’s highest foreign policy priority. It was the clearest sign to date that both governments are working to heal their relations.
“We know we have no better friend than the United States of America,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a video message. Addressing Mr. Obama, he added, “Your being here reflects the unbreakable bond of friendship between Israel and the United States.
Reporter Julie Hirschfeld Davis also notes that Obama once offended Israel supporters in his Cairo speech of 2009 by saying the rationale for Israel’s creation was the Holocaust, thereby rejecting the “Zionist ideals and biblical underpinnings of Israel’s history.”
What about all the people who were offended by Obama’s deference to the lobby last night, to political forces who are supporting Palestinian persecution? Commemorating the Holocaust by reverencing Israel? As Donald Johnson writes, “The way Israel gets to link itself with resistance to the Nazis is such a part of the pro Israel narrative you have to report it, but it is free propaganda for apartheid. I’m trying to think of any other case where this would happen and am failing.”
The event was attended by officials of AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby group, as well as the Time Warner executive who has written speeches for Netanyahu. Jewish Insider spotted: Gary Ginsberg & Susanna Aaron, AIPAC’s Howard Kohr, AIPAC’s Bob Cohen, Likud politicianTzachi Hanegbi, Maj. Gen. Yaacov Ayish, Jeffrey Goldberg.
Speaking of using anti-Semitism to justify apartheid, here is Netanyahu saying yesterday that criticism of Israel equals anti-Semitism; and Iran is threatening another Holocaust.
We see anti-semitism directed against individual Jews, and we also see this hatred directed against the collective Jew, against the Jewish state. Israel is targeted with the same slurs and the same libels that were leveled against the Jewish people since time immemorial…
Even respected western opinion leaders have become afflicted with hatred for the Jewish people and the Jewish state. The obsession with the Jews, the fixation on the Jewish state defies any other rational explanation….
We are no longer a powerless people, begging others to offer us protection. Today we can speak out against the voices of hatred…
We have changed, and we stand and speak out and we defend ourselves. But where’s Europe? Where’s the rest of civilization?
Thanks to Peter Voskamp and Scott Roth.